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Old 03-16-2017, 06:35 PM   #11
TigerFang
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Default Re: You can't make this up.

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Originally Posted by StoryWriter View Post
The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story.
Sure they're stories. It's the stuff from which biographies, autobiographies, and biopics are made.
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Old 03-16-2017, 09:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: You can't make this up.

The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story.

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Sure they're stories. It's the stuff from which biographies, autobiographies, and biopics are made.
Biographies, autobiographies and biopics are a string of "true life incidents" and events, often mingled with fiction and/or guesses, especially if they're historical.

Maybe I was wrong, but I thought this thread was referring to a "true life incident" (singular). Something that odd that happened that happened that people would think was stranger than fiction.

The first example was an ironic incident. A dead body found on Carrion Lane. Which isn't anything close to a whole story.

Another example referred to "scenes" in Western movie, which are by definition not a complete story.

You're example about Lewis and Clark was a series of events. Interesting, but props the incident needed to have impact. It was an incident that had to be put into context with a series of proceeding events. The single incident isn't the story.

The first definition of "incident" that pops up on a Google search is: "1. an event or occurrence." I've had this discussion before on a different board, when somebody thought I should write a script about a true-life "incident", so if I misunderstood the OP's original message, I apologize.

You would probably have trouble writing a whole story on the incident of a moron who asked: "Why were so many Civil War battles fought at national parks?" (Not without a healthy dose of imagination anyway.)

These are the posts that I referring to, in this thread, when I wrote: "The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story."
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Old 03-17-2017, 01:48 AM   #13
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Default Re: You can't make this up.

I agree with many of the points being said. But one thing is true of the usefulness of such real life stories: When you research a story or something at great length, you will discover very interesting stuff to include in your story. For instance, when William Goldman wrote Butch Cassidy many of the great scenes where from research. The same goes for Rudyard Kipling and most of his best works. Captains Courageous came about just by interviewing and talking to real sailors and dock workers. This is just two examples, but there are undeniable benefits if you learn to use those nuggets in a structure. Through research you will find many such things, maybe so many that you have trouble in deciding what to include and how.

This aspect of writing is, to me, criminally underrated in learing to write a story. Mind you, i'm not only talking of research. You don't even have to have a story before you go and explore. If you want to find a story on a subject, just explore that subject in books and in real life.
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Old 03-17-2017, 08:55 AM   #14
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Default Re: You can't make this up.

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The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story.
I am not sure what your point is. In my example, I never indicated that my screenplay was based on a single incident, and it was not. I wrote a fictional story that included many scenes based on actual recorded incidents in the life of Joaquin Murietta. One or two of those incidents were deemed "too unrealistic" by a few readers even though they were based on actual events. That was my point.

I never claimed that one should write a screenplay based on a single event, believable or not. Nor would I.
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Old 03-17-2017, 09:55 AM   #15
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Default Re: You can't make this up.

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Originally Posted by billmarq View Post
I am not sure what your point is. In my example, I never indicated that my screenplay was based on a single incident, and it was not. I wrote a fictional story that included many scenes based on actual recorded incidents in the life of Joaquin Murietta. One or two of those incidents were deemed "too unrealistic" by a few readers even though they were based on actual events. That was my point.

I never claimed that one should write a screenplay based on a single event, believable or not. Nor would I.
So I'm guessing he did not, in fact, become Zorro.

In all seriousness though. My guess would be that, when it comes to story telling, any event is possible in the framework of the story rules. One jarring incident might stand out too much and cause a momentary bump in the flow. I think the writer should use his expert sleight of hand to set up those jarring incidents in a way that makes them seem more plausible.
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Old 03-17-2017, 01:39 PM   #16
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Default Re: You can't make this up.

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I never claimed that one should write a screenplay based on a single event, believable or not. Nor would I.
And I never claimed that you made that claim. My response was to a different poster and I merely summarized what you wrote, not much differently to how you summarized it yourself.

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I am not sure what your point is.
I thought my point is pretty obvious (although addressed to a different poster), and it sounds like you did get it. My point is: "The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story."

