How narrative structure turns a story into an emotional experience with a happy end.
Beemgee is increasingly involved with charities and non-profit organisations, supporting them in their efforts to tell their stories. Storytelling is uniquely suited to the communications of organisations that help people in need or seek to raise awareness for social injustices. This post was originally conceived as an introduction to the principles of storytelling for people working in non-profits. It has been adapted from a post we provided to FundraisingBox (German language).
Image: Comfreak, Pixabay
Storytelling is a bit of an overused buzzword. While we are all – by dint of being human – storytellers, how aware are you of the principles of dramaturgy? What exactly constitutes a story, in comparison to, say, a report or an anecdote?
And just to be clear, the following is not a story. It’s an how-to article.
Whatever the medium – film or text, online or offline –, storytelling has something to do with emotionally engaging an audience, that much seems clear. So is a picture of a cute puppy a story? Hardly.
Stories exist in order to create a difference in their audience. Stories always address problems and tend to convey the benefits of co-operative behaviour.
While there simply is no blueprint to how stories work, let’s examine the elements that recur in stories and try to find some patterns.
Who is the story about?
All stories are about someone. That someone does not have to be a person, it can be an animal (Bambi) or a robot (Wall-e). But a story needs a character. In fact, all stories have more than one character, with virtually no exceptions. This is because the interaction between several characters provides motivation, conflict and action.
Moreover, stories usually have a main character, the figure that the story seems to be principally about – the protagonist. It is not always obvious why one character is the protagonist rather than another. Is she simply the most heroic? Is she the one that develops most? Or does she just have the most scenes?(more…)
The first novel to state in black and white that the author worked with Beemgee.
This is certainly not the first book for which our author tool was used. But it is the first time that an author explicitly mentions Beemgee in her acknowledgements. Thank you, Katharina, we’re glad you use Beemgee during your story development!
All The Rage – Der letzte Schrei
published by the renowned Piper Verlag (Bonnier group)
Susanne Pfeiffer has recently joined the Beemgee team. She interviewed her friend Katharina Gerwens for us.
Beemgee: Congratulations, Katharina! It’s always great when you can hold your own book in your hands … How many novels have you published so far?
Katharina: This is my eleventh regional thriller published by Piper. Soon I’ll make it a dozen ….
Beemgee: I think ALL THE RAGE is a really good thriller title! You like double meanings. – But I want to get at something completely different: You know my foible to start every book by reading the acknowledgements – and here it says, last but not least, you worked on the plot with BEEMGEE! How so?
Katharina: Because for me any support I get is worth mentioning! I have asked so many people in my field about all sorts of things, and in these conversations new aspects have always emerged – the least I can so is say thank you! ALL THE RAGE is, by the way, the first book in which I worked with Beemgee – and it was a great help to me. (more…)
FREE registration: Log into your account with your e-mail address and password.
Tour: Turn the guide to Beemgee’s basic functionality on or off at your leisure.
Context-Sensitive Help | ? |: On-site explanations and advice about each specific aspect of story development.
“More About …” Buttons: Context-specific links to in-depth articles on each specific aspect of story development.
Retractable Tool-Bar: Keep your workspace uncluttered by closing the tool-bar.
Autosave: Project saves automatically after every change.
Simple-Share: Share your story’s project link with your co-author, editor, producer, etc. (Attention: anyone you send the link to will be able to edit your project – Beemgee always saves the newest version).
Work Offline: Continue working on your project even if you lose the internet connection (free features only) – the project will sync when you are back online.
Language Switch: Use the tool in English or German.
Premium Registration: Log into your account with your e-mail address and password – see and adjust your account and billing information.
My Stories: Unlimited number of projects.
Detail Views: See detail views of character sheets, pot events, and your step outline.
Export PDFs: Character Sheets, Plot, Step Outline, Project – with selections for narrative/chronology, all attributes or input only, etc.
Export RTF text files to re-import in writing software for treatments or as manuscript document.
Want to see what a completed Beemgee project looks like?
Click one of the links below.
When the project opens, feel free to drag and drop or edit whatever you want – any changes you make will not be saved. It’s the perfect way to explore Beemgee functionality. Try the FILTER function, for instance, or the NARRATIVE-CHRONOLOGY switch. Go to the CHARACTER tool, mark your favourite character and hit SINGLE in the tool bar. Or read the STEP OUTLINE.
SEA BATTLES(Look closely, you might recognise this story!)
If you’re logged in to your PREMIUM account, you’ll see all the PREMIUM features, such as STORY QUESTIONS or the detail view of the STEP OUTLINE.
Also, disentangle the complex chronology of THE STAR WARS SAGA. Click the NARRATIVE-CHRONOLOGY switch to see the difference between the year of production and what happened when in the story.
Or read THE BEEMGEE STORY as a Beemgee project. Try opening the DESCRIPTIONs per event.
Are you fan enough?
How well do you know your favourite story? Doesn’t matter if it’s Homer or Harry Potter – turn it into a complete Beemgee outline and send us the project link to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we think you’re fan enough, we’ll feature your outline here, in our newsletter and on our social media channels. (more…)
Developing the dramatic function of the characters determines the narrative.
When you work out what the characters do and why they do it, you are effectively working on your plot. The Beemgee character-builder asks you a series of questions about each of your main characters. Answering them will help you find their role and importance in narrative.
Always try to keep your answers as concise as possible. And above all, always remember that knowing the answers to these questions is not enough. You must show your audience what you have answered through scenes. That means there must be plot events that convey what you have answered here to your readers or viewers.
Working on Characters
Click into the CHARACTER area of Beemgee. By the way, stay in the same browser window, whether you’re working on PLOT, CHARACTER or STEP OUTLINE – having one project open in multiple windows may result in some of your input being lost.
In the CHARACTER area you’ll land in COMPARE-view, where you can add a character card for each of the major figures in your story.
Outlining a story means developing the characters and structuring the plot.
Beemgee will help you outline your plot using the principle of noting ideas for scenes or plot events on index cards and arranging them in a timeline. This is a separate process from actually writing the story. Most accomplished authors outline their stories before writing them, because it saves rewrites later.
Events propel narrative. Narrative consists of a chain of events.
These do not have to be spectacular action events – they can be internal psychological events if your story is about a man who does not leave his room, or spiritual events if you are recounting the story of Buddha sitting beneath the tree. But events there must be if there is to be a story.
Events in a story are effectively bits of knowledge the author wants to impart – in a particular order, the narrative – to the recipient, i.e. the reader or audience. The story is told when all the pertinent knowledge has been presented, when all the bits of information necessary for the story to feel like a coherent unity are conveyed. An author(more…)