Beyond Plot Point II

 

There must be a climax on the horizon

The time of purification is also the moment of highest tension, and you should feel the intensity of the heat like a Midsummer’s Day.

Your Climax may not be exactly like High Noon, but it should use all the elements of suspense leading up to the critical moment.

 

 

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Structure and Plot

 

What builds your foundation, the material or the spiritual?

Let’s examine why the ego is not your cornerstone, and why it will never help you levitate above the ugly reality around you. The ego is what must burn in the fires of purification. This concept of eliminating the ego is an element to remember when you build your main character. Gravity is the impulse toward the material and mundane. However, our goal is to distribute our energy so that gravity does not weigh and hold us down be it the actual gravity of the earth or the seriousness of ordinary situations and experiences.

It doesn’t matter if you reverse the order of things get everything turned around or do things backward. The “Midpoint” remains the same, and it goes to the heart of the matter.

You may want to visit January’s post called “Plot and Structure” for a full understanding of the passage below which continues the theme of the Midpoint and Center of the Bible.

Psalm – 118
21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders rejected; the same has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing: and it is wonderful in our eyes.
24 This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice therein.
25 O Lord, save me: O Lord, give success.
26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord. We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.


Turkey Vulture Feature

Definition of structure:
1. mode of building, construction, or organization; arrangement of parts, elements, or constituents: a pyramidal structure.

2. something built or constructed, as a building, bridge, or dam.

3. a complex system considered from the point of view of the whole rather than of any single part: the structure of modern science

Definition of Plot:
1. a secret plan or scheme to accomplish some purpose, especially a hostile, unlawful, or evil purpose: a plot to overthrow the government.

2. Also called a storyline. The plan, scheme, or main story of a literary or dramatic work, as a play, novel, or short story.

3. a small piece or area of ground: a garden plot; burial plot.

STRUCTURE and PLOT – Reversing or inverting the natural order of things never bodes well for a script!

A structure like the ego should never come first although it represents the backbone of your story or the main elements of life. You must always keep the plot the cornerstone forefront in your mind to prevent the structure…the ego…the material from becoming an out of control monster.

Have you noticed that the plot in most stories will show how an individual overcomes aspects of their ego? During the writing process, it is important to know the plan.  Once you have a plan, it is easier to organize the scrip. So what does it look like when the structure…the ego…the material comes first? You’ll find a brilliant example in Frankenstein.

 

“The secret to life and death…” When a man takes the ultimate creator out of the plan and organizes something for himself, he gives license to the ego and creates a horrible mess. So you’ve been forewarned creating structure first then incorporating plot doesn’t work well.

 

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The B Story

 

What gives a feature length film depth and a three-dimensional character?

The B Story: In screenwriting, a subplot is referred to as a “B story” or a “C story.” Often, the B story is a love story or romance.

“Set a course for adventure…” and discover the subplot in Peace Lily “Welcome aboard its love.”

 

I apologize in advance for the abrupt departure from Fantasy Island. However, our plane will be landing in reality. This love story happens on the job during the worst time of the protagonist’s life and with an unlikely character. Does this sound familiar?

Peace Lily is a comedic tale of how young Sophia overcomes self-doubt and stubborn pride when forced to transverse a minefield of vipers and shady characters on her first job. While the main story focuses on the protagonist accomplishing an externalized goal the B story brings the secondary character, love interest, into focus in a way that dovetails with the “A” story. A shift in the B story often allows the protagonist to accomplish their goal.

In previous posts, we learned about changes or major turning points i.e. the Midpoint (Inner Revelations Guide her), Plot Point II and the Subplot. These aspects of love demonstrated the inner experiences of the protagonist. (Scroll through “Projects” to find these posts)

In the B story, the love interest represents the outer manifestation of the protagonist’s experience. She meets the love interest at the Midpoint and unbeknownst to her will act as a saving grace to her dilemma. The second shift occurs at Plot Point II, and of course, the climax includes the love interest as well. Remember, writing subplots is part of writing three-dimensional characters and creating a more compelling, fleshed-out story.

 

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The Scene

 

What an unforgettable scene with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson!

Now let’s discover more about The Scene.
Scene Definition-

: one of the subdivisions of play: as a: a division of an act presenting continuous action in one place b: a single situation or unit of dialogue in a play

C: a motion-picture or television episode or sequence

: a stage setting b: a real or imaginary prospect suggesting a stage setting

: the place of an occurrence or action: locale

: a part of action in a single location in a TV or movie, composed of a series of shots

Scene Elements- Space and time. It may be a single shot or a series of shots, and it may be one page of dialogue or three.

