Help Writing Story


Hey everyone,

Thanks for checking out the post. Simply put, I’m having some trouble developing a story.

The assignment:
For my 2-d Animation class, I have to create a short animation that tells a story. The story doesn’t have to be elaborate; it just has to have a beginning, middle, and end. The entire animation will probably be about 40-60 seconds long to give you an idea of the time frame I’m working with.

This is my first attempt at creating a short. Any suggestions/pointers/ideas would be greatly appreciated. :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Here’s one idea I had for a comedy short. It’s very rough, so anything can be added, taken out, or changed

One day, a curious boy exploring the woods near his house stumbles upon a small wreckage (illustrated as a small pile of metal scraps and tangled wires). The boy wonders what it is and what business it has in the woods. Being a curious fellow, he brings the pile of scraps home and places it in the corner of his room, next to his robot posters. While he’s sleeping at night, the pile begins to transform.

When the boy wakes up, the pile is no longer a mound of scraps, but a metallic entity in mid-transformation. The boy jumps out of his bed and watches attentively. The entity slowly begins shaping itself – first an arm, then a head… With each passing moment, the figure becomes more identifiable. (The transformation scene would be very long and exaggerated. I want to make it to look and feel as dramatic as possible; powerful movements, vivid colors, and over-the-top ideas).

The dramatic transformation finally finishes and reveals a futuristic-looking robot. The boy can barely contain his excitement while he waits for the robot to do something. Moments pass but the robot remains motionless. More time passes; the boy’s confusion grows. The massive grin on the boy face gradually shrinks. There is a long awkward silence. The boy walks over to the robot and presses the various buttons located on its chest one by one in attempts to get a response, but they all do nothing. The boy gently taps the robot on the shoulder and causes it to fall over with a loud smash.

The animation then suddenly cuts to a scene of the boy throwing the robot away in the trash.

The animation cuts to another scene of a different boy in a junk yard looking at the robot.


I wanted the story to illustrate the feeling you get when you finally get something you’ve wanted for a long time and discover that it’s completely different from what you expected. I guess its depressing comedy. The transformation builds the robot up to be something amazing but in actuality is a useless hunk of metal.

I’m unsure if the story really works or not. I feel like it doesn’t quite “hit” as hard as I’d like it to.

I had another idea for the ending of the story where the robot actually does communicate with the boy. After the transformation process, the robot powers up to greet the boy with a slap to the face (or something disrespectful). The robot right off the bat gets on the boy nerves. The scene cuts the boy taking a can full of scraps to the dumpster (suggesting he destroyed it). The last scene would be of another boy finding the scraps somewhere (connecting the end with the beginning).

[B] So that’s what I have so far for ideas. I’m really open to anything.





Thanks for your very well organized post! I don’t take the time myself usually so there you go, thanks for taking the time.

Now on to the comments. First of all 40-60 sec are really and I mean reeeeaaaally short!
So take as less time as possible to tell your plot and use the rest of the time to make it believeable. Only last december I made a short animation longer than your timeframe based upon 3 images.

My first point of critique would be to write down what you want to tell within one sentence, maybe two but definitely not more. This makes you focus on what is important and what not.

Next make a storyboard with an indication of time. This to both get your creative juices flowing with background details (like the posters, the woods etc.) AND make you aware of how much time something will take.
You could even put the pictures on planes in your 3d app as textures and animate them to represent the animation and set your times accoordingly.

Finally I would like to point out that everything extra (change of environment, multiple characters, dialog, etc.) takes a lot of extra time. So try to shave off everything that isn’t really needed there as well. If you have time left you can always add more.

Please reply back with your 1 a 2 sentence story and your ideas on how to build from there. Then we can work on the punch.

Thanks for posting and hope you’ll find this helpful!


What I get from your story, is that you got something amazing happening (the robot assembling itself) and both we the audience and your main character are mere spectators. Try to engage your character a little more. You could have him assemble the robot himself (from old construction drawings). By having him work on it very diligently you can make the character more active and expressive. And then when he puts in the last part it transforms back to something completely useless…like a stapler or whatever.

Personally I would put the focus on the anticlimactic finish, rather than also forcing a cyclic storyline.

hope this helps



If a story is going to be cyclic, at least have something change before the cycle repeats. Does the robot do something for the boy? Maybe there’s a reason he ran into the woods, running away from a bully for example, and the robot helps him scare away or impress other kids or build his self-confidence before falling apart? If the robot changed the boy’s life in a meaningful way, then having it move on to the next boy could still feel like progress.



Big thanks for the helpful input everyone.


I appreciate the tips man.

