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RickFyvie
Posted: April 8th, 2017, 3:04pm Report to Moderator
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The Psychopomp and the Womb: An Alternative View on Screen Writing.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/rpft5cyiqp1eyl5/The%20Psychopomp%20and%20the%20Womb.pdf?dl=0

Hi all,

This is not so much a screenplay, as it is a screenplay structure that I’ve been working on to further my own understanding of writing a compelling story. It probably began as a Therapeutic Milieu on my end, then snowballed into something more along the lines of a strange thesis.

It’s basically an alternative view on writing screenplays, that is, in lieu of the many other screenwriting books currently available. I’ve ran the template across several movies and found that about 80% of those successfully hit the beats within this structure, of course, there are variations, however, it does appear to work well with movies coming in around 110 minutes; give or take a few, and with various types of genres.

I don’t think I’ll expand (write more pages) into this document, however, if anyone has any insight, comments, or recommendations as to the actual beat structure or information within, that would be more than welcome.

As well, if any writer out there believes this structure could assist them to create a feature length script, or even ramming it into a 15-page short (or a 7 ½ page, 2 beats per page mind-bender, lol) then please do so, I would love to hear from you if it helped you in any way! Thanks again…

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RickFyvie  -  April 21st, 2017, 4:43pm
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leitskev
Posted: April 8th, 2017, 5:02pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks, Canis, half way through this and enjoying every word.

I have used a similar motive in some of my stories. In one, a gypsy is drugged and lowered into a well by a mentor so she can learn her destiny. When she returns she has magical powers which she will need.

Good stuff!
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leitskev
Posted: April 8th, 2017, 5:08pm Report to Moderator
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"Their  (Hero  and  Antag)  minds  are  working  in  unison  at  this  point,  unknowingly  connected  to each  other  on  some  unperceived  level  of  consciousness.  Both  are  moving  towards  the  same inevitability of change. Each is on their own separate path that will eventually bring them to the same crossroads."

very good!
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RickFyvie
Posted: April 8th, 2017, 11:29pm Report to Moderator
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leitskev,

Thank you so much for the feedback, and positive vibes! I’m truly glad it was able to keep your interest, as well, found that particular beat somewhat engaging… because it was the most cryptic part of this structure to crack, lol.

After watching countless movies, reading scripts, and trying decipher what was happening in that part of a movie, I was ready to file it away… then, watched ‘Taken’ (again), and it hit me like a ton of bricks, so to speak.

Obviously, you’ve seen this movie but, for the purpose of explaining…

In the movie, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is trying desperately to win back the affection of his estranged daughter, Kim, after he and his wife’s failed marriage. At this particular beat in the movie pp 12- 18, Bryan is tasked with protecting a Diva before, during and, after her concert. He asks the Diva if she has any info as to how his daughter can get into the singing business, doing what she does. Later that night, there is an attempt on her (Diva’s) life and Bryan saves her, doing what he does.

Then something strange happens. The Diva provides, as a form of additional thanks for saving her life, some insight as to how his daughter can get into the business, providing for him a contact… he takes it. This was when it hit me… Bryan knows how dangerous it is being a high public figure and, that freaks will inadvertently come out of the woodwork to do you harm, so, he has an unconscious epiphany; put my daughter in a position of danger, save her life, and win back her affection… too easy.

Here, Bryan has inadvertently opened a conduit with the real Antagonists in Paris, the ones who will do Kim real harm when they get their hands on her. But Bryan is lost in a complex situation here; what if her daughter never becomes a famous singer? Then his situation is lost.

That’s when the Psychopomp shows up, quickly, as a transportation guide that will take his daughter halfway around the world and, as Bryan is fully aware, possibly into the hands of dangerous people. The Psychopomp has put the offer on the table: “Send your daughter to the wolves, and win back her affection, instantly”

Bryan disagrees, the offer is tempting but, he knows the world is a dangerous place for a seventeen-year-old, naïve girl. Then, enter the Mentor… his ex wife, who in no certain terms states that it will help him win back his daughters affection, if only he would sign on the dotted line and allow her to travel to Paris. She does offer a way out of the agreement at this time too: “Don’t sign, and you will protect her now but, you will consciously lose her trust and affection forever”. The Mentor has shown the Psychopomp’s lucrative offer in a different light… he takes it.


