Screenwriting part 2, from Quackcast 69.
Ozoneocean at 11:16AM, March 19, 2012
This is the second part of Bane's scriptwriting and story-writing Tutorial from the Quackcasts, this is from Quackcast69 and focusses mainly on three particular story genres: Rites of Passage, Dude with a Problem, and Out of the Bottle.
This is all by Banes -http://www.drunkduck.com/user/Banes/
From this Quackcast here:
Screenwriting Part 2 of 4
And here we are with Screenwriting Genres part 2!
I do hope people are getting something out of this, if only allowing them to look at stories in a slightly different way.
Learning this stuff has made a HUGE impact on me, not just in my writing, but I am able to talk about it at great length and annoy people, driving them away and giving me more privacy!
Just another tool for the ol’ creative toolbox…
We can start with a quick recap.
The structure template for stories of ANY genre that we’re using is this (we can alternate reading the points…)
1. Opening Image
-which is the Beginning. It’s a “before” picture.
2. Theme Stated
-where the underlying meaning of the story is touched on.
3. The Set-Up
-which quickly introduces the main characters, and the protagonist or “world” with an incompleteness or “flaws”.
-very often at minute 12 of a film, where something significant happens to the hero, calling for some kind of action!
-where the hero hesitates, questions, resists, wonders, and waffles. Mmmm, waffles!
6. The Break into Act 2
-where the hero takes action, makes a choice, and enters a “new world”, at least metaphorically.
7. The B-Story
-which is often the “love story” but can also be “the bad guys”, “a friendship”, or something else entirely. This is often where the ideas in the theme are explored.
8. Fun and Games
- where we see the PREMISE of the movie in action.
-whether it’s a “false victory”, like a kiss or a party, or a “false defeat”, this is where things get more serious or irreversible for the heroes.
10. Bad Guys Close In
-where the pressure begins to increase. confidence is shaken and enemies regroup!
11. All Is Lost
-The “low point”, where something bad happens and the hero is ‘worse off than where he started”. Somebody often dies here, or there’s a ‘hint’ of death.
12. Dark Night of the Soul
-Another hesitation. where the hero is lost and hopeless and doesn’t know what to do.
13. The Break into Act 3
-where the hero rallies back to try again!
14. The Finale
-where the final struggle takes place, and the hero wins…or not. And then, of course-
15. The Final Image
-the “after” picture, the opposite of the opening image, which shows that the hero, the world, (or maybe we the audience), have changed.
This is a very handy template to apply to a story…especially a longer-form, traditional narrative (it even has potential to help with your more experimental, non-traditional pieces, though!)
So that’s the story template…it is very very helpful, versatile and kinda fun to use.
After outlining story structure, we talked about GENRES. These are not genres as in sci-fi, comedy, or horror, but more to do with what happens in different types of stories. What KIND of story are we looking at.
It can be helpful to understand these different genres, to better understand what your story IS.
We covered 2 different GENRES or story types.
1. The Golden Fleece
-which is closest to the traditional “hero’s journey”.
A hero gathers a ‘team’ (or tools) and goes on a journey, struggling to achieve a specific goal. The types of Golden Fleece stories are many, and include epic journeys like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, but also military missions, criminal enterprises and heists, prison escape movies, revenge films, and even biographical films of famous figures!
The other genre was
2. Monster in the House
-In which a powerful, evil creature (or person) stalks the heroes relentlessly. The heroes’ motivation in these stories is simply to not be killed, or eaten….or worse!
These stories include threats from out n’ out monsters like Jaws, The Blob, and the alien from “Alien”, but also the serial killers from Halloween and Saw. This genre also includes GHOSTS and other- -dimensional horrors, and even DOMESTIC monsters like in Fatal Attraction and the Cable Guy!
OUT OF THE BOTTLE
Whether it comes from aliens, a special potion or formula, a visit from angels, a curse, or something else, this genre is all about MAGIC!
The underlying theme of these is pretty much always “be careful what you wish for”. Having a magic power can make life easier, but if the story’s gonna be interesting, the sailing should not be smooth!
The subgenres include:
The BODY SWITCH story - where people switch bodies or take different forms. I can’t believe they’re still making these - Freaky Friday, Like Father Like Son, Vice Versa, The Shaggy Dog. Something like MULTIPLICITY fits in here, too.
MAGIC BEINGS or “Angels” - like in Cocoon, Angels in the Outfield, Michael, The Cat in the Hat, Aladdin, Scrooged (or “a christmas carol” if you like…) and Mary Poppins. And Knight Rider. Hey, when’s THAT movie coming out? Can’t believe it hasn’t been made yet!
It also includes
THING magic (or magic devices) like in CLICK, Love Potion Number 9, The Nutty Professor, or Flubber, the Mask.
CURSE magic - as in Liar Liar, Shallow Hal, or that new Eddie Murphy opus “A Thousand Words”.
SURREAL MAGIC - where the hero is drawn into a new world or parallel environment that is “magic” or bizarre, like in Groundhog Day, The Butterfly Effect, Pleasantville, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Field of Dreams.
