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Blogging the MOOC - The Future of Storytelling with Iversity - Part I

Part I  


Lecturer:  Christina Maria Schollerer MA

The course will be given through Video lectures, creative tasks and quizzes. It deals with the elements of storytelling in literature, drama and films. We  will to into the area of characters, setting, plots and inspiration.

Creative tasks will be given as assignement, But the course is not about grading or judging.

Unit 1 - What is Storytelling?

Lecturer: Christina Maria Schollerer MA

Telling a story - how do we define it?  There were inputs here from guest lecturers.

Guest Lecturer Robert Pratten - CEO of Conducttr and Transmedia Storyteller,suggests sequences of or  pieces of information, which we as humans try to connect and make some sense of, under a controlled system of delivery.  Robert feels that good storytellers know their audience and know how to convey a story so that the audience can relate and  do some of the work Themselves.

Maria Grau Stenzel: Project Manager at at Honig Studios, Berlin, feels that storytelling is a language, which can vary according to circumstances, according to the medium. Stories may be expressed through cinema, dance and poetry, in other words,   the media for storytelling may vary.

.Cornelia Funke - Fantasy Author - there are many ways, but every writer should define storytelling for him/herself.  Sometimes the audience defines what it is.  It sometimes depends on the medium.

The overall picture?    'Storytelling' consists of both the' story' and the 'telling.'The course is about the structures elements and concepts needed to create a story. It deals with  people who tell stories, the  tools they use and of course, the telling of a story. There will be a an exploration of the mode of operation.

Summing up?  The contents of a story and the way a story are told is tightly interwoven.

Unit II

Lecturer:  Christina Maria Schollerer MA
In this unit, how technological advances have affected the structure and medium of storytelling.

Guest Lecturer Prof Dr Hans-Christoph Hobohm. Professor of LIbrary Science at the University of Potsdam in Germany says that there is a change in the structure of prose when one moves from orality to literacy. Since the eighteenth century (a time of increased literacy) we see more personal involvement in stories, maybe more author voice.  In the oral tradition, stories were more group centred, as in the epics.  But stories have evolved and become more personal.  The possiblity to write of one's personal experience is a recent innovation.  Changes in story structure have evolved.

The overall picture?  From the oral transmission of epic stories to literacy and the introduction of the printing press. there was a period of thousands of years.  When cinema evolved in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, the evolution to radio, television, digital computers and ultimately smartphones and Youtube, the timespan has been relatively short.

Summing up?  In recent years, the evolution of technological tools to tell and share stories has accelerated.  The invention of technology has affected the structure of stories and they way they are told.

There is a considerable amount of complimentary material in this unit, links to the epics, a short piece of film showing an early film of 'A Trip To The Moon' (French, 1902) and a full lecture from Prof. Hobohm.

Unit IIl

Lecturer:  Christina Maria Schollerer MA
How do we design a story?  How do we create it?  Story Vs. Plot.  What's the difference?  The story is 'what is told' and the plot is 'how it's told, in a very rough definition.   Story is is the causal and chronological series of events.  Plot is the evens as they are presented to us.  Events can be even left out in the presentation.  The film 'MEMENTO' by Christopher Nolan is a good example of this. The story is broken down and fragmented and the story is presented in reverse.  In order to speak of the tragedy of the piece, one refers to the way the story fragmented and assembled, not the linear story. Story structure is an important factor in storytelling..

Summing up?  According to David Bordwell, film critic, the 'plot' is the order and duration of events as they are presented to us.

Unit IV

Lecturer:  Christina Maria Schollerer MA
In a drama, an exchange of behaviour forms a beat.  Several beats make a scene.  Several scenes make an act.  A sequence is a gathering of scenes which belong together in an overlapping linear progression.  A series of sequences is called an act.  According to Robert McKee, a 'scene' in a movie represents a number of actions and interactions at a place at one time, with these actions or interactions being called 'beats'.  Classic Hollywood comedies like PRETTY WOMAN (1990) follow the basic three-act-structure.  Classic story structure has a beginning, a middle and an end, in other words an exposition, a confrontation and a resolution, be it bad or good.  An unhappy ending is also an ending.  It can also be defined as 'meet, lose, get' when a potential couple meet.  Comedies would of course always have happy endings.

