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Old 11-16-2015, 12:14 PM   #171
Yaso
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Default Re: How can screenwriters control pace? Any thoughts on unintentional slowness?

Just to be clear, sc111: Your misconception is that people use this as some kind of a "magic bullet". That's simply not true.

These elements are a tool. You can break down your story when you found it, so you can immediately see what works. As with any tool, you don't have to use it. It's a great tool though and it helps me a lot.
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Old 11-16-2015, 12:23 PM   #172
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Default Re: How can screenwriters control pace? Any thoughts on unintentional slowness?

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Originally Posted by Yaso View Post
I would say it's 50/50.

Some writers are afraid of letting their analytical tools go. Some writers are afraid of stifling their creativity. What all writers have in common is that they are afraid.

In any case, there's little sense to withdraw into the homoeopathy of screenwriting, a.k.a. the "LOL, just write" school of thought.

There's a video by John Cleese, one of the Monty Python's, where he talks about the open and closed mode ... It helped me a lot:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qby0ed4aVpo

Partial transcript from that video/ John Cleese:


Closed Mode (6:27)


Let me explain a little. By the "closed mode" I mean the mode that we are in most of the time when {we are} at work.

We have inside us a feeling that there's lots to be done and we have to get on with it if we're going to get through it all.

It's an active (probably slightly anxious) mode, although the anxiety can be exiting and pleasurable.

It's a mode which we're probably a little impatient, if only with ourselves.

It has a little tension in it, not much humor.

It's a mode in which we're very purposeful, and it's a mode in which we can get very stressed and even a bit manic, but not creative.

Open Mode (7:10)


By contrast, the open mode, is relaxed… expansive… less purposeful mode… in which we're probably more contemplative, more inclined to humor (which always accompanies a wider perspective) and, consequently, more playful.

It's a mood in which curiosity for its own sake can operate because we're not under pressure to get a specific thing done quickly.

We can play, and that is what allows our natural creativity to surface.


Example of Open vs Closed Mode: Alexander Fleming (7:48)

Let me give you and example of what I mean.

When Alexander Fleming5 had the thought that led to the discovery of penicillin, he must have been in the open mode.

The previous day, he'd arranged a number of dishes to that culture would grow upon them.

On the day in question, he glanced at the dishes, and he discovered that on one of them no culture had appeared.

Now, if he'd been in the closed mode he would have been so focused upon his need for "dishes with cultures grown upon them" that when he saw that one dish was of no use to him for that purpose he would quite simply have thrown it away.

Thank goodness, he was in the open mode so he became curious about why the culture had not grown on this particular dish. And that curiosity, as the world knows, led him to the lightbulb --- I'm sorry, to penicillin.

Now in the closed mode an uncultured dish is an irrelevance. In the open mode, it's a clue.

----
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Old 11-16-2015, 12:24 PM   #173
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Default Re: How can screenwriters control pace? Any thoughts on unintentional slowness?

This thread seems to have divided itself into two staunch camps. Which is not so great, because taking a black-and-white stance on anything is rarely the answer.

Storytelling ability is required to be a screenwriter. Of course. But there's also a technical element that can't be ignored. Maybe this element becomes easier, more instinctual, over time, but it's still there. Acting like learning how to write a script is something you can just absorb from watching movies without putting in some serious time and study is just fooling yourself. And frankly, disrespecting the craft. If it was that easy, there'd be a lot more working screenwriters out there.

Smart people know how to use tools like STC as just what they are -- tools, not rules. Just because there are some people who don't know how to use them properly, and are slavish to them, and treat them like a magic bullet, doesn't mean that all people who use the tools are clueless. Or that the tools themselves should be discounted out of hand.
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Last edited by UpandComing : 11-16-2015 at 01:46 PM.
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Old 11-16-2015, 12:28 PM   #174
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Default Re: How can screenwriters control pace? Any thoughts on unintentional slowness?

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In GRAVITY nature is the antagonist ("who wants to stop the main character from reaching his goal?"), but that doesn't give you a deep conflict. It's a very simple story, designed to bring out the best of the 3D-effect.
But nature doesn't want anything. It is 100% indifferent to her plight.

All that's happening is that a simple idea ("screenplays should have conflict") is being gussied up with a bunch of other terms that don't actually make it any clearer - and, in fact, obfuscate.

And heck, even "screenplays should have conflict" falls apart when if you look at "My Dinner With Andre."

And which of those four endings is "Nelle et Mr. Arnoud?"

I don't disagree that the four endings you describe are common endings, but it's still an over-restrictive model.
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Old 11-16-2015, 12:35 PM   #175
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Default Re: How can screenwriters control pace? Any thoughts on unintentional slowness?

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But nature doesn't want anything. It is 100% indifferent to her plight.

All that's happening is that a simple idea ("screenplays should have conflict") is being gussied up with a bunch of other terms that don't actually make it any clearer - and, in fact, obfuscate.

And heck, even "screenplays should have conflict" falls apart when if you look at "My Dinner With Andre."

And which of those four endings is "Nelle et Mr. Arnoud?"

