Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Being dramatic tends to cause problems.

The heart of a story is conflict. Really. There's nothing we like to watch better than people dealing with their problems. We don't watch real life (minus Italian NeoRealism) because there aren't enough problems to entertain the audience.

If you're looking to add drama to your script, why not try to add it to your life first?

I can give you a few pointers. You know those people from high school who were always have teary meltdowns in the hallway? Don't do that. The key is to be just a smidgen more dramatic in the things you do, the way you do them. For instance, when I came home from my day, I walked into my room and thought about how it seemed unreasonably stuffy. So I walked over to the window. But did I just open it, dear reader? Of course not! I grabbed it from the top and flung it open. Not in an outrageous tear the window off manner; more like a Disney push open the shutters and sing sort of way. However, by my mildly dramatic action of grabbing the window and flinging it open, I caught my finger between the two panes, smashed it, and ripped it right underneath the cuticle. I'm fairly certain the nail will be black tomorrow.

Drama and difficulty work together in such wonderful ways.

I'm in a rewrite class this semester. It's one of the reasons that my uni has such an exceptional screenwriting program - they teach you how to rewrite, which is where the real writing gets done. Not many unis do that. One thing my screenwriting prof guaranteed us is that, without even reading our scripts, he knew that we didn't have enough conflict in them. He knew a lot of interesting stuff about our screenplays without even having read them yet.


Kim H Peres said...

I look at why people aren't entertained by stories/scenes without conflict is because there is no useful information in them.

Somebody being happy doesn't mean anything to us, but somebody's telling us of how they got happy might give us clues as to how we can do the same thing.

Michael said...

The heart of a story is not conflict. The heart of a story is a cream-filled donut.

Mmmmm donuts.