Reader Question: Should you plot out the Protagonist’s arc or just go with your gut?

Some words of ‘wisdom’ from legendary Hollywood producer Max Millimeter.

A tweet from @CaveDude21:

Do you actually plot out the Protag’s Emotional Arc, or just go with gut?

I’m tempted to go to my default point: There’s no right way to write. Every writer is different. Every story is different. But you know what? I’m going to pull legendary Hollywood movie producer Max Millimeter into this conversation to lend some, shall we say, reality to the conversation.

Okay, first off, I gotta be frank. I hate that word “arc.” You writers throw that around in meetings all the time, arc arc here, arc arc there, here an arc, there an arc, everybody’s got a fucking arc arc.

Know what I think? Writers use that word ‘coz it makes it sound like you got some deep insight into a big fat mystery what a character’s about.

Bull shit! It ain’t rocket science. It’s about who a character is and what they go through. Boom! Easy peasy, let’s get sleezy.

So arc that!

Max Millimeter as a boy.

Now let’s say I got a story. And I got back-to-back meetings with two different writers to see who I’m gonna hire to write said story.

Writer A, she comes in and while she goes on about the Protagonist’s arc, which as I just said drives me a little nutso, at least she’s telling me what I wanna hear: The Protagonist starts out over here being one way, goes through some shit, then ends up over here being another way. The story changes them, they’re like a different person, you know.

Okay, so it’s Writer B’s turn, and he comes in, and let’s say I’m tryin’ to be real nice, meet him on his turf. I say, “So what about the Protagonist’s arc?” And he says, “Well, you know, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that, and instead of laying it out for you, I’ve decided to go with my gut in figuring it out.”

Now, you tell me: Who do you pick for that project, huh? Miss Here-Is-The-Protagonist’s-Arc-All-Laid-Out-Beginning-Middle-And-End or Mister-Go-With-My-Gut-You-Just-Gotta-Trust-Me-And-My-Artsy-Fartsy-Process?

See what I’m saying?

Look, you wanna write a spec script and you decide not to figure shit out before you type FADE IN, be my guest, ‘coz evidently you live in a world full of petunias and ponies, rainbows and ribbons la la la.

But you wanna live in my world, or better yet, work in my world, where it’s deadlines and competition and I need a script yesterday and just bottom the freakin’ line for me, yeah, you better damn well figure out your Protagonist’s arc, or else it’s bye-bye Hollywood, hello Radio Shack.

That still doesn’t mean I like that word ‘arc.’

An additional point: The Protagonist is almost always the single most important character in a story. As their Want defines the shape of the Plotline, the story’s physical journey, so too their Need defines the shape of the Themeline, the story’s psychological journey. It is critical to determine what both of those are for you to be in touch with the structure and soul of the story.

As to the subtext of the question: “Do I have to do the hard work of figuring out the nature of a Protagonist’s metamorphosis in Prep, before I write the script, or can I just type FADE IN and figure it out along the way?” A writer can choose to do anything they want. However I side with Max here: Work through this type of thing in Prep. Face it: You’re either going to figure it out then or figure it out while writing the script. You’re much better off working that out before you type FADE IN so you don’t get lost, frustrated and quit before you get to FADE OUT.

GITS readers, what say ye?

Comment Archive


Reader Question: Should you plot out the Protagonist’s arc or just go with your gut? was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

TV Bits: ‘Cobra Kai’ Plot Details, ‘The Punisher’ Images, ‘Star Trek Discovery’ Reviews

Marvel's The Punisher

In this edition of TV Bits:

  • Plot details revealed of YouTube Red’s Karate Kid sequel, Cobra Kai.
  • The Punisher releases its first official images.
  • CBS won’t lift the Star Trek Discovery review embargo until it airs.
  • The Game of Thrones season 7 Blu-ray is packed with new details and bonus content.
  • And more!

karate kid

Karate Kid spawned three sequels and a reboot, all about the scrappy underdog — the first two about Ralph Macchio’s Daniel, whose mantle was then picked up by Hilary Swank and (kind of) Jaden Smith — who bests the all-American bully. But what happens to the bully of the story?

