Friday, January 8, 2010

BOOK CLUB: ONE (& only one) Question (Ch. 2)

[Today we're reading Ch. 2 Why You Want Your Movie to be a Bomb!, from Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters by Michael Tierno (2002).]

After the I.I., a script usually asks the ONE (and only one) central dramatic question, i.e., the question the movie is going to answer.

Not everyone knows that there should only be ONE (and only one) question.

So let me apply today’s lesson to the script I finished up today. It did ask ONE (sortof) question, but it didn’t stay central as you will see.

Basically, a guy kills a police officer, and now is being chased. The guy hides with his buddies, but the police catch up. The Question is: Did the guy really kill the officer or was it self defense?

The problem is the guy dies, and the police chase the buddies for questioning. So the question is still in play, but is it really important any more?

Answer: Nope. The buddies spend the rest of the script thinking about their own problems, now they're in this jam. No one cares about if it was self-defense or not. As you might guess, the story plateaus in Act 2.

It’s tough to see the forest from the trees when you’re writing, but hopefully, you’ll remember to stick to ONE question.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: ONE (and only one) Central (not tangential) Question per script, please.

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

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