Quoted from leitskev
I have used a similar motive in some of my stories. In one, a gypsy is drugged and lowered into a well by a mentor so she can learn her destiny. When she returns she has magical powers which she will need.


Sounds like something I could really dig my mind into! Keep at it, the Rabbit hole (well) is a fantastic element of story telling that has a surreal, unconscious connection with readers of all ages.

Thanks again for your input!
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: April 9th, 2017, 2:10am Report to Moderator
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It's good, Rick.

I'm impressed.


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leitskev
Posted: April 9th, 2017, 10:15am Report to Moderator
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Finished reading. Good stuff. It's your take on the hero's journey beats as many others have previously outlined. I enjoyed it. Your focus on the rebirth aspect is good. I liked the idea of the antag capturing the new world paradise, and the hero stuck in a limbo state, a cool take on the all is lost.

I should say my approach to these models is this: I love them, use them to a degree, have them always in the back of my mind...but I caution against becoming a slave to them. Rick mentioned Truby in another post, and he's a good example of what I am talking about. His work is excellent, but the absolute terms he uses in insisting that every story does this or that drives me crazy.

A story should follow its own internal logic. Trying to force it onto a model can be disastrous to it. There are elements of the hero's journey in most stories, but that should not be confused with making them all fit a certain model.

But I do think you've made a solid contribution. Your thoughts will linger in my mind along with those of the other journey modlers. I will use them in certain situations when constructing stories, so thank you!

Also, if you have a list of movies and how they fit your model, I would certainly look at them if you post.

Excellent work.
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RickFyvie
Posted: April 9th, 2017, 12:54pm Report to Moderator
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Thank you for the feedback, Rick! I’m glad you liked it and, sincerely hope you can find some use for it in the near future. Cheers!


Quoted from leitskev
Finished reading. Good stuff. It's your take on the hero's journey beats as many others have previously outlined. I enjoyed it. Your focus on the rebirth aspect is good. I liked the idea of the antag capturing the new world paradise, and the hero stuck in a limbo state, a cool take on the all is lost.

I should say my approach to these models is this: I love them, use them to a degree, have them always in the back of my mind...but I caution against becoming a slave to them. Rick mentioned Truby in another post, and he's a good example of what I am talking about. His work is excellent, but the absolute terms he uses in insisting that every story does this or that drives me crazy.

A story should follow its own internal logic. Trying to force it onto a model can be disastrous to it. There are elements of the hero's journey in most stories, but that should not be confused with making them all fit a certain model.

But I do think you've made a solid contribution. Your thoughts will linger in my mind along with those of the other journey modlers. I will use them in certain situations when constructing stories, so thank you!

Also, if you have a list of movies and how they fit your model, I would certainly look at them if you post.

Excellent work.


Thanks again for your valuable insight, Leitskev. I truly appreciate the effort.

The ‘Stuck in Limbo’ part actually came to me while watching ‘Moana’. After her (and Maui’s) initial defeat by ‘Te Ka’ (lava monster), she (Moana) is symbolically and literally lost/stuck on a small craft within in a surreal, foggy ocean with absolutely no idea of what to do… until her recently deceased Grandmother (portrayed here as the Mentor) shows up and gives her strength/wisdom.

I will agree that this is only a tool and, not to be used and a hammer; wherein every movie beat suddenly looks like a nail. I simply wanted some aspect of resolve on my end to finally capture the concept of these strange and surreal Jungian Archetypes in a script template.

Another model or template I’ve been contemplating or, transferring into beats is the analytical dissection of ‘La Très Sainte Trinosophie’, or The Most Holy Trinosophia; Threefold Wisdom of Comte St. Germain.

This document is rife with allegorical interpretation of transferring the base (lead) ingot of man’s ethereal structure into that of pure gold or, the Golden Man/Christ/ Buddhahood. Manly P. Hall has penned an incredibly elaborate synopsis of the document for those interested in this concept of ‘Becoming’; by using the grandfathered Alchemical theory of transmutation… The Philosopher’s Stone.

His (Hall’s) complete analysis of the text can be found in the final ‘Notes and Commentaries’ section and, in my opinion, is just as, if not more, mind blowing than Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey.

