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  • #46

    >if the rules of drama are so clear cut, why is it writers rarely agree on these things when discussing a particular film?
    Very well said, sc111 I always hate it when somebody says something and I realize that if I'd said it earlier I could have saved a lot of trouble and work. These things are not like laws of science. They are not like musical geometry or physical tecniques of plastic arts.
    Another really good quote here was the one about, "if you have a story running, go with it, if not read some books"...well put. Where were you guys three pages of posts ago?
    creativexec, why are you aplogizing for interrupting when you come on with one of the few calm, sane posts since this thing started?


    • #47
      Re: ?

      There has got to be a "How many Screenwriters does it take..." joke in here somewhere.

      I mean, seriously guys, there's much quoting of Aristotle, Syd Field and MacKay yet no one can agree on who the protag is in Shawshank Redemption?

      I'll venture an opinion.

      The clue is in the title: Redemption.

      Who was redeemed: RED

      Who was the Catalyst to this redemption: ANDY.

      Here's why Andy is NOT the protag:

      1) Andy had his escape plan all figured out behind the scenes. It's all discovered later in the narration. Neither "We" nor Red, had a clue to what Andy was up to when he was doing the books for the warden. It was all explained to us later in narration.

      2) Andy - - by starting the library, by playing the classical music on the PA system, CHANGED life at Shawshank for the other inmates. Shawshank did not change him.

      3) Combine (1) and (2) and you can easily see Andy did NOT have a character arc - - RED DID.

      4) The angle about Andy getting/losing a chance to to prove his innocence was a RED HERRING. It was never about Andy proving his innocence. The clue is in the title.

      There, I said it. I vote that CE has the final word since story development is his job (and he's good at it).


      • #48
        Re: ?

        On Rom Coms-- I think there are dual protags.

        My Best Friend's Wedding is not clearly a Rom com-- Julia is the protag but she ends up with no guy. So, it's not really a rom com.

        In You've Got Mail, both Hanks & Ryan have character arcs, the story is equally split.

        In Harry Met Sally both characters arc equally, too. And so on and so on...


        • #49
          Last reply on this topic

          Thanks ce for that wounderful response. You hit it dead on. There was apprenticeship back in the early days.

          I really don't know why some people say one art form can be taught where another cannot. What makes writting so special that it is not inclusive?

          Writting can be taught to the same degree as music and painting.

          Knowledge is progressive and it grows with respect to time.

          In the end it comes down to the story.

          Most of us will never see a screenwriting classroom or have a mentor to guide us yet by studying form we are learning the theory behind it all.


          P.S. Andy is clearly the protagonist in the movie. It's his story his redemption.


          • #50
            Re: ?

            Good grief. I can't believe all this.

            Narration does not drive a story. Characters do. Just because Red narrated the story doesn't mean he's the protagonist.

            When you get to the end of the movie, can you really sit there and say, "Ah good. Red finally achieved X before Y." We have to know who the protagonist is right from the start. We have to follow her in her journey. We can't get to the end of the movie and say, "Oh I see. Red had the character arc and Andy didn't. So Red is the protagonist." Bullfookin'@#%$. I invested in Andy. I wanted Andy to win. Red just sat there and let shat happen. Who cares about him.

            That's how you define a protagonist.


            • #51

              I'm going to ask again the killjoy question.
              So if somebody "thinks there are dual protagonists", and somebody else accepts that (instead of saying "who cares what you call them?") it comes.....what advantage do you now have? What aid to writing is this? How do use this for anything?
              Seriously...without all this old masters, giants head and shoulders crap....what does that DO for you?


              • #52
                Re: >

                Wow, Catrin, you're intransigent. But I salute your right to be that way.

                If you can't see why understanding "theory" is important for some, then I really feel sad for you, because you therefore lack the understanding required for intellectual and artistic growth.

                Einstein didn't just "make" the atom bomb through sheer "talent." He studied...uh comes that word...atomic THEORY in order to BUILD UPON it and use it to his advantage.

