Pitch Me Baby One More Time: The Process of Crafting a Story

Written by Jolene Carter, (American University) Student Correspondent CET Film in Prague, Spring 2017

After spending several weeks developing story ideas for my short film, I’ve learned a lot about the best creative processes. Here are ten easy steps you can take to craft a story:

  1. Look for inspiration in the ideas that interest you
  2. Use this to develop a story
  3. Pitch this story to your professor
  4. Use the feedback to make changes to your story
  5. Pitch to your professor again
  6. Receive feedback
  7. Go back to the drawing board
  8. Pitch again
  9. Re-work your story with increasing frustration
  10. Repeat until something happens

So maybe these steps aren’t easy. There’s also far more steps than just ten. And maybe they’re just the ones that I followed. What I have learned, however, is that the process of crafting a story is really a series of re-creating.

Alumni from the Prague film program advised me to have an idea for the film I want to make before I get here. I would take that advice a step further and say have an idea in mind, but be prepared to re-work that idea.

During our pitching sessions, we each share our story ideas and get feedback from our professor and each other. After each round of feedback my group and I met up to make changes to our story. We pitched our revised story, received more feedback, washed, rinsed, repeat. It often felt like tearing the story apart and putting it back together over and over. However, this is the value of critique because our first ideas are rarely our best.

It was hard for me to move on from my original idea. I didn’t expect to keep receiving feedback that required me to change my story around so many times. Eventually I ended up with a story drastically different from my original idea. Yet somehow this new idea better got across the message I wanted to convey all along.

The process of crafting a story is definitely not ten easy steps. In fact, I don’t think they’re steps at all. It’s probably more analogous to a giant web of different things that don’t seem to fit together, but somehow eventually do. Make sure you tell a story that is important to you, but pay close attention to the feedback others give you. Be flexible. In the end, you may find a better way to tell the same story.