Archplot, Miniplot or Subplot : what is your narrative style ?

Updated: May 19, 2021

First, I have read John Truby's book "The Anatomy of Story : 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller" and then, Robert Mc Kee's book, "Story : Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting" which is another well-renowned scriptwriter in Hollywood.

I would advise reading Truby first, which is the most readily accessible but both works are very interesting and most of the time, complementary.

One element of Robert Mc Kee's book that I enjoyed the most was what he describes as "the spectrum of the narrative structure".

When a character enters your imagination, it brings with it a wealth of possible stories. The difficulty lies in the art of selecting moments in the life of this character while giving the impression of witnessing his entire life.

By starting with meaningful details, you can bring the viewer into the inner life of your character, whether they are awake or daydreaming.

  • Three levels of conflict

Once you finish this first step, comes the determination of the personal conflict between the character and his entourage, family, friends, love relationships. McKee also suggests considering a confrontation of the hero with social institutions, such as his university, his company, the church, or the judicial system.

By broadening the theme further, his entire environment confronts him ; a city with dangerous streets, an exposure to deadly diseases. Someone chases him, his car won't start, and he's running out of time.

If possible, combine these three levels of conflict, knowing that you have a limited amount of time, about two hours for a feature film, and more for a TV series, where despite everything, you have to make choices