[Today we're reading Ch. 5 Plot is Soul, from Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, by Michael Tierno (2002). ]
A confused writer told me she had a plot problem.
I usually respond: "No, it's not plot that's your problem, 99% of the time it's a character issue."
How can I say that?
I liked how this sentence in this book puts it: "The key is to have the plot action connected to the deep desiring soul of your hero." p. 31.
First, you must nail down the character’s want, need, & his/her flaw to overcome. Then, and only then, will the path will become clear what you need to write to get there.
(This is A LOT easier said than done when you’re writing.)
Let’s analyze a sample:
Ex. I read a horror script about a 18 y.o. guy locked in a house with a crazy witch. Naturally, he’s trying to get out of the house ASAP. I felt the plot was flat.
If you look at this guy’s desire/want, it’s to change from a boy to a man, i.e., to mature. Unfortunately, the writer was more focused on multiple variations of escaping the house (action) than challenging the guy’s desire to show he’s able to make wise decisions in an emergency situation (want).
I wished the witch would’ve given the guy choices between a rock and a hard place. I wished the setups would push the guy to self-sacrifice for the right reasons.
Only then would we be able to see the guy’s desires through action. See how the plot then falls naturally into place?
WHAT I’VE LEARNED: “When a strong desire of a hero relates to all the action, the the plot can depict a simple 'portrait' of the hero." p. 32
[DISCLAIMER: I have not been asked, nor paid, to read or comment on this book.]