Actually, the entire short doesn’t have to be exactly 40-60 seconds long; it can be any length, really. I just thought 40-60 seconds would be a good target. If I make it too long, I might not be able to finish it by the end of the semester which would be no good. :hmm:  I’ll have a better idea of the movie’s length later I guess as it all depends on when I finalize my story/ideas and how fast I animate everything. So to clarify, it could be 3-4 minutes if need be.

[I]One sentence that describes what I want to tell in the story. [/I]I was thinking about it today, but I think my story is too early in its stages to create one just yet. The story I wrote in my first post was just one possibility I had in mind. Everything – the story intro, conflict, and ending – are still up in the air at the moment. I don't quite know what I want to happen yet. For all I know, the robot could eat the boy and fly away in a spaceship in the end lol.

Also, thanks for the pointers. I’ll do my best to minimize the “fluff” in the animation and keep the non-essential work till the end. My teacher also suggested something similar. 


Here’s the progress on my characters sketches MINUS the bear.


As for the storyboards, I’ve already sketched a few pages just for fun.  I know the story will probably change as time progresses, but I feel like sketching my ideas helps me think on a visual level (environments, objects, etc.).

Here’s my storyboard. I put the timing below some of the images like you (matsman) recommended.

The storyboard ends at the robot transformation. I’ll try to post more pictures as they develops.



I like your ideas a lot. I didn’t even think about having the boy build the robot, but that sounds like it could work and turn out very interesting. Definitely some food for thought. Nice.

Good call with character engagement and expressions. I’ll keep that in mind.

In the end, if a cyclic storyline is awkward, I’ll just get rid of it. I was pushing for it, but if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. No biggy. :shrug:



Your post was BIG. With a little progression, the story would have much more substance/ meaning. Man, I knew the story felt a little hallow but I wasn’t sure exactly why. That’s definitely it. 

All I hope is whatever I add doesn’t make this short animation into a feature length film.

You got me thinking with that post.


Thanks x 10 for the help everyone.


[color=LightBlue] here’s what I got so far for my animatic.[/color]


     [color=LightBlue]I was going planning on using this track for the  background music. Its a track I composed a while back.[/color]
             If not this track than maybe this one...
             I want to use a track that is more upbeat.
             In terms of the story line, I still feel like it needs some sort of change that happens to give it some purpose (what Jeremybirn was talking about) - maybe the boy thinks differently after meeting the robot or something.
             Adding some humor to it would also be a plus.


If you ask me, you already got to much change going on. Remember to keep your story really small. It seems that you have completely abandoned your first premisse that you wanted to tell a story about expectations and disappointment.
I like the start of your animatic, that you show the boy is obsessed with robots (tho I feel this could be stronger). I`m kindoff missing the part why the boy might think the heap of scrap can be turned into a robot. The work het put into building the robot himself could be longer (to increase the anticipation).
The part where the robot and the boy become best friends kindoff comes out of nowhere. We never saw he didnt have any friends or was bullied (or any other reason he might be in dire need of a friend). Perhaps in stead of the best friend motif the robot could be a character the boy can command around. This commanding nature is defeniately something in which your character could change (learn not to be so demanding).
I didnt quite understand the ending. He sees kids playing on the street and wants to do the same when the robot is hit by a car? If so, this gives the robot character some dog connotations in my eyes.



Keep in mind that if you’re drawing on 2s at 24 fps, that’s 12 new drawings every second. In a minute long short, that’s equates to 720 drawings. However, that doesn’t account for holds which would drastically reduce the amount of drawing you have to do. Even then, it’s still a large amount of work; especially with two characters. Considering you’re still a student, I think you’re setting yourself up for much more than you can handle. It takes a professional animator weeks just to produce a short 10 second piece.


I agree with most of the posters. Your story can turn out to be an interesting short film bu at 40-60 seconds you need a simpler and compacter story. Preferably with less environments.

Maybe everything should start and end at the place where the wreckage is discovered.
Maybe the wreckage is actually something else, that surprises your audience and delivers a message at the same time… (a turtle, a tree bark, a rest place of a homeless man etc…)

Having a background in copywriting, I can assure you that you need less, to make more out of your story.


I just wanted to let you guys know how the animation is coming along. Here it is at its current state. Sorry for the late replies.




The boy and the robot are both sitting in the driveway at that scene. A few friends of the boy’s friends call him over from the street to come play. The boy leaves the robot behind as a way to show that he has grown out of it. The father, moments later, comes home from work and throws the robot in the garbage.

The ending of the animation is still up in the air… I’m looking to make it quick and punchy.

A huge thanks to everybody’s input.


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