Animation Scriptwriting
Stories - Part Four: Decisions and Problems
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Seeing problems

Decisions are also based on how people see problems. Sherlock Holmes sees problems as puzzles, so he tries to solve them in that way. On the other hand, he is rarely threatened by the problem. If he doesn't solve it, he is not worse off. James Bond also hunts down villains, but in the process they are usually hunting him down as well. He has no choice but to win.

Imagine a dark stormy night. A couple are sitting at home when the there is a knock at the door. A distressed woman is at the door. She says her car has broken down. The man might see the problem as one of fixing the car, and say. "Don't worry, we'll soon get your car fixed." His wife might see the problem as someone distressed and trying to get somewhere and say "Don't worry, stay here till we get you a taxi."

It is by solving the same problem in different ways that we get a variety in life. We find it amusing and interesting when someone solves a common problem in an unusual way. Bluto chases Popeye, but Popeye blows smokescreens with his pipe and escapes. We know it is impossible, but it borders on the possible, so we accept it and find it a good solution.


List some of the consequences of making the wrong decision if you:

Marry the wrong person - Buy a faulty car
Get mixed up with the wrong friends
Don't look after yourself - Underestimate your enemies


What can be learnt from making wrong decisions? With luck we can learn to do it right the next time. But sometimes there is no second chance, so the experience is not much use to you, though you can use it to help others, and that can be the basis of a story.

There are logical decisions which having made one step automatically lead on to other predictable ones, such as taking a job that has a clear-cut career path. There are emotional decisions that can only be judged on the basis of how one feels at the time. We know of the heroine who dashes off with the romantic gypsy, only to regret it later. Of course, she may as well as dashed off with a merchant banker and still regretted it. The point is whether her decision to dash off with anyone was a logical or emotional decision, and whether it was the right one.

A person's decision does not just affect them. A couple decide to divorce. The family breaks up, and the repercussions affect everyone in it, and extend to mutual friends, jobs, and affects follow through to the future.

The decision, which solves one problem, will create others. The solving of those problems will in turn create even more. It has the 'domino effect'. Problems are only solved in the sense that they are shifted from one person to another in the way that marrying the Prince solved Cinderella's problems, but created more problems for the ugly sisters, who had now lost the only chance of marrying the Prince, and are left without Cinderella as a servant.

The survival of Snow White was as the cost of her wicked stepmother. In war, one country survives at the cost of another. In industry, one company survives at the cost of another, and in love one lover wins at the cost of another. The ability to make the right decisions is vital to survival, so for every happy ending, there is also a sad ending for someone. It all comes down to the 'Survival of the fittest'. Many stories are based on this, and with the audience wanting the nicest person to be the fittest.

In general, people rarely come up with an ideal decision. It is usually the best solution available to them at the time. As most stories deal with some sort of problem, it is helpful to be able to analyse them in depth.


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