Illuminating The Memory Of Your Story

The memory of your story is the backstory or history where events that occurred in the past will impact directly on your story.

It is an important structural point in plotting your line of dramatic action and allows you to create the inner life of your story.

You have to fully explore the history of your story, events and characters and identify what events that occurred in the past will impact directly on your story.

If you’re telling a romance, the history of how the romance was ignited will be important. If it is a crime story, the history of what influenced the crime is relevant. These histories become vital subplots to the exterior line of dramatic action and can either drive the narrative, or events in the narrative may trigger the memory of the story.

You are creating an emotional fictional reality.

Without Real Emotion, we simply don’t care. We may feel momentary excitement, terror, horror and even awe, but those emotions are relatively superficial and transitory.

There is no feeling, no deeper connection because no authentic view of the writer’s humanity has surfaced during the telling of the story.

You may have a clever plot that is masterfully structured and filled with complex twists and complications, but if there is no connection between the External Activity and the Internal Life of the story, it will be dull and boring, and ultimately disappoint.

As a writer you have to:

  • Illuminate the thoughts and mindscape of your characters: You have to show us what a character is thinking, what is going on inside the character’s head, and how the character’s point of view guides us into a rich inner life that is meaningful and rewarding.
  • Reflect the thematic purpose of your story: If your story deals with ‘Man versus Nature’, you have to delicately weave this into your line of dramatic action by creating subplots.
  • Reveal the memory or history of the events and characters in your story: As your character journeys through the external plot of your story, you contrast the physical action with a rich emotional landscape that takes us into the past that informs the present.

How Do You Reveal The Memory of Your Story?

Look at how Walle’s discovery of a video of an excerpt from a scene out of Hello Dolly fuels the impassioned robot’s journey, and how it also amplifies the thematic purpose of the story, as well as the genre. After hundreds of lonely years doing what he was built for, WALLE (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) discovers a new purpose in life when he inadvertently stumbles upon the key to the planet’s future, The idea of using the musical imagery and songs from the 1969 movie version of “Hello Dolly” to help him define WALLE’s personality.  In fact, it is WALLE’s repeated viewings of an old videotape of that film (the only one in his collection) that have led to the glitch of his romantic feelings. “When I found ‘It Only Takes a Moment,’ it was like a godsend.  That song became a huge tool for me to show WALLE’s interest in what love is,”says co-screenwriter Andrew Stanton. “I became fascinated with the loneliness that this situation evoked and the immediate empathy that you had for this character.  We spend most of our time on films trying to make our main characters likeable so that you want to follow them and root for them.  I started thinking, ‘Well, where do I go with a character like this?’  And it didn’t take long to realize that the opposite of loneliness is love or being with somebody.  I was immediately hooked and seduced by the idea of a machine falling in love with another machine.  And especially with the backdrop of a universe that has lost the understanding of the point of living.  To me, that seemed so poetic.  I loved the idea of humanity getting a second chance because of this one little guy who falls in love.

In The Revenant, what begins as a relentless quest for revenge becomes a heroic saga against all odds towards home and redemption;  in The Danish Girl Tom Hooper never infringes or invades the mindscape of our tragic hero; he does not rely on visual dynamics to reveal Wegener’s childhood through conventional flashbacks, but allows the character to gradually reveal this information through dialogue, drawing the audience into a trusting and confidential conversation.

The Dressmaker is a heartfelt coming-of-age story, with Winslet seeking redemption for a tragedy that occurred during her childhood, and one that caused her to leave the town and be branded an outcast.

Spotlight tells the astonishing true story of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Spotlight” team of investigative journalists, who in 2002 shocked the city and the world by exposing the Catholic Church’s systematic cover-up of widespread paedophilia perpetrated by more than 70 local priests.

In Schindler’s List, the opening scene visually reveals a steam train puffing away at a station and we read: In September 1939, the German forces defeated the Polish Army in two weeks. We then see a registration officer setting up his desk on the platform of the station and more exposition follows: Jews were ordered to register all family members and relocate to major cities. More than 10 000 Jews from the countryside arrive in Krakow daily.

For the opening of Star Wars, George Lucas made use of inventive graphic design: The words ‘’A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…’’ drifts off into a vast sea of

In Mighty Aphrodite Woody Allen makes us of a Greek Chorus to tell the modern story of a couple adopting a child, and the neurotic father exploring the baby’s history.