This week's Answer:
Sarah, I appreciate your words. You and Don
aren't a couple, are you? You're not ganging up on me, are
you? Not that I'm paranoid or anything at all like that.
My therapist has finally got me convinced that I'm not paranoid.
Although... between you and me, I think she just wants me to
think that way. But back to your question, Sarah (if you really are
Sarah. If it's you, Don, one day I'll find out and hunt you down
like the...) Where was I? Oh, yes.
Commercial screenplays do require a certain pattern
for them to work as movies. (That's why they call them
screenplays and not "novelplays," for instance).
You're right about everything needing to be "put together just
right." And that requires knowledge of the format and how
stories for the screen work. There are setups, payoffs,
character arcs, thematic and emotional resolutions, plot points,
twists, and reverses (sounds like gymnastics, huh?), climaxes (and not
just in erotic thrillers), anti-climaxes, denouements, tone changes,
false scares, false endings (who says Hollywood is false?),
resurrections, calls to adventure (it's like being called to the
phone, but you can't find your cell), shape-shifters (or is it
shift-shapers?), allies, enemies, villains, protagonists (and amateur
tagonists). The list goes on and on, Sarah and my dear
screenwriting friends who might no longer be such if I hadn't ended my
list when I did. And we didn't even cover premise insertions
(which resembles alien probing too much to mention here) and let's not
forget the causal scene timeline. (Even I'm not sure what that
My God, is there no
end to this Hell known as Screenwriting!!
Actually, it's not all that bad once you get the hang
of it. And look on the bright side.
At least you're not writing a novel.