Ordinary World/Special World Help

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  • #16
    Re: Ordinary World/Special World Help

    Originally posted by Why One View Post
    A character that has spent their entire life living in an urban dwelling in the developed world may suddenly find themselves lost in a remote part of the world with no technology and where nobody speak his language. That's a special world.

    Or perhaps a character that married very early on in life suddenly finds themselves single for the first time and doesn't know how to deal with it. That's a special world too.
    Agree.

    Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
    Character drama is a function of what the characters are trying to achieve and what the obstacles are.
    You're looking at it from the POV of tasks. You're thinking that a character has a task, obstacles get in the way and there's your drama.

    You're not asking yourself why the task is given, why the obstacles and characters are there.

    Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
    Stop worrying about the "special world" and make the drama between your characters clear.
    You can't disassociate character drama from the special world, because the interactions with the special world reflect who the character is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQLhORPoUJs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqSYC_vwhDg

    Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
    There are lots of films where the so-called "special world" is EXACTLY LIKE THE REGULAR WORLD except that the character is trying to do something different. We could point to literally dozens of films where the character spends time in the same physical spaces in the middle of the second act as he does in the "ordinary world" at the beginning of the script - including some oscar winners.
    You can jump into/work in the same locations - the point is what's going on in those locations.

    Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
    The whole concept of a special world only applies universally if you broaden the concept so much that it could include anything, at which point it's not useful.
    Concepts like theme, arc, change are universal (well, we can argue about that in other threads), but you can't say they're not useful. It's all linked.
    Story Structure 1
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    • #17
      Re: Ordinary World/Special World Help

      Originally posted by Timmy View Post
      You can jump into/work in the same locations - the point is what's going on in those locations.
      Yes. Exactly.

      This means that the concept of a "special world" is completely abstract. It's not an actual place.

      Which gets back to the concept of "want" and "obstacle" - the thing that is primarily different about those locations in the second act, compared to the beginning of the script, is what the hero is trying to do. The LOCATIONS haven't changed.

      That means tat the special world isn't actually defined by any quality of the locations themselves.

      As we get to the original poster's question, this makes my point. He was worried about making his "special world" special enough. But if the "special world" isn't a place, and isn't a quality of the place, then why is the concept useful?

      Let's use an example. How about Alien. In Alien, the special world isn't a place: the crew spend a lot of time in the same locations as they do when they're in their ordinary world - the control room, the dining room, etc. How would you define "special world" in this film?

      Concepts like theme, arc, change are universal (well, we can argue about that in other threads), but you can't say they're not useful. It's all linked.
      The issue isn't universalness, it's specificity. The character was in state A at the beginning of the film, and now they're in state B. That definition is functional: we can talk about how a character changes or doesn't change (and some don't - take a look at Ripley in Alien again). A character's change is usually marked by clear scenes showing how they fail at something (eg, see the first scene in Bridesmaids) and a final scene showing how they can handle the same problem.

      So when writing, if I've given a character an arc, that's actually functional. I can look at how well I defined their status quo, I can show how they try to fail to change, and I can show how they've changed. These are markers that I have to place in my screenplay, and when trying to make my screenplays better, I know to look for these things, make sure they're clear and supporting each other, etc.

      I have yet to see a definition of "special world" that is specific in the same way. It's a concept that to fit in different films has to stretch so far that it loses all practicality.

      And even with films that clearly do have a special world, let's say, something like "Up," or "Aliens," I don't know what the concept really does for you as far as constructing the story. How does defining the special world change how you approach writing these stories?

      So maybe we could start there. You could explain how the concept of a "special world" helps with the films where we agree it's there, and you could explain how you think it applies to the movies which I don't think it applies to.

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      • #18
        Re: Ordinary World/Special World Help

        Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
        This means that the concept of a "special world" is completely abstract. It's not an actual place.
        I don't have a problem with it being abstract. It's a useful way of looking at it.

        Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
        That means tat the special world isn't actually defined by any quality of the locations themselves.
        I look at it as a very important "space," in which certain things are done. You can choose to externalize the space, which would make it an obvious special world. Or you can choose to minimize the externalization, which would make it seem as though it's not there, but the same things are still happening within the space.

        The quality of the locations is defined by "opposite world" and "fish out of water" and terms like that.

        Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
        In Alien, the special world isn't a place: the crew spend a lot of time in the same locations as they do when they're in their ordinary world - the control room, the dining room, etc. How would you define "special world" in this film?
        Dorothy walks out the doors of her home into the colorful world of Oz.
        In Alien, that moment is clearly when Dallas, Kane and Lambert leave the ship. From that moment on, we're in the monster's world, even though the action happens on the ship.

        Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
        with films that clearly do have a special world, let's say, something like..."Aliens,"
        You see it in Aliens, probably because they clearly land on a planet and stay on the planet - the set is a building on the planet.
        But they do the same in Alien, they land on a planet...only the set is the ship.

        Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
        A character's change is usually marked by clear scenes showing how they fail at something (eg, see the first scene in Bridesmaids) and a final scene showing how they can handle the same problem.
        IMO that's waaay too limited.

        Take Stu in Hangover - sure, he can't leave Melissa and then at the end he does, but what's most important, IMO, is how he arcs in Vegas (a special world). Which is a much more subtle and gradual process. What's important, IMO, is that he becomes the person he is at the end, of which a signal is that he is able to leave Melissa.

        Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
        I have yet to see a definition of "special world" that is specific in the same way. It's a concept that to fit in different films has to stretch so far that it loses all practicality.
        It's used soooooo often, I don't see how you can say that.

        Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
        As we get to the original poster's question, this makes my point. He was worried about making his "special world" special enough. But if the "special world" isn't a place, and isn't a quality of the place, then why is the concept useful?
        Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
        How does defining the special world change how you approach writing these stories?
        For example, you can study Phil Connors' passage through Punxsutawney to figure out HOW he learns his lesson. HOW to execute it.

        IMO, it's mission critical.
        Story Structure 1
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        • #19
          Re: Ordinary World/Special World Help

          Originally posted by decarbe View Post
          Can anyone guide me to any articles or ideas on how to ensure my special world is truly special?

          My professor says that I need to find better ways to show my special world for the script I'm writing. In my script, the special world is the online and offline world of gamers.
          Originally posted by Why One View Post
          I'm not read up on Vogler. My understanding of ordinary world -> special world is really about what is deemed special to the character.

          A character that has spent their entire life living in an urban dwelling in the developed world may suddenly find themselves lost in a remote part of the world with no technology and where nobody speak his language. That's a special world.
          Originally posted by Jon Jay View Post
          Yeah, I agree re: the meaning of 'Special World' - it's the different world to what the character's used to.

          Without knowing your full story it's hard to say what's the best fix for this. If it was about a gamer who gets 'discovered' (a la Boogie Nights) and becomes a star, then you have a clear distinction between the ordinary world (guy in boxers playing Minecraft all day) to special world (groupies and coke). But if the story's about a programmer working at a little data-entry firm getting a job for Rockstar or whatever, there's actually not that much difference between the two (in the audience's mind at least). So that might not feel that special.
          Then think of a SPECIAL world as a STRANGE world. The world is strange in the sense that the protag is unfamiliar with the world of the story, this world is strange to the protag. And if you want the audience to completely identify with the protag make the world unfamiliar to the audience, so they too are learning about this world along with the protag.

          So for the OP's special/strange world, his/her professor could mean to make the world strange to an audience that is somewhat familiar with online gaming but create a new world beyond what most people, even on line gamers know about the world.

          The protag and the audience should learn about the world as the story progresses. That becomes part of the mystery and suspense.

          The location, things that inhabit it, or the caracters in it may make the world of the story strange.
          jonpiper
          Member
          Last edited by jonpiper; 05-17-2013, 12:36 PM. Reason: Add last sentence.

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          • #20
            Re: Ordinary World/Special World Help

            Originally posted by Timmy View Post
            Dorothy walks out the doors of her home into the colorful world of Oz.
            In Alien, that moment is clearly when Dallas, Kane and Lambert leave the ship. From that moment on, we're in the monster's world, even though the action happens on the ship.

            You see it in Aliens, probably because they clearly land on a planet and stay on the planet - the set is a building on the planet.
            But they do the same in Alien, they land on a planet...only the set is the ship.
            Well, this gets exactly to my point. You talk about the concept like it's a unique space. And then you say, "oh, well, no, it's not the unique space. It can be the same space that's posed by the presence of a new challenge." (Is that paraphrase accurate, btw? If not, please correct it).

            And what that means is that you've now defined the special world as the space where the character is facing a new challenge, whether or not they were previously in that space.