The document itself is located here: http://sacred-texts.com/eso/mht/index.htm

Re: “Also, if you have a list of movies and how they fit your model, I would certainly look at them if you post.”

That is another document I’m actually working on as we speak. I was initially going to insert several instances from various movies to elaborate on each beat and, how other writer’s have consciously or unconsciously used a similar theme within their writing. But, in the end, I thought it would make this document too bloated. I will have something along that line as soon as I can, cause I think it’s important to show how this model can actually be used on various levels; by dissecting movies into literal or allegorical interpretations of the beat structure. I’ll post that in this same section, hopefully, sooner than later…

Thanks again, guys, for the great feedback, all the best!
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leitskev
Posted: April 9th, 2017, 1:06pm Report to Moderator
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I would certainly be interested to read your transmutation model. I'm familiar with the topic only very loosely, and have never really considered applying it to storytelling, so yeah, count me as interested.
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Scar Tissue Films
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Quoted from leitskev
Finished reading. Good stuff. It's your take on the hero's journey beats as many others have previously outlined. I enjoyed it. Your focus on the rebirth aspect is good. I liked the idea of the antag capturing the new world paradise, and the hero stuck in a limbo state, a cool take on the all is lost.

I should say my approach to these models is this: I love them, use them to a degree, have them always in the back of my mind...but I caution against becoming a slave to them. Rick mentioned Truby in another post, and he's a good example of what I am talking about. His work is excellent, but the absolute terms he uses in insisting that every story does this or that drives me crazy.

A story should follow its own internal logic. Trying to force it onto a model can be disastrous to it. There are elements of the hero's journey in most stories, but that should not be confused with making them all fit a certain model.

But I do think you've made a solid contribution. Your thoughts will linger in my mind along with those of the other journey modlers. I will use them in certain situations when constructing stories, so thank you!

Also, if you have a list of movies and how they fit your model, I would certainly look at them if you post.

Excellent work.


I've become quite a big fan of a large number of writing tools, from Truby to Dramatica. A lot of the software packages have a lot of things to recommend in them as well. But you're right in that you shouldn't feel entirely beholden to any of them. The famous ones have a curious need to pretend that there's only one way to do it, which isn't true. They should always be used with the proviso that you can deviate from them if the story demands it.

I will say the vast majority of scripts, especially pre-pro ones would usually benefit from the type of focus these models demand, but there are no absolutes.

I think there needs to be a compelling reason to break away from traditional story telling, and that is usually either because the structural form is reflected in the story itself...eg the subject matter is something like false memory syndrome, so you have a fractured structure to reflect the story, or you are emphasising some aspect of the story over emotion...such as theme.

I think writers who don't have a clear idea of why they are breaking away from a traditional "model" often come unstuck.

I also think we need to be aware that you need to replace what you lose by deserting the narrative drive of traditional structure with something better...and this requires a far higher level of skill. Even the best rarely manage it, imo.






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leitskev
Posted: April 10th, 2017, 6:26pm Report to Moderator
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Canis, I'm in the middle of a script, and arrived at a scene where the black protagonist is fleeing the Jim South for Chicago, the first time he's left the south. I had structured this a couple weeks ago. And sure enough I have him meet one of your psychopomps on the train! I just realized it as I got to the scene, so I'm going back to reference your article to see if it affects how I handle the seen. So thanks! Figured you'd like to know.
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RickFyvie
Posted: April 10th, 2017, 7:47pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from leitskev
I would certainly be interested to read your transmutation model. I'm familiar with the topic only very loosely, and have never really considered applying it to storytelling, so yeah, count me as interested.


Absolutely, it would be an ambitious project for me to have at but, I get a kick out of dissecting and restructuring info… like a geek, lol. That’ll definitely be on the back burner for awhile though, simply cause summer is creepin’ in around here and I tend to unplug as much as possible. Probably a winter project that I’ll have at next season. Thanks again.


Quoted from leitskev
Canis, I'm in the middle of a script, and arrived at a scene where the black protagonist is fleeing the Jim South for Chicago, the first time he's left the south. I had structured this a couple weeks ago. And sure enough I have him meet one of your psychopomps on the train! I just realized it as I got to the scene, so I'm going back to reference your article to see if it affects how I handle the seen. So thanks! Figured you'd like to know.


