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SCREENWRITING CLASS MODUEL - 9


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#21 aroundworld

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 04:28 AM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Mar 25 2013, 12:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I love it, too. smile.gif

For my story, I guess the central question is "is being the best swordsman what Izumi really wants?"


No, think about your story. Its very clear that Izumi wants to be a master swordsmen.

Ask yourself: What's at risk?


Will Japan's elder swordsmen be able to rescue Izumi from himself before his quest to avenge his fathers murder result in his own destruction and that of his family's?



JK, Tell me the steps the this this central question takes us through in in getting a clear picture of what your concept is it communicating.



My version doesn't quite match your story, but it clearly shows Izumi blinded by pride and anger on a collision course with Japan's elder swordsman, who's wisdom and mercy is the only thing between Izumi's path of certain death and his families destruction.







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#22 JosephKw

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Posted 28 March 2013 - 08:46 AM

Ok, I didn't explain the motivation of Izumi in detail in my story outline. He wants to show the world that his father's techniques/school is the best because he keeps hearing of other inferior swordsmen boasting of their prowess. His father is humble and never shows off. His father's father fought and defended the village from marauding bandits many decades ago and was a hero, but never used the sword since. His father never used the sword either. Izumi hopes to honor his father, and grandfather, by proving that their school/method is the best. So it was never about fame for himself, but to honor the family name.

The theme is about good intentions going completely awry. What starts as a simple desire to honor his family ends in a bloodbath and even the murder of his own father (with an ambush of arrows, not a fair sword duel). Instead of learning the lesson of humility as his grandfather and father had tried to teach him, Izumi goes on a warpath to kill all challengers, and their families.

So the central question is "does Izumi really want to be the best swordsman in Japan?" The phrase "really want" refers to what is really best for Izumi, and not simply referencing his desire. So the answer is "no". Izumi's intent is to honor his family name. What is best for Izumi is to honor his family's wishes and learn the lesson of humility. The elder cane master/grave attendant, who defeats Izumi and breaks his hands, does not appear until the very last part of the film (only after he overhears Izumi's vows of vengeance), and is not a major player in the tale--he's only there to provide the twist ending.

This is a very "Japanese" type tale, which are often disquieting and filled with irony. By the way, this tale is inspired by the true life history of Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest swordsman in Japan. He started dueling after seeing a public challenge issued in his home town. His string of victories led to his father's murder by relatives of defeated opponents. He reigned supreme as the best swordsman in Japan. However, he was defeated by only one person--a staff master. I just added the irony and message of humililty into the mix (since this lesson's topic is "the message").

#23 aroundworld

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Posted 28 March 2013 - 11:27 AM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Mar 28 2013, 8:46 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ok, I didn't explain the motivation of Izumi in detail in my story outline. He wants to show the world that his father's techniques/school is the best because he keeps hearing of other inferior swordsmen boasting of their prowess. His father is humble and never shows off. His father's father fought and defended the village from marauding bandits many decades ago and was a hero, but never used the sword since. His father never used the sword either. Izumi hopes to honor his father, and grandfather, by proving that their school/method is the best. So it was never about fame for himself, but to honor the family name.

The theme is about good intentions going completely awry. What starts as a simple desire to honor his family ends in a bloodbath and even the murder of his own father (with an ambush of arrows, not a fair sword duel). Instead of learning the lesson of humility as his grandfather and father had tried to teach him, Izumi goes on a warpath to kill all challengers, and their families.

So the central question is "does Izumi really want to be the best swordsman in Japan?" The phrase "really want" refers to what is really best for Izumi, and not simply referencing his desire. So the answer is "no". Izumi's intent is to honor his family name. What is best for Izumi is to honor his family's wishes and learn the lesson of humility. The elder cane master/grave attendant, who defeats Izumi and breaks his hands, does not appear until the very last part of the film (only after he overhears Izumi's vows of vengeance), and is not a major player in the tale--he's only there to provide the twist ending.

This is a very "Japanese" type tale, which are often disquieting and filled with irony. By the way, this tale is inspired by the true life history of Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest swordsman in Japan. He started dueling after seeing a public challenge issued in his home town. His string of victories led to his father's murder by relatives of defeated opponents. He reigned supreme as the best swordsman in Japan. However, he was defeated by only one person--a staff master. I just added the irony and message of humililty into the mix (since this lesson's topic is "the message").



"So the central question is "does Izumi really want to be the best swordsman in Japan?" The phrase "really want" refers to what is really best for Izumi, and not simply referencing his desire."



Again, NO! smile.gif




The implication of moral choice exists however you've made it the focus and negated the actions that augment the tensions of his dilemma.. THE CENTRAL QUESTION will always deal with the action taken by a character and his / her success or failure in that action, and whats at risk. You're focusing on an external judgment call that does nothing to dial in the core question of the film.

The central question will ALWAYS deal with the character's success or failure in their adventure. The question of whats really best for Izumi, is irrelevant. We know its not best for him, thats why we're watching the movie.


