Implement a B-A-B-C story tell

That was a note I got recently on a script.

“Implement a B-A-B-C story tell.”

Of course, at the time, I nodded blankly like a Radio One DJ at a Physics lecture.

“Uh-huh, yeah. Got you.”

But later on, in the privacy of my own idiocy, I realised there would be a problem applying said note to the script. Namely, what the fuck does it mean?

Implement a B-A-B-C story tell.

What? What the fuck? What does that mean?

B-story, A-story, B-story, C-story … repeat until the end of the script? Really? Surely not.

Maybe B-C is B-A’s brother and they think I should be telling the untold story of the A-Team’s sibling rivalry?

Does that sound likely?

I’m stumped. Yes, technically I could have just asked … probably still could, but I don’t want to look stupid in front of the individual concerned.

As opposed to looking stupid in front of the thousands hundreds tens of readers here.

Come to think of it, I think the note giver did mention reading this blog so … oh fuck it.

What does it mean?

One of you must know, with your university educations and your fancy lectures and book learning. Surely, one of you must have come across the fucking phrase before:

Implement a B-A-B-C story tell – what the fuck does it mean?

Help me.

Categories: Sad Bastard, Someone Else's Way | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Implement a B-A-B-C story tell

  1. Oh and if you’re wondering about context – there isn’t one. That’s pretty much the entirety of the note. As in:

    Implement a B-A-B-C story tell and the script will be really good.

    Obviously, they didn’t say ‘good’ they used some long fancy words I didn’t understand, but on looking them up they all mean ‘good’. Jesus, why can’t people say what they mean?

  2. My Google-Fu is weak today – I have no idea and couldn’t find out.

    However I was impressed to discover that your posting was on Google within a couple of hours – because this page was the only one that popped up in response.

    Not that that’s any help at all.

  3. dean

    would it be the the trick JJ Abrams uses a lot. Start your story at the end of act two. With your lead seemingly on the verge of defeat… Then cut to earlier in the story and have it play out linearly until you once again reach the end of act two.. Only to this time have it play out to its conclusion and into act three?

    A=Act 1
    B=Act 2
    C=Act 3

    Just a guess. I’ve never actually heard it described this way.

  4. Sally A

    Yep, I agree with Dean although I call it a 3123. Interestingly on Madmen they did a C A C B C structure this week which was brilliant (the peeks at the end of the story the “C” bits were very brief).

    • Dean, Sally – Honestly, if that’s the intention then it’s probably the stupidest note possible since the story is already told backwards in three separate time periods.

      To make things more complicated, the act breaks don’t correspond to the backwards time jumps. So Act 1 ends 2/3 of the way through the first time period (which is the most recent) and Act 2 ends 1/3 of the way through the last (earliest) time period.

      The entire story hinges around the event which breaks from Act 2 to Act 3 – basically ‘what happened?’ drives the story forward. Showing it at the beginning would be silly.

      Or would it?

      Hmm … suppose I could make it work.

      Except, of course, I was specifically given the opening scene and told I had to start from there … so that wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

      Generally, I think the main reason for putting the end at the beginning is when the beginning isn’t very interesting or bears no relation to the genre of the film. For example, Iron Man is an action movie. Action movies should open with some action. There is no action at the beginning of the story, therefore move an action scene to the beginning.

      You know what? It probably does mean that. I’ll take that as answer, thank you.

  5. Sally A

    I actually really like the device of hooking the audience in by giving them a teaser of the ending. but that could be because I do that in a film I’ve written and it’s gone down really well.

    Personally I think you should go back and ask exactly what they meant (and then tell us!). It can be very liberating saying you don’t understand what something means. And if anyone thinks badly of you for it then they are clearly idiots.

    • I like the device too, but (like all tools) only when used appropriately.

      I had a guy once who insisted we start with the final scene. Literally, the last scene – then work all the way through the film to get to it.

      Fair enough, I said, so we use the bulk of the movie to change your perspective on that scene? So when you get back to it, it isn’t what you thought?


      Just show the end scene first. Work through the film, then show the scene again. Then end without resolving it.

      Again, as I’m typing this I can think of certain movies where that might work – not in this case. You spent the whole script waiting for a resolution to that scene – which didn’t come.

      Needless to say, it came out of the second draft.

  6. B-A-B-C story tell…. You ever find out what they actually meant?

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