That totally made my day, seriously! if it (the structure) helps you envision a story then, I’m probably more stoked than you are at this moment, lol. Curious, the description of your character somehow reminded me of that old, blind dude, who shows up ridin’ that pump style Handcar car in ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’… great movie. All the best


Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
I've become quite a big fan of a large number of writing tools, from Truby to Dramatica. A lot of the software packages have a lot of things to recommend in them as well. But you're right in that you shouldn't feel entirely beholden to any of them. The famous ones have a curious need to pretend that there's only one way to do it, which isn't true. They should always be used with the proviso that you can deviate from them if the story demands it.

I will say the vast majority of scripts, especially pre-pro ones would usually benefit from the type of focus these models demand, but there are no absolutes.

I think there needs to be a compelling reason to break away from traditional story telling, and that is usually either because the structural form is reflected in the story itself...eg the subject matter is something like false memory syndrome, so you have a fractured structure to reflect the story, or you are emphasising some aspect of the story over emotion...such as theme.

I think writers who don't have a clear idea of why they are breaking away from a traditional "model" often come unstuck.

I also think we need to be aware that you need to replace what you lose by deserting the narrative drive of traditional structure with something better...and this requires a far higher level of skill. Even the best rarely manage it, imo.


Ah yes… Dramatica. I recall using that way back in the day, never took it very far though. Great tool for building character dimension, if I recall. I’ll have to have another look one day.

Regarding your analysis on the traditional ‘model’ structure… great stuff, very thought provoking, thanks! I’ll be honest, you both have brought some good concepts to the table; not just here, on this thread but… to the board overall (actually, that goes out to several members on this board). I may not come post here that often but, I’m here… lurking in the shadows. I’m like that weird janitor that no one really cares to notice but, I notice what everyone else is saying/doing. I read the notes dropped on the floor, thrown in the trash, etc. I would honestly say this latest document is a compilation of techniques, ideas and, inside secrets that I’ve picked up solely from conversations spoken in other threads… that and an unquenchable desire to read age old Alchemical texts; a potpourri, if you will, of collaborating thoughts from SS members.

Re: the model itself. I agree that a writer should not get lost in conformity, that is, to the extent that they use it for everything they write. That being said, if it works for a particular genre, then definitely pull it from the locker for those times. It’s an inevitability that it won’t work for all, in fact, with some genres, it will probably fall flat on its face out the gate.

There is an immutable agreement, I believe, of collective ideals that, we as humans have adopted for certain structures; as templates, that just seem to work without any conscious knowledge of them being there. This is a road I would consider taking if you want to begin screenwriting and don’t want anything getting in your way of character development etc… like trying to emulate a famous authors’ style, they say… “just let them speak through you.”

What I mean by conforming is, learn it then… simply forget what you know and write your story; your unconscious mind will do the rest based on the story archetype (template) you learned via rote memory. For eg. When I began playing guitar I didn’t know shit about anything (still don’t)… writing music, playing the instrument, etc and, it took years to develop my own technique and style but, one thing I never, ever considered, or gave a conscious thought to when writing songs in my favorite genre was the ‘Song Structure’; that one immutable template from 99% of those thousands of songs I’ve heard in my life… not once did I consciously think that the musician gave a second thought about what people would think, cause, well… I don’t think they need to, not when it’s somehow worked for so long..

To squeeze the extra mile on this, I’ve put together a little table that actually incorporates the same song structure we’ve been listening to our entire life and, to further elaborate on the need for society to surround themselves with working models. I’ve created a Movie Script/Personal Relationship/Song Beat Structure to let people know I’m totally off my rocker, lol …

Script/Music Beat Sheet

https://www.dropbox.com/s/y6l81o64jgl5lxt/Music%20Beat%20Sheet%20-%20104pp.pdf?dl=0

The column titled ‘Section’ is actually a simple song structure that almost every music genre uses without consciously being aware of its existence. It’s all for fun of course but, if it helps you to envision an entire story in your head based on the structure…? Thanks for all the input guys, truly appreciate the thoughtful feedback. Any reads you need feedback on, just point me in the right direction. cheers!
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leitskev
Posted: April 10th, 2017, 7:55pm Report to Moderator
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Wow, very timely. Months ago I became really interested in what makes prose rhythmic. It's a challenging concept. I've studied it quite a bit now, and it remains an open interest for me. As part of that, I started looking into music, which I have no knowledge, talent or training in. I ended up reading a book on the history of music, and I incorporated some of those concepts into a novel I'm working on. My knowledge is still pretty limited in that, but it's fascinating.

