Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today's Nugget: Twist the Expectation

I read an action spec script today that really impressed me. The narrative moves at a fast clip and the action is quite innovative.

But the great thing was: 1) how the writer set up the twist DURING the action; and 2) didn't telegraph the twist.

First, the protagonist is jerked around, stomped on, bullied in a fairly realistic way. He's doomed and painted into a corner, but continues to struggle. I couldn't see how he was going to get out of it.

The antagonist closes in hard and fast for the kill...then the writer slips in an unexpected twist: i.e., the protagonist grabs an ordinary object, which was in plain sight the whole time, and beats the crap out of the antagonist.

The writer sucked me into concentrating on the fascinating antagonist the whole time. I wasn't paying attention to the protagonist. The beauty of this set up is that you only realize later that the protagonist was luring the antagonist into a false sense of security to time it just right.

Second, the narrative read as if the hero was going to lose: Hero is weak and collapses. Bad guy raises the knife... Then BOOM! The hero flies out and hammers the bad guy. This was fun to read!

WHAT I LEARNED: The writer drove the scene so that you expect to go left, but then it quietly takes a right turn. You don't realize you've taken a right turn until a sentence or two in. This was much more effective than neon signs blaring that a twist is about to happen

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