examples of structure

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  • Biohazard
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    I can't speak for Broadcast News, which I have not seen, but the other 4 have the same structure.

    Almost every (good) movie has the same structure.

    It's all in how you use the 15 or so "generic beats" to the advantage of your story that makes for great structure.

    Save The Cat Goes To The Movies does a good job of showing this in action.

    Leave a comment:


  • TwoBrad Bradley
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    Originally posted by sc111 View Post
    I'm making a point that many current films bend the structure rules a little and no one notices if it's a well-told story.

    We've had many a discussion where people on DD can't even agree what the midpoint of this or that movie is which is (imo) a good thing. It means the structure is so seamless it's not obvious.
    I wish I knew what point you are trying to make. I'm not talking about story problems. Are you suggesting when you "bend the structure rules a little" you wind up with a new and different structure? Which structure rules are you using as a basis?

    In the video clip Billy Ray (did you view the clip?) implies those five movies have different structures - different enough that it would be an advantage to study and understand the differences.

    I'm assuming that we on DD know enough about structure to discuss it? It is supposed to be seamless only to the "non-screenwriter".

    Leave a comment:


  • sc111
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    Originally posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post
    sc111, is that all we're talking about here concerning differences in structures?

    - the 30-60-30 and 25-55-18 ratio?
    - a protag change in Act 1 when everything else is the same?
    I'm making a point that many current films bend the structure rules a little and no one notices if it's a well-told story.

    We've had many a discussion where people on DD can't even agree what the midpoint of this or that movie is which is (imo) a good thing. It means the structure is so seamless it's not obvious.

    Here's my opinion, take it with a grain of salt ... if you feel the structure of your story is off-kilter it could mean you don't have enough story to tell to carry you 110-115 pages.

    We've all seen films (usually forgettable films) that suffer the Second Act Drag. After the midpoint, the story feels like it's flatlined plotwise and we're just limping along to the 'all hope is lost' point and the big-bang-boom third act.

    If the script suffers the malady of Second Act drag then it's a sign (to fracture an old saying) your plot has not thickened. You need more plot points, more obstacles for your protag, more twists.

    And that's not a structure problem. It's a story problem.

    Before you assume you have a structure problem, make a bulleted list of your plot points for each act.

    Do you have enough "story" in your story for a feature film?

    Again -- just my opine disregard at will.

    Leave a comment:


  • TwoBrad Bradley
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    sc111, is that all we're talking about here concerning differences in structures?

    - the 30-60-30 and 25-55-18 ratio?
    - a protag change in Act 1 when everything else is the same?

    Leave a comment:


  • Ralphy W
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    Originally posted by sc111 View Post
    Last night I read "Things We Lost In The Fire."

    Act one doesn't follow a traditional structure because the protag in act one dies and then the remaining female lead becomes the protag.
    I thought the first act of that script was a mess.

    Leave a comment:


  • sc111
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    You can take liberties with structure if you tell a satisfying story.

    Last night I read "Things We Lost In The Fire."

    Act one doesn't follow a traditional structure because the protag in act one dies and then the remaining female lead becomes the protag.

    However, in his way the dead protag still drives every scene because his survivors are dealing with his death. So he's still a character in many ways.

    Yet, even though there's a protag shift in act one, act two follows traditional structure through the end.

    Writers notice structure, but the goal is to make it seamless for the reader.

    The reader is not going to count plot beats. You can toy with it a bit. However, you can't go on for pages without delivering plot points.

    The way I make structure less daunting for myself is to look at each 12 to 15 page sequence and make sure each has a turning point, a midoint and an action the protag must make to launch the story into the next sequence.

    Each sequence should make sense as a mini-movie. If it doesn't the plot has to be re-examined.

    Now, some of the films mentioned here are decades old when Act 1 and Act 3 could each go for 30 pages. With Act 2 a solid 60 pages.

    But these days Act 1 is usually shorter -- around 20-25 pages. And Act 3 in some scripts (especially comedies and rom-coms) are as short as 10-18 pages.

    The trend is for films running shorter than 120 minutes so there can be more theatre showings at the multiplex.

    If you use a 20 year old film script as your structure template you could be shooting yourself in the foot.

    I would recommend reading more recent scripts in your genre of choice and track the structure.

    Leave a comment:


  • TwoBrad Bradley
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    cool running, that's great if you can naturally churn out good/great screenplays.

    But if you feel something is just not working with your screenplay isn't your structure one of the major things you would review? It would be nice to have knowledge of basic structure (or several different structures) to test yours against.

