There’s Something Deeper Going On…

According to William Indick, author of Psychology for Screenwriters, “film is an extremely powerful psychological force.” If this is true, then we don’t just go to the movies to be entertained. There is something deeper going on.

There is nothing like a film that jolts your emotions. Whether you are moved to tears, or nearly fallout on the floor laughing, when your reactions to a story are vivid, you will remember the story long after you’ve digested the popcorn and moved on with life; it is indelible. But lasting connections do not just happen, especially in works of literature or in film. It is the result of calculated writing, which includes an understanding of human behavior and the relationship between conflict and human emotion.

Thank you screenwriter J.V. Hart and WriterDuet creator/software developer Guy Goldstein for creating a new story-mapping tool kit for screenwriters, which not only focuses on the plot, but the emotional journey of your characters.

I am excited to see how the collaborative efforts of these two masterminds will pay off!  I have used WriterDuet since it was first launched a few years ago, and I continue to stay amazed.  Screenwriter J.V. Hart has certainly seen his share of success with screenplays like:  Hook, Dracula, Tuck Everlasting, Muppet Treasure Island,  and Contact, and while HartChart is not new, it’s going live,  and I can hardly wait until its launching at the Austin Film Festival in October!

Details and Sign-Up here:  HartChart


What the heck does your character want?

Simply stated, want produces action.  Think about it…If you suddenly developed a toothache, what would you inevitably end up doing?  You’d call your dentist.

Here’s a good question to ask yourself when your creating a main character.  What is the inciting incident established for the main character?  You know…something that must be gotten or achieved.  Something that the character believes will ultimately make his or her life better.

Here are some examples of (obvious) external goals: money, love, career promotion, the love of a child or family member, etc.

Whatever this goal is, your protagonist must feel that this goal is essential to his or her life, and the audience must see that the character will suffer or loose out “if” he or she does not achieve this goal.  This connection is paramount between the main character and the audience.  If it’s not there, you might lose your audience along the way.  The character won’t be compelling and the audience won’t want to root for him or her.

Photo: Office Space Movie

Milton’s worried about his red stapler…but that’s just the beginning.

Just a little writing tip, in case you’re in the midst!

I am available for online, one-on-one, script coaching.   Click here: Script coaching online

Universal appeal: Transcending shallowness to birth inspiration

We are all on the same path.  It’s called “life,” and while we all share life experiences, we all have varied stories.  Our life experience is what connects us to each other, and we’re all walking in linear direction. In a screenplay, your main characters must do the same.  The protagonist is on a journey of discovery…whatever that discovery may be.  Even in death, there is discovery.

Famed screenwriter Syd Field says, “The mythology of the journey is a universal theme in all human expression and is expressed and imitated no matter what our language, culture, color, or location.”  From birth to death we walk the same path, and it is a path of personal discovery.

Why do some screenplays seem to tug at an audience more?  What is it that makes a story good?  It is the universal theme seen in the storyline, the development of the characters and our ability to relate to the characters at some level. Even if it is a flawed character, or a tyrant monster antagonist that is bent on destroying the world–we’ve seen them in the news, we’ve read about them in literature, and perhaps even been subject to his destructive ego.  Certainly we relate to the hero’s journey.  We understand internal and external conflict, because we all experience this in life.  We want a character like this to win; it’s important for him or her to conquer every personal and external battle.

A screenplay must transcend shallowness in order to create a story with universal appeal. What do I mean by that?  Each person has a life story with endless encyclopaedic variations. The distinction of a master screenwriter can be seen in his or her ability to select a lifetime of moments that touch, inspire and move an audience.  That in essence is universal appeal, and it is supremely important.

We will forever relate to these heroes who show incredible courage, valor, bravery in the face of danger or injustice, self-sacrifice, defenders of justice!  We will always root for Indiana Jones  in Raider’s of the Lost Ark, or John Book in The Witness, or young Daniel Lai Iijsso in The Karate Kid, or General Maximus Decimus Meridus in Gladiator, or Bob Wiley in What About Bob?, or Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, or William Munny in Unforgiven, or Celie in The Color Purple, or Clark Kent in Superman: The Movie, or Neo in The Matrix, or Spiderman in The Amazing Spiderman, or Rick Blaine in Casablana, or the infamous Robin of Loxley in Robin Hood.  The list is endless and ever-expanding.

For Screenwriting Coach/Script Analysis & Online Instruction