Also, in my bar owning days,  I had to become a DJ. I learned some interesting techniques to building energy in a crowd, even to the point of catharsis. I've always wanted to apply that somehow to story.
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Scar Tissue Films
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It's easy to get lost in Dramatica. It's the least intuitive program/model I've ever seen, but when it clicks it's a work of genius.

This is a good resource, that demonstrates practical ways of using it to create scripts. In conjunction with the dramatica manual and the website, it really helps bring it alive.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Drama.....p;keywords=dramatica


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leitskev
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QT studied acting, not screenwriting. Actors focus on making scenes filled with dramatic conflict, tension, entertainment.

This is the problem with the modlers. They put the cart before the horse. QT, studying it from the perspective of actor, does not.

For example, Truby says the purpose of story is for the hero to change.

Think about that. In Truby's view, it doesn't even matter if a story has an audience! He has completely removed audience from the equation of story making.

These are not just semantics. Forcing these models, or overemphasizing them, leads to real problems. I would go so far as to say many amateur scripts don't work because of this. In fact, the scripts that I've seen break a writer in almost never follow models. That's not to say, if you look, you can't find common elements. What would a story be without an all is lost moment? Or a set up that leads the main character to find himself drawn into something unexpected?

But the most important thing, in my view, is to learn how to grab and hold an audience's attention. To the extent that models help, they are great. To the extent that they get in the way, be careful.

A big problem is that they encourage people to have plot points on certain pages, or a certain number of plot points. I used to do this and it caused me to hurry through scenes instead of milking them for all their natural tension and intrigue. It was very harmful, and I've seen other very good amateur screenwriters do the same thing.

This is not a criticism of your excellent work, Canis. In fact, I was structuring out my second act today and I went back to your document. You have the usual structure, but with some useful knew language. Some quick examples:

- return to isolation
- hero�s world destroyed
- hero�s destruction
- transported to antag�s realm
- to be born anew one must die-
- abandoned by others

Really good stuff. All of it familiar, yet still helpful and focused.

I didn't use it exactly in the same structure pattern as outlined in yours. But it helped my find my own structure.
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Scar Tissue Films
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Specific models forcing you to do certain things by an exact page number are silly, but I'd say the fault lies more with writers who take such things too literally rather than a flaw with the model itself.

I watch a hell of a lot of films, at home and at the cinema and 95-99% of them follow something like the Truby structure. There's a lot of reasons films fail, artistically, but I've never seen one personally that I thought was TOO structured. I've seen thousands that were poorly structured and read many more scripts that were poorly structured.

I've certainly seen a lot of generic films, but the problem there is usually a mediocre premise, dull characters, a lack of character development etc ie not really following the steps most of the "gurus" suggest in terms of teasing out the unique aspects of the premise.

It's obvious why most films are like that...it's the most natural way to tell most stories...start at the beginning, increase the tension in the middle and then have an exciting climax and a resolution. The majority of stories will continue to be told that way.

Structure is just a tool like a lot of other tools at a storyteller's disposal, you pick a structure that suits the story you're trying to tell. The Heroes Journey model is great for Epic Hero type stories like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Harry Potter...huge world creating stories where there is a recognisable hero who has to go on a physical, mental and spiritual journey. The huge sweeping epics that become part of our culture.

If that;s the story you are trying to write then a Tarantino "Model" is probably a poor one. You could tell a sci-fi story in that style, but it would be better suited to a Solaris type story, rather than a mass market epic.

I don't think any traditional structure or model can actively stop you engaging audiences, that;s purely down to poor storytelling...weak characters, poor dialogue, insipid premise, lack of conflict. If you took the most constricting structure like Blake Synder's and populated it with wonderful characters, dazzling dialogue etc there's no way that following it would necessarily mean you fail to engage the audience. It just doesn;t work like that, imo.


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