Effective subplot and goal for MINOR CHARACTERS

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  • #16
    Re: Effective subplot and goal for MINOR CHARACTERS

    This is where I think writers sharing their thought process when trying to figure out the relationships in your script and how they impact the outcome of the story.

    A few weeks ago, I started a script for the first time in about six years. Mind you, like everyone else even when I wasn't writing I would get flashes of these characters in situations and saying certain things.

    I have a draft of the idea that is like 8 years old, I didn't even go back to read it cause I envision starting it in a new way. I took a few days and made a new outline remembering the parts of the old structure that I think still belonged in the movie and filled in the blanks with either new scenes that or the feelings I wanted to evoke from the reader at that point.

    And an outline to me is a narrative text document, I never did the whole roman numeral standard looking outline. I open a new doc and just start telling myself the story for the first time. I put a good week into developing that doc, combing through it to fill in holes or make a list of the holes I see and put some thought into those missing scenes, what should they be? I also put a lot of thought into the dynamics of the relationships that my hero has with other characters. The story has a main plot and two subplots. The main plot is against a competitor who sent our hero out of their indisutry so to speak for 15 years. One subplot is focused on redemption. In this relationship our hero has a chance to find redemption, a chance to set a younger player in the industry on the right path, teach him the ropes so to speak, the other subplot is focused on forgiveness. In this subplot the hero tries to make right a wrong that was done to someone 15 years ago. This suplot has a heavy theme of 'respect 2nd chances'.

    The redemption subplot blows up in the hero's face at the end of ACT 2, turns out the younger guy was using him the whole time. By doing this, it looks to ruin the hero's ability to achieve their goal but it also puts younger guy in hot water. It turns out being a nightmare for him. The only person that can help him out of it is our hero, the guy he has screwed over.

    This is all in theory still. I do not have pages that pull any of this off yet, I started writing ten days ago, I'm on page 44 of this new draft. I already see long winded scenes, unfocused scenes, horrible dialogue, random scene settings, but I'm pushing forward. I am on target to be done in about two weeks, then I plan on going through the script scene by scene, keeping in mind the key beats to my redemption subplot and the key moments of my forgiveness subplot and how they need to intersect with the main plot and find opportunies for great reveals .

    I didn't always look at the process and putting together a story this in depth., well I did and I didn't. I would always scratch the surface on 'in depth' but I would let story holes kill my momentum and never really dig and be flexible on chaging what you think works cause it can cure a story hole down the road.

    Everything in your stpry should have meaning. All the relationships. All the events. I should be able to point to any element in your script, any character any setting, any event and I should be able to ask you what that element represents in the grand scheme of things. And you should know, if you are querying. If you do not know your story that well, you have no business querying anyone.

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    • #17
      Re: Effective subplot and goal for MINOR CHARACTERS

      Cyfress, two thoughts and a question:

      1) I like the sound of the plot and subplots -- I'd shell out $12 for that movie just to see how it ends
      2) Sounds like you can knock a first draft out in one month... it takes me longer just for the outline (narrative format, like yours)... I'm impressed
      3) What triggered your ideas for those subplots?

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      • #18
        Re: Effective subplot and goal for MINOR CHARACTERS

        First let me say, thank you for the compliments of the plot I hope I can pull it off on paper.

        Second, personally speaking I think script pages are easy to write. I'm not talking about the content on them just the quickness of how a few lines of dialogue and a couple narrative lines add up to one page of script. If I had to, I could write thirty or forty pages in an eight - ten hour stretch. The problem is, its a cathartic process. It's walking down a path pushing a five hundred pound weight in front of you. I try to write at least three pages five days a week, some days I do more. Its not all great stuff, no even good stuff, some sections of the story are still cold to me. I'm still working on that narrative document even since I have started the script pages. The story is not hole free yet.

        Third I'd say, its a few things. One, its not something I started that narrative document with. While combing over that doc and really mulling over the psychology of the relationships, those subplots really revealed themselves to me, I was just interpreting the actions of the characters and saying, 'Wow, this is a man in need of redemption and I think that's what this whole is about. A lot of the decision making of the characters was there already, this is me interpreting or uncovering the motivations to these actions and then really amping up the thematic presence of the subplot.

        In the movies I love or think are great stories, Subplots either stand in the way of the hero's main objective, get held as ransom at some point by the villain, or wind up holding some giant reveal or twist that greatly affects the main plot. Coming back to the writing process, I told myself that has to be thought about up front, right away before any writing begins.

        At the start of my ACT 3, looks like all is lost for the hero, his chances ruined, he is the loser, but then he gets a choice, if he'd like one last chance that he must rescue the younger colleague that just screwed him cause he needs his help. Hopefully at this point in the script, the reader will see that this is a man that needs some redemption and some forgiveness if he is going to win and he has just lost total control of those two objectives in both subplots. At the start of ACT 3 he does not hold the weapons he needs to win, even though he had it all planned out to do so.

        Hopefully I pull off the ending too where the hero wins and loses at the same time. He's thrown out of the industry for life, but he winds up putting the young colleague onto the path of success for life.

        Social, I'd say really go through that narrative document of yours, interpret exactly what kind of choices are being made in your subplots. Put some psychology behind those choices and discover motivation. Once you have motivation, look at the human condition and bet describe what part of the human condition a motivation like that usually belongs to. For me, it was redemption, forgiveness, and definitely revenge. I see those qualities when I look at the relationships of my story. Therefor I am going to want characters, events, situations that exemplify those traits. What do you see when you look at yours?

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        • #19
          Re: Effective subplot and goal for MINOR CHARACTERS

          Cyfress, thanks! I think part of my problem is that I'm not "seeing" as much in my scripts as you are in yours. Gotta work on that.

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          • #20
            Re: Effective subplot and goal for MINOR CHARACTERS

            if you want to post a few paragraphs that describes your story, I'll shoot some ideas at you. Up to you.

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            • #21
              Re: Effective subplot and goal for MINOR CHARACTERS

              Cyfress, got a lot of new ideas from these posts and am anxious to apply them to my script. May take you up on it after my next rewrite. Thanks for the offer!

              SCal1

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