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Old 11-19-2007, 03:51 PM   #1
EJ Pennypacker
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Default Hero Hybrid Structure Outline

So for fun, debate and discussion, I've been inspired after reading Blake's SAVE THE CAT to combine all of the other structures I know of, into one big fat outline, using the SAVE THE CAT fifteen point method as the skeleton to bridge a whole story.

Viki Kings, Chris Vogler (thank you JC), Blake Snyder, John Truby, Michael Hauge and our own Deus have all be inspirations for the list.

I will say this does lean more towards the typical HERO-style story as per Voglers book (see that for descriptions of sequences), but I think it's obvious that it can be applied to any story.

I'm curious what the folks here have to make of it, and whether anyone can see any room for improvement or have any concerns about it.

A big thanks to Phatgirl for allowing me to bounce this many times off her!



Internal & External Issue (MDQ):

Opening Image (page1)

• State opening with important imagery. Establish TIME, LOCATION, MOOD/TONE.

Theme Stated (pg5)

• Pose THEME question.

Set-Up (pgs 1-10)

• Show the hero in his/her ordinary world.
• What is the story about (foundation of premise).
• Whose story is it (establish HERO)?
• What is their internal ISSUE? (mental problem/ wound/ scar)
• What do they want (GOAL)?
• What’s stopping them from getting it?
• Make them likeable/relatable.
• Make the audience care about them (SAVE THE CAT method).

Catalyst (pg12)

• Inciting Incident. Call to Adventure. Event presented to them to start the story.

Debate about Goal (pgs 12-25)

• Discussion of GOAL.
• Refusal of CATALYST.
• Establish the stakes here too. (What happens if the hero doesn't reach their goal?)
• Establish NEMISIS.
• The MDQ is posed. The point at which we "see" what will happen in the rest of the movie, and we know the movie will be over when the MDQ is answered.

Break into Two/ Final Commitment to Goal (pg25)

• They pledge to story GOAL and promise to topple MDQ. The mission is ON!

Fun and Games & Trailer Moments (pgs30-55)

• Plot B (sub-plot) often linked with THEME.
• TESTS (FUN and GAMES) & Promise of the Premise & Set Pieces.
• ENEMIES appear.
• Give clue to ARC through MDQ.
• Change

Midpoint (pg55)

• Low point. False victory. MDQ in serious doubt. Story flipped/re-directed. Often the point where a TIME CLOCK or TICKING CLOCK method is introduced.

Bad Boys Close In (pgs55-75)

• HERO bands together and gets pumped with PLAN OF ATTACK for GOAL.
• Approach the Inner Cave.
• Bad Guys “Evil Plan” is put in motion.
• Complications/higher stakes.
• HERO makes some progress (REWARD).
• Plot B - evidence of growth and change but perhaps still not committed.
• HERO discovery of BETRAYL.
• HERO learns of “Evil Plan”.
• Chase/escape/setbacks --> act 2 climax.

All is Lost (pg75)

• Everything fails and blows up big-time in their face (due to EVIL PLAN or due to the hero's goal or plan being the wrong goal or plan). Tie in with PLOT B failure.

Dark Night of the Soul (pgs 75-85)

• HERO is at their lowest point. Suicide? Smell of fear...
• The hero is confronted with a choice here whether to stay in the special world or return to the ordinary world.
• The hero discovers a hidden truth about the nature of the obstacle to his goal/ re-frame for three.

Break into Three (pg 85)

• Dedication to resolving problem, and they have “Eureka” moment. (The hero finally realizes he/she's been going about things in the wrong way.)
• Rebirth / Hero sets out to answer the MDQ.

Finale Showdown (pgs85-110)

• Prepare for NEW PLAN OF ACTION.
• Plot B tie-in (character(s) CHANGE and it often helps with FINAL GOAL).
• Hero confronts an obstacle greater than ever imagined. Must overcome the internal need/flaw to succeed.
• HERO wins/ defeats NEMISIS.

Final Curtain (pg110)

• Hero's resurrection.
• Plot-B: Scene showing full character growth of HERO.


Last edited by EJ Pennypacker : 11-07-2008 at 02:26 PM. Reason: Added TIME CLOCK mention at Mid-Point
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Old 11-19-2007, 04:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: Hero Hybrid Structure Outline

So that's what a beat sheet is.

No wonder it's been so hard for me up to now...
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Old 11-19-2007, 04:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: Hero Hybrid Structure Outline

Vogler is a God.

Also, to combine with the low point, p 55 is a good point to flip the story again and redefine expectations/rules--essentially another 1st turning point.
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Old 11-19-2007, 04:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Hero Hybrid Structure Outline

Damn! My Break into Three occurred halfway down page 86. I've had to scrap the entire script.
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Old 11-19-2007, 04:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: Hero Hybrid Structure Outline

You have the catalyst and inciting incident as being the same thing. Some think they're different things and occur at different points (which I'm confused about btw). Anyone?

"We're all immigrants now, man."
- Zia (Patrick Fugit), "Wristcutters: A Love Story"
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Old 11-19-2007, 07:19 PM   #6
Jim Mercurio
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Default Re: Hero Hybrid Structure Outline

Since all of you are familiar with the canonical and current books on screenwriting...are there any recent books that deal--not with structure--but with the craft? Writing scenes, hiding conflict, set ups....with down and dirty examples of how to improve scenes, dialogue, character voices etc...

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Old 11-19-2007, 07:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hero Hybrid Structure Outline

I always tend to think of the catalyst as a complication that's part of the set-up. It establishes the stakes. And the inciting incident is what drags or drives the protag into the actually story you're telling (the one that poses the MDQ).

Say a guy gets an eviction notice, he and his young wife and kids will be put out on the streets of Flint Michigan in February. (catalyst)

Then his old friend from high school offers him a job, a chance to rob some drug dealers and get the money to pay his rent and save his family. (inciting incident)

Lame example, but that's one way to look at catalyst vs inciting incident. And yes, some people use the two terms interchangably.

PS - on page 3, just before getting the eviction notice, he saves a cat that was living in his neighbor's truck engine.
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Old 11-19-2007, 08:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: Hero Hybrid Structure Outline

I like what you're developing here.

Have you tested your Hero Hybrid Structure Outline by analyzing a produced hero type screenplay to determine how closely it follows your structure outline?
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Old 11-19-2007, 09:05 PM   #9
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Default Re: Hero Hybrid Structure Outline

I couldn't write that way!

I think of the characters until they haunt my soul, then I write loads of scenes until I have enough to string together into a story, writing the linking scenes after so that it flows. For some reason, I'm driven to do a great deal of research, and what I uncover steers the story a bit.

I figure out most of the above when I'm well into it.

Strangely enough, the first draft of my latest one made it to finalist in a contest and the reader said:

Structure: Flawless


I would worry that being so structured right at the start might lead to predictability. No?
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Old 11-19-2007, 11:05 PM   #10
David Alin
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Default Re: Hero Hybrid Structure Outline

These points will surely help in my development, maybe if I keep practicing I will get it right every time...

Who knows, maybe next year I can enter into the CS Open and win by flawless structure.
D. Alin Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Basically) [Skype me at "Buyitpc" - I will surely love to talk!]
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