If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Activity 1: Beats

A screenshot of the "Story Spine":
  1. Once upon a time...
  2. Every day...
  3. Until one day...
  4. Because of that...
  5. Because of that...
  6. Because of that...
  7. Until finally...
  8. And ever since then...
The moral of the story is...
Part A: Beats can show the most important moments in your story. They show WHAT is happening, not HOW. Choose a format (outline form, using index cards, sketchbook, etc.) to identify and describe the beats that are part of the structure in each of your three favorite films.
Part B: Play the “Story Spine game” with a group of people. Go around in a circle and improv the development of a story. Start with “once upon a time” and have one person at a time spontaneously fill in the blank for each line.
Part C: Develop a story spine for your own film idea. Try sharing your spine with someone and iterating a few times…

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user aford27
    I'm making a story called born. if you want to hear it give me one upvote kk
    (97 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • starky tree style avatar for user -OffNote-
    I'm just gonna keep basing my stuff off of one of my stories that I'm trying to work on. It's a true story, but I think I'm gonna change the names of the characters and how they look, making them my OCs instead of the real people. It's longer because there's a lot to explain. If I don't include some things, it won't make sense ^^''

    Once upon a time, not really, there was a girl named Perplexity. She was a cupid, but tired of being alone. She could help everyone but herself with relationship issues.
    Every day, she would go to one of her classes, band in this case, and just go through it numbly. Alone. She soon started to long for something she didn't have- love.
    Until one day, a new boy came into her class. He was a percussionist like her, and when she didn't understand her part, he helped her learn how to play it. Perplexity became fond of him, always wanting to talk to him and hear his stories. She wrote him letters telling him about herself and he wrote back. His name was River.
    Because of this, she fell for him. Hard. She feared that he didn't like her because she was a nerd and liked things that other people made fun of so she hid her true self.
    Because of this, she changed. But in a good way, she still liked things, but she came to like new things too. She would catch River looking at her during lunch, which she loved. Perplexity became friends with his friends and got to talking with them. His best friend's girlfriend was one of her good friends now.
    Because of this, Perplexity learned something. River had a crush on her too. She was nervous to go to school every day, but she was so excited. She lost a bit of sleep, but nothing that would hurt her. One day, he handed her a letter. Shyly, he walked off with his friends laughing behind him. Perplexity got on the bus and read the letter. He had asked her out!
    Ever since then, Perplexity and River have been very happy together. They only have one class, band, together, but they enjoy it every day. Next year, Perplexity won't be in band, but she's going to try to be with River however she can. They love each other and their lives are so much better. Especially Perplexity, she finally got what she wanted, love.
    (29 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • winston baby style avatar for user Rohil Kuhad
    Lets start a story spine guys!

    once upon a time there was a rabbit who wanted to be the best among his siblings
    (14 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user A+ Anja
    My story is called Elithium. If you want to hear it give me an upvote!
    (12 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user A+ Anja
      There was once a girl called Mythika Dragonscale. Mythika was not a normal kid - she was from the invisible planet Elithium. Every Waxing Cresent Moon, Elithium would appear. Mythika didn't know of her past - she had no idea that she was an Elithium for she looked exactly like a human. But deep inside, she had supernatural powers.
      (4 votes)
  • duskpin tree style avatar for user Dannan
    One of my stories, the most complete and thought through of them, starts in a sort of strange place, at least in my opinion, and I'm not too sure if it's all that good. How does this sound?

    Once upon a time, there was this woman named Evera, who was pulled into a realm adjacent to the one that hosts earth and the rest of our known universe, losing her memory in the process. An entire mini-story happens and leads to her working with a man named Natu to recreate things that exist on earth, but not in their realm (Tutali). She continues to help Natu every day, until one day when her talent with electronics is noticed by someone else, who Evera agrees to work for because she doesn't really trust Natu at all.
    Because of this, Evera inadvertently becomes involved with a program that is working to eliminate the inhabitants of another realm that they think are dangerous, but they really aren't, and Evera & her companion from here on out, James Gray, know it.
    Because of that, they do everything they can to sabotage Adam(The person who requested Evera to help with this), but he finds out.
    Because of that, Adam takes action to prevent them from stopping his operation, proving without a doubt that Evera definitely made a mistake in trusting him rather than Natu.
    There is no "Because of that" in this story because this is actually a prequel to another thing I made, which offers up the conclusion to this story.
    The moral of the story is a combination of don't jump to conclusions, don't judge a book by its cover, and just stop for a moment and think things through before you do them, although it probably isn't clear from the key points.
    (10 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • leafers sapling style avatar for user Sofia Headley
    Here is something I'm working on :D

