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SCREEN WRITING CLASS - MODULE 4


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#1 aroundworld

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:18 PM

MODULE 4 - The Central Question

Understand the concept of the central question.

Assignments:

Central Question exercise: What is the single most important goal of the protagonist and will he/she achieve it?


Preceding modules to this class:

MOD 1 - Interruption of Routine
http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13153

MOD 2 - Audience Expectation
http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13203

MOD 3 - Story Flaws and the Payoff
http://www.moviestor...showtopic=13231


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


#2 aroundworld

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:37 PM

Welcome to MOD 4!

Assignments:

Central Question exercise: What is the single most important goal of the protagonist and will he/she achieve it?

Using your story idea from MOD 3, answer the questions in this exercise.

Please cut and paste the following template to your post for the exercise:


SETTING: Where / when is this taking place?

CHARACTER: Who is the main protagonist (character)?

ABILITY: Why do we like him/her (what about them generates audience sympathy?)

GOAL: What do they want, REALLY WANT?

NEED: What is the need driving them to their goal?

OBSTACLE: What must they overcome?

OUTCOME: How do they accomplish this goal?


PLEASE! Use your stories from MOD 3, you all worked hard in that section. Lets see where these stories go! smile.gif



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


#3 aroundworld

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 08:46 PM

BUMP.

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#4 kkffoo

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 07:20 AM

SETTING: Where / when is this taking place?

A rural market town and surrounding countryisde. 19th century?

CHARACTER: Who is the main protagonist (character)?

Maggy

ABILITY: Why do we like him/her (what about them generates audience sympathy?)

She doesn't give up

GOAL: What do they want, REALLY WANT?

Love

NEED: What is the need driving them to their goal?

Survival

OBSTACLE: What must they overcome?

Nobody believes her story

OUTCOME: How do they accomplish this goal?

By making friends

#5 JosephKw

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 10:00 AM

SETTING: Modern urban innercity.

CHARACTER: Dett.

ABILITY: Dett is sympathetic because he's the underdog. He's good-looking with a blue-collar bad-boy air about him.

GOAL: Dett wants to survive. He REALLY wants to be able to live out his life without fear of the mob.

NEED: Dett is motivated by the desire for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

OBSTACLE: The mob, led by Mr. Rong.

OUTCOME: Dett accomplishes this by kung fuing his foes to death.


#6 squirrelygirl

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 10:15 PM

SETTING: Medieval

CHARACTER: Briana Westram

ABILITY: She is a teenage orphan protecting her younger brother

GOAL: Find safety for herself and her brother

NEED: to protect her brother

OBSTACLE: Carac and his knights

OUTCOME: Briana must change to become strong enough to defeat Carac.

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#7 aroundworld

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 10:57 PM

Sorry I didn't get to your assignments today guys. It was a monstrously brutal day. I will see to them in the morning! smile.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


#8 aroundworld

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 12:16 AM

QUOTE (squirrelygirl @ Sep 21 2012, 10:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
SETTING: Medieval GOOD! Specific.

CHARACTER: Briana Westram GOOD!

ABILITY: She is a teenage orphan protecting her younger brother

This is visible and specific. A CONCRETE, SOLID, TANGIBLE reason for the audience to like / sympathize with her! GOOD!

GOAL: Find safety for herself and her brother No. smile.gif

Her over riding goal is to defeat Carac.

Of course they need to hide, but that is not her main goal. Finding a place to hide is incidental to that goal an will happen as a matter of necessity during the movie.


NEED: to protect her brother No. smile.gif

She will protect him as a matter of necessity. It's part of what makes your movie so good!

Briana NEEDS to change to become strong/brave enough to defeat Carac.




OBSTACLE: Carac and his knights This is the visible part of the answer.

What fear lies in Briana's heart? Her Aunt and Uncle are now dead, her parents are dead. If she faces Carac, she risks losing her brother too. She'll be completely_______

This is the inner fear, this is what she MUST REALLY OVERCOME.

Briana MUST face the INNER FEAR before she faces the physical fear. Carac.