                Your Bruce Lee analogy is horrendously erroneous as well. He didn't "diss {sic} the forms of martial arts schools because he didn't need them." He took from many forms, learning and understanding their principles and...oh sh!t...there's that word again...THEORIES in order to utilize them to his advantage. He took his base knowledge in Wing Chun taught to him by Master Yip Man and then, with an understanding of the THEORY behind it, he then studied the techniques and THEORIES from American boxing, Fencing, Hapkido, Japanese Karate, and other forms of Gong Fu and utilized them to his advantage by combining those principles, techniques, and THEORIES into a new fighting style.

                He never EVER dissed the old styles (as you say), he merely commented on how he saw them, individually, as limited and believed that their THEORIES could be combined into a higher "formless" form. I suggest reading Tao of Jeet Kun Do, Fighting Techniques (at least volumes 1-3), and his book on Chinese Gong Fu if you don't believe me.
                Your idea that a master has to learn all the current bullshit before working around it MIGHT (and that's a big might) hold true in painting and music.
                Your own misinformed Bruce Lee analogy disproves that quote.

                Fact is, in writing (as in all things), theory is derived as a way to understand how the great works were created. And, in fact, it's found that the great works nearly always follow the same THEORETICAL steps and employ nearly the same THEORETICAL techniques.

                Whether or not all of these masters understood that's what they were doing doesn't matter. The fact is, they all did nearly the same thing structure-wise.

                Many of the great artists (in writing, music, painting, etc) study the classics and the THEORIES so that they can use them to their advantage. Some of them even came up with them - Da Vinci's techniques and theory of shading the musculature of the human body, for instance.

                Do you honestly believe that Ray Charles didn't understand music theory? Do you honestly believe that 8 time Grammy winner Alicia Keys, even though she was a prodigy at the age of 6, hasn't studied music theory, or learned from studying Beethoven and Thelonius Monk?

                If so, then you're deluded.

                Hell, even John Freaking Mayer has studied music theory. That's what made him a great guitarist.

                No matter how talented a person is, he/she doesn't know everything and therefore can never reach his/her full, true potential until he/she learns what he/she doesn't know. Without true understanding of how other masters did things, an artist cannot transcend the limitations of his/her own arrogance.

                So, studying things THEORETICALLY by labeling them as, say, "dual protagonists," gives a student of the craft the ability to critically analyze how a master (who is not around to personally teach them) did it and then, hopefully, learn from that.

                A true artist (in whatever field) learns the theories, adds them to his/her mental artistic lexicon, then incorporates and translates them through the conduit of their own talent and insight in order to create new masterpieces.

                Learning and understanding theory isn't done so that one can regurgitate some emotionless, cookie-cutter piece of work by following a recipe. It's done so that a person with true talent can maximize their gift.

                It's the difference between Ray Charles and Britney Spears.


                • #53
                  Who built the arc?

                  Memorable post!


                  • #54
                    Re: >

                    i think a lot of these analogies are not helpful. writing isn't like building a chair, it's not like architecture, it isn't a science and it's not a martial art.

                    a lot of these comparisons confuse rather than clarify -- which sort of defeats the purpose of drawing a comparison.

                    kurt vonnegut (in palm sunday, if memory serves) discussed his belief that there are two kinds of writers: those whose work can be traced back to the writing that came before it, and those whose work can be traced back to their lives.

                    i think that's a little simplistic (every writer's work draws, ultimately, from both), but there's certainly a case for those two kinds of writers being at opposite ends of a spectrum with a lot of others in between.

                    in any case, i think a lot of the former type of writer (up to and including those dead-bang in the middle) can use theory, and reverse-engineering of the work that came before them to help them understand what they're trying to do. and i think a lot of the latter type of writer (up to, et cetera) like to deal with story on a more instinctual level, finding it as they go along, with a lack of intellectualizing.

                    and i don't think there's necessarily a "better" type of writer. there's room in the world for charles bukowski's work and that of david foster wallace; there's room for charlie kaufman's movies and for those of dan o'bannon. just because one utilizes theory from the outset and one internalized whatever he knows and doesn't intellectualize it doesn't mean one is better than the other. the problems seem to come up when one kind of writer tries to force his way upon another type.

                    personally, i don't see the point in it.

                    why argue with someone whose approach is different from yours? you're not gonna see it the same way because you're looking at it from different angles. just because something isn't useful to you, doesn't mean it's useless; and just because something is useful to you, doesn't mean everyone needs it.

                    just a thought.