            And this gets to my point. Because that space can be confined or not. It is, in fact, not defined by space in any way, shape, or form.

            All you've done is dressed up a dramatic truism of "a character has to face new challenges" in some sort of semantic gobbledygook.

            It's used soooooo often, I don't see how you can say that.
            It's used so often because your definition is so wide that it includes everything.

            For example, you can study Phil Connors' passage through Punxsutawney to figure out HOW he learns his lesson. HOW to execute it.
            Yes. He's facing new challenges. Agreed.

            So my question now becomes: how does talking about a "special world" add something to the conversation of how to build a screenplay that the concept of a character facing "new challenges" doesn't?

            If they are identical, then I would argue that yes, every script has one, but the term is useless - it's a gobbldygook term that doesn't actually help anyone, because it's simpler and clearer to talk about new challenges.

            In SOME films, I accept how talking about the special world is useful. eg, Groundhog Day (a good example, btw) we have to talk about what the rules of his time loop is. A lot of the fun of the money comes from very clearly defining the rules of the time loop (his special world) and then exploiting that time loop in fun or unexpected ways. Special world. Sure. And defining it clearly helps you.

            But in Alien, there are no special rules that have to be defined. The space hasn't changed at all. What has changed are the challenges faced in that space. So what value does defining this as a "special world" add to our understanding of the screenplay that the more direct discussion of those challenges doesn't?

            So when the original poster talks about worrying about making his special world special enough, isn't simple to focus on the challenges, unless the world for some reason (like Groundhog Day) requires special rules?

            And if it doesn't require special rules, then doesn't it quickly trip up on itself? I mean, if the presence of the Alien make the world special in Alien, then the planet isn't the special world in Aliens - because the Alien leaves the planet. So it seems like we're not even consistently applying this concept.

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            • #21
              Re: Ordinary World/Special World Help

              Texting, IMing and all of that computer stuff is like a drama condom - something that comes between the people involved in the story. Like phone calls. You want people to interact face to face, so that their conflict blasts back and forth between them.

              I think this note on your "world" is actually about the drama and immediacy of the conflict - when the computer comes between characters it deadens that conflict, but the world your story takes place in isn't interesting enough to offset that (or isn't portrayed as such). There's a balance with all things - and if you have one strong and amazing element you can sort of coast with some other element. But it sounds as if the gaming world isn't exciting enough to offset the people sitting in front of computer screens.

              Why is this world exciting? Why is the protagonist's conflict the single biggest conflict they will ever face in their lives? How does the world of the story *important*? Now bring us into this world and show us the details of how it operates and why this is the most important thing in the protag's life? Make it compelling and involving.

              - Bill
              Free Script Tips:
              http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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              • #22
                Re: Ordinary World/Special World Help

                Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                You talk about the concept like it's a unique space. And then you say, "oh, well, no, it's not the unique space. It can be the same space that's posed by the presence of a new challenge." (Is that paraphrase accurate, btw? If not, please correct it).
                It's inaccurate. Please don't paraphrase me.

                The character goes somewhere else to find something he can't find at home.

                Lets use "growth" : the character goes somewhere else to find something which helps him grow.

                Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                So my question now becomes: how does talking about a "special world" add something to the conversation of how to build a screenplay that the concept of a character facing "new challenges" doesn't?

                If they are identical, then I would argue that yes, every script has one, but the term is useless - it's a gobbldygook term that doesn't actually help anyone, because it's simpler and clearer to talk about new challenges.
                They are not identical.

                Lets say Dorothy didn't go to Oz, but the Wicked Witch of the West flew to the farm on her broomstick. She'd be a new challenge and her arrival could indicate going into a "special world," but that's different from the whole "space" Dorothy would need to learn her lesson.

                Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                I accept how talking about the special world is useful. eg, Groundhog Day (a good example, btw) we have to talk about what the rules of his time loop is. A lot of the fun of the money comes from very clearly defining the rules of the time loop (his special world) and then exploiting that time loop in fun or unexpected ways. Special world. Sure. And defining it clearly helps you.
                Disagree.

                The rules of the loop are almost a technical thing. The loop is not the special world.

                The special world is, generally, defined by Punxsutawney and Phil's change within it.

                Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                All you've done is dressed up a dramatic truism of "a character has to face new challenges" in some sort of semantic gobbledygook.
                You've got a "challenges and obstacles" view of story. You think that Dorothy lands in Kansas and oh sh!t there's a witch and better get to the wizard to get me outta here and oh sh!t he wants me to get the broomstick....etc." To you it's all just challenges and obstacles.