How does she do that? smile.gif


OUTCOME: Briana must change to become strong enough to defeat Carac. No.

OUTCOME: Briana risks the life of her brother, to defeat Carac the terrible.


So, the CENTRAL QUESTION is: Will Briana risk the life of her brother to defeat Carac?


There is no try, only do or do not.

 

Learn story telling in the MOVIESTORM education forum. 

 

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


#9 aroundworld

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 02:48 PM

QUOTE (kkffoo @ Sep 21 2012, 07:20 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
SETTING: Where / when is this taking place?

A rural market town and surrounding countryside. 19th century?

Make sure your setting is decided. Otherwise your story will drift and "the story world" won't feel authentic. When I read your scenes it felt earlier until I "saw" the police in the last scene. But this will work either way, just make sure you're definite about your time period. smile.gif



CHARACTER: Who is the main protagonist (character)?

Maggy GOOD!

The decisions she's forced to make will drive the story.


ABILITY: Why do we like him/her (what about them generates audience sympathy?)

She doesn't give up This is to vague.

We need something specific about her that the audience will connect to, have sympathy for over the broader scope of your story. This will help fill out her character. smile.gif

Judging by your first and last scene, my guess is that:

Maggy is a young princess, raised in slavery as a peasant girl who discovers her true identity.



GOAL: What do they want, REALLY WANT?

Love Love is a need. Characters don't head off on adventure realizing their inner needs (love) they discover this along the way.

Maggy's conscious, tangible goal is to prove her true identity.

But she must have a larger objective beyond just taking her rightful place as princes. My guess is that it would be reversing the tyranny her people have been subjected to by the usurpers of power...etc. Of course it's up to you how that plays out. smile.gif




NEED: What is the need driving them to their goal?

Survival Survival is a dramatic necessity and will happen as the story progresses. But it doesn't define her inner need.

She needs to trust. She needs to rely on someone other than her self to accomplish her goal. She can't do it alone.

It is her reliance on Tommy that causes her to realize her inner need, Love.

Does that help? smile.gif




OBSTACLE: What must they overcome?

Nobody believes her story This is to broad, you need to bring it down to a tangible singular focus that the audience will connect to.

Maggy's OBSTACLE is JAMES. She must overcome him and reverse his treachery.

Her INNER OBSTACLE will be to learn to trust.




OUTCOME: How do they accomplish this goal? (This question should have been more simply: WHAT'S THE OUTCOME?My apology's.

By making friends Yes toward the end of the film, Maggy will have gathered some allies.

Taking in to account, my misleading you with the wrong question, The OUTCOME would be:

OUTCOME: Maggy proves her true identity and defeats James to take her proper place on the thrown and rescue her people from tyranny.

So, the CENTRAL QUESTION is: Can Maggy Defeat James and prove her true identity to save her people?



I know I'm interjecting ideas to your story that may not be what you're intending, but it's only for the sake of example. smile.gif It's certainly up to you how this all plays out and whether Maggy is a princess or not.

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


#10 aroundworld

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 07:16 PM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Sep 21 2012, 10:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
SETTING: Modern urban innercity. Specific place/time. GOOD!

CHARACTER: Dett. GOOD!

ABILITY: Dett is sympathetic because he's the underdog. He's good-looking with a blue-collar bad-boy air about him. No.

You're telling me he's a good looking bad-boy from a blue collar background.

This doesn't make him sympathetic, It makes him James Dean. smile.gif

What makes characters sympathetic is who they are in a given situation that causes us to root for them, feel empathy for them.

EXAMPLE:

ABILTY: Dett is a desperate high school drop-out working to pay his father's medical bills who got mixed up with a loan shark.


The above defines Dett's age, his desperate situation, his moral bearing (helping his father) and what he's up against.

He's a young man trying to do what's right, but gets mixed up with the wrong people.

Now I want Dett to win!

See the difference?






GOAL: Dett wants to survive. He REALLY wants to be able to live out his life without fear of the mob. No.

Survival is not a goal. He does that to reach his goal (so there's a movie) biggrin.gif.

Living without fear of the mob is result of achieving his goal, it's not THE GOAL.

