Friday, February 13, 2015

Chapter Six

Now that I have a rough outline, and now that I have plotted out my scenes (I hope), chapter six is rather like a checklist to the final polish. Blake Snyder lays out a list of ironclad laws he has developed over the years.

Let me clarify:
  •  Save the Cat is that moment very early on where the viewer gets to see why your main character is likable. It's that moment where, no matter what bad-ass thing he or she might be doing, he or she takes a moment to do some tiny good thing. A good gesture isn't the only way to get your viewers to like your character; humor works too. you might go this route if your characters are somewhat less than likable. 
  • Pope in the Pool is a way of showing us the back-story without boring us with dialogue. Just like in writing, you need to decide what is vital and figure out how to show it efficiently. This tactic is to make the scene interesting enough that we don't really notice the back-story being fed to us.
  • Double  Mumbo Jumbo is the unbreakable law that says you can only have one kind of extra ordinary something per movie. For instance, if your movie has cyborgs as a fairly common ability, you can't also have super-heroes like batman to combat them. In other words 'keep it simple'. Now Blake admits doubling up on the mumbo jumbo is done all the time in comic books, they are really in bad taste for any serious movie.
  • Laying Pipe is another way of saying you're laying the groundwork leading to the gist of the story. When you sit down to a movie, how much of this movie are you going to tolerate if the start-up drags? It's the same consideration when writing a book. I'm sure you've all read books that just don't get interesting until half way through; I've read a few basically never 'got into it'. This is why Blake limits his scripts to 25 pages to lay the pipe. Can I do it? I hope so.
  • Black Vet or Too Much Marzipan is kind of like a tiny inside joke. Most people might not get it. The description he gives in the book refers to clips made for Saturday Night Live. The clip showed a black man cavorting with animals but he was also ex-military, so he was a veteran who was also a veterinarian. Like eating Marzipan, a little goes a long way. I don't get the joke as outlined in the book, nor have I ever had Marzipan, so this made little sense to me. Another example was to name a character Lefty. The moniker was to be a reference to his leftist political leanings, likely hinted at here and there through actions or comments, however, others decided to try to take it farther. They wanted to also make the character left-handed, and then they decided they'd make him an ex-boxer as well. Just pick one. It's better that way.
  • Watch Out for that Glacier is about approaching danger. You know it's there, but too many clues with little or no reaction is making your viewer want to kick in the TV and yell at the movie. "There's danger just around the corner, you idiot. Get ready already!" These glaciers are things like a volcano, or an impending asteroid, or some kind of plague. It's there, hanging in the background waiting until the very last minute to be dealt with. 
  • The Covenant of the Arc is another way of talking about character arc. Characters need to change. I watched a movie yesterday where this kid was thrust up front in one of our nasty wars (WWII I think). He wasn't prepared for all the killing. His sergeant forced him to kill a captured soldiered, and it was as if whatever humanity that was in him just melted away, or maybe he was losing his grasp on his sanity. I don't know, I found the change too fast, too abrupt. It was, to me, unbelievable. That's not to say it wouldn't happen; I'll blame it on the script writer or the director. There wasn't enough arc between one end and the other. Character arc in a book is hard enough. Knocking down to a movie script, and it's a lot harder.
  • Keep the Press Out is exactly what it says. Once you insert the press everything gets defined by news releases. If you keep the press out of your story, it can remain personal and private - a problem one has to deal with. Once the press is involved, well then the problem is happening to everyone and therefore not a problem at all - and there goes your story.
Have I included all this? The only one I can see I need to work on is that I need to Save the Cat. I gotta think of some scene where Harris saves the cat in some way. Anyone have any ideas?


1 comment:

William Kendall said...

I've heard these terms used before here and there, particularly Pope In The Pool.