[Today we're reading Ch. 9 What the Poetics Say about Epics Like Lord of the Rings, from Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, by Michael Tierno (2002).]
Whether you’re writing an epic (that can cover huge spans of time) or a drama (usually compressed time), the story should follow one action line, no matter how much time you jump.
Makes sense, but what does that mean?
Ex. I read an epic script recently which started the action 20 yrs. ago between two children. Then the script jumped to the present time.
The funny thing was that after the time warp, the antagonist suddenly became the prominent focus. I actually thought the antagonist was the main character. (The only reason I knew that wasn’t the case was b/c of the title.)
What happened? In the past, the protagonist was the stronger, scrappy lead who was captured. In the time warp, the protagonist was stewing in jail. Jumping to the present, the antagonist now was the more powerful character, so it was easier to focus on him.
As you can see, this violated the “follow one action line” rule.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Don’t get your antagonist & protagonist lost in the time warp.
[DISCLAIMER: I have not been asked, nor paid, to read or comment on this book.]