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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Alternative Screenplay Template/Model Moderators: George Willson
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Gum
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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Gum  -  April 21st, 2017, 4:43pm
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leitskev
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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
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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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Gum
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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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Gum
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
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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
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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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Gum
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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
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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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leitskev
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I have not been doing this as long as Rick, not nearly. Certainly I've not watched as many films or read as many scripts.

One thing I did do a few years back is, over a period of a couple years, make a project of picking a couple films a week and mapping out the structure, beat by beat. I'm actually good at very little in life, but I turned out to be good at that. Not because I was looking for Save the Cat beat sheet points, I didn't do it that way, though I was well aware of them. If anything I was trying to identify sequences, but I followed whatever structure the story used.

It was not my experience that 90% followed those beats exactly. Though everyone seems to say this. I fear it might be the kind of thing that just gets accepted and repeated. Yes, you can always find certain beats. Even if one never read a structure book in his life, there are certain elements in story which are natural. You want to set up a story, and then get things going. This usually means in inciting incident. Naturally there will be twists and turns, and at some point a real low point from which the hero must climb. So if one is looking for the beats, they'll find them, kind of like the bible code or constellations.

Of course, it's more than that, especially with the big studio projects, where teams of writers have to be on the same page, so it's easier to follow a well-accepted plot path.

What I did find was that the sequences usually apply, but not as neatly as one who likes symmetry would expect. Under the sequence method, you have 8 equal sequences, each with a turning point. Acts one and three are each 2 sequences, act two is 4.

But in reality, the third act has an acceleration. So the turning points come quicker and quicker. I found that the third act might technically have multiple sequences, if by sequence we mean a segment with a beