Saturday, January 9, 2010

BOOK CLUB: Spine-Tingling Plots (Ch. 3)

[Today we're reading Ch. 3 The Subject is an Action…not a Person, from Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters by Michael Tierno (2002).]

I like this chapter because it makes me revisit things I already know about plot, but in a fresh way.

Let’s go back to basics:

Each scene must be connected together to form a story spine. Or SPINE = PLOT.

Unfortunately, I see spec plots/spines with a lot of fat on them. Or the writer tries to fuse on a useless spine. Or subplots herniate into the spine and stop the story. .

Why does this happen?

- “[Aristotle] knew that writers [are] often fooled into thinking that because they used one hero throughout an entire story, this alone unified their plots.”
- If the actions are not probable or necessary, the effects will not be not probable or necessary.

How to create good cause-effect scenes? Make sure the action-idea pushes every scene.

Ex. I saw a script about a woman losing her high flying job, and now must start over by helping the common folk she once scorned. The action-idea was that she had to help these folks succeed. Her success was tied to their success, so there wasn’t room for excess action.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: You need connected, cause-effect scenes to make sure electricity can flow through. If there are bad scenes, the electricity stops.

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

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