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Old 01-21-2012, 07:27 PM   #21
jonpiper
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Default Re: Central Dramatic Argument

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Originally Posted by christopher jon View Post

And, is the Central Dramatic Argument something you think about and try to establish before you start outlining/writing or is it something that evolves, and might even change, as your writing?
If you think about the CDA before you begin outlining and writing you save yourself a lot of work. You won't write a lot of nonsense that has nothing to do with the CDA. Eveything you put in the outline and everything you put on the page should pertain to the answer to the CDA when the story is complete.

I like your question. Is it possible to discover your CDA after you outline and begin writing? I know the writing process allows my creative brain to generate plot ideas and change my oulines.
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:59 PM   #22
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Default Re: Central Dramatic Argument

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Is it possible to discover your CDA after you outline and begin writing? I know the writing process allows my creative brain to generate plot ideas and change my oulines.
Not only possible, but probable.

Sometimes my outlines will change during writing, and the CDA/Theme may change as well. Gotta be open to change at all times. Doesn't mean I trash my outline, just means if I find my story taking a new direction I like, I go for it. Write that 1st draft, see where it ends up, assess the script as a whole all over again, & re-design my outline accordingly (or go back to the original if I feel I'm straying too far from my original intent/story/theme).

Usually my outlines just change slightly, because I've spent months working them out. But sometimes it is a major rework, because during writing I've found a new CDA - or have clarified my original CDA - and that's going to color just about every scene.

And I wholeheartedly agree with JP's 1st paragraph - theme IS the crux of the story and should be reflected in every scene. If you don't know your theme, how can it be reflected in every scene? I gotta at least know what I'm shooting for before I start a 1st draft. Saves an awful lot of work in the long run.
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Old 01-22-2012, 12:43 AM   #23
Craig Mazin
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Default Re: Central Dramatic Argument

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Originally Posted by christopher jon View Post
Central Dramatic Argument.

I like that. It makes sense.

So,

How important is the Central Dramatic Argument when your writing and do find certain stories or genres rely on it more or less than others?

And, is the Central Dramatic Argument something you think about and try to establish before you start outlining/writing or is it something that evolves, and might even change, as your writing?
Assuming I'm not writing a spoof movie, and I don't plan on doing that again, it's mission critical to me.

For my script for Identity Theft, it was pretty much the alpha and omega. I had a central dramatic argument, and I took my protagonist through a story and relationship to instruct him in it, enlighten him with it, and get him to act in accordance with it.

That said, YES, it absolutely changed, and it changed in big ways. These things are always feedback loops. I start with an argument, I find characters, I plan a story... and then I think that maybe my argument doesn't mesh quite right, but now that I've been doing the thinking, perhaps a better argument is this, which changes things again slightly...

...eventually it all crystalizes. Have to be open to evolution as you write, of course. But I will say this: knowing what the theme is, every discussion I have with my director now is easy, because I know WHY everything is there, I know what the INTENTION is, and so if we need to make changes or improve, I don't do so blindly. I write *toward*, rather than away from. Makes all the difference in the world.
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Old 01-22-2012, 12:44 AM   #24
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Default Re: Central Dramatic Argument

To clarify, it's best IMO to start with some sense of a CDA. You're not married to it, but without it, you're at risk of developing a plodding, mechanical, lifeless narrative.
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:10 AM   #25
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Default Re: Central Dramatic Argument

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Originally Posted by Craig Mazin View Post
Assuming I'm not writing a spoof movie, and I don't plan on doing that again, it's mission critical to me.

For my script for Identity Theft, it was pretty much the alpha and omega. I had a central dramatic argument, and I took my protagonist through a story and relationship to instruct him in it, enlighten him with it, and get him to act in accordance with it.

That said, YES, it absolutely changed, and it changed in big ways. These things are always feedback loops. I start with an argument, I find characters, I plan a story... and then I think that maybe my argument doesn't mesh quite right, but now that I've been doing the thinking, perhaps a better argument is this, which changes things again slightly...

...eventually it all crystalizes. Have to be open to evolution as you write, of course. But I will say this: knowing what the theme is, every discussion I have with my director now is easy, because I know WHY everything is there, I know what the INTENTION is, and so if we need to make changes or improve, I don't do so blindly. I write *toward*, rather than away from. Makes all the difference in the world.
Great stuff. I have now opened a file titled Craig Mazin Advice. In addition to the above, I pasted gems from the Plot Point 2 thread which were sandwiched between non-essential arguments and virtually ignored. I was thinking about starting a thread with these excavated gems but I decided it would only start another bicker-fest.

And also this from BDZ --

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I do think that some of the conversations are awesome. And when you get a bunch of working writers, up and coming writers, and hungry writers engaged in earnest, the end result is better than a lot of what you'd get at a top film school. The dialogue swings from personal methodology to broad creative philosophy to obscure topics in one thread.
Thank you all.
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:41 AM   #26
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Default Re: Central Dramatic Argument

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Originally Posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post

A related phrase:
Thematic change. To explain the change the protag (or another character) goes through from being one type of person at the start of the story to a different type of person at the end.

This bothers me because it's way too broad a directive which, imo, leads to fifth-generation stock characters we've not only seen before but who also arc in the exact same way over and over and over.

The character cannot change unless he/she possesses the seeds, the potential, of such change at the start.

Put another way, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear simply to satisfy a character arc requirement.

I find when I look closely at the highly forgettable films I've seen, and highly forgettable spec scripts I've read, they usually have protags who seem to "change" ever so conveniently to serve the plot. This "terrible thing" happens to them and they're changed forever. And I don't buy it.
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:21 AM   #27
Jeff_Shurtleff
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Default Re: Central Dramatic Argument

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Great stuff. I have now opened a file titled Craig Mazin Advice. In addition to the above, I pasted gems from the Plot Point 2 thread which were sandwiched between non-essential arguments and virtually ignored.
Just so you know, this come's off as you being a kiss a$$ and being very condescending.

Maybe you were talking about me, BIO, or any other person who doesn't subscribe to your point of view... doesn't mean they're wrong.

For the record, I agree with a lot of what Bio has been saying.

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Old 01-22-2012, 12:05 PM   #28
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Default Re: Central Dramatic Argument

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For the record, I agree with a lot of what Bio has been saying.
Like the part where he shit on Craig's credits to win a debate? It is so tiring how many people default to that here. The only thing it shows is massive insecurity.

Craig's one of the top five comedy writers in the business today. When I was breaking in, if I had a chance to get advice from a guy in his position, the last fucking thing I would dream of doing is insult him and try to drive him away. But then again, I wanted to work, not win imaginary points on the internet.
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Old 01-22-2012, 12:25 PM   #29
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Default Re: Central Dramatic Argument

You guys worry way too much about who is kissing ass and who isn't.
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Old 01-22-2012, 12:27 PM   #30
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Brilliantly said, Mr. Haas!
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