Each scene is like a little screenplay and has a beginning, middle, and end. The primary purpose of the scene is to move the story forward and to further character. The visual and the spoken elements comprise the scene. You may have one or both elements.

In A Few Good Men, both elements exist in the scene. Notice the intensity of the site which shows the scene is a turning point (dramatic climax). You may have the dialogue charge the scene with energy like Jack Nicholson’s character or you may use the visual to create energy in the scene as the shots below from Peace Lily

INT. ST. AGNES CHURCH – DAY (one page of dialogue)

Ornate and mystical, Sophia stands in the foyer.  You may recognize one of the shots below from a previous post “Inner Revelations Guide Her.” Many commenters requested more information on this post, so we’re going to delve a bit deeper into this subject matter. We’ll look at both how a scene may further character and how a scene moves the story forward.

As you move through the shots, you’ll notice the sudden appearance of bright light above the altar that represents an inner light switching on for the main character.  The vibrations blur the visual causing what appears to be an image of Christ above the alter.

The people in the series of shots seem unaffected by the bright mass of energy above the altar, which tells us the main character is the one who perceives this energy. We now understand that Sophia has had a major change in her perception and realizes she has the guidance she desired.

In a past post labeled “Page 52” (the scene prior to Sophia’s visit to St. Agnes), she realizes she must confront her struggles by herself because there is no one who can help her not even her family. She feels alone and confused on how to handle the “system” she is in. The system almost has Sophia convinced there is nothing she can do about the corruption and fraud found at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

We often find by chance or by providence our consciousness raises to a higher level when we need to resolve overwhelming difficulties. Visually this aspect of our inner life is often portrayed as seeing the light, in touch with our higher self, cosmic energy, etc. The video below brings this to mind – Sweet Disposition –

 

The main character in the scene from Peace Lily is moved beyond this world. She goes beyond tradition and connects with her faith. This scene occurs at the midpoint and tells us several things about the character. For instance, she will possibly listen to her inner knowing versus the system’s propaganda to make her decisions. The villain has prevented Sophia from taking action in the first half of the script because she believed the bad guys had the system to back them up no matter how corrupt. Now that she is connected to her higher self or Christ, she may take action. The presence of the light brings a cleansing, the truth, and love to the situation.

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Plot & Structure

PLOT & STRUCTURE
The basic elements of plot structure include the basic idea, backstory, exposition, pace, plot or turning point, hurdles, dramatic irony, climax, and resolution. Let’s look specifically at the underlying idea.

The basic idea of the story must be short and concise so that it can be easily told through the studio ranks until it reaches someone who can say yes to it. For example, the core idea of Indecent Proposal is a man who offers a million dollars to a couple so he can spend one night with the wife. You’ll need a strong basic idea that can green light your project to the top of Hollywood’s corporate ladder.

In the structure you will find three Acts:
Act I – page one to around page thirty with an inciting incident and Plot Point I
Act II – page thirty-one to ninety with the Midpoint around page sixty
Act III – page ninety-one to one hundred twenty with a climax around page one hundred ten
Note – comedies are typically around one hundred pages.

Now let’s review a crucial area within the three ACT structure… the midpoint…that is the heart or central point in your script. You’ll also notice this theme in all types of stories.

Midpoint – is the structural lifeline and a turning point halfway through the screenplay. There is often an introduction to a new character that forces the main character to redefine and sharpen the main character’s inner need. Remember when Jessica Lange comes on the scene in Tootsie?

Syd Field describes it something like this: “An important scene in the middle of the script, often a reversal of fortune or revelation that changes the direction of the story.” Field suggests that driving the story towards the Midpoint keeps the second act from sagging. (Karel, The Story Department, April 20, 2007)

Blake Snyder, “In both my Save the Cat! Books and also the Save the Cat! Story Structure software, I have stressed the vital importance of figuring out what the midpoint of a screenplay is. I like to say that if you can crack the midpoint, you can crack the story. And it may not be until you do that you truly know what your story is really about!” “To me, the day I discovered there is a secret to what happens at the midpoint in every story, I was rocketed into a whole new dimension in my abilities as a writer.” (Interview with Script Frenzy April 14, 2008, by Jennifer Arzt)

The basic idea for Peace Lily is at the Midpoint where the main character experiences a personal revelation. This revelation gives the protagonist the courage to overcome her internal and external demons. This basic idea in Peace Lily is similar to what many people believe is the central idea of the Bible.

The idea.
…It is better to trust in the Lord than in the confidence of man is found in Psalm 118:8.

So how do you depict this central idea in your scenes without a “burning bush moment?”