Your main story has three characters in it: Izumi, the father, and the staff master. The central question I wrote includes all three characters. That is what I want to see in your central question. please for back read that. Also it would help to read the section we covered on "The Central question earlier in the course. smile.gif



Will Japan's elder swordsmen be able to rescue Izumi from himself before his quest to avenge his fathers murder and become Japan's master swordsman result in his own destruction and that of his family's?

There is no try, only do or do not.

 

Learn story telling in the MOVIESTORM education forum. 

 

START HERE:  http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13153


#24 JosephKw

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 07:54 AM

It looks like I'm getting caught up with the semantics of this exercise. I understand the central question to be the driving force behind the story and the motivations of the major characters? Like in "Star Wars IV", the question is will the heroes defeat the Galactic Empire?

In my tale, the elder "swordsman" (aka cane master" is not a major character and doesn't appear until the last few minutes just to throw in a surprise twist. So should he still be included into the "central" question (since he's NOT a central character)? Also, Izumi's quest throughout the film is to honor his family's name--his father doesn't die until the very end and so his quest for revenge never occurs until the time the cane master appears. So, again, his quest for vengeance cannot be a part of the central question since it's not "central" to the plot.

So maybe I have to say the central question is....
Will Izumi be able to stop with his obsession of becoming Japan's master swordsman and elevating his family's status before it results in his own destruction?



#25 aroundworld

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 04:56 PM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Mar 29 2013, 7:54 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It looks like I'm getting caught up with the semantics of this exercise.

I understand the central question to be the driving force behind the story and the motivations of the major characters? Like in "Star Wars IV", the question is will the heroes defeat the Galactic Empire?

EXACTLY!! These are great examples! and I would keep them on a post it note on your computer to reference the.



In my tale, the elder "swordsman" (aka cane master" is not a major character and doesn't appear until the last few minutes just to throw in a surprise twist. So should he still be included into the "central" question (since he's NOT a central character)?


Actually, you should introduce the cane master EARLIER in the story. Here's why; the Cane Master is a pivotal force in Izumi's journey, and someone with his skill is certainly going to be of interest to the audience. I guarantee, you'll have people saying "I wanted to know more about the Cane Master!" This is why included him so prominently in my version of your central question. Because the Cane Master is the only one who can change Izumi's mind, you need to develop the Cane Master more. For example, giving the Cane Master a similar journey as Izumi's and maybe he defeated Izumi's father very in his youth; because the two men knew each other The Cane Master want to so save Izumi from certain death. Something along those lines...


This is really a nice story line. Don't sell your self short on it.





Also, Izumi's quest throughout the film is to honor his family's name--his father doesn't die until the very end and so his quest for revenge never occurs until the time the cane master appears. So, again, his quest for vengeance cannot be a part of the central question since it's not "central" to the plot.

Ok, you can structure a stroy any way you want, BUT! For my money, you need SOLID, CONCRETE, TANGIBLE reasons for things happening. if most of Izini's story is him defeating lots of swordsman you're going to have a pretty boring movie.

Think of the three act structure and when these characters appear.

ACT I

MEET IZUMI

See his routine

MEET HIS FATHER

IZUMI becomes interested in being a swordsman

HIS FATHER discourages him

INCITING INCIDENT: IZUMI WINS HIS FIRST MATCH, but his father disproves. Their relationship becomes strained.

ACT II

His father tell him of the Cane Master .... etc .... etc






So maybe I have to say the central question is....
Will Izumi be able to stop with his obsession of becoming Japan's master swordsman and elevating his family's status before it results in his own destruction?



It's to vague, and doesn't tell us enough of Izumi's journey. Read my version again and note how a journey is implied there. I struggled with these myself.


Take another shot at the central question if you would please. It will help you immensely to get this story tool under your belt.


KEEP AT IT! smile.gif

There is no try, only do or do not.

 

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START HERE:  http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13153


#26 JosephKw

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 12:08 AM

I definitely agree that by introducing the cane master earlier on it does create more symmetry in the tale, I can even keep the twist surprise ending by having him appear as a young man when he trains with Izumi's father (using a fighting staff), and reappear as a disheveled and humble old grave keeper (with only a cane) at the end.

I guess I still haven't grasped this "central question" theory though. I do have a question before I tackle it again...why can the Star Wars CQ be so simple, yet Izumi's story has to be more complex?

#27 aroundworld

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 11:46 PM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Mar 30 2013, 12:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I definitely agree that by introducing the cane master earlier on it does create more symmetry in the tale, I can even keep the twist surprise ending by having him appear as a young man when he trains with Izumi's father (using a fighting staff), and reappear as a disheveled and humble old grave keeper (with only a cane) at the end.

I guess I still haven't grasped this "central question" theory though. I do have a question before I tackle it again...why can the Star Wars CQ be so simple, yet Izumi's story has to be more complex?



Ok, let look at Star Wars CQ.


It would read a little more like this:

Will Luke Sky Walker rescue Princes Leia and destroy the battle star in time to save the rebellion?

In Star Wars you're dealing with an epic tale of good verses evil. The main characters Luke Shy walker and Princes Leia's relationship doesn't need to be broken down because its implied. This only captures the big picture.

Focus only on the big picture or main journey.

Does that help?


