Most stories are archetypically similar. The surprises are in the details.

There’s a certain sameness to stories. This is often mocked.

Beginners often despair, wondering how they can be original or unique. This often leads them to try something too clever, to mix genres, to overly world build. They often end up with something that’s too “original” to be enjoyable.

Familiarity is not in and of itself a bad thing. Consider the pop-punk progression. Most songs have the same chord progression:

That doesn’t discount any of these musical examples from being specifically interesting, moving and worthwhile. “Don’t Stop Believing” might have the same structure of “Let it Be,” but it’s not going to stop me from liking either song.

Most of storytelling is in the details. Most people can use three act structure to pump out something that basically resembles a story, it’s all about the color and texture you populate the frame work with.

Published by Matt Lazarus

WGA screenwriter offering in-depth writing instruction, notes, critique, and assistance.

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