Dett's VISUAL, TANGIBLE GOAL is DEFEATING Mr. Rong! smile.gif

If I SEE him defeat Mr. Rong, I SEE him achieve his goal!





NEED: Dett is motivated by the desire for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No.

These are not needs. They are ideas expressing a quality of life. PLEASE READ MY COMMENTS on kate and Shirl's work. smile.gif

If Dett is confronting the mob he must be afraid, right?

So, Dett NEEDS to confront his fear in a way that is visibly tangible.

Does he learn a skill?

How does he do that? smile.gif


OBSTACLE: The mob, led by Mr. Rong. GOOD!

Mr. Wrong is his visible obstacle, what is Dett's INNER OBSTACLE?

Self doubt? Something he's hiding that will surface if he goes after Mr. Rong?....etc.

OUTCOME: Dett accomplishes this by kung fuing his foes to death. HA HA HA! OK!

OUTCOME: Dett defeat's Mr Rong and his gang, and pays off his father's medical bills.

But there needs to be another LARGER goal beyond defeating Mr Rong because he's an unfair dirt bag.

What is that? WHat happens as a result of defeating Mr. Rong?

So, the CENTRAL QUESTION is: Will Johnny Dett defeat Mr. Rong and be able to pay for his father's heart surgery?


I added the heart surgery as an example of a larger purpose beyond his visible goal.




There is no try, only do or do not.

 

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


#11 aroundworld

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 07:41 PM

The Central Question




In Raiders of the Lost Arc, the central question is:

Will Indiana get The Arc Of The Covenant from the Nazis?

In James Bond Gold Finger, the central question is:

Will Bond defeat Gold Finger and keep the gold bullion safe in Fort Knox?

In Back To The Future, the central question is:

Will Marty McFly get his parents together before he disappears into oblivion.



Each of your story's MUST be able to be reduced to THE CENTRAL QUESTION.


What does the central question do for you? It give your story A SINGULAR FOCUS.

There is no try, only do or do not.

 

Learn story telling in the MOVIESTORM education forum. 

 

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


#12 aroundworld

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 09:13 PM

When you have time, please apply what we covered in your central question exercise and post your reworked exercise and any comments you have. THANKS! smile.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


#13 squirrelygirl

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 09:59 PM

SETTING: Medieval

CHARACTER: Briana Westram

ABILITY: She is a teenage orphan protecting her younger brother

GOAL: To defeat Carac.

NEED: Briana needs to change to become strong/brave enough to defeat Carac. She must learn to fight and find the inner strength to stand up to Carac and his knights.

OBSTACLE: Briana fears loosing her brother and thus being alone. She must overcome this fear in order to find the inner strength she needs to fight.

OUTCOME: Briana risks the life of her brother, to defeat Carac.

CENTRAL QUESTION: Will Briana risk her brother's life to defeat Carac?

This exercise really helps to put things in perspective. When I start on a story I usually have a vague idea or even just a scene that starts things. I have never tried to figure out what the story is about before it's finished, but I can see how helpful this is. It keeps you from wondering around and keeps the character's in their place. Briana is the main character so, although her bother will have his own struggles, the story needs to be about her and how she is dealing with the situations.

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#14 kkffoo

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 08:28 AM


SETTING: Where / when is this taking place?

A rural English market town and surrounding countryside.
Time(s) 1852-1856 (end of Crimean war)-1866

CHARACTER:

Maggy

ABILITY: Why do we like him/her (what about them generates audience sympathy?)

She is the true heiress to the Foley title and fortune.


GOAL: What do they want, REALLY WANT?

Reclaim her title and identity, and free her farmers and tenants from the cruel James.


NEED: What is the need driving them to their goal?

QUOTE
She needs to trust. She needs to rely on someone other than her self to accomplish her goal. She can't do it alone.

It is her reliance on Tommy that causes her to realize her inner need, Love.



OBSTACLE: What must they overcome?

QUOTE
Maggy's OBSTACLE is JAMES. She must overcome him and reverse his treachery.

Her INNER OBSTACLE will be to learn to trust.





