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Story is about interruption

David Gane
David Gane
1 min read

Another one from Impro by Keith Johnstone:

If I say 'Make up a story,' then most people are paralysed. If I say 'describe a routine and then interrupt it,' people see no problem.

A story always begins with characters doing something. They have something they want, and they are acting toward getting it. They may get it or not, but it reflects the routine of their life.

Now interrupt it.

Maybe an asteroid is discovered hurtling towards Earth. Maybe your character has a meet-cute with a stranger. Maybe they miss their train.

Whatever it is, it's an interruption to the routine.

Depending on how you look at it, maybe that interruption comes at the perfect moment. Not because their life is going wonderfully but because they want a better version of their life but are stuck.

The interruption propels the story forward and in a different direction. It will continue going in that direction until the main character can return things to normal or establish a new routine.

And you can stay with this new normal and finish your story,  or interrupt it again and start all over.

Story is about establishing routines and patterns, disrupting them, and eventually closing most of them. How you shape it is up to you.


David Gane Twitter

Co-writer of the Shepherd and Wolfe young adult mysteries, the internationally award-winning series, and teacher of storytelling and screenwriting.


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