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Screenwriting Updated: New (and Conventional) Ways of Writing for the Screen
     

Screenwriting Updated: New (and Conventional) Ways of Writing for the Screen

by Linda Aronson
 

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ISBN-10: 1879505592

ISBN-13: 9781879505599

Pub. Date: 03/02/2001

Publisher: Silman-James Press

Today's screenwriter must be adept at today's popular yet often complex andunconventional script forms, such as the parallel storytelling of Pulp Fiction and Magnolia, the multiple protagonist narrative of American Beauty, and the complex flashback forms of The Usual Suspects and The Sweet Hereafter. Becoming comfortable with and skilled in such modern script forms

Overview

Today's screenwriter must be adept at today's popular yet often complex andunconventional script forms, such as the parallel storytelling of Pulp Fiction and Magnolia, the multiple protagonist narrative of American Beauty, and the complex flashback forms of The Usual Suspects and The Sweet Hereafter. Becoming comfortable with and skilled in such modern script forms is the focus of Screenwriting Updated, which identifies basic parallel structures,

clearly explains how and why they work (or fail to work), and establishes the basic principles of their construction. These modern forms are presented in tandem with and in relation to tried-and-true, traditional screenwriting forms, rendering unconventional structures as easily grasped as conventional ones. Unlike any other screenwriting book, Screenwriting Updated combines solid, basic screenwriting craft with a thorough presentation of very contemporary script structures. The result is a unique, wide-ranging, in-depth screenwriting text and do-it-yourself script-doctoring manual suitable for both seasoned and novice writers.

"A fabulous book that deals with the creative thinking necessary to write."—Mario Andreacchio, director/writer/producer, Napoleon, Young Blades

"Linda Aronson provides screenwriters with invaluable detailed strategies to lay bare the workings of the craft."—Jane Scott, producer, Shine, Crocodile Dundee Author Biography: Linda Aronson is an award-winning screenwriter, playwright, and novelist who has written widely for the screen in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand and for U.S. television.