Thirty years later, and he gets his turn to be the hero too. William Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence, who was the abrasive, blond bully who terrorized Daniel in the first Karate Kid will get the spotlight in Cobra Kai, the YouTube Red 10-episode comedy series named after Johnny’s dojo in the film. In new plot details of Cobra Kai released by MovieHole, Johnny is now a down-on-his-luck septic tank cleaner who is so ragged that he gets mistaken for a homeless man. Desperate, he reopens the old Cobra Kai dojo and ends up taking in a bullied convenience store clerk named Miguel, finding himself on the other side of the story. While his reopened dojo once again puts him at odds with his old foe Daniel, who is a successful businessman with a perfect life, the two may end up teaming up against the new age bullies: ‘wrestler’ Kyler and his thug brothers who think karate is a “joke.”

Hopefully when the series rolls around in 2018, it’ll make bring back Bananarama’s iconic “Cruel Summer” once again.

punisher punisher 01 punisher 03 punisher 04 punisher 05 punisher 06 punisher 07 punisher 08 punisher 09 punisher 10 punisher 11 punisher 12

It looks like The Punisher will be both an origin story and a continuation for Jon Bernthal‘s Frank Castle after he left his burning house at the end of Daredevil season 2 with a weapons cache in hand and vengeance on his mind. The new official stills showing flashbacks of his time as a United States Marine, as well as interactions with Daredevil‘s Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and a whole cast of new characters including Ben Barnes as Billy Russo (the civilian name of the villain Jigsaw), former NSA analyst Micro (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), young veteran Lewis Walcott (Daniel Webber), Frank’s old friend Curtis Hoyle (Jason R. Moore), CIA agent Rawlins (Paul Schulze), Micro’s wife Sarah Lieberman (Jaime Ray Newman), Homeland agent Sam Stein (Michael Nathanson), and his partner Dinah (Amber Rose Revah).

A new synopsis for the series has also been revealed:

After exacting revenge on those responsible for the death of his wife and children, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) uncovers a conspiracy that runs far deeper than New York’s criminal underworld. Now known throughout the city as The Punisher, he must discover the truth about injustices that affect more than his family alone.

 Though Bernthal is a genre television pro, appearing in supporting roles in The Walking Dead and Daredevil, this will be his first time leading a superhero series — and it’s all thanks to his scene-stealing turn in the second season of Daredevil. In an interview leading up to the series’ premiere on Netflix this fall, Bernthal spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the burden of becoming a leading man, even if the man is a murderous, vengeful vigilante.

“It might be the Frank Castle inside me, but I’m always thinking things could be headed for the worst. I’m horrified all the time. Look, there was an unbelievable response to the Frank we put out there in Daredevil, and it means the world to me, and I’m so grateful, and I do not want to let people down.”

Bernthal goes on to talk about how Frank reflects the darkness “in all of us,” but what I want to know is when Kastle (the ship name for Karen Page and Frank Castle) is going to happen. Come one, she’s in three out of the 12 promotional stills! I need them to make doe eyes at each other for 12 episodes.

Continue Reading TV Bits: ‘Cobra Kai’ Plot Details, ‘The Punisher’ Images, ‘Star Trek Discovery’ Reviews

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Character Driving Plot: “The Big Sick”

Analyzing the hit indie film starring Kumail Nanjani and Zoe Kazan.

A guest post from Tom Benedek, screenwriter (Cocoon) and co-founder of Screenwriting Master Class:

The Big Sick, based on the actual life story of Kumail Nanjani and Emily Gordon, centers around Emily’s life-and-death medical crisis but is almost entirely character-driven. The medical situation functions most certainly as the inciting incident, and offers dramatic tension throughout; but this is not a medical mystery. This is a love story, with Kumail caught between his love for Emily and his loyalty to his parents, who expect him to cooperate as they attempt to arrange a marriage for him to a Pakistani and Muslim woman. Emily, meanwhile, is caught between her love for Kumail and her conviction that she has been led on and betrayed by him.

Ray Romano, Zoe Kazan, and Holly Hunter in “The Big Sick”

Kumail, now the “ex,” waits awkwardly at the hospital with Emily’s parents.