But if that wasn't obvious enough, I used the example of someone suggesting that I write a screenplay based on a single, true, real-life incident and how I explained that wasn't a story to that person.

I even said that I may have misunderstood the intent of the OP and apologized if I had. Not trying to be belligerent -- but I think covered all the bases in that post.
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Old 03-17-2017, 03:09 PM   #17
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Default Re: You can't make this up.

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Originally Posted by StoryWriter View Post
The problem is "true life incidents" aren't a story.
A movie needs an inciting incident, and there's a story that leads up to every incident. In toto, the events of September 11th, 2001 were an “incident.” The following are stories derived from that “incident”:

United 93
World Trade Center
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Although I understand the point you make, I think you may be splitting hairs for the purpose of the general discussion of screenwriting. After all, this forum is by, about, and for screenwriters and their stories.

Last edited by TigerFang : 03-18-2017 at 03:03 AM.
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Old 03-17-2017, 03:50 PM   #18
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Default Re: You can't make this up.

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Originally Posted by TigerFang View Post
A movie needs an inciting incident, and there's a story that leads up to every incident. In toto, the events of September 11th, 2001 were an “incident.” The following are stories derived from that “incident”:

United 93
World Trade Center
Extremely Loud & incredibly Close
The key here being that these stories were "derived" from the incident. Stories, themselves, are not about incidents, they're about people and how they react to the incident (or catalyst).
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Old 03-17-2017, 04:08 PM   #19
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Default Re: You can't make this up.

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Yes. I have written scenes in old west screenplays describing actual events from history and had readers tell me to cut the scenes because they were unbelievable. "No one would ever do that."
Here is the problem that people (and I include writers in that broad category), sometimes fail to understand.

The real world is full of coincidences -- since trillions of things are just happening all the time sheer chance requires that some of those trillions of things that just happen will result in some pretty remark relationships between "things that happen."

Like a rotting body begin found on "Carrion Road." Obviously, countless thousands of bodies have been found in places other than Carrion Road and Carrion Road has existed and will continue to exist for most of the time without any bodies being found on it.

It's the same with most remarkable events -- in real life. When they happen -- as they inevitably will, we're astounded because they are, in fact, so improbable. But that's how improbable things are. They do happen, just very rarely.

But stories aren't real life. They aren't full of "things that just happen." Nothing in a story "just happens." It's all there because the storyteller has made a decision to put it there.

And while the audience enters into the pretense that the story is a kind of version of reality, that fact is always somewhere in the back of their collective minds. That the story is a contrivance, not reality.

So if, in reality, you're about to be shot, and then the person about to shoot you recognizes you as someone he knew in high school thirty years ago and lets you go -- if that really happens -- well, damn, aren't you lucky,

But if you write that in a screenplay, then it isn't just "something that happens" -- it's something that you've made up. You've got a character in a problem and you, the writer have to solve it -- and you've solved it in an extremely unlikely way.

And the fact that, in reality, extremely unlikely things happen is really beside the point.

Mostly, in reality, extremely unlikely things don't happen. Mostly, "likely" things happen. That's the difference between likely and unlikely things.

That's why it's okay to get somebody into trouble or to start off a story with something unlikely happening, but to get somebody out of trouble or to end a story with something unlikely happening is really hard to make work -- because the audience senses the hand of the storyteller reaching down into the story.

They know that it wasn't just "something happening" -- it was you, the storyteller, making something happen. In real like, it was really really lucky that Sacajewa's brother happened to be there. It wasn't destiny. It wasn't divine intervention. It was just really good luck and it might not have happened and they might all have ended up dead.

But if you put the equivalent of Sacajewa's brother into a story, there's no luck involved. You, the writer, put him into the story. And they can talk all you want about how lucky it was -- the audience knows that this is a story -- that there's a creator's hand making it all happen -- and you show your hand when do stuff like that.

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Old 03-17-2017, 06:00 PM   #20
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Default Re: You can't make this up.

Everything happens for a reason. Hands down, the Done Deal Pro screenwriting forum is by far the most enlightening.
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