I have a template, well I am creating a template which is the same I use for writing short stories. I select keywords and elaborate under those key words..basically key ingredients if you will and expand upon them to enrich a story. Do you do the same in your writing process?1. protagonist
5. false defeat
6. protagonist wins
It varies by the goals for a particular composition. The current project is a branching narrative, so I use some standard techniques, but everything has to flow back into the main plot.I have a template, well I am creating a template which is the same I use for writing short stories. I select keywords and elaborate under those key words..basically key ingredients if you will and expand upon them to enrich a story. Do you do the same in your writing process?
Do you write with the reverse checkmark format in mind for story structure?
Amazing reply Nate! Thank youIt varies by the goals for a particular composition. The current project is a branching narrative, so I use some standard techniques, but everything has to flow back into the main plot.
I mostly learned by watching thousands of tv episodes, making case studies out of how a particular challenge was handled by an existing show or author, and riffing on that template. Plenty of mine canaries out there in fiction writing.
To better answer, I use the standard format for most stuff, but I'm always looking for opportunities to cleverly subvert some expectation. I think that you can't do that all the time though, since at that point subversion becomes the expectation, and you kind of back yourself into a corner. I think the default "reverse checkmark" formula is probably the most effective for film formats. Sometimes you have to think outside the story and imagine the real life reality. I can surprise an audience by killing off all their favorite characters at the end of the plot, and that's an interesting subversion, but simultaneously, what you don't want is for a group of exited people to pay to see a movie and then ending up sitting together in grim silence afterwards. It doesn't have to be a fairy tale ending every time, but you need some type of satisfying climax to a film.
There's more than one way to leave people with a favorable impression of your story though, and many examples are available.
The Usual Suspects - The criminal gets away with the crime, but with a reveal so clever that the audience is cheering for the bad guy.
The Matrix - The world is enslaved by machines, but at the end of the first movie a speech and some rev up music is played that left audiences excited about the next film, a cliffhanger with wide open possibilities
Fight Club - a disastrous conclusion from a film that broke all the rules, this film imploded in a way that sealed and delivered the undiluted philosophy of its anti materialistic message in a way felt like a strong finish in line with it's nihilistic motif. You can't just tack the ending of a Huey Lewis song onto everything.
The Shawshank Redemption - It's a mixed bag, where basically everyone's life was ruined by the time the film was over, but the filmmakers sold us on the concept that character could be it's own reward, and while objectively depressing, the film leaves audiences feeling like they saw something great happen. This one is hybrid, Andy gets out at the end, so it's a conventional resolution, but not one without it's own unique nuances.
The other answer is that I try to make skills habits, and improve them over time without putting much pressure on any one individual step. I think you learn the most about any complex skill via regular experience.
This is definitely an interesting question, and one I've thought about. I'm having issues with it now, due to considerations with YouTube's evolving standards of decency, which have robotic and draconian consequences. Two guys fight with spears and if one of them impales the other one, the channel gets demonetized. Guns are becoming a touchy subject with YouTube. So now I have to wonder if a gunfight could be enough cause to crash the entire company.Amazing reply Nate! Thank you
I have another question, its been on my mind for some time. I try to think of almost every movie I have ever seen, and there is almost always at least one form of violence in the films....I am not bothered by violence in films, as it is just movie making, but I also feel like relying on violence is a cheap way to create a story. Perhaps I am just thinking too deep about it all, but do you feel that movies require some violence or "pain" in order to create a conflict? I totally agree that psychological pain is needed to cause a conflict, otherwise...would it really be a conflict? And a movie without a conflict is boring as can be...
I am not exactly sure what I am asking, but do you feel it is more clever to create a movie with zero violence or do you feel some is needed to have an audience enjoy a film?
Thanks, its a question I just cant stop wondering about in script writing!
Here is an example, I play poker, and I feel there is a whole storyworld in poker that would have zero violence, but here is a poker movie, with outrageous violence lol why??
Amazing reply Nate, going to think a lot about it. Thanks manThis is definitely an interesting question, and one I've thought about. I'm having issues with it now, due to considerations with YouTube's evolving standards of decency, which have robotic and draconian consequences. Two guys fight with spears and if one of them impales the other one, the channel gets demonetized. Guns are becoming a touchy subject with YouTube. So now I have to wonder if a gunfight could be enough cause to crash the entire company.
Here's the problem, and the answer to your question. Violence is the apex of conflict, conflict is the essence of drama, and creating stakes is how you infuse a situation with drama. I once heard a great writer joke "I've never heard of someone complaining that the stakes were too high in a movie"
Comedy and realistic drama are the areas where you can get by without it, but the asterisk is that in a sense both of these formats often reference violence by proxy, e.g. a courtroom drama where the death penalty or life in a violent prison is on the table. When Clarke finally arrives at Wally World and finds it closed, he buys a fake gun and threatens to kill a security guard if the guard doesn't let his family into the theme park. The LAPD shows up, and again life or death stakes appear to be in play. So that's 2 life and death situations with guns that happened in National Lampoon's Vacation. Often in television shows, emotional violence is used as a substitution for actual violence, as seen in Dickens novel "Great Expectations".
Final answer, I think conflict, adversity, stakes, are foundational blocks of drama, and it's much harder to entertain without them than with. One of the few exceptions I've seen that actually worked were character studies of interesting people. I'd reference the recent band bio pictures Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody. In the King's Speech, the proxy was that the nations loss of confidence in their leadership would cause widespread damage if the leader embarrassed himself publicly by stuttering. So the possibility of being embarrassed was the main stake established, but they were clearly linked to much greater problems, including the possibility of war.
I would absolutely love to see it!! I will DM you to obtain a copy! I will send you my template once I edit it some more, but I have a feeling it is all things you have seen before!I have my own story template I've been working on and evolving for at least 20 years now... Give or take. It's based on The Hero's Journey. Since I never outline, I like having what needs to happen next, right in front of me to keep the flow going. I really don't even need it anymore since it's pretty much embedded in my brain but I still make sure it's right in front of me when I write. Why? Because I feel like when I read what has to happen next, my subconscious is always working on it while I write what happens just before. It's my own system that works for me.
Happy to share it... Just send me a message and I'll get it to you.
I recently took that same story template and and expanded it for books... I did this after several months of research -- reading only bestsellers in my genre. It's actually way more complicated than that but it breaks down a story for a book by chapter and I'm using it now and liking it very much.
I was never happy with what is thrown around as 3 ACT STRUCTURE. I mean, it's fine but as a template? It leaves out a hell of a lot in my humble opinion.
If I were to give out advice? I'd tell you to learn as much about story structure as possible... Read up on all the different structures and piece together your very own version that you feel good about... Then? As you watch movies, when something HITS you upside the head... Something that you feel is structural and could be in any story? See if you can work it into your own story structure template.