Story structure and analysis for writers and screenwriters | Story24 story circle and story analysis
What kind of bird are you?

Moonrise Kingdom

There's no story if there isn't some conflict. The memorable things are usually not how pulled together everybody is. I think everybody feels lonely and trapped sometimes. I would think it's more or less the norm.

—Wes Anderson

Even smart kids stick their fingers in electrical sockets sometimes.

There's this thing about Wes Anderson's movies. They often seem to be set in a world that's at least a step or two removed from ordinary reality—with heightened artifice, sometimes stagey dialogue, fanciful "facts," even stop-motion crayon ponyfish—but they can be as hard-hitting with the emotional truths of their characters as any more naturalistic film,

Anderson's formalist whimsy is an acquired taste for some people, and that's fine. I'm a big proponent of liking what you like and not judging other people's tastes. I do find, though, that many critiques of his movies are disingenuous at best, and often based on suppositions that simply aren't true when you take a closer look at the films.

And when it comes to criticizing Moonrise Kingdom?*

I'd be careful if I were you. One of these days, somebody's gonna get pushed too far.

Moonrise Kingdom is a delight. It's the story of first love between two troubled kids, of grand gestures to break free of a world that seems to be against them, and of the adult ensemble that fears for their future and does their best to guide them in spite of—or more likely because of—their own many failings.

The basic outline is this: Set in the fall of 1965 (and flashing back to the summer of the preceding year) Sam Shakusky and Suzy Bishop meet and decide to go on the run together, alarming the adults of their small island community. There's a search involving a posse of Khaki Scouts, a capture, an escape, and a showdown featuring a couple of lightning strikes. There's also a pair of lefty scissors. Here's the whole Moonrise Kingdom story circle:

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New Year, New Post

when harry met sally new years party

Welcome to 2022. I'm sure there's enough being said on that, so I'll take a pass on the commentary.

But I do want to pop my head up for a few minutes for some quick site announcements. Yes, Story24 is alive and well, fully vaxxed and ready for ... I don't know, what rhymes with vaxxed? I'm a screenwriter, not a poet.

Anyway, the announcements
  • Yesterday I finally made a contact form on the Contact page instead of referring you all to Instagram, where your DMs tended to go missing for months before I discovered them.
  • Also yesterday, I updated the Resources page. It's no longer just a single link to the Criterion channel. Now it's a big list of books and other screenwriting resources that you might find helpful, along with brief comments about how helpful I found them to be for me. I'll continue to update the page as other things come to mind, so give it a look and let me know what I'm missing.
  • A new story circle post is on the way, I promise. Keep your eye on these pages or sign up for the email list (right-hand column under the poll) to be notified when it's out. And yes, by overwhelming request, it is going to be Moonrise Kingdom. What kind of bird are you?

I've got projects, so that's it for now. But you've all got my best wishes for the new year. Let's all stay healthy and do some great work and make it so much better than the last few, okay?

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Party Down

To say I'm excited about the return of Party Down is an understatement. I love this show and I've been grieving its loss for ten years. The recent news that it's coming back for six new episodes—featuring almost all of the original cast—had me dancing with the Starz like Constance Carmel.

Party Down ran for two seasons beginning in 2009. It was a show that Starz didn't really know what to do with at the time, as the network was struggling to figure out its own niche. I remember show creator Rob Thomas telling the story about Starz doing market research to figure out who their audience was, and what they learned was that Starz viewers were mostly people who had so much money that they didn't know they subscribed to Starz. On the plus side, the network was pretty hands off with the show. The only notes they ever gave were basically "more nudity, please."

Put your clothes on, Gordon. No one wants to see your penis. No one.

The concept behind Party Down was to follow a group of employees at a catering company, most of whom worked there as a side gig while pursuing Hollywood success—with often dismal results. Each episode took place at a different catered event, which gave a great showcase for guest stars, many of them recognizable from the Veronica Mars stable of actors (plus a few ringers like George Takei and a pre-scandal Stormy Daniels).

The ensemble cast centered around Adam Scott's Henry Pollard, whose acting career had peaked years earlier with a series of beer commercials. Ron Donald (Ken Marino) was the hapless team leader. Casey Klein (Lizzy Caplan) was an aspiring comedian (and love interest to Henry) who couldn't catch a break. Martin Starr played Roman, a wannabe writer with a superiority complex and a series of mediocre scripts. Ryan Hansen was Kyle Bradway, a good-looking but not so bright actor. And Jane Lynch rounded things out as Constance, a free-spirited '70s starlet oblivious to the reality that she had aged out of that game.

So you're like in the overall handsome business.

The cancellation was no great loss to anybody's career. Adam Scott went off to do a little thing called Parks and Rec. Jane Lynch had already left for Glee (and was replaced in season two by the wonderful Megan Mullaly). Martin Starr landed in Silicon Valley. Ryan Hansen got to still be BFFs with Kristen Bell. And Lizzy Caplan ... well, she's so busy that she's the only one who couldn't work the revived Party Down into her schedule.

That one hurts.

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

What's it like inside Charlie Kaufman's head? You have to wonder. It's not as if he doesn't continually open it up on the page—literally or metaphorically, I'm honestly not sure which. There's the door into Malkovich, the running down of memories in Eternal Sunshine, the replicated lives of Synecdoche, the self-reflective autobiographical fantasy of Adaptation. He does it again, or variations of it—whatever it is—in Anomalisa, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, and even his novel Antkind.

It's a fascinating place. I wouldn't want to live there.

Well, technically, the procedure itself is brain damage, but on a par with a night of heavy drinking. Nothing you'll miss.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the story of Joel Barish, whose girlfriend Clementine Kruczynski has had him erased from her memory. In response to being erased, Joel has the same procedure performed on himself to remove his own memories of Clementine. The bulk of the story takes place within Joel's head as old memories are erased one by one and as Joel changes his mind and starts fighting back against the process.

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Help Me Choose

What movie should I write about next? I have a few ideas, but I‘m open to suggestions:

 Before Sunrise
 Cats
 Donnie Darko
 Grosse Point Blank
 Hell or High Water
 La Dolce Vita
 La Notte
 Miller’s Crossing
 Never Let Me Go
 Pan’s Labyrinth
 Pulp Fiction
 Punch Drunk Love
 Star Wars
 The Big Lebowski
 or something else

Vote Results for Upcoming Posts

Thank you for your suggestion! Be sure to sign up below to be notified when new story circles are posted to the site!

votes for the next story circle
        Pan’s Labyrinth (16%)
        Pulp Fiction (13%)
        Punch Drunk Love (11%)
        Hell or High Water (11%)
        Before Sunrise (9%)
        Grosse Point Blank (9%)
        Miller’s Crossing (7%)
        The Big Lebowski (6%)
        Never Let Me Go (5%)
        Donnie Darko (5%)
        Other

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