I – Storytelling Elements Overview

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Introduction

Now, to really get started, I will give you a quick overview of the 4×4 model of storytelling constructs and then we can dive into them in a bit more detail. I also want to note that I have a bit more of an extended view of how long an arc is. I will go into that later in the section on arcs. There is still so very many pieces-parts to this, but this will be a high-level mechanical look at them.

Since the scene is a very basic building block to storytelling in books and in gaming you will see that it is the an element that is apart of both the Narrative and Game based constructs. The scene is where the characters and players get to interact and experience the story and it is one of the most powerful storytelling tools you have when done right.

Narrative Constructs (4)

First, we have narrative constructs which are about the flow and rhythm of the narrative and the story points from a storytelling perspective. These constructs are merely about the stories that you want to tell and NOT about its implementation within the game system. Storytelling constructs are independent of game system, they provide a framework to organize and to tell a story.

  1. Story
  2. Arcs
  3. Subplots
  4. Scene

A story has 1 arc and may have many subplots along the way to keep things interesting and to vary the rhythm and tension. Each arc and subplot are composed of many scenes.

Game Constructs (4)

Then we have the game constructs which are the specific implementations of the narrative constructs inside a specific game system, so the players may experience and participate in the story.

  1. Campaign
  2. Scenario (adventure)
  3. Session
  4. Scene

A campaign will have many stories which will span many scenarios (adventures), each of which may play for 1 or more sessions. Each session will have most likely have several scenes.

Storytelling Framework

A Storytelling Framework is way of putting a story together that follows a specific pattern to ensure the needed pieces-parts are there to tell the story in a dramatic way that has the beginning, middle, and an end. There are many different acts structures for storytelling: 3 act, 4  act, 5 act, 6 act, and so on. The framework I will use here is the 5 Act Structure (as I understand it) and much of this guide’s campaign and story building process will revolve around fulfilling this act structure. The 5 Act Structure has the following 5 acts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Raising Tension
  3. Rising Action
  4. Climax
  5. Resolution

By themselves, the Storytelling Constructs and the Narrative Constructs are pretty flat and lifeless. It will be the application of a Storytelling Framework which will merge them and bring them to life. The Framework is both the glue and the spice!!