Monday, January 18, 2010

BOOK CLUB: The Grey Zone (Ch. 12)

[Today we're reading Ch. 12 Oops! I Caused My Own Undeserved Misfortune Again , from Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, by Michael Tierno (2002).]

Aristotle wrote: “...The change in the hero's fortunes...must lie not in any depravity, but in some great error on his part.” p. 63.

The author of this book goes into depth on how the protagonist makes a faulty decision, which causes his problems.

I get what he’s saying, but, “faulty” seems to mean there’s a right or wrong decision. That’s not always true. Most of the time, it’s grey.

Even if it is black & white, it usually is only really apparent in hindsight. Your characters live in the now, and have no idea they’re facing decisions that might be wrong vs. wronger.

I often see writers trying to help their characters by “telegraphing” the future, i.e., somehow their characters have insight of what is going to happen.

It’s ok if the audience knows what’s coming.

It’s even ok if one character is causing what’s going to happen.

But for heaven’s sake, don’t let your protagonist know, otherwise he’d be frozen with indecision.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Allow the grey zone to happen. Don’t telegraph.

[DISCLAIMER: I have not been asked, nor paid, to read or comment on this book.]

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