Storyweaving

Storyweaving is the process of unfolding the symbols of your story for the audience. It is where suspense, tension, mystery, and surprise are created. When adapting genres such as horror, thriller, and murder mystery, it should be noted that the experiential mood is almost storyform and storyencoding dependent. It is the weaving that takes center stage, and is therefore the most crucial aspect to maintain in an adaptation.

With murder mysteries particularly, the manner in which the cat is let out of the bag defines the audience experience. A great deal of the appeal of a Sherlock Holmes mystery, for example, is due to the steps through which the chase becomes afoot. Holmes has been successfully translated to virtually every time and place in human history changing both storyform and storyencoding until nothing remains of the original because the feel remains the same due to the way the case unravels. In many respects, the Holmes stories are identified by their exposition template, and that is why the audience comes to the work.

This is the same stage of communication that is emphasized in The Twilight Zone (the first series, the movie adaptation, and the adapted second series), The Outer Limits (first series and adapted series), and virtually every Stephen King book and movie. Did you ever wonder why some of King's best works don't translate well to the screen? The adaptations that don't work change the storyweaving, which is the identifying trademark of the King experience.

Make sure you examine the manner in which the audience is let in on the secrets of the story to be adapted. Is the story an Extrovert that lets it all hang out from scene one? Is it a Flirt that flaunts it but takes its time in delivering? Is your story an Introvert that must have its secrets coaxed out one at a time, or is it a Liar that fools us with red-herrings and mis-directions?

Unless you strive to maintain the original's personality, much of the charm may be lost in the translation. A recent example of this kind of mistake occurred in bringing The Beverly Hillbillies to the big screen. In the original series, the storyweaving personality was much like a British comedy of manners in which the cultured and proper are forced by circumstances to accommodate unsophisticated bumpkins. Enter Politically Correct storyweaving. Suddenly, the focus of comedy shifts from manners to physical comedy.

The slapstick gags are funny enough, but that is not what the audience expected. The Beverly Hillbillies the audience grew up with, was nowhere to be found in this movie. The personality associated with the title was not maintained. Interestingly, if there had been no original series, the motion picture would likely have been much funnier to an unbiased audience. When creating an original work, storyweaving considerations can be limited to exposition of the storyform. When adapting a work, storyweaving must also take into account the expectations of the audience, described in the fourth stage of communication, Story Reception.

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