I don't disagree that the four endings you describe are common endings, but it's still an over-restrictive model.
In the real world nature doesn't want anything, but in stories it sometimes does.

I don't know the movies you mentioned, but does the MC reach his goal in those or not? Does he overcome his weakness or not? Those are the questions you should be asking to know what feeling the audience will leave the theatre with. And that's what counts.
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Old 11-16-2015, 12:55 PM   #176
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Default Re: How can screenwriters control pace? Any thoughts on unintentional slowness?

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Originally Posted by Yaso View Post
Just to be clear, sc111: Your misconception is that people use this as some kind of a "magic bullet". That's simply not true.

These elements are a tool. You can break down your story when you found it, so you can immediately see what works. As with any tool, you don't have to use it. It's a great tool though and it helps me a lot.
Two questions:

1) What is this tool helping you do?

2) How much writing had you done (short stories, poems, or even essays) before you tried your hand at screenwriting?

And I'm not asking to be a biotch. I'm asking because I do respect everyone's desire to write. Even a fledgling desire to write comes from a deep place. What I object to is instruction (because all these lists, formulas and templates are really instructions) that sends people down blind alleys with a false sense of confidence only to stifle or kill any budding talent they may actually have and set them up for failure.
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Old 11-16-2015, 01:38 PM   #177
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Default Re: How can screenwriters control pace? Any thoughts on unintentional slowness?

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What I object to is instruction (because all these lists, formulas and templates are really instructions) that sends people down blind alleys with a false sense of confidence only to stifle or kill any budding talent they may actually have and set them up for failure.
I understand your aversion to the screenwriting cottage industry. There are a lot of useful resources. But there are also a lot of charlatans.

That said -- instruction of some kind is necessary for any kind of craft. That's why we have school for various trades. And books. That's what separates a craft from a hobby. Screenwriting is no different. It's how people use the instruction that matters.
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Old 11-16-2015, 02:04 PM   #178
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Default Re: How can screenwriters control pace? Any thoughts on unintentional slowness?

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In the real world nature doesn't want anything, but in stories it sometimes does.
In Gravity, it does not. And to claim it is, you have to stretch the concept of "want" to the breaking point. You've just made THAT word mean nothing in an attempt to force Gravity to fit your model.

It feels like you're building a church to the concept that the antagonist has to want something, which first had you stretching the definition of "antagonist" and now has you breaking the definition of "want" to try to fix your definition of antagonist; facts inconsistent with theology must be discarded.

Discard the theology. The idea of an antagonist who wants something is a useful concept. Thinking in those terms can help you write a lot of stories. But when confronted with a story which works but doesn't easily fit the model, recognize that as a failure of the model, not the story.

And that's ok. Maps are - tautologically - less complicated than the territory represent. But if you're looking at the map of where you are and it says there's a mountain there, and you're standing there where there's clearly no mountain, don't go looking to redefine mountain. Accept that maps are sometimes wrong.

Quote:
I don't know the movies you mentioned, but does the MC reach his goal in those or not? Does he overcome his weakness or not? Those are the questions you should be asking to know what feeling the audience will leave the theatre with. And that's what counts.
Those questions are not easy to answer in either of those films. Heck, I would argue that they are completely irrelevant to "My Dinner With Andre," and misleading to try to apply to "Nelly et Mr Arnoud" (in a manner which is totally consistent to that style of storytelling; it misses the point entirely about why and how that film works).

Trying to hammer those stories into a simple four-quadrant mold discards what is compelling about them. You're sitting here, not having seen them, saying "it must fit!" but the reality is much more complex and interesting.

Which is not to say that I think your four categories aren't useful descriptors; the problem arises only when you start acting like those are the only four choices you can have.
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Old 11-16-2015, 02:14 PM   #179
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Default Re: How can screenwriters control pace? Any thoughts on unintentional slowness?

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To pick a huge commercial and critical success, Forrest Gump:

Aside from the fact that it begins and ends, it has none of the elements listed. Best picture, best adapted screenplay.
Does it make a difference (I'm being serious) that Forrest Gump was an adaptation from a novel? I say that, because I'm imagining the Development He!l that that script might have gone through, had the execs involved not had the book as a guide.

The book was not a bestseller until after the movie, but the author (Duncan Groom, I think?) had been previously nominated for a Pulitzer.

Also, you mentioned you only talk in terms of acts when you and other working writers talk about scripts or writing -- if you are talking about acts, aren't you automatically talking about what's going in each act or if some information would be better served to be plugged into act two rather than act one, or to happen earlier in act one, rather than later, etc.? Isn't that the same thing as people are discussing here, albeit in looser terms?
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Old 11-16-2015, 02:27 PM   #180
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Default Re: How can screenwriters control pace? Any thoughts on unintentional slowness?

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Does it make a difference (I'm being serious) that Forrest Gump was an adaptation from a novel? I say that, because I'm imagining the Development He!l that that script might have gone through, had the execs involved not had the book as a guide.

The book was not a bestseller until after the movie, but the author (Duncan Groom, I think?) had been previously nominated for a Pulitzer.
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xrd...ump_shortfilms

I never read the book but I did read some stuff comparing the choices made awhile back.
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