A Hero is often considered to be someone who was born with extraordinary talents and abilities. But are heroes really superior beings? I think not. In my opinion, heroes are everyday people who take on challenging obstacles to reach noble goals. Everyone has been or will be a hero in their lifetime. Your task: Write a 1-page synopsis of your life as a hero’s journey. Identify the goal you’re working toward and 3 challenges faced. Craft this synopsis in a creative way, telling your story interestingly.
The three-act structure has been one of the most influential tools for screenplay development. An understanding of its history and applicability is essential to the burgeoning screenwriter.
Write a four-page essay on the three-act structure. Where did it come from? What is it and how is it used? What are some of the challenges against it? What are some of the movies that use it? Has it developed over time? How?
Have you ever seen Ghost in the Shell? There’s a contemplative movement in the second act where the main character watches the city go by. It’s a perfect example of place as action. The pensive main character is taken away by place in a moment that gives the viewer a chance to reflect on the action and philosophy in the movie. Are there other examples of place as action? Can place move the plot forward?
Brainstorm five movie scenes where place is a defining factor in the scene.
Focusing on comedies, let’s take a look at what makes you laugh.
Watch a comedy that you think is actually funny.
Watch it again.
On the second time through, note the jokes that made you laugh.
What are the common threads in the jokes that really make me laugh?
Want to understand your character’s life? Create a timeline that details the major events in it.
Pick a character from something you’re writing.
How old are they now?
Make a timeline that spans from birth to their current age.
Notate major positive or negative impacting events in their life.
Write a sentence or short paragraph describing each event.
From your character’s perspective: My life is a series of…
It’s time to listen.
Poll a few people with the following questions:
What’s your favorite action movie?
What are two specific things you like about this movie?
What’s your favorite scene?
What’s your least favorite action movie?
What are two specific things you disliked about this movie?
What scene(s) made the movie bad?
Find and watch a couple of these movies. Pay close attention to the specific scenes mentioned.
What are your impressions of the movies you saw?
Do you share the opinions of the people you polled?
What have you learned about writing action?
Pick two travel methods (boat, car, foot, helicopter or horse).
Write a one-page chase scene.
Switch the method of travel and write the scene again.
Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman
Do this with a writing friend. Each of you separately concoct a perfect crime: Circumstances, motive, execution, getaway. Perpetrator. Victim. Write it out in some detail.
Then exchange papers. Create a character who will solve this crime. How will the hole in the plan be discovered? By what means of detection?
Let’s use the ending of a film to practice creating scenes. Your Task: Pick a movie – any movie. After watching it, jot down 4 alternate possibilities for an ending. Now, pick one of your 4 new finales and use standard screenplay format to write out one of these endings.
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