99 Ways to Tell a Story


If story is everything; and every story that can ever exist has already been told; then how can we create original (or at least seemingly original) work? Easy!

We re-tell the same story over and over again, but in different ways. Think about films like Avatar (2009) (imdb.com). It’s the exact same story as Pocahontas (1995) (imdb.com). But, they’re also entirely different movies.

You don’t think they’re the same story, eh? Take a look at this:


If you change the style, the chronology, the characters; even just a little bit; you can give your story/film/animation/book/video game/comic book a whole new feeling. I really like the idea of taking one concept, flipping it around, and coming out with a whole new product.

I recently came across Matt Madden’s book 99 Ways to Tell a Story (exerciseinstyle.com). It’s really simple in its form. But the idea of taking the same story and re-telling it in different fashions is a complex idea. Some of his examples applied to film better than others. But, when you boil it down, there are some great ideas in how to re-imagine your film; both for story and genre.




Some of the styles that interest me the most are (note these are things I think will help with a film):

A Refrigerator with a View- Everything is told from the same perspective, and we see nothing until the fridge door opens. I think this style could really enhance certain scenes.

Voyeur- Alfred Hitchcock knew about this one early on. He did an entire film from this perspective. (If you haven’t seen Rear Window (1954) (imdb.com), then you should).

Brought to You by…- Can you tell a story completely through advertising? Why not? Films use fake TV ads to enhance stories, I think telling a story completely through them could work.





















I don’t want to give too many of them away. It’s a wonderful book, and I know I’ll be turning to it for inspiration a lot. You can find it through Matt’s blog: Exercise In Style (link above) or through Amazon (amazon.com).




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