The focus is on Kumail as he gets in touch with the depth of his feelings toward Emily and eventually wins over her parents, who’ve been predisposed to dislike him but witness up close Kumail’s devotion to their daughter. The medical crisis is ever-present. But a clear choice was made not to lean on hospital drama mechanics in order to maintain dramatic tension.

The script chooses to stay close to the internal struggle of Kumail.

He loves Emily and needs to live that truth, to be with her in spite of his family’s expectations of him. He overcomes the hostility of her parents and wins their love and respect. Emily overcomes her fear and hurt and regains her trust in Kumail’s love. The human drama is framed, but not overshadowed, by the medical drama.

Kumail Nanjani and Zoe Kazan in “The Big Sick”

Strategizing how character drives plot, finding that perfect balance of external and internal stories, is the screenwriter’s task.

Which of the character interactions did you resonate with most in The Big Sick? How important is conflict between characters in the movie?

Here are some clips and the trailer for The Big Sick, a wonderful movie:

Tom’s one week online class Writing the Character Driven Script starts Monday at Screenwritingmasterclass.com.


Character Driving Plot: “The Big Sick” was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

How to Write Plot Twists That Really Mess with People’s Heads

Explore the mechanics of a plot twist.

We can all name films with great plot twists—The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, and Fight Club are just a few—but at the same time, we can all name films with ones that are not so great. So, what’s the deal? What kinds of narrative elements are at play in an effective plot twist? In this video, Sage Hyden of Just Write offers up an explanation of how plot twists work to surprise, confound, and even infuriate us, and even provides some key concepts to learn in order to write a few good ones of your own.

In its essence, a plot twist is a “radical change in an expected direction or outcome.” Hyden talks specifically about surprise endings that use anagnorisis, which are definitely one of the most popular types of twists used in cinema, but there are many other ways to construct a good plot twist. Here are some notable examples:

Read More

No Film School

Script Analysis: “Kubo and the Two Strings” — Part 2: Plot

Read the script for the acclaimed animated movie and discuss this week.

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this bi-weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Plot.

In every scene, something happens. A plot point is a scene or group of scenes in which something major happens, an event that impacts the narrative causing it to turn in a new direction.

A relevant anecdote. Years ago, I was on the phone with a writer discussing a script project. My son Will, who was about four years old at the time, must have been listening to me talking about “plot points” during the conversation because after I hung up, he asked, “Daddy, what’s a plop point?”

That’s in effect what a plot point is. It’s an event that ‘plops’ into the narrative and changes its course. So when you think Plot Point, think Plop Point!

The value of this exercise:

  • To identify the backbone of the story structure.
  • To examine each major plot point and see how it is effective as an individual event.
  • To analyze the major plot points in aggregate to determine why they work together as the central plot.

This week: Kubo and the Two Strings. You may download a copy of the script here. You may also watch the movie on Netflix.

Screenplay by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, story by Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes.

IMDb plot summary: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.

Writing Exercise: Go through the scene-by-scene breakdown of Kubo and the Two Strings and identify the major plot points. Post your thoughts in comments and we’ll see if we can come up with a consensus.

Major kudos to Nikki Syreeta for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for Kubo and the Two Strings, go here.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

Tomorrow we shift our focus to the script’s key characters.

So seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week’s script: Kubo and the Two Strings.


Script Analysis: “Kubo and the Two Strings” — Part 2: Plot was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

‘Rampage’ Plot Details Emerge: It’s a Big, Dumb Monster Movie

Rampage Plot

The big screen has seen its fair share of giant movie monsters lately. Pacific Rim had humanity fight them off with giant robots called Jaegers, Godzilla returned to crush buildings and more in 2014, Kong: Skull Island pitted the giant ape King Kong against a slew of creepy monstrosities just last month, and even the indie world is bringing a huge creature into play controlled by Anne Hathaway in Colossal. And there are only more massive monsters coming.

Rampage is a new movie starring Dwayne Johnson based on the Midway arcade game of the same name from the 1980s. The game has players controlling humongous versions of an ape, a wolf and a lizard, all trying to cause as much city destruction as possible while avoiding the military trying to take them down with tanks, helicopters and more. That game is being turned in to a movie, and if you were somehow expecting it to be anything less silly than the game itself, we have some bad news.