OUTCOME: How do they accomplish this goal? (This question should have been more simply: WHAT'S THE OUTCOME?.

OUTCOME: Maggy proves her true identity and defeats James to take her proper place [as lady of the manor] and rescue her people from tyranny.

So, the CENTRAL QUESTION is: Can Maggy Defeat James and prove her true identity to save her people?






#15 kkffoo

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 08:35 AM

Notes: vagueness about date....didn't have time to research!
Story needs a break where many characters removed, and a war is most obvious.
I think James and Tommy meet up again in army, in very different ranks...but James needs to be not too old to serve at that point, but old enough in first part of story to be a realistic butler, and to be driving the plot to take over the fortune.
Countryside is always behind the town, and I think you are right, even though policemen were around they wouldn't have been that organised outside urban areas.
The group of 'police' at the end should have been a group of locals plus a constable, or maybe the local magistrate??
(again issue with historical, would need more time to reasearch!)

#16 aroundworld

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Posted 23 September 2012 - 12:50 PM

QUOTE (kkffoo @ Sep 23 2012, 08:35 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Notes: vagueness about date....didn't have time to research!
Story needs a break where many characters removed, and a war is most obvious.
I think James and Tommy meet up again in army, in very different ranks...but James needs to be not too old to serve at that point, but old enough in first part of story to be a realistic butler, and to be driving the plot to take over the fortune.
Countryside is always behind the town, and I think you are right, even though policemen were around they wouldn't have been that organised outside urban areas.
The group of 'police' at the end should have been a group of locals plus a constable, or maybe the local magistrate??
(again issue with historical, would need more time to reasearch!)


That's alright Kate, I didn't mean you had to research. As long as you have solid idea in your mind about what your setting is. No problem! smile.gif I truly don't want you to stress over all that. Lets keep it light and not heavy on research. I want this to stay fun, this stuff will sink in over time. No worries. smile.gif


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#17 JosephKw

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 09:00 AM

Well, this isn't really a rewrite because my initial story idea was not laid out in detail (to cut down on the verbiage). So I'll try it again, but hopefully clearer.

SETTING: Modern urban innercity.

CHARACTER: Dett.

ABILITY: Dett is sympathetic because he's an assassin who wants to turn a new leaf and quit killing due to a last request by his dying uncle (who is also his martial arts mentor).

GOAL: Dett wants to uphold his promise to his deceased uncle.

NEED: Dett needs to overcome his desire to respond to all threats with violence so that he may uphold his promise to his uncle.

OBSTACLE: The mob, led by Mr. Rong, who owns all the old mobster boss' markers (including the one Dett owed for not finishing a previous assassination job).

OUTCOME: Dett realizes that to uphold his promise he may have to balance violence and prudence, and thus kung fu's some people to death, but judiciously so.

#18 aroundworld

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 11:33 AM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Sep 24 2012, 09:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Well, this isn't really a rewrite because my initial story idea was not laid out in detail (to cut down on the verbiage). So I'll try it again, but hopefully clearer.

SETTING: Modern urban innercity.

CHARACTER: Dett.

ABILITY: Dett is sympathetic because he's an assassin who wants to turn a new leaf and quit killing due to a last request by his dying uncle (who is also his martial arts mentor).

GOAL: Dett wants to uphold his promise to his deceased uncle. No.

This is not a goal of ACTION. It is a an idea of honor. Dett's TANGIBLE, VISIBLE GOAL is to defeat Rong.



NEED: Dett needs to overcome his desire to respond to all threats with violence so that he may uphold his promise to his uncle.

. There's no TANGIBLE reward for fulfilling that need. Honor is an idea not a visible element. There must be something that makes it visible.

If he fulfills his promise to his Uncle. Dett gets the girl...etc. That's tangible. We have to be able to CONNECT to his need some how. Fulfilling his dead Uncle's request isn't enough. IT MUST HAVE VISIBLE CONSEQUENCES. smile.gif




OBSTACLE: The mob, led by Mr. Rong, who owns all the old mobster boss' markers (including the one Dett owed for not finishing a previous assassination job).

