By: Clyde Taber
When I taught a workshop on the Four Elements of Story in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I borrowed most of my material from my story mentor Jeremy Casper. There were a few people who questioned if the "hero's journey" structure is more of a Western construct. This conversation came up again in a recent series of emails prompted by this article Launching a Story with An Inciting Incident.
- Is the 'inciting incident' a western story element?
- Is it necessary in other cultures for a successful and compelling story?
- Should we doubt ourselves more and rely on local storytellers?
- What parts of our known successful western formula of storytelling can we count on as we cross cultures to help locals tell a compelling story?
I asked Jeremy to weigh in and here is his response:
Okay, one more thing... I guess I should also say that when I use the word "story" I'm referring to something very specific (a character trying to solve a problem - which implies an inciting incident). Poems and prose are typically not stories (based on this definition) but that doesn't mean that they aren't powerful. I think sometimes my students want to create the FILM equivalent of a written poem and I think there is a very important and needed place for that. That's just an entirely different approach to screenwriting. I don't want anyone to fall into the trap of believing that the only thing that film (and written words for that matter) can do is record dramatics. There are a thousand expressions that cinema and storytelling can take.