Monday, December 7, 2009

TODAY'S NUGGET: Inciting Incident & The Lazy Ass Lead Character

Do NOT send me any more scripts where the lead does not even step up to the plate at the inciting incident.

Remember the inciting incident? The moment where the lead must DECIDE to go on a journey?

Recently, I've seen scripts where the lead just goes along with someone else's decision at the inciting incident. (BTW, this is different than the reluctant hero. "Hero" implies that he has the guts to make that choice, even though he doesn't want to.)

ex. I read a script the other day where the inciting incident is set at a school. The shy young male lead sees the pretty girl across the room. Then he experiences the ultimate male fantasy: she approaches him, she asks him out, she gives him her phone number, she pursues him.

What the *&S(%^(%^&$#&@%$%)#$&@(#%^@!_#$*#%^ hell?

Yes, this happens in real life.

Yes, it's a different twist on the traditional story.

Here's the problem: Your lead does not make the most important first step, so he's not really the most interesting character, is he? I would argue that the pretty girl has more guts, & I want to see her journey, not his.

If he's not willing to take that first step, then the escalation of decisions can't happen. What usually occurs later in the script is that the writer realizes the lead needs to save the day, and suddenly the lead is leaping over tall buildings in a single bound.

And I ding him in my coverage.

I don't believe that the lazy ass lead who couldn't lift a finger on p. 12 is the same guy making life & death decisions on p. 70. I just don't believe him.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Your lead character needs to EARN the crisis moment. The first step is the inciting incident. If he/she fails to lay the foundation at this stage, the rest of the story will fall like a house of cards.

No comments: