Animation Scriptwriting
Stories - Part Three: Story Themes
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Stories as character profiles

To do anything fulfilling one must have the Means, Ability, and Desire (MAD). To lack one of these prevents the achievement of certain ends.

Imagine you want to be a good pianist; to do so you must have:

  • The means of playing. This requires having access to a piano and the time to practice.
  • The ability to play. This requires having the musical talent and physical capabilities.
  • The desire to play. This requires being highly motivated to practice and do the work necessary to cultivate your talent.

If you were writing a story about how you became a pianist, and supposing you had the ability and the desire, but lack the means (a piano). The story becomes one of how you get a piano.

Try out a few ideas:


Get a job in a shop that sells pianos, and practice after hours.


Get a job in a club that has a piano, and practice when it's available.


Use a friend's piano.


Take on extra work to save up for one.


Sell everything you've got to buy one.


Make do with some cheaper form of keyboard instrument until you can afford a piano.


Hope that someone discovers your talent and gives you a piano.


Fall in love with someone who has a piano.


Somehow steal a piano.


Learn the theory of music on a cheap instrument, and wait till you can afford one.


Advertise some form of exchange whereby you offer services to someone who has a piano.

The idea is common enough. Someone wants something but can't get it. They try hard and eventually they get it. They may have to try several ideas without success before achieving their ambition.

Now suppose you have the means and desire, but not the ability; in this case you have a piano, go to good teachers, am madly keen to learn, but simply don't have the talent. What do you do?

It is another common story. Many people start out with great ambitions feeling that they have the talent to conquer the world, but at some point realise that they do not have it. By that time they may have put a lot of time, money, and effort into learning, and may not know much else. Here are a few possibilities:


Become a piano teacher.


Become a piano tuner.


Take up some form of keyboard music that requires less skill.


Involve yourself in a musical environment where you can be with good pianists.


Take a job that involves musical knowledge but no great playing skill such as music sales person.

There are many jobs in the world of music that require musical knowledge without much musical ability. Typically these include agents, recording technicians, and writers in the music field, also the many people who support the musicians in the organisation of their work.

Now lets assume you have the ability and means but don't have the desire. You were a great pianist but one day it all seemed too much.

There could be several reasons:


Once you were famous, and now you are not, so playing no longer has the satisfaction it once had.


You worked too hard and are now burnt out, and have lost your motivation.


You had an accident, and no longer able to practice or concentrate as you used to.


Circumstances stopped you playing for a long period, and you have not been able to recreate the motivation you once had.


Playing was strongly associated with someone you loved, and have since lost, so you stop playing.

There are two broad options in this situation. The first is finding the motivation to start playing again, or secondly, to decide that playing in no longer what you want to do, and find an alternative career.


1. Think of reasons to start playing again.

2. Think of an alternative career for someone who has the means and ability but no motivation.

3. Take the example of the pianist and transfer this to an athlete, and show the three variations for an athlete who is missing one of the vital attributes for success.


Storylines can be constructed by having an objective that the character wants but can't get. If you are clear what the obstacles are, then it is easier to see how the character will try to reach that objective, or why they fail to.

Flow Diagram 14


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