The Art Of Storytelling (Story Structure)

Exercise 1: Beats

Part A: Beats can show the most important moments in your story. They show WHAT is happening, not HOW. Choose a format (outline form, using index cards, sketchbook, etc.) to identify and describe the beats that are part of the structure in each of your three favorite films.
Part B: Play the “Story Spine game” with a group of people. Go around in a circle and improve the development of a story. Start with “once upon a time” and have one person at a time spontaneously fill in the blank for each line.

Part C: Develop a story spine for your own film idea. Try sharing your spine with someone and iterating a few times…


The Art Of Storytelling (Character)

Exercise 5: Stakes

Part A: Return to the main characters from your three favorite films.
  • What was one important choice they had to make where the stakes were high?

Alita : She had to let go of Hugo

Emmet : Fight Rex Dangervest

Greg : Get rid of Rowley

  • What were the stakes?

Alita : She had to fight a bunch of robots

Emmet : He had to be saved by Lucy

Greg : He had to get rid of Rowley

  • Can you identify them as internal external or philosophical?

Alita : philosophical

Emmet : philosophical

Greg : Internal

Part B: Think about a difficult choice you had to make in your own life. What was at stake?
Losing Money
Part C: Return to one of the obstacles your character might face from the previous exercise. Now think of the choice this obstacle forces them to make. Answer the following:
  • What are the possible stakes of this choice?

Finding Horcruxes : High

  • Can you come up with an internal, external or philosophical stake which applies to this choice?

Attack of Voldemort : philosophical


The Art Of Storytelling (Character)

Exercise 4: Character Arc

Part A: Identify the arc of the main character in your 3 favorite films.
  • What do they want at the beginning?

Alita : Alita wants to be with Hugo

Emmet : Emmet wants to be with Lucy

Greg Heffley : Greg wants to be popular

  • What did they realize they need by the end?

Alita : Alita needs to survive Nova

Emmet : Emmet Has to save his friends

Greg Heffley : Greg needs to brainstorm a plan to become popular

Part B: How have you changed as a result of overcoming an obstacle?
I have learnt that getting Robux needs money
Part C: Brainstorm ideas for how your character might change as a result of the obstacles you’ve identified in the previous exercise?
  • What might they want at the beginning?

to become a Quidditch champion

  • What might they realize they need at the end?

They need to stop Voldemort


The Art Of Storytelling (Character)

Exercise 3: Obstacles

Part A: Return to your three favorite films. Identify one obstacle the main character you selected faces in each.
Alita : Nova
Emmet : Rex Dangervest
Greg Heffley : Rodrick
Part B: Identify an obstacle that you’ve faced in your life. What was it preventing you from getting?
Part C: Return to the character that you are developing. Brainstorm a few possible obstacles they might face.

The Art Of Storytelling (Khan Academy)

Exercise 2: Wants vs. Needs

Part A: Return to the main characters from your three favorite films. Identify a want and a need for each character.
Alita : Wants : To be With Hugo. Needs : Stay Alive
Emmet : Wants : To be With Lucy. Needs : Rescue His Friends
For example: In Monsters Inc. Sulley wants to be the best scarer but he needs to be a father figure.
Part B: Try to identify one of your own wants and needs.
Wants : Get Robux Need : Get Money
Part C: Return to your character idea from the previous exercise. Brainstorm answers to the following questions:
  • What do they want most?

Become a Qudditch Champion

  • Who do they want to become?

Become a Qudditch Champion

  • What might they need in order to succeed?