Summing up:  In Hollywood comedies, the classic three-act structure of beginning, middle and end can be defined as meet, lose and get.  (exposition, conflict, resolution)

Unit V

Lecturer: Christina Maria Schollerer MA
Regarding story design.  Understanding classic Hollywood cinema helps understanding storytelling as a whole.  According to Robert McKee, an event comes along, an inciting incident.and life is thrown out of balance. This imbalance incites a desire in the main character to put life back on an even keel. To do that, they perceive of something that they need.  An object of desire.  So the desire is pursued.  The design of the story is built on that inciting incident when life went out of balance, to the climax where balance is restored, for better or worse.  Events must progress in a certain way to hold the interest of the audience, catch their emotions and give them a satisfying experience.  How this works is variable.  The task of a good design - hook, hold and payoff the audiences interest.  This can work in one or two or three acts.  This interview with Robert McKee is available on  What is the archplot?  The archplot is the classical design of a story. Three act structure.  One or two main characters who develop a desire early in the story.  The protagonists face inner and outer problems. What is anti-plot and mini-plot?  Advice is to study structures to help analysis, but do not be bound by rules.  They may stifle creativity.

Summing up:  The story behind Nintendo's popular games figure Super Mario, who has to overcome difficulties and obstacles on his way to saving the princess can be considered as an example of a classical archplot.

Unit 6 - A Closer Look at Hook, Hold and Payoff.

Lecturer:  Christina Maria Schollerer MA
A hook is generally an emotional trigger that grabs us in.  The hold, the thing which encourages us to stick to the story and go with it, is the developed story, we now have a relationship with the main character and we know he/her has a goal and we want to stick around to see he gets it.  He has, of course, to struggle.  Against outer and inner forces.  After failure and struggle, they reach the goal, which is great and gives the payoff.  How can a writer achieve emotional impact?  When people get immersed in stories, it is like a deep meditation - the story becomes them, according to Robert Pratten.  Stories can take us on an emotional journey and take us to a place where the main character means something to us and we're emotionally invested in wanting him to overcome adversity.  Readers need to indentify with protagonists.

Summing up:  The last of the STAR WARS MOVIES usually contains scenes of celebration.  This deepens the impact of hook, hold and payoff.


Lecturer:  Christina Maria Schollerer
Who is he/she/it?  What does he/she/it want?  Why?

Guest Lecturer:  Cornelia Funke doesn't believe in complete plotting, she loves to be surprised by her characters, loves to find the story.  Basically, is a pantser.

Summing up:      Characters shape the action/story.

Unit 8 How to Get Started

Lecturer:  Christina Maria Schollerer.
NaNoWriMo discussion.

Summing up:  According to one famous writer, it is important to not get baogged down with rules and eb a bit playful. Explore, see what works.  For Cornelia Funke, ideas are everywhere, in a photo or anything.  Sometimes a character appears.  She advises 'don't lose the playfulness'.

In less than 400 words sum up a story which affected you.  Summarise and say what made it special.

The result is below but I'm not sure of the length.

The story which affected me most, or rather one of the stories, is the classic novel JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte, which was the first piece of classic literature I ever read in my life. I read it in 1974 when I was eleven years old. It's both a romance and a gothic novel. I never re-read it, but I think I should. I think perhaps reading it at this age would change my impression of it.
Jane Eyre is an orphan who is cruelly treated by her cousins who live in a grand house. She ends up in an orphanage called Lowood School for the daughters of clergymen. She suffers many humiliations there but learns to have patience, inspired by another student, Helen Burns, who eventually dies prematurely. When Jane grows up, she is engaged as a governess by a gentleman called Mr. Rochester for his young ward. She agrees to marry the gentleman, but the wedding is prevented by the discovery that Mr. Rochester's first wife is still alive, insane and chained in the attic. Jane leaves Rochester and is engaged as a governess somewhere else. She eventually agrees to marry a clergyman and go to live with him in India. However, she eventually chooses not to marry that man and returns to the now widowed Rochester, who is now blind. I remember the line 'Reader, I married him.'.
I was very young when I read this and a lot of the problems faced by the adult Jane went right over my head, so I suppose it's time for a re-read. Thirty nine years is a long time, after all. I think I mostly identified with the younger Jane. However, Jane's patience under various trials and her loyalty impressed me a lot. The hint of horror in the story (the insane woman chained in the attic) added a touch of fascination.

The best thing to do is to open the lecture on the day it comes out.  Listen to as much as possible,
take notes (these are my notes) and once finished, spend the rest of the week reading up on the extra material.  I couldn't join on the Friday but had to join on Monday.  But still, at least I got there.



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