The central idea is easy to display. It’s something we often use in our life…and we call it intuition. It is connecting with our higher self. You know…when you go beyond the predictable logical response to a situation. Go to your heart or center of a case and let the inner knowing guides your actions.

 

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The Hero or Heroine

The Hero or Heroine
should appear on almost every page of your screenplay, be on screen about 90 percent of the time, and the pacing of your script will depend upon the emotional and physical roller coaster you send them on.
This post will be a longer discourse on the subject considering the amount of time dedicated to the Hero or Heroine.
As a screenwriter, you’ll want to find the Hero or Heroine at the most crucial time in their life. You’ll also need to demonstrate the hero or heroine are willing to do anything to reach the objective while confronting internal and external demons.
Let’s take an in-depth look at a classic. The Wizard of Oz .which is often ranked among the top ten best movies of all-time in various critics’ and popular polls and as the “most-watched film in history” by the Library of Congress.

In the story, Dorothy Gale, a 12-year-old Kansas farmgirl, is knocked unconscious during a tornado. She, her dog Toto, and the farmhouse are apparently swept up in the storm and dropped into the magical Land of Oz, where she sets out on the yellow brick road to the Emerald City to ask the Wizard of Oz to return her to Kansas. During her journey, she meets a Straw Man, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, who join her, hoping to receive what they lack themselves (a brain, a heart, and courage, respectively). They are pursued by the Wicked Witch of the West, who wants her dead sister’s magic ruby slippers, now worn by Dorothy.

Note: In November’s post, the subject of systems and bricks were discussed. We will continue

with this theme here, however, from a different angle. First, we will find the brick may represent a foundation, and the system may represent commerce in The Wizard of Oz.

  
Let’s ponder some of the symbols used in The Wizard of Oz.  You are using symbolism, right?

Dorothy is dropped into the magical land of Oz (abbreviation for ounce and employed in some different systems) which may represent that time in a young person life when they enter the public arena (age 18), and it feels like an emotional storm of different…confusing and magical feelings.

Then… a decision must be made as to which way to go and Dorothy must follow the Yellow Brick (gold bars perhaps/ gold is measured in ounces) Road (begin a journey; travel) to find the Emerald City (green or greenish blue) land of the greenbacks. So the bricks are now a foundation to travel on instead of an interchangeable part. Dorothy’s goal is to ask the Wizard of Oz (skilled or gifted person) to return her to Kansas.

To demonstrate the internal strength or weakness, it is sometimes useful to create supporting characters to represent these aspects. Toto, the Straw Man, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion all joined Dorothy on the journey to the Emerald City.  In my opinion, the meanings are as follows:

Toto (common sense), is always with Dorothy and she holds him close to her heart while the other characters are not brought to the conscious mind until Dorothy is dropped into the Land of Oz.

The Straw Man, that legal entity which represents a person in business, wanted a brain from the Wizard. He received a certificate and was proud of his legal status and all the legalisms he was granted.

The Tin Man, Taxpayer Identification Number, stood mindless doing his work until his body froze up and stopped functioning. He worked himself to death because he had no heart or soul. He wanted a heart from the Wizard.

The Cowardly Lion was afraid to stand up for himself. However, he was a bully when it came to picking on those smaller than he. He wanted courage from the Wizard.

I’m sure it’s not hard to think of some Wicked Witch of the West and Flying Monkeys who attack and try to control us. The external evil forces working against us that eventually show up in our work situations or business dealings. We must also watch out for those poppy fields ready to put us into a slumber. And, remember the Wicked Witch wants those ruby slippers (choice in the matter) that can be slipped off and on with ease.

After Dorothy reaches the Emerald City to find the Wizard of Oz, she learns that the smoke, flames and holographic images of Oz were designed to frighten people into doing as the Wizard commanded. Common sense, Toto, pulled the curtain back to expose the scam and showed the Wizard to be an ordinary person who created an illusion of power and authority.

How did Dorothy find redemption or her way home? She simply clicked her heels. She always had the power to go home and so do we!    We only need a brain, a heart, and soul with some courage.

 If you haven’t seen this film, I highly recommend it!

 

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The Villian

Just Another Brick

What is the Wall protecting r preventing you from doing?

The Wall may be preventing you from connecting with your higher self, your individuality, and God. If you become a Brick an interchangeable duplicate in the Wall man-made system, you run the risk of losing sight of your real purpose. As a Brick, you only have the function of performing the system’s goals which may be lacking.

Let’s look at the Fundamental Elements of Story Telling.

In Hollywood, a compelling story gets you into the producer’s room, and strong characters keep you there. Your villain must be strong!