    Leave a comment:


  • TwoBrad Bradley
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    Originally posted by WritersBlock2010 View Post
    However, all of the films have the three act structure and certain beats/plot points present that are adjusted for the type of film they are (internal, character-driven; external goal-driven Heroes Quest).
    I guess that might be where I'm confused that there are different structures. How are certain beats/plot points adjusted to an extent that they result in different structures?

    I'm thinking you can take a story like Kramer vs. Kramer or Ordinary People and lay them over a typical Hero's Quest structure and it will fit. The "journey to an unfamilar land" may not be a far-off wasteland across a vast ocean, but rather a "place" where the protag needs to tune into other character's feelings. There will still be opposition, helpers, rewards, etc., etc.

    Leave a comment:


  • adieu
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    Originally posted by Cycstorm View Post
    I guess because they are examples of the refinement process of screenwriting where the unneccessary is shed. Every scene in each of these suggestions serves the purpose of the overall film. Every one either reveals character or advances plot or reveals something of the story world. And they all find a way to do it that is extremely dramatically satisfying.
    Good post.

    Leave a comment:


  • Raw_and_Vital
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    Is it possible to be a natural when it comes to great structure? Could it be that you just know how to tell a good story, with good set ups, good character development, great conflicts, turning points, etc?

    How the heck does P.T. Anderson do it. I don't believe he had any writing background and he did drop out of film school because he thought it was b.s.

    Leave a comment:


  • adieu
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    Originally posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post
    adeu, before you go off looking for more screenplays with great structure, did you do what Billy Ray suggested?

    Did you read them?
    Do you understand the differences in the structure that makes each movie great?

    Start with two scripts and post your findings here. That might make for an interesting discussion.
    I did read Ordinary People a while back, and the other four I have downloaded and will read when I get a chance. I have read others mentioned here, Witness, Tootsie and Chinatown, and Linda Seger's book HOW TO MAKE A GOOD SCRIPT GREAT and many others that deal with structure.

    I think I understand structure. Then I read or view interviews with successful, educated screenwriters who tapped in the wilderness until they stumbled upon a mentor who revealed the mysteries of structure.

    And then, in my insecurity, I begin to think that yes I know the recipe by heart, but maybe it is not enough to create a souffle. (As I polish my first script, I will let others decide if the eggs are done right.)

    But I will take your suggestion to heart and post my take on a script.

    Leave a comment:


  • WritersBlock2010
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    Rocky and The Wizard of OZ are the classic heroes journey. This means the journey is a traditional quest (goal oriented) and heroic one.

    This is why most action movies like Die Hard, El Mariachi, Rambo, Commando, and the recent re-envisioning The Tin Man are classic examples of the Heros Journey and how this is directly related to the Three Act Structure.

    Karmer Vs. Kramer, Broacast News and Ordinary People are basically character-driven internal quest (Man vs. himself) stories.

    The only real goal for Kramer is for him to prove he is a fit father so he can keep custody of his son. To do this he has to learn how to change himself and to get over his resentment of his ex-wife. The bigger message is divorce is nasty business that scars everyone, especially children.

    Jane in Broadcast News basically has to come to terms with what she wants... And each guy she likes represents one of two opposing approaches to news; One is the more "infotainment", celebrity oriented one while the other is the hardcore, integrity-minded one.

    Calvin in Ordinary People is struggling to keep his family together. Both physically, but more emotionally because they are all suffering the loss of their younger son/brother.

    However, all of the films have the three act structure and certain beats/plot points present that are adjusted for the type of film they are (internal, character-driven; external goal-driven Heroes Quest).

    Leave a comment:


  • doitafraid
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    Originally posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post
    Cycstorm, I think you hit on the basics. But Billy Ray seems to say that each of those five stories have different structures and it is only when you can identify and understand the specific differences is when you'll be able to really understand structure and apply it (them?) to your own screenplays.

    Anybody know what the differences are?
    THIS is a brilliant observation and question! I think most on here are familiar with basic structure......what would be helpful (to me) at least are the DIFFERENCES between them.

    GOOD point.

    Leave a comment:


  • TwoBrad Bradley
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    Cycstorm, I think you hit on the basics. But Billy Ray seems to say that each of those five stories have different structures and it is only when you can identify and understand the specific differences is when you'll be able to really understand structure and apply it (them?) to your own screenplays.

    Anybody know what the differences are?

    Leave a comment:


  • Cycstorm
    replied
    Re: examples of structure

    I guess because they are examples of the refinement process of screenwriting where the unneccessary is shed. Every scene in each of these suggestions serves the purpose of the overall film. Every one either reveals character or advances plot or reveals something of the story world. And they all find a way to do it that is extremely dramatically satisfying.

    Leave a comment:

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