Mastering Story with Anatomy of Chaos

by Naomi Beaty on January 27, 2017

Looking for some inspiration today? Filmmaker Adam Skelter has created a series of video essays under the label Anatomy of Chaos that provide a great (free!) resource for screenwriters, filmmakers, and storytellers of all kinds. The essays explore the art of story, and are intended to educate, inspire, and to foster discussion.

The series covers everything story-related and it's impossible to choose a favorite, but here we'll highlight How to Write a Story, Part 1. Adam packs this 8-minute video essay with a beautiful description of what a story is, plus offers a framework for developing your own stories.

>> Related: How This Children’s Book Can Teach Screenwriters About Engaging Storytelling

How to Write a Story, Part 1 includes this great takeaway:

"Often the more cloaked a metaphor, the more effectively it resonates with an audience. It's like everyone has a border of disbelief, and we're smuggling ideas into the country of their minds. When we fail to represent the world in an emotionally-convincing way, our story's deported from the audience. And they check out. Our job as writers is to conjure metaphors that resonate. To anticipate the emotional expectations of the audience, and take them in a direction that means something to them."

And that's only the first minute of video. See it for yourself here:

And because you'll want the rest of the framework, here's How to Write a Story, Part 2.

Who's behind the Anatomy of Chaos? Adam Skelter is a writer, director, and story artist, who has worked for both major and independent production studios in film, television, and games, including Dreamworks, Warner Brothers, and Nickelodeon, among others. A Calarts graduate, Adam has lived abroad, studying writing and visual art in Florence, Italy, Paris, France, and Guanajuato, Mexico. He also taught story structure and dramatic theory, as well as painting and story art at California Institute of the Arts.

And Adam was kind enough to give us a peek behind the scenes, about how and why Anatomy of Chaos came to be:

"I began Anatomy of Chaos as a way to promote my novel Prophet Margin. I also wanted a place to publicly share some of the storytelling techniques I’ve learned over the years in working in entertainment.

Anatomy of Chaos began as a compressed version of a lecture series I used to teach at Calarts (my alma mater). That’s mainly why they’re so dense. I’m essential cramming an hour lecture into about ten to fifteen minutes. I organized them like a textbook, so the viewer can refer to specific concepts and principles by time code in the description menu.

It has also become an opportunity for me to discuss my personal views on related subjects like culture, theory, and art. It is intended to help storytellers of all disciplines. I work as a screenwriter, storyboard artist, director, designer, as well as an author. Though Anatomy of Chaos is targeted toward writers, I feel like artists in any discipline could benefit from it.

My hope was to create discussion, pose ideas and perspectives, maybe a few strategies to help artists in developing their work. I consider art to be a very open discipline. I don’t buy into guru models of the proper “right or wrong” way to do things. Storytelling is an art form. I don’t pretend to be an authority. But I also don’t shy away from sharing my opinion about what makes a good story.

The lyrics of the opening theme are from a White Stripes song “Little Room.” It perfectly articulates the creative struggle all artists go through. In the Anatomy of Chaos series I hope to engage ideas and artists at any level – artists who are just starting out, as well as veterans who might want a little reminder of the fundamentals. Either way I hope people find it entertaining and engaging… And if they like my work I hope they’ll take an interest in my novels, available at Lost Tribe Entertainment.

Thanks for watching!"

>> Related: Top 10 TED Talks on Storytelling and Filmmaking

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