Tuesday, January 17, 2012

TODAY'S NUGGET: #44 WGA Script of All Time - Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

[Quick Summary: When three military men return home from the war, it's an uncomfortable readjustment for all.]

Once upon a time, I covered a spec script where the writer insisted on three plots: A, B, and C. 

Since no plot overlapped, the story was mammoth.

I was always confused and at a loss what to recommend since the writer refused to consider subplots or any consolidation.

Is it possible to give multiple plots equal time, and still be one cohesive story?  I would've said no... until I read this script. 

Here, there are three distinct plots A, B & C, but it is amazingly cohesive. 

The keys are:

- The 3 main characters are facing the same issue (readjusting to home life after the war)
- The 3 men meet up periodically and interact
- Two plots eventually intertwine
- When it is A's story, B & C are supporting cast. When it's B's story, A & C support him.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Multiple plots ARE possible...if they are all related somehow.

I underestimated the power of unity to help the audience follow along. ex. Each soldier had a different problem, but they were unified because they were misunderstood by civilians.

[BTW, this script holds up well and is still applicable even though it's 66 yrs. old!]

Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
by Robert E. Sherwood
From the novel by Mackinley Cantor

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