Why? The conflict moves the story forward occurs through the external villain and internal demons. The villain must be a well-written, dangerous adversary. How will the treacherous villain sabotage the hero’s intentions? Movies like The China Syndrome, The Verdict, Blade Runner, and Nine to Five demonstrate the oppressive institution’s systems. Walls. The villain must be as complex and harrowing as the system he or she is personifying.

An element in PEACE LILY…

Sophia’s heroic struggle is against the external villain, Department of Veterans Affairs, a well-established system. Can she maintain her individuality or will she end up just another brick holding up the wall?

The villain is the assistant manager who works with the scene or boss. The boss is a terribly flawed individual supposedly sitting in the seat of power.

A “Brick in the Wall” is demonstrated by the villain’s cronies. These tools assist him in confronting the heroine. The associates seem to be the same character with different names and perform similar functions of evil like a Brick which eventually erects a Wall.

In the human story, we all face an important question when first entering the public domain and become an adult. Will we maintain our individuality or become another brick in the wall?

 

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Plot Point II

Establishing

                                                                                    

Louisville KY Flag and Department of Veterans Affairs Emblem

Fleur-de-lis

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Page 52

INT. PARENTS HOUSE – BEDROOM – DAY

Cluttered, boxes everywhere Isabelle sits on floor packing. Sophia enters.

ISABELLE
Sophia, you startled me. How are you?
I’ve been thinking about calling you.

SOPHIA
You look like you’ve been crying.
Are you Okay?

ISABELLE
I didn’t know when to tell you…
…or how to tell you. Sophia, your
father and I are getting a divorce.

SOPHIA
Seriously mom, how many times have
you and dad went through this.

ISABELLE
No. This time we are going to get a
divorce. You need to take the boxes
with your name on it.

SOPHIA
I’m sorry mom.
Tell me what’s going on.

ISABELLE
You know the history of your
father. How’s a person supposed to
cope?

SOPHIA
I don’t know. I didn’t cope well
myself. I’m not sure how to help.

INT. SOPHIA’S APARTMENT – LIVING ROOM – DAY

Living room/dining room a total mess.

Sophia looks out her front window. She focuses on Statue of Jesus across the street.

INT. ST. AGNES CHURCH – DAY

Ornate and mystical, Sophia walks up church steps.

SOPHIA (V.O.)
God, I know it’s been a while…
I wasn’t exactly faithful
during mass when I lived with my
parents.

She reaches the front door.

SOPHIA (V.O.)
You know Jesus is in my heart.
I’m just a weak soul.

She enters the door.

SOPHIA (V.O.)
God, I’ve messed up my life.
I thought everything would work out.

Mass is in the process.

SOPHIA (V.O.)
I need your mercy.

Tears fall her cheek.
She lifts her eyes upward.

SOPHIA
Please guide me on the right path.
I ask this in Jesus’ name.

Priest consecrates the bread and wine.
Bright light forms over the altar.
Sophia has a revelation of Jesus.
She’s dazed for several beats.

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The Brand StoryHome

…is in honor and memory of Tessa, my small Maltese born October 6, 1993, and passed away September 18, 2009.

I was considered the 3rd dog in Tessa’s pack. Her first master was the first dog, Tessa was the second dog, and I was the third dog. No matter what I’d do to gain respect or position in Tessa’s eyes… I was “ the third dog.” She was so adorable and such a character. I caved to her demands…and she was very demanding…which brought me joy and contentment. Her demands were begging for food and sitting on my lap.

Tessa had a few quirky personality traits based on her past…growing up in a less than ideal environment thrown into the backyard with two Dobermans to fend for herself. She was about 3 pounds at that time the runt and a spitfire. Not far from being a replica of me….she made me smile with joy at her attitude.

Quite the problem solver

She also liked mischief and got herself into some severe problems. Like the time she discovered chocolate candy on the coffee table and laid in wait for her moment to snatch the candy bars run upstairs and hide them under the bed until nightfall. In the middle of the night, I awoke to a banging noise. It was Tessa banging her water bowl against the metal stairs to get my attention. I soon discovered several empty candy wrappers, piles of vomit everywhere, and Tessa hitting the bowl. It is unbelievable that she survived that terrible episode eating more candy bars than I could… at one time!

Filled with inspiration

She will always be my inspiration and a reminder of perfection.

As I emerged in the second half of my journey as a storyteller, launched myself into the world of screenwriting, and left behind an entirely different phase of my life, I also had to let go of my friend…my companion my little spitfire Tessa.

I will forever be the 3rd dog.