The Angle of Story

In talking with numerous filmmakers, preachers and teachers, I’ve found that all of them have some form of a story to share. They are filled with ideas that will help guide individuals down a recommended path in life and consider things and issues they may have never taken time to address had it not been for their story. But I find one thing perplexing about these master storytellers that most have in common, they typically tell the first version of the story they come up with.

Every valuable story has a right to be shared, but not every perspective on that story will yield the greatest benefit for the viewer or reader. Exploring multiple angles on the same story might open the eyes of its author to key subtleties or nuances that will leverage an emotion or touch a chord in the audiences’ life, empowering them to change.

Playing around with various perspectives or angles on a story takes significant work and shifts the author’s perspective from enjoying their own cool story to making sure the audience in directly benefiting from having heard or seen it. It’s all about taking the audience on a trip to consider an “argument” that stirs their souls and engages their minds.

Unfortunately, our society is geared toward massive amounts of information, compared to one or two high quality products. Authors are forced to make choices that generate a living, over creating a story that changes the way an entire generation thinks. Today, sheer quantity dominates quality. That’s not to say there aren’t a few new thoughts out there, but few are releasing products of any consequence.

I’ve been working on and off with a feature film script titled “Steele Blue.” It started out as an action film because I was in the mood to write some cool action sequences. There was little story involved, as it was an action romp. Then a friend asked me some questions about the characters and as I explained who they were, my friend was fascinated and wanted to know more. I changed the script to bring out those characteristics that were intriguing.

This led to another rewrite, as some of the scenes weren’t conducive to drawing out the key points of the characters. It forced me to shift from an action film to the genre of adventure. Once there, the characters came to life and others were intrigued by, not only the characters, but by certain curious items I alluded to in their relationships.

Another set of rewrites was engaged to explore the relationships that perked the interest. In doing so, I found that the story would be better served as a drama. After choosing to focus more on the heart of one character and exploring what her decisions would be in unique circumstances, I shifted the drama to include some comedy, adventure and a few thrills.

The story is still the same, but its told from such a significantly different angle of interest that I can’t wait to see the audiences’ reaction. To wet your whistle a bit, the story is about a maverick detective who hits the streets to protect her teenage son from the drug lord she’s falling in love with. The key question the action plot raises is whether or not she’ll get her man as a cop or a lover.

Had I not explored the various angles on how to tell the story, I would never have come up with the inner conflict that the main character faces. Its an intriguing question about the choices we make. Will it be a choice of doing what feels right or the more difficult choice of doing what is right? That is the question every one of us face in our society today. And, my choice is to tell this new version of the story and see what types of future choices the audience makes.

By taking a look at the same story from different characters or perspectives, opens the writer up to numerous creative opportunities to create a story that has never been done before. It also allows the writer to explore life issues that can only be handled indirectly without offense. This allows the audience to stretch their thinking and find new ways to grow who they are. All of these pros make for a great story and outcome.

Copyright © 2011 By CJ Powers
Photo © janaka Dharmasena –

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