                    • #55
                      Re: >

                      That's an extremely reasonable and broad-minded way to look at it.

                      It may not be all that popular here.


                      • #56
                        Protag/Antag question

                        I'd just like jump in on Desmas' and Catrin's argument here. Possibly a bad idea, and what I say might be BS. Luckily, I don't take myself too seriously.

                        Catrin's argument seems to be that you don't need to learn theory. Desmas' seems to be saying that theory is important. There are some good arguments and bad ones here.

                        All art is a human invention. Western music has certain conventions, twelve tone octave, time signatures, two half steps (B to C, E to F), etc. Much Eastern music has its own conventions. There's a theory to every art form. If you learn to play a Cmajor7, you're learning theory. If you learn what a protagonist is you're learning theory.

                        Catrin said...

                        "It [good guys and bad guys] is NOT a core's a convention"

                        The study of convention is *exactly* what theory is. I asked a music teacher what music theory was and she said it was a study of what's come before. But you can study theory informally as well.

                        Someone brought up Ray Charles. He would be a great example of someone who learned theory informally. He didn't learn to read music, he listened to it. Mozart would be an example of someone who learned theory formally. I don't think anyone would call Mozart a formulaic hack. Especially the guy who said "Too many notes!"

                        Both Ray and Mozart were able to create new and innovative music because they had great imaginations and ability for abstract thought.

                        And this is Catrin's valid point -- they both graduated.

                        If you ignore what the text books say, simply watch movies, and apply what you learn to your writing, you're still learning theory.

                        You can learn from a text book, in fact I recommend it, but you have to hone and use your own judgement as well. And that's the hardest part. That's why we only have one Mozart, one Ray, etc.

                        (And suddenly I wonder if we could clone Bill Martell, then we'd have two.)

                        But both are valid approaches.

                        Wow. You guys should argue more often. This is the first thing I've written from scratch in a while and I'm now ready to tackle my next outline.

                        Thanks guys.


                        • #57
                          Re: >

                          bravo, bligh.


                          • #58
                            Re: >human stories

                            On my planet Protagonists & Antagonists constantly shift roles. We are symbiotes. P will pop out of one of the multidinous orifices of A. A will chase P around for a while until they are both bright purple with exhaustion. Then A will slither into one of P's orifices. They have now changed roles & the oldA/newP will exit the oldP/newA... This activity provides much sorrowful merriment to my fellow beings ( it is unfathomable to us that comedy & tragedy can be separate art forms since joy & pain are inextricably fused ).
                            BTW two of my fellow beings are masquerading as humans ...El Catrin & desmas:lol


                            • #59
                              Re: ?

                              My last comment on this, then I'm dropping it.

                              Once again. The resolution of the film is about Red, because the important REDEMPTION is the redemption that Red and the prisoners experience. Andy drops out of the film almost a full 50 shooting scenes before the script ends. We're talking about a full fifth of the story that he's only participating in via flashback. In the last 50 shooting scenes, Andy appears for two reasons, the escape sequence, and the withdraw scene at the bank. Everything else for 50 shooting scenes is about Red and his freedom and his resolution.

                              Christopher Vogler disagrees with you. The protagonist is the character who learns the most.


                              • #60
                                Re: >human stories

                                In a novel, narration or POV may drive the story.

                                In drama, it is the protagonist's ACTIONS which drive the story.

                                That is the single biggest difference between drama and other forms of story telling.

                                Drama comes from the ancient Greek Dran, which means "to do". The "tagonist" is from the ancient Greek for a performer of action, a person of physical feats and deeds. The Protagonist is one whose ACTIONS try advance the plot toward the positive conclusion.

                                In the late 1800's William T, Price, a man who contributed as much to our understanding of drama as Aristotle, started America's first school to teach playwriting. His pupils were some of the most influential and successful playwrights of their's, and any, time.

                                Before there were "schools" there were teachers and students, masters and apprentices.

                                Shakespeare's influences from those he worked with and studied under can clearly be seen in his work. Shakespeare may not have attended a formal school but it's obvious from his work that he did study the dramatic practices and learn the wisdom of those master actors and writers he studied under.