Sunday, January 10, 2010

BOOK CLUB: To Subplot or Not to Subplot? (Ch. 4)

BOOK CLUB: To Subplot or Not to Subplot

[Today we're reading Ch. 4 Forget Sub-plotting - The Best Plots Have One Track Minds, from Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, by Michael Tierno (2002). ]

I found this chapter misleading - what, no more subplots?

I think the confusion stems from the fact that: 1) the author defines "issues" as sub-plots (I don't think they're the same); and 2) what I call sub-plots, he renames them "sub-actions."

But however it's defined, a script must only have ONE main issue. Any supporting plots/actions must be necessary and bolster the main issue.

I think writers understand the concept of the ONE main issue. It's when the writer creates supporting plots/actions that are semi-related, but are not necessary, for the main issue.

ex. I read a script about a female villain who wants to capture a superhuman female fighter. The issue was that the villain wanted to control the fighter. The numerous supporting plots did not support this issue. Instead, there was a plot about a second antagonist, a smuggling run that went bad, etc. The result: a script without focus or vision.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: A minor character is there to mirror or echo whatever is happening to the main character., i.e., the minor character 's actions, words, & thoughts need to should come back to affect the main character.

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

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