Splash Report has gotten word on the Rampage movie plot, but I don’t recommend reading after the image below if you don’t want to know anything about the story until the real marketing for the movie begins. You’ve been warned.

rampage movie

The movie opens with a privately owned space station being destroyed thanks to some kind of mysterious experiment that was being done on board. In the wake of the destruction, three canisters from the experiment somehow end up falling all the way to Earth. One of the canisters falls into a gorilla enclosure at the San Diego Zoo, another lands in the plains of Wyoming and the final one ends up in the Florida Everglades. You can already see where this is going.

The experiment that was being conducted hails from The Griffin Technologies Group, a company owned by two siblings played by Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy. Looking to ensure the government doesn’t link their company to any of the work they were doing on the space station, they try to destroy the evidence at the crash sites. But of course, the contents of the canisters have already caused a gorilla named George, a wolf and an alligator to start evolving, growing at frighteningly exponential rate. So how can they cover this up now?

The Griffin siblings concoct a genius plan to use a beacon that attracts each of the creatures to their head office, ensuring that all evidence of their experiments will be destroyed. It just so happens that their head office is located in Willis Tower in Chicago, which won’t bode so well for the residents of the Windy City.

You may have noticed that there has been no mention of Dwayne Johnson’s character in this movie. Well, he’s playing an ex-marine who works as the primatologist who raised the ape George, teaching him sign language and everything. Surely that will come into play when Johnson inevitably gets caught up in all this monster action. Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Moonlight) also has a role as a Griffin scientist who helps Johnson trying to stop the monsters from destroying Chicago.

This doesn’t sound like anything incredible, but I wasn’t expecting much from a movie based on a video game with a thin premise. Plus, let’s not forget that Brad Peyton is directing this, the man who has brought us Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas. He’s the perfect filmmaker for this kind of movie, and there’s a chance it could be brainless blockbuster fun. It certainly sounds like it so far.

The post ‘Rampage’ Plot Details Emerge: It’s a Big, Dumb Monster Movie appeared first on /Film.


/Film

First Lara Croft Photos & Plot Synopsis for Tomb Raider Reboot

First Lara Croft Photos & Plot Synopsis for Tomb Raider Reboot

First Lara Croft photos & plot synopsis for Tomb Raider reboot

Vanity Fair has debuted the first Lara Croft photos from the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, featuring Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Ex Machina) as the title hero. They’ve also revealed a detailed plot synopsis, which you can read below, and be sure to check out the Lara Croft photos in our gallery!

Official plot synopsis: “Seven years after the disappearance of her father, 21-year-old Lara has refused to take the reins of his global business empire, instead working as a bike courier in London while taking college classes. Eventually she becomes inspired to investigate her father’s disappearance and travels to his last-known location: a tomb on an island somewhere off the coast of Japan. Suddenly, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Lara, who—against the odds and armed with only her sharp mind, blind faith and inherently stubborn spirit—must learn to push herself beyond her limits as she journeys into the unknown. If she survives this perilous adventure, it could be the making of her, earning her the name tomb raider.”

“When I was asked to take on this role I got really excited—Lara Croft is a truly iconic character,“ Vikander stated. “I think people can identify with her for lots of different reasons, but for me I very much see her as a model for many young women. She’s trying to carve out her place in the world and connect her future with her past. She also has a fantastic mix of traits—tough, smart, vulnerable, plus she’s kick ass! She is also uniquely different to other characters I have taken on previously. It’s a lot of fun trying to get into Lara’s head and the challenge of getting to grips with such a physical role is an element of this project that I find an absolute thrill.”

Vikander is joined in the film by Dominic West (The Wire, Punisher: War Zone) as her father, Into the Badlands star Daniel Wu as a ship captain helping Lara Croft find her father, and Emmy-nominated actor Walton Goggins (JustifiedThe Hateful Eight) as the main villain.

Roar Uthaug will direct the film, which has a script by Transformers: The Last Knight scribe Geneva Robertson-Dworet.

The original Tomb Raider game was published in 1996 by the London-based video game company Eidos and became one of the most successful video games of the time. A reboot of the series, telling the origin of Lara Croft, was released in 2013 and sold over 5 million copies. The most recent game, titled Rise of the Tomb Raider, is available now.