Example on Drunk Duck
Lena by lenadventures
These MAGIC stories often have a section where the hero is without his magic and has to solve his problems alone!
VERY often the hero realizes he was better off being “normal”…that the life he was unsatisfied with was not so bad after all. That’s usually the point of these movies…after all the fun and challenges that come with the magic, the hero learns to appreciate what they have.
Cheesy? Maybe. But people LOVE this stuff!
DUDE WITH A PROBLEM
I got a problem!
Once upon a time, long ago, there came a young, wacky, muppet haired everyman named Bruce Willis. Young Mister Willis was featured in a movie called DIE HARD.
It was a massive success, but even more than that the template was imitated over and over…and still is.
Stories are solidified, screenplays are sold, and movies made with a pitch that says, for example, “It’s Die Hard on a bus!” (as in Speed) or “It’s Die Hard on a plane (as in Flightplan…and Red Eye) or “It’s Die Hard in a phone booth!” (as in Phone Booth), ….and will hopefully continue with my own screenplay, called “The Pantry”.
This genre involves an average dude or dudette. An everyman or everywoman, a regular shmuck who gets pulled into an extreme situation. The hero is way out of his depth, and never could have seen it coming.
It’s possibly one of the most imitated types of stories there is. Like I said, Die Hard has been the template for a long time.
But the genre existed before that, with an underdog facing an impossible situation. See flicks like North by Northwest, in which a regular dude is yanked into the world of spies, and FIRST BLOOD, in which Sylvester Stallone is hunted in the mountains by hillbilly cops. Speaking of hillbillies, don’t forget Deliverance! How could we forget “Deliverance”? Yikes!
Of course, most stories have problems to overcome, but these are a very specific type, with the underdog hero who suddenly finds himself in over his head.
The hero is innocent, generally, and pretty much an average, everyday joe-or-jane. They are pulled into a problem, almost always with life-or-death stakes. And they’re usually alone (unless they’re lucky enough to meet that one cop who’ll listen…or the sexy lady on a train!).
The stories include
LAW ENFORCEMENT PROBLEMS: with cops and robbers: Includes Die Hard, Ransom, The Fugitive, First Blood, Nick of Time, and the Hitcher. Also Memento, Insomnia, and lots of “cop movies” like the Dirty Harry series
SPY PROBLEMS: As in North by Northwest, the Bourne Identity, Paycheck, Mr and Mrs Smith.
DOMESTIC PROBLEMS: Sleeping With the Enemy, Rear Window, The Burbs (so awesome) and When a Stranger Calls. Also, Hostage, and the new movie “Gone” with Amanda Seyfried.
It also includes
NATURE PROBLEMS: Liam Neeson’s “the Grey”, The Edge, ALIVE! (with a group of dudes having a problem)
And EPIC Problems (or END of the WORLD problems) like in Armageddon, Deep Impact, Volcano, Outbreak and the Towering Inferno.
If you have an average dude with a big problem…with life and death stakes, you have a Dude with a Problem story!
I would put District 9 in this category. That dude had a serious problem!
It also includes the awesome Breaking Bad.
RITES of PASSAGE
Kind of like explaining “Dude With a Problem”, this seems a little vague at first…I mean, practically ALL stories have growth or change of some kind!
They sometimes seem PLOTLESS. Can be “novel-like”, with internal struggles and conflicts that are well suited to novels.
But these ‘Rites of Passage’ tales have the life-transition, first avoiding and then dealing with some big life change as the central plot. They can be award-winners, I guess.
People are stuck. They try to grow or change or do better “the wrong way”
Finally, they accept who they are, grow, and do it “the right way”. They make their way through the Rite of Passage!
One interesting thing is the extreme diversity of TONES this genre encompasses…everything from dark dramas to wacky comedies.
The Subcategories are:
ADDICTION rite of passage::
Clean and Sober (Michael Keaton alert! Yay!), Days of Wine and Roses, 28 Days (Sandra Bullock alert! RUN!), Crazyheart, Permanent Midnight, Trainspotting
DIVORCE or SEPARATION passage: Kramer vs. Kramer, The Breakup, War of the Roses, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Swingers, My Best Friend’s Wedding.
MIDLIFE or MATURITY Rites of Passage:
“10”, Tender Mercies, Lost in Translation, Broken Flowers, and (one of my faves) Nobody’s Fool with Paul Newman
DEATH Rites of Passage (about dealing with and/or accepting death): Leaving Las Vegas, Eulogy, Catch and Release, Wit
And, to avoid ending on a down note…
ADOLESCENT or COMING OF AGE passages:
American Graffiti, Ordinary People, Napoleon Dynamite, Good Will Hunting, American Pie, and (my favorite) High Fidelity.
Example of a “Rite of Passage” on Drunk Duck:
“Ethereal” by allanah
And that’s screenwriting genres part 2!
Hopefully people are enjoying this and getting something out of it.
To be continued…