Her award-winning novels have been published in five languages and her plays have been produced around the world. She is also the author of two additional books on writing.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781879505599
Publisher:
Silman-James Press
Publication date:
03/02/2001
Edition description:
1ST SILMAN
Pages:
300
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Forewordxi
Prefacexiii
Part IGetting ideas
1Creativity and general problem-solving1
Understanding the writing process1
De Bono's creativity theories and screenwriting2
What causes weak writing3
How to use vertical and lateral thinking5
The Development Strategies method7
Development Strategies 1 and 2: diagnosis and general problem-solving9
2Getting good ideas fast from screen models13
Writing to a screen model14
Getting ideas for a film (for example, a low-budget romance)15
Genre and audience expectations18
Pitfalls of genre21
Combining genres21
Inventing genres22
3Getting good ideas fast from fairytale, myth and fable24
Getting story ideas from Cinderella24
Fairytales as templates for thrillers26
Myth, fable and literature27
4Getting good ideas fast from non-narrative triggers31
The outside world31
Social roles or behaviors32
Events32
Photographs, music, art works and other sensory stimuli33
Concepts and themes33
Finding other triggers35
Part IINarrative structure
5Overview of traditional narrative structure39
Parallel storytelling is driven by the three-act structure40
Structure = good timing40
Visualizing the three-act structure41
The importance of the protagonist43
Assembling the fragments43
Making a structure chart44
Nine steps to a three-act structure45
Subplot/background story/relationship line49
Index cards50
6Development Strategies for a traditional three-act film51
Parallel storytelling51
Getting a good setup52
Finding the action line54
Conflict and the chain of events55
Action line and relationship line56
Three-act structure in the relationship line59
Protagonist and antagonist60
Relationship line antagonists and action line antagonists64
Getting into character72
Laying the foundations for suspense and surprise73
Second-act complications75
The second-act turning point77
Finding the climax77
Resolution and ending80
Final steps before the first draft81
Finding the story sentence (advanced form)83
Checking that the relationship line is moving83
Close planning83
Opening scenes85
Symbolism and myth87
Specific plotting problems: adaptation88
Specific plotting problems: comedy and satire90
Specific plotting problems: the short film91
Specific plotting problems: the journey film95
Rewrites and problem-solving generally96
Using criticism to best advantage98
Structural analysis of The Piano100
7Alternative narrative structures: flashback105
Varieties of parallel narrative106
Narrative told in flashbacks107
What is flashback narrative?107
Other versions of flashback108
Flashback as illustration108
Flashback as life-changing incident108
Autobiographical flashback narrative109
Plot requirements in flashback narrative109
Requirements of the story in the past and the story in the present109
Three-act structure in flashback narrative110
Full circle, chronologically111
The hook/triggering crisis111
8Varieties of flashback narrative117
Differences between thwarted dream and case history117
Protagonist and antagonist118
When to use flashback as case history118
The investigator119
Climax twist119
When to use flashback as thwarted dream120
Protagonist and antagonist120
Pursuit of the dream121
New understanding in the third act122
Living the dream122
The ticking clock122
Restoring the balance123
Thwarted dream becoming case history123
Autobiographical flashback124
Flashback as life-changing incident125
Other flashback uses in Catch-22126
Recurrent flashback as moment of calm127
9Quick reference guide to using flashback narrative129
Plot material130
The past130
Detective element130
The enigmatic outsider131
Thwarted dream or case history131
Protagonists and antagonists131
Hunt, quest, or journey133
Structure in flashback narrative133
Length133
Three-act structure133
Flashbacks appear chronologically133
Placing and content133
Protagonist and antagonist134
The story in the present134
The story in the past134
Triggering crisis135
Contents of triggering crisis135
Full circle135
Third-act quest135
Stories in tandem136
No pursuit of the dream136
Method for constructing flashback narrative136
Exercise in creating flashback narrative137
Standard Cinderella story137
Cinderella as thwarted dream138
Cinderella as case history140
Using other sorts of flashback141
Turning Cinderella into flashback as life-changing incident141
Turning Cinderella into autobiographical flashback141
Incorporating flashback as memory into Cinderella141
Incorporating alternative versions of events via flashback142
Starting flashbacks at the disturbance and ending just after the first-act turning point142
10Structure charts of flashback narrative143
Shine144
The Remains of the Day152
The Usual Suspects156
Citizen Kane164
The Sweet Hereafter174
11Tandem narrative and sequential narrative185
Advantages and problems186
Closure and meaning186
Pace and jeopardy187
Length188
Problems with closure, meaning, and pace: case studies188
Magnolia188
Short Cuts190
Go191
Sliding Doors192
Techniques to handle closure, pace, jeopardy, and length192
Three films that solve the problems194
City of Hope194
Facilitating characters195
Meaning, connection, pace, and closure196
Close weave199
Crimes and Misdemeanors and Pulp Fiction199
Pace199
Structure200
Tandem narrative in Crimes and Misdemeanors205
Pulp Fiction: closure by portmanteau plot209
City of Hope, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Pulp Fiction as models219
Actor improvisation and the macro220
12Multiple protagonists and antagonists221
How all the narratives fit together222
Group action line or survival macro223
Responses by individuals to the common problem (macro plot)223
Relationships between individuals224
The dominant character225
The outsider226
The traitor within227
Creating a strong multiple protagonist/antagonist structure227
Group action line (survival macro)227
The group as a family227
The threat to the group227
Steps in the action line228
The disturbance and "whose film is it?"228
Normality229
Skeletal structure of the macro/action line229
Relationship lines229
Quest films229
Relationship lines230
Reunion films230
A macro that leads to closure231
The group on the cusp of change231
Siege films231
Siege structure in American Beauty232
13Lost in the telling: films with structural flaws237
Prelude to a Kiss237
Falling in Love238
Wedlock239
Jaws 3240
Jack and Sarah242
Guarding Tess243
Mr. Saturday Night245
Parallel Lives248
Common script problems250
Why a script might feel slow250
Why a script might feel boring250
Why a script might fizzle251
Part IIIGetting it onto paper
14Dialogue255
Different dialogue skills255
Dialogue and structure255
Writing dialogue256
Visuals and sound256
Real time256
Getting information across (exposition)256
Talking heads and poor exposition257
Keeping to the point258
Pace259
Character and emotions behind the words (subtext)259
To get into character for the scene259
Productive conflict and redundant conflict260
Self-control260
Acting and camera directions260
Writing well for the camera262
15Examples of flawed dialogue writing265
"Going on holiday" (Version 1)265
"Going on holiday" (Version 2)268
"The Breakup" (Version 1)270
"The Breakup" (Version 2)272
"The Breakup" (Version 3)274
16Treatment writing and the script as instruction manual279
What is a treatment?279
What distracts readers from the film in their heads?280
What is the sequence about?280
1.Action280
2.Emotional state of the characters280
3.New details that will be important later280
4.Position281
5.Mood281
Going to cards before writing the treatment281
Exercise in treatment technique281
Poor treatment writing282
Better treatment writing--alternative versions283
Points to remember284
Scene breakdowns and stage directions284
17Strategy for writing under pressure285
Filmography289
Bibliography291
Index295
About the Author301

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