The Art Of Storytelling (Khan Academy)

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Exercise 1: Internal & External Features

Part A: Return to your three favorite films and identify a main character in each.
Alita (Character from Alita : Battle Angel)
Emmet (Character from Lego Movie 2 : The Second Part)
Greg Heffley (Character from Diary of a Wimpy kid)
Part B: Identify three of their external features.
Alita :Martian, Cyborg, Loves Dogs, Loves to fight

Emmet :Builder, The Special, Master Builder,

Greg heffley :Middle schooler, flat hair, alWays has ideas

Part C: Identify three of their internal features.
Alita : Curious, Anger, Conflict

Emmet : Happy, Caring, Curious

Greg Heffley : Selfish, Anxiety, stubbornness
Part D: Identify three internal and external features of someone who you know.
Renne : External : Skinny, Wears Glasses, Messy Hair
Internal : Fear, Happy, Jealousy
Part E: Return to one of your character ideas from the last lesson. Brainstorm some possible answers to the following questions (feel free to work alone or in a group)
External features:
  • Is your character a human, animal, object?


  • What kind of clothing do they wear?


  • How does your character move?

He Walks

  • What’s the first thing you’d notice when looking at them from a distance?


Internal features:
  • What do they like to do?

Go and talk to Hagrid

  • What do they fear?


  • What emotion do they most often feel?


  • How would they respond if trapped in an elevator?

He Would use bombarda spell and blast out of the elevator


The Art Of Storytelling (Khan Academy)

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Warm up: elevator test

This is an activity you can return to many times during the creation of a character.

Step 1: Pick a character from one of your favorite films. How would they respond to being trapped in an elevator? Draw or write a single page about what happens.
Emmet is stuck in an elevator he panics and screams but Lucy shuts him up and they master build out of the elevator
Step 2: Return to a character you are in the process of creating and do the same thing.

John is stuck in an elevator and at first, he panicked “what am i gonna do???!?!?” After that he had an idea “Maybe I’ll wait by drawing some characters” So he waited and waited and waited until… “yeah!!! its open!!” and then he became a designer for Pixar and learnt how to draw cartoons.


The Art Of Storytelling (Khan Academy)

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Activity 4: Characters & Worlds

Part A: Return to your 3 films. Identify the worlds and characters in each. Write these down.
  • Who are the main characters?

Greg Heffley



  • Is there a character you identify with most?


  • Where does the movie take place? Is it one world or multiple worlds?

for diary of a Wimpy kid its just 1 World, same With Alita it is also 1 World but Emmet’s story is there are 2 Worlds


Part B: Try mixing a character and world from different movies. Try this a few times and see what happens.
Emmet With alita Would be lego from the future
alita With greg Would be Alita going to middle school in the future
emmet with greg would be greg would be lego and be in middle school
Part C: Return to your three “what if” statements from the previous exercises. Pick your favorite one. Can you imagine a possible character and world?
Part D: (optional) Draw or write about what life would be like in this world.

The Art Of StoryTelling (Khan Academy)

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Exercise 3: What if…

Part A: Return to your 3 favorite films and try reframing each of them in terms of a “what if” statement. Share these with someone (written or verbally) and see if they can guess what movie it is from!

What if our LEGO’s Were at War With DUPLO’s?

What if We tell What it is to be a Middle-school kid’s life?

What if Mars Went to War With earth and then a martian Was found by a human and doesn’t remember her past life?

Part B: Now it’s your turn. Come up with 3-5 of your own “what if” ideas

What if cats could speak?

What if pictures from all around us suddenly come alive?

What if Jupiter had aliens?


The Art Of Storytelling (Khan Academy)

Exercise 2: Your three favorite films

Part A: Identify the three films that you would take to a deserted island….

1. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid

2. Lego Movie 2 (The Second Part)
3. Alita: Battle Angel
Part B: Why do you think you connected with these stories? Come up with at least one reason for each.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid : I feel connected to this movie because i sometimes find it hard to study in school
 Lego Movie 2 (The Second Part) : I like this movie because i like to be happy just like Emmet who always like to be happy (and drink coffee)
Alita: Battle Angel : this story’s about a future where everything is almost made with robots and it gives me a good picture of the future
Part C: What, if anything, do these three films have in common? How are they different?
Those three movies are very different from eachother for one Alita is from the future where as the other 2 movies are from the present and diary of a wimpy kid is a movie about a middle school boy and not action like the other 2 movies.