Screenwriting - Five Golden Insights
Originality emerges from structure. Once you have a story idea, you can expand the idea into a story by using structure. In the initial extrapolation the new story structure will resemble the one being mirrored, but past a critical threshold, the needs of the new story will begin to dictate the structure. As you proceed (second and third drafts) the distance from the original mirror will increase significantly - enough that the terms "novel" or "original" can be applied to the new story. Hence originality emerges from structure and mirroring.
You can mirror structure but not ideas. If you analyse all your favourite movies or stories, scene by scene and sequence by sequence (admittedly, this relies on you knowing how to analyse stories), you will realise that you can argue that all stories are more or less the same. The expression "there is only one story" has some truth to it. Many writers, consciously or subconsciously, mirror story structure but not story ideas. After all, the audience has expectations as to what a story should be.
Time pressure versus incubation. Both are valuable. Initially use time pressure to extrapolate an idea into a complete story. Then allow incubation to provide you with richer insights.
Think of the apotheosis. Every hero has a seminal insight, an illumination - the apotheosis. Once you know what that insight will be, you can start building your story up to and beyond that point. If you know the apotheosis, then you know the hero's inner challenge - this helps you keep the hero and story centred.
Think of the synergy. Synergy is a form of apotheosis. In The Dirty Dozen, Lee Marvin's challenge is to make his men operate as an effective unit. When Charles Bronson et al attain synergy - they overpower the Major's men in the war games sequence. The whole second act is constructed around the need to reach synergy - to bring all the protagonists together to face the common enemy.
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Kal Bishop, MBA
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Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. His specialities include Knowledge Management and Creativity and Innovation Management. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached at www.managing-creativity.com
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