The clues to a great story | Andrew Stanton | TED

TED

TED

19 min, 17 sec

A detailed exploration of storytelling, exemplified through a joke, insights on storytelling techniques, and personal anecdotes.

Summary

  • The speaker uses a joke about a Scottish bar builder named MacGregor to illustrate the power of storytelling and the importance of punchlines.
  • He emphasizes the need for stories to make the audience care by connecting emotionally, intellectually, and aesthetically.
  • Stories use anticipation and uncertainty to engage the audience, requiring them to actively piece information together.
  • He shares insights about character development, the significance of themes, and the ability of stories to invoke wonder.
  • Personal experiences, such as viewing 'Lawrence of Arabia' and his own premature birth, influenced his storytelling approach.

Chapter 1

Anecdote of MacGregor the Builder

0:15 - 1 min, 7 sec

The speaker shares a humorous anecdote about a Scottish builder to introduce storytelling.

  • A tourist encounters an old man, MacGregor, in a Scottish pub who built the bar, a stone wall, and a pier but is only remembered for an embarrassing act.
  • The joke ends with laughter, highlighting the impact of a well-delivered punchline in storytelling.

Chapter 2

Fundamentals of Storytelling

1:22 - 44 sec

The speaker explains the basic principles and the emotional connection of storytelling.

  • Storytelling is essentially the art of joke telling, with a focus on the punchline and the journey towards a meaningful end.
  • Stories affirm our identity and the desire for our lives to have meaning, connecting us across time and individual experiences.

Chapter 3

The Power of Narratives

2:06 - 37 sec

The speaker discusses how stories can create emotional investment and the importance of making the audience care.

  • A quote from Mr. Rogers emphasizes the ability to love anyone once their story is known, translating to the story commandment 'Make me care'.
  • The audience's engagement with a story is not by chance but by the storyteller's design, which should make them work for the revelation without realizing it.

Chapter 4

Storytelling in Cinema

2:43 - 1 min, 29 sec

The speaker reflects on the art of cinematic storytelling and the recent project 'John Carter'.

  • The film 'John Carter' serves as an example of effective storytelling, where a scene sets a promise that the story is worth the audience's time.
  • The inclusion of Edgar Rice Burroughs as a narrator in the film is praised as a device that entices the audience with a worthwhile story.

Chapter 5

Engaging the Audience

4:33 - 46 sec

The speaker highlights the importance of audience engagement and participation in storytelling.

  • Effective storytelling involves making the audience actively piece together the story, like solving a problem, without them being aware of it.
  • This concept was applied in the creation of 'Wall-E' and 'Finding Nemo', where the storytellers provided clues for the audience to uncover the story.

Chapter 6

Character Development and Spine

5:19 - 1 min, 7 sec

The speaker discusses the concept of a 'spine' in character development.

  • A character's spine is their dominant, unconscious goal that drives their decisions and actions.
  • This concept was utilized in Pixar films to create depth in characters like Wall-E, Marlin from 'Finding Nemo', and Woody from 'Toy Story'.

Chapter 7

Storytelling Without Dialogue

6:26 - 35 sec

The speaker discusses the effectiveness of storytelling through action rather than dialogue.

  • Storytelling without dialogue, as seen in the film 'Wall-E', is considered the purest form of cinematic storytelling and requires audience participation.
  • The audience naturally seeks to complete narratives and solve puzzles, which is an instinct storytellers should utilize.

Chapter 8

Learning Storytelling from 'Finding Nemo'

7:01 - 52 sec

The speaker shares insights on storytelling learned during the writing of 'Finding Nemo'.

  • The 'unifying theory of two plus two' is introduced, encouraging storytellers to provide elements for the audience to assemble.
  • The order and way information is presented is crucial to audience engagement and investment in the story.

Chapter 9

The Importance of Theme in Story

7:53 - 55 sec

The speaker explains the importance of a strong, unifying theme in a story.

  • A strong theme runs through a well-told story, guiding the narrative and giving it deeper meaning.
  • The theme of 'Who are you?' in 'Lawrence of Arabia' serves as an example of a powerful narrative driver.

Chapter 10

Invoking Wonder in Storytelling

8:48 - 1 min, 7 sec

The speaker emphasizes the ability of stories to invoke a sense of wonder in the audience.

  • Wonder is a key ingredient in storytelling, evoking a deep emotional response that cannot be faked.
  • The speaker believes that the ability to inspire wonder is a precious gift and a powerful storytelling tool.

Chapter 11

Personal Journey and Story Beginnings

9:55 - 1 min, 12 sec

The speaker reflects on his own life experiences and how they shaped his approach to storytelling.

  • The speaker recounts how his premature birth and the second chance at life influenced his storytelling, striving to be worthy of the opportunity.
  • He draws from his own experiences to capture and express deep personal truths through storytelling.

Chapter 12

Concluding Thoughts on Storytelling

11:07 - 7 min, 55 sec

The speaker wraps up the talk with key lessons and reflections on the storytelling process.

  • Drawing from one's own knowledge and experiences can add authenticity and depth to a story.
  • The best stories can inspire, affirm life, and connect deeply with the audience, leaving them with a sense of wonder.

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