There is no try, only do or do not.

 

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START HERE:  http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13153


#28 JosephKw

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 08:36 AM

Yes, that helps. Thanks.

Since the assignment is to distill the story down to its CQ, I will work with my original Izumi story and not the alternative version you provided--otherwise that defeats the purpose of the assignment (by changing the story to match the CQ). So here it goes...

Can Izumi become Japan's greatest swordsman while preserving his family?

This implies not only danger to his family (aka father), but also his father's disapproval of Izumi's pursuit (thus a disruption to the family unit). So there! wink.gif

#29 aroundworld

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 11:24 AM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Mar 31 2013, 8:36 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yes, that helps. Thanks.

Since the assignment is to distill the story down to its CQ, I will work with my original Izumi story and not the alternative version you provided--otherwise that defeats the purpose of the assignment (by changing the story to match the CQ). So here it goes...

Can Izumi become Japan's greatest swordsman while preserving his family?

This implies not only danger to his family (aka father), but also his father's disapproval of Izumi's pursuit (thus a disruption to the family unit). So there! wink.gif


This is much better. But lets remember, the father's murder is a pivotal moment in the movie no matter where you put it. its so important you should mention it in the CQ.


Can Izumi become Japan's greatest swordsman while avenging his father's murder?


But one thing is missing here: Whats at stake? Where's the risk? So what if he doesn't become Japan's greatest swordsman? What happens if he doesn't avenge his fathers murder?

Look at the star wars CQ again. Luke MUST rescue the princes BEFORE the battle star destroys the rebellion's home planet.

SOMETHING MUST BE AT STAKE in order for the central question to work.

There is no try, only do or do not.

 

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#30 aroundworld

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 10:09 PM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Mar 31 2013, 8:36 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yes, that helps. Thanks.

Since the assignment is to distill the story down to its CQ, I will work with my original Izumi story and not the alternative version you provided--otherwise that defeats the purpose of the assignment (by changing the story to match the CQ). So here it goes...

Can Izumi become Japan's greatest swordsman while preserving his family?

This implies not only danger to his family (aka father), but also his father's disapproval of Izumi's pursuit (thus a disruption to the family unit). So there! wink.gif


There is no try, only do or do not.

 

Learn story telling in the MOVIESTORM education forum. 

 

START HERE:  http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13153


#31 JosephKw

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 10:12 AM

Can Izumi become Japan's greatest warrior while preserving his family?

Isn't "preserving his family" what is at stake? It also implies the death of his father, so that's included as well. Please don't interpret my questions as being argumentative. I just don't see the nuances here.

#32 aroundworld

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:15 PM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Apr 2 2013, 10:12 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Can Izumi become Japan's greatest warrior while preserving his family?

Isn't "preserving his family" what is at stake? It also implies the death of his father, so that's included as well. Please don't interpret my questions as being argumentative. I just don't see the nuances here.




I don't take it that way at all JK! smile.gif


Preserving does not tell me the core action of the story, which is what the CQ is supposed to do.

Avenging has visual and visceral implication. "Avenge", is thick with action and drama.

See the difference? Visual visceral word pictures. Use them! smile.gif

I had difficulty with these too when I was learning the nuances of communicating the CQ.

Lets look at the phrase "preserving his family"?

My professor would have stopped you dead in your tracks and asked "WHAT! Are you embalming them?" haha

My point is, word choice is key here. Preserving isn't the same as Avenging.

What word has a stronger IMPACT in the context of your story?

Also, preserving his family doesn't tell us why Izumi is doing these things in the first place.

Avenging, does. WORD IMAGE IS KEY.

Whats implied? Preserving is a very tame image, and doesn't capture the drama that's unfolding (in my opinion).

When I write these things I use the punchiest, strongest most descriptive words I can find to project the STRONGEST IMAGE OF ACTION I can conjure up. You must think in WORD PICTURES.

PRESERVING - AVENGING

What mental pictures do these words give you? What communicates the strongest image?



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#33 JosephKw

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 06:44 AM

I understand the CQ you presented is more exciting, but the problem I have is that does not reflect the story of Izumi. His father does not die until the last 10 minutes of the film, and so avenging his father is not Izumi's mission (until the last minutes of the movie). I think I understand how to make an ideal CQ, but not how to make a good CQ to accurately reflect an existing story. This is the best I can come up with...

Can Izumi's sacrifice be enough to propel him to become one of Japan's legendary warriors while saving his family?

#34 aroundworld

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 12:42 AM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Apr 5 2013, 6:44 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I understand the CQ you presented is more exciting, but the problem I have is that does not reflect the story of Izumi. His father does not die until the last 10 minutes of the film, and so avenging his father is not Izumi's mission (until the last minutes of the movie). I think I understand how to make an ideal CQ, but not how to make a good CQ to accurately reflect an existing story. This is the best I can come up with...

Can Izumi's sacrifice be enough to propel him to become one of Japan's legendary warriors while saving his family?



This is a very late answer JK, sorry for my over site. Actually yes, this would work well. But you always want to be as specific as you can be when you're encapsulating a story in as little space as a Central Question allows.

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