Wednesday, January 27, 2010

BOOK CLUB: A Plot to Avoid (Ch. 21)

[Today we're reading Ch. 21 The Perfect Hollywood Sad/Happy Plot vs. the Perfect Poetics Sad Plot, from Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, by Michael Tierno (2002).]

The author writes about “happy/sad” Hollywood endings where “dramas of tragic stature succeed despite ending on an upbeat note.” P. 106.

Ex. He cites the sad death at the end of Gladiator, which is a happy ending b/c Maximus is reunited with his family in heaven.

He also writes about 3 plots to avoid. The one that caught my eye is “a bad man passing from misery to happiness…it does not appeal either to the human feeling in us, or to our pity, or to our fears.” P. 106.

I’ve seen this “loose ends” kind of script recently. In that script, the good guy died a useless death in the end, & the bad guy triumphed.

Though it was a perfect setup for a sequel, I really didn’t like the ending. It left me feeling unsettled, as if everything the good guy fought for was futile. I was left feeling numb – not fearful or sad...just numb. Not a good sign.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: If the bad guy wins in the end, give us a solid reason why.

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

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