The Writer's Compass » Uncategorized » The Writer’s Compass on eBooks
July 2nd, 2011 | 1 Comment
Look for The Writer’s Compass to be on your favorite eBooks by July 12 at your favorite book seller.
Filed under: Uncategorized · Tags: eBooks, eReaders, Nancy Ellen Dodd, The Writer's Compass
I still can’t fathom why pepole feel the need to leave comments equivocating about books on story structure and tempering the usefulness of such books. every professional person I know in animation and live-action is a student of film, and they watch tons of films, listen to film makers speak and they read everything they can on film. None of them seem to be afraid that they will fall into some sort of formulaic paint-by-numbers trap when making their film. The only pepole I’ve met who worry about such books having a negative effect are pepole who don’t work professionally making movies…maybe I associate with the wrong pepole, and I don’t mean to insult pepole who don’t work professionally, but I just don’t understand why pepole feel the need to reject screenwriting books out of hand. I guess pepole have the notion that many bad films are made because pepole in Hollywood whip out a screenwriting book and follow a checklist that leads to a cookie-cutter bad movie. This is simply not what happens, and it is impossible anyway. Every film is such a unique animal that no checklist of points would ever apply to the same two movies and pepole who make movies know that once pepole have seen a movie, nobody is going to pay to see the same movie all over again. If you crack a good book on structure and compare it against the structure of an awful film, you will see right away that the movie would have been so much improved if they had only used the advice of the book and found NEW ways of using the principles of the book. Do pepole really think that the writers of “Dunston Checks In” spent late nights poring over the writings of Robert McKee and Lajos Egri and that is why the movie turned out crappy? If pepole are under the impression that someone can sit down and just bang out an awesome screenplay based on pure intuition then that’s like saying someone can sit down and just draw like Leonardo daVinci without any study. Or write an opera without studying music theory and studying every other opera ever made. Learning what tools are in the toolbox makes you more flexible and broadens your reach. It doesn’t reduce you to a one-trick by-the-numbers hack. Aristotle saw a lot of crappy plays in his time and a few good ones. He wrote down a lot of similarities that the good ones shared and created the first known principles of dramatic writing. Many movies that stink are stinky because they break his rules.Should we not read what Aristotle had to say because that’s a “formula”? I had one of the directors of one of the top-grossing animated movies of the last decade tell me that when he was making the movie, he and his partner struggled and struggled and tried everything to make the story structure work. They finally – after years and years of re-arranging – came up with something that seemed to work. A couple of years later a book was released that contained many, many great ideas and concepts that they had discovered the hard way along the way of making the movie. He was so flabbergasted and he really wished that they had had the book when they were making the movie! If they had had the book available when making the movie, it would have put them further ahead of the curve and allowed them more time to put twists on their story and find new and inventive ways to do the things they did – everything in the story would have been better and fresher if they had found their structure earlier and been able to try things with it, re-arranging beats and turning conventions on their head. As it was they spent all of their energy finding the conventions.kevin – thanks for the comment, I will keep plugging away at it, and we will see!holger – yes, please stick with it, your blog of fascinating!myke – that’s a good question! I will make a list someday.
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