Animation Scriptwriting
Stories - Part Six: Problems and Power
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Panic Situations

A panic situation is where a problem for one, or a few people, effects many. If someone in the underground shouts out "There's a fire" and starts to run, other people may panic, not knowing what to do, and acting impulsively in a way that causes more confusion.

The situation moves through several stages:

  • Order
  • Disorder
  • Confusion
  • Panic
  • Chaos

Up to the point of confusion, it may still be possible for someone to create order again by shouting directions or doing something meaningful. Once panic sets in then chaos quickly follows, which might then lead to disaster.

The type of situations that can lead to this include:

  • Terror attacks
  • War situations
  • Crashes of planes, trains, and vehicle pile ups
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanoes
  • Tidal waves
  • Avalanches
  • Floods

Catastrophes make good stories. Putting your characters in a panic situation is a good way to show their character. The effects on people involved in situations beyond our experience help us guess how we would react ourselves.

Imagine there is bad weather and the possibility of a dangerous flood, what options would be available to those endangered?


Preventative action. They could try and stop the flood by building barriers.


Evasive action. Try to get away from the situation if they could.


Controlling action. If they can't get away, then to try and survive by getting into safe buildings until rescued.

In a war the preventative action would be to fight. The evasive action would be to run away. The controlling action would be to stay alive as best you could within the enemy territory.


What action would you take if you were close to:

An earthquake - An exploding volcano - A tidal wave


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