Robert Cochran was a lawyer and a business consultant before turning to writing for television, where his credits include L. A. Law, Falcon Crest, Sons and Daughters, JAG, and The Commish. He was also a producer on the television series, La Femme Nikita and co-created the hit international series, 24. He is the series’ Executive Producer and has written a number of its episodes.
He also wrote the mini-series, Attila, and has had 8 Emmy nominations and two Emmys including in 2006, Outstanding Drama Series, for 24.
Six Good Ideas about…Story Secrets (Structure)
1. Before you start, consider through whose eyes the story should be told. The obvious choice is not always the most interesting one.
2. It’s a good idea to start your story with your protagonist in action. Beginning with long descriptions of the setting or the weather doesn’t tend to grab the reader or viewer. Even in articles and short stories, it’s a good idea to start with something that gets attention.
3. If you have a subplot, introduce it early.
4. Set the tone of your story quickly. For example, if it’s going to be a thriller, foreshadow that even if the first big thrilling moment doesn’t take place for some time.
5. The most difficult part of the story is the middle. Things that will help include having enough incidents of escalating tension, several surprise developments that are nonetheless justified, and a subplot that acts as a counterpoint to the main action (in other words, one that is moving fast when the main story slows down, and vice-versa).
6. If you have problems with the ending, usually the seeds of your problem are much earlier. Go back and rework the plot so that the ending you want is set up but not predictable.
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— Robert Cochran, co-creator and Executive Producer, ’24’
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