#screenwriting #film #screenplay
“This post is for those in the latter category. Those who claim that overly structured stories don’t work.
Let me begin by saying I yet have to read an Australian script that is ‘overly structured’. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘overly structured’. Scripts are ‘unoriginal’, ‘boring’ or ‘predictable’. But ‘overly structured’? No. Among the most mathematically structured scripts I know are The Untouchables andThe Incredibles. Did you find those boring or predictable? Probably not.
Those who don’t see the merit in strong structure skills mostly haven’t done the hard work.
Oh, and before I see the same hands go up again, let me state the obvious: you don’t write in the creative zone while thinking of structure. You only get to look at your story structure when you’re in the left brain. Over time, structure skills become second nature in the same way you drive your car without thinking about how you shift gears or which foot to use to break.
Why movie structure works
Movie structure is nothing more or less than emotional logic. It is the order of things as we understand them subliminally, on a deeper level. It is the psychology of characters as we experience it in our everyday lives.
Recently a student wanted to write a story about a character going through the various stages of grief. No coincidence that these stages match beautifully with the Hero’s Journey.
Movie structure is nothing more or less than emotional logic.
Because this model is all about the necessary steps a character needs to go through before we believe that this character can change.
We’re talking here about change of any kind. Have a look at the Kübler-Ross model with the 5 stages of grief, compared with some of the Hero’s Journey stages.
Another student once asked me if there is a correlation between the Hero’s 12 journey stages and the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The answer is: yes, but not because of the number twelve. In fact Joseph Campbell used a few more stages than Vogler’s twelve.
Wherever we see character change or any behavioral change such as addiction recovery, the character will have gone through a minimal number of steps, or we won’t buy it. Character change follows certain patterns and this emotional logic is reflected in the 3-Act Structure and Hero’s Journey. It is firmly grounded in human psychology and therefore ignoring it makes your story unbelievable to a mainstream audience…..”