                You're completely forgetting the "learning the lesson" and "growing" side of things. And how the characters and situations are specifically created to teach the lesson.
                Last edited by Timmy; 05-24-2013, 06:10 AM.
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                • #23
                  Re: Ordinary World/Special World Help

                  Originally posted by Timmy View Post
                  The character goes somewhere else to find something he can't find at home.
                  Which doesn't happen in Alien.

                  Lets use "growth" : the character goes somewhere else to find something which helps him grow.
                  I love the concept of growth. I use it all the time. I object to the "somewhere else" requirement of it, however. There are many films where the hero does not go somewhere else to learn the lesson.


                  Lets say Dorothy didn't go to Oz, but the Wicked Witch of the West flew to the farm on her broomstick. She'd be a new challenge and her arrival could indicate going into a "special world," but that's different from the whole "space" Dorothy would need to learn her lesson.
                  I have no problem with the use of the concept of a special world in Wizard of Oz.

                  Given the nature of the lesson she learns, however, she couldn't learn it WITHOUT leaving home. This makes this, perhaps, a bad example to use when discussing how special worlds are universal, no?


                  The special world is, generally, defined by Punxsutawney and Phil's change within it.
                  So he's in the special world the moment he comes into the town?

                  How do we know? What is special about it before the time loop happens?



                  You've got a "challenges and obstacles" view of story. You think that Dorothy lands in Kansas and oh sh!t there's a witch and better get to the wizard to get me outta here and oh sh!t he wants me to get the broomstick....etc." To you it's all just challenges and obstacles.
                  You asked me not to paraphrase you, which I did intentionally to clarify what you were saying and asked you if it was accurate or not as a way to make sure I was responding to what you were actually saying.

                  Given that you were upset that I did that, it seems strange that you would then feel comfortable sticking a whole bunch of words in my mouth. This is not, at all, how I would think of "Wizard of Oz."

                  Please don't stick words in my mouth.

                  You're completely forgetting the "learning the lesson" and "growing" side of things. And how the characters and situations are specifically created to teach the lesson.
                  Well, how is this related to the "Special world" at all? How does the concept of "leaning a lesson" have anything do with the special world at all? Or are you saying that there's only a special world if a character learns a lesson (which not all characters do)?

                  ANd if I'm forgetting it, it's only because it hasn't been part of this discussion at all up to this point. If i was more cynical I'd wonder if that was an attempt to move the goalposts.

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                  • #24
                    Re: Ordinary World/Special World Help

                    Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                    Which doesn't happen in Alien.
                    New world and new situation. It's all there.

                    Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                    I love the concept of growth. I use it all the time. I object to the "somewhere else" requirement of it, however. There are many films where the hero does not go somewhere else to learn the lesson.
                    When it's done in one location, say like in Casablanca, events create new situations. Characters grow by journeying through those new situations.

                    In some way, shape or form, you leave the normal world behind. You have to. It's psychology. It's part of change.


                    Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                    I have no problem with the use of the concept of a special world in Wizard of Oz.

                    Given the nature of the lesson she learns, however, she couldn't learn it WITHOUT leaving home. This makes this, perhaps, a bad example to use when discussing how special worlds are universal, no?
                    It's not so much the specific lesson that's learned, but that a lesson is learned and how it's done.

                    The children go into Narnia and learn a different lesson.

                    Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                    So he's in the special world the moment he comes into the town?

                    How do we know? What is special about it before the time loop happens?
                    In this case, it's as soon as he comes into town.

                    You can legitimately argue that it starts the first morning he wakes up to relive the day, but I don't think it's fully accurate in this case.

                    It's definitely not each iteration of the loop itself, as you seemed to suggest earlier.


                    Originally posted by Ronaldinho View Post
                    Well, how is this related to the "Special world" at all? How does the concept of "leaning a lesson" have anything do with the special world at all? Or are you saying that there's only a special world if a character learns a lesson (which not all characters do)?

                    ANd if I'm forgetting it, it's only because it hasn't been part of this discussion at all up to this point. If i was more cynical I'd wonder if that was an attempt to move the goalposts.
                    If you look at the special world as Dorothy walking into Oz, then it's just a shell. It becomes meaningful when you start talking about some of the things that go on within it.
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