Tuesday, August 7, 2007

More about Bleak and Splat

I've noticed that beginning screenwriters sometimes avoid actual drama. I've seen them protect their protagonists by making them too "good" and by solving their problems for them.

Conflict and drama are hard. Messy situations are difficult to resolve. Writing confrontational scenes is scary!

There was a moment in one of my scripts where a daughter had to confront her mother after resenting her for 20 years. Ack! I avoided rewriting that scene for so long because everything I wrote sounded so cliche and on-the-nose (more about on-the-nose dialogue later). But I kept chipping away at it until I was satisfied (well, as satisfied as I could be).

The best thing to do is to plunge headlong into the mess. Do not avoid the mess. Do not have the mess resolve itself. Do not let the mess's mother clean-up after it.

Your protagonist should be an Active Hero in Conflict.

For instance, say your protagonist's exterior goal is to make a huge splash at her high school reunion. But what she really needs is self-confidence. At the moment of her greatest humiliation (SPLAT) don't have the old football star come to her rescue. Make HER face her fears and over-come them, thus gaining the confidence she needs (whether she makes a splash or not, that part is up to you).

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