Paramount Pictures previously made two movies about the daredevil archaeologist on a series of global missions. The films, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, starred Angelina Jolie and grossed a combined $ 432 million at the worldwide box office.

Tomb Raider will be distributed by Warner Bros. with MGM. They will produce the film with GK Films. The new Tomb Raider movie is scheduled to hit theaters March 16, 2018.

The post First Lara Croft Photos & Plot Synopsis for Tomb Raider Reboot appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

ComingSoon.net

Script Analysis: “The Invitation” — Part 2: Plot

Read the script for the acclaimed indie thriller and discuss this week.

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this bi-weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Plot.

In every scene, something happens. A plot point is a scene or group of scenes in which something major happens, an event that impacts the narrative causing it to turn in a new direction.

A relevant anecdote. Years ago, I was on the phone with a writer discussing a script project. My son Will, who was about four years old at the time, must have been listening to me talking about “plot points” during the conversation because after I hung up, he asked, “Daddy, what’s a plop point?”

That’s in effect what a plot point is. It’s an event that ‘plops’ into the narrative and changes its course. So when you think Plot Point, think Plop Point!

The value of this exercise:

  • To identify the backbone of the story structure.
  • To examine each major plot point and see how it is effective as an individual event.
  • To analyze the major plot points in aggregate to determine why they work together as the central plot.

This week: The Invitation. You can download a PDF of the script here.

Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi.

Plot summary: While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.

Writing Exercise: Go through the scene-by-scene breakdown of The Invitation and identify the major plot points. Post your thoughts in comments and we’ll see if we can come up with a consensus.

Major kudos to Joni Brainerd for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for The Invitation, go here.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

Tomorrow we shift our focus to the script’s key characters.

So seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week’s script: The Invitation.


Script Analysis: “The Invitation” — Part 2: Plot was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

Full Thor: Ragnarok Plot Revealed!

Full Thor: Ragnarok Plot Revealed!

Full Thor: Ragnarok plot revealed!

A brief description was previously revealed by Marvel Studios, but EW now has a proper breakdown of the full Thor: Ragnarok plot, which picks up from the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

In the film, Thor will arrive in Asgard after hearing about trouble in his home world, and when he arrives he finds Loki’s style of ruling (while impersonating Odin) has led to some lapses in the rules and leads to the freeing of prisoner Hela. Thor and Hela naturally come to blows when they meet, which sees Thor “blasted” to Sakaar, described as “a barbaric planet ruled by the charming but nefarious Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).” There he meets Valkyrie, who is hiding out on the planet, and brings him to the Grandmaster to make him a gladiator, where he meets the most popular competitor in the arena, The Hulk, and loses his trademark hair and hammer.

“He’s much more of a character than the green rage machine you’ve seen in the Avengers movies,” Ruffalo said of The Hulk. “He’s got a swagger. He’s like a god.”

After the two Avengers reunite, the film turns into a road trip. EW reports director Taika Waititi took inspiration from movies like 48 HRS., Withnail and I, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Along the way, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange will make an appearnce and the film will lay the groundwork for the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. Waititi did note to the outlet, however, that Ragnarok isn’t just a “set up” movie, but it reinvents the Thor franchise.

“A lot of what we’re doing with the film is, in a way, kind of dismantling and destroying the old idea and rebuilding it in a new way that’s fresh. Everyone’s got a slightly new take on their characters, so in that way, it feels like [this is] the first Thor.”

Thor: Ragnarok will feature the return of Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder himself, with Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Idris Elba as Heimdall and Sir Anthony Hopkins again portraying Odin. The film also stars Cate Blanchett as the death-obsessed Hela, Jeff Goldblum’s eccentric Grandmaster, Tessa Thompson as hero Valkyrie and Karl Urban as Skurge.

Kevin Feige will produce the film, joined by executive producers Louis D’Esposito, Brad Winderbaum, Victoria Alonso, Thomas M. Hammel and Stan Lee. The screenplay hails from Stephany Folsom, Craig Kyle, Eric Pearson and Christopher Yost.

Thor: Ragnarok will smash its way into theaters on November 3, 2017.

The post Full Thor: Ragnarok Plot Revealed! appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

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