    Once upon a time there was a thief
    Every day she would go out and pick-pocket
    Until one day she was caught by the royal guard
    Because of that she lied to the kind and gracious queen, saying that her family was dead and she had no way to eat
    Because of that the queen took pity on the girl and offered her a home at the palace
    Because of that it became harder for the girl to hide her treacherous lies and secrets
    Until finally the queen uncovered them all and attempted to capture the girl

    there's no "ever since then" because that's just book 1
    but the moral is that lies and deceit can hurt the people around you, as well as yourself

    I hope it was fun to read 0w0
    (10 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user John Cornett
    I'm going to make a film called cut. It all about a Ninga called Sasuke Uchia off of Naruto but twisting it up if you want to hear more about it just give a vote.
    (9 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • piceratops seedling style avatar for user JefdaPigeon
    Story Spine
    Once upon a time there were three roommates that were best friends.
    Every day they attended their university and always entered the contests provided hoping that they might win.
    Until one day when they won a contest and got to go to the New Years event in New York, to watch the ball drop for the year 3000
    Because of that they meet Jasper, a man whom they trust (with evil intentions that can control many aspects of the weather and is going to ruin the New Years celebration and destroy the city but they don't know it)
    Because of that the roommates are forced to cancel their plans to try and stop him
    Because of that one of the roommates makes a sacrifice and dies to save everybody
    Until finally they get rid of Jasper and set the city back to normal
    And ever since then, the city and everybody inside of it was safe

    The moral is, don't trust strangers.
    (8 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user babyaj1002
    Tuesday, May 12, 2020
    Intro to Structure, Exercise 1, Part C
    My Story Spine

    Once upon a time, there was a kitten born to a mama cat along with 6 other kittens.
    Everyday, this kitten tried to eat from his mama’s teet, but the other kittens were all bigger, and wouldn’t let him eat very much.
    Because of this, the little kitten would wait until the others were sleeping, then he would climb over them to his mama and eat as much as he wanted.
    Because of that, his mother was able to give him special attention without the others getting in the away.
    Until one day, the little kitten and his siblings grew bigger, and all of them were taken away one by one. The little kitten tried to hide behind his mama, but eventually he was taken away as well. He and his mama cried for each other, but there was nothing they could do.
    Ever since that day, the little kitten longed for his mama, but he knew he had to stand up tall and proud like his mama taught him.
    Moral of the story: Don't let anything stop you and don't ever give up.

    This is the spine of my story, and the important lesson of first part, but that was only the beginning of the real story.
    Would I just start the next chapter without the "Once upon a time," or just continue with "Because of this or that?"
    (8 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
  • blobby green style avatar for user Carlos Arturo Diaz
    Hola alguien aun revisa estas lecciones?

    Aun podría tener feedback de mis anotaciones?

    Bueno saludos desde un pequeño lugar cerca de nunca jamas.

    Erase una vez un chico que desde pequeño quería hacer una película con su empresa favorita, era de lo único que hablaba todo el día, con el paso del tiempo creció y estudiaba mucho todo sobre el cine.

    hasta que un día se encontró un portal que abría una puerta a esa compañía, un portal mágico que lo podía teletransportar a ese lugar, pero cuando estaba a punto de pasar, apareció el guardián del portal, con una serie de pruebas que deberá pasar para demostrar que es digno de pertenecer a ese mundo mágico.

    por eso se da cuenta que debía saber quien era, debía conocerse y saber que es lo que quiere su corazón, a donde quería llegar, pero necesitaba alimentar a toda su familia.

    por eso se ve obligado a dormir muy pocas horas al dia para poder estudiar el manual que obtuvo del portal, y de dia trabajaba duro para llevar comida a su casa.

    por eso las personas que lo rodean no entienden que hace con tantos papeles en la pared, parce que se esta quedando loco, incluso la familia ya casi cuando iba a lograr su objetivo le tiran todas sus anotaciones a la basura.

    hasta que finalmente consigue construir una obra maestra llena de ritmo, ciencia, estructura, pero el guardián del portal se lo rechaza, por que aun tenia que aprender algo, y eso era que el cine no puede hacerse solo, y cuando se da cuenta de eso el guardián lo deja pasar.

    y desde entonces esta en un mundo mágico donde cualquier historia puede volverse realidad y cada uno de sus compañeros le aporta pedasitos y magia a la construcción de sus historias.

    mi historia tiene como objetivo mostrar el valor de la perseverancia, el sacrificio para lograr los sueños y el valor del trabajo en equipo.
    (7 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user