Blog Post

The Link Between Plot Points

Sep 16th, 2015

From the Chris Huntley if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times archive:

Actions happen. Decisions are made.

The Story Driver can be a tough nut to crack on some stories. Is someone getting elected an Action or is it a Decision? Is a woman getting an abortion an Action or a Decision? In these cases the difference seems so minimal as to make the narrative concept meaningless.

It isn't. In fact, how you set up the cause and effect relationship between Action and Decision determines the entire meaning of a story, including--but not limited too--the order of thematic topics explored.

Examining the Order of Events

David Lean's Brief Encounter ends with Alec leaving for South Africa. This is the final Story Driver as it wraps everything up. So was his leaving an Action or a Decision?

Actions happen. Decisions are made.

Alec didn't decide to leave; he left. His leaving indicates an Action Story Driver.

You can also look to what happens after the Story Driver. Story Drivers force the opposite: actions force decisions and decisions force actions. The order communicates cause and effect to the Audience.

A pregnant teenager getting an abortion on her own forces her parents into deciding what to do with their daughter and forces her boyfriend into choosing whether or not to stay with her. The Action forces a Decision (or group of Decisions, or Deliberations).

A woman who must make the tough decision to get an abortion forces her newly engaged fiancé into doing whatever it takes to cover up for her. The Decision made forces Actions to be taken.

Two very different stories about the same plot point. The difference in feeling has everything to do with the cause and effect dictated by the Story Driver.

Actions happen. Decisions are made.