His obstacle is Mr. Rong, you'll show the rest in the movie. wink.gif

OUTCOME: Dett realizes that to uphold his promise he may have to balance violence and prudence, and thus kung fu's some people to death, but judiciously so. tongue.gif Good one.

Again, no.

It's the end of the movie, we're not going to see Dett "judiciously kung fu-ing" people. We'll be leaving the theater blink.gif .

The outcome must give a TANGIBLE resolution.

Dett defeats Rong and his gang and gets the girl. That is a an outcome.



HI JK,


THANK YOU FOR YOUR EFFORT!

Please go back and study the examples I wrote on your first assignment and those of Shirl and Kates. My examples are written to show the character in action not thinking. You're expressing thoughts, not actions. Each of my examples give the character a SINGULAR FOCUS. Dett's Uncle is secondary. The focus is on Dett. smile.gif


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


#19 aroundworld

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:52 PM

QUOTE (kkffoo @ Sep 23 2012, 08:35 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Notes: vagueness about date....didn't have time to research!

No worriers about date, just have a solid time/place in you mind and post it ("late 1800's" will due)

Story needs a break where many characters removed, and a war is most obvious.

I think James and Tommy meet up again in army, in very different ranks...but James needs to be not too old to serve at that point, but old enough in first part of story to be a realistic butler, and to be driving the plot to take over the fortune.

This just my 2 cents, but it might be easier to tell this story without the big war stuff. I would keep personal and focued on Tommy, Maggy, James and how the bracelet fits into all that (IMHO).

Countryside is always behind the town, and I think you are right, even though policemen were around they wouldn't have been that organised outside urban areas.
The group of 'police' at the end should have been a group of locals plus a constable, or maybe the local magistrate??

You just solved your problem! Locals and a constable, that will due. SIMPLE is good!

(again issue with historical, would need more time to research!)


There is no try, only do or do not.

 

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


#20 aroundworld

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 09:15 PM

QUOTE (squirrelygirl @ Sep 22 2012, 09:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
SETTING: Medieval

CHARACTER: Briana Westram

ABILITY: She is a teenage orphan protecting her younger brother

GOAL: To defeat Carac.

NEED: Briana needs to change to become strong/brave enough to defeat Carac. She must learn to fight and find the inner strength to stand up to Carac and his knights.

OBSTACLE: Briana fears loosing her brother and thus being alone. She must overcome this fear in order to find the inner strength she needs to fight.

OUTCOME: Briana risks the life of her brother, to defeat Carac.

CENTRAL QUESTION: Will Briana risk her brother's life to defeat Carac?

This exercise really helps to put things in perspective. When I start on a story I usually have a vague idea or even just a scene that starts things. I have never tried to figure out what the story is about before it's finished, but I can see how helpful this is. It keeps you from wondering around and keeps the character's in their place. Briana is the main character so, although her bother will have his own struggles, the story needs to be about her and how she is dealing with the situations.


What you stated above is the heart of this exercise, what I really hope you guys take away from this when the course is done.


"It keeps you from wondering around and keeps the character's in their place. Briana is the main character so, although her bother will have his own struggles, the story needs to be about her and how she is dealing with the situations."


This is a MUST! Great observation!


I don't know what you guys want to do with screen writing or writing in general, but the best stories are the ones "BUILT" from a foundation! When you see movies lose "plot momentum" and pretty soon the actions of the characters have no real direction; guess what happened?

They came to a place in the script where the writer stopped BUILDING the story with plausible conflict where the INTERRUPTION of ROUTINE wasn't used to start our hero down the road to ACT II.

So the PLANTS in ACT I are not PAYED OFF in ACT II. The AUDIENCE EXPECTATION begins to wain and you enter the world of STORY FLAWS instead of rising conflict to keep your interest.

We enter ACT III, and the CENTRAL QUESTION is completely lost! Now we're focused on all the wrong turns the film took instead of what is going to happen to our hero. All we can hope for now, is that the film has become something we love to hate so at least our money wasn't wasted.





There is no try, only do or do not.

 

Learn story telling in the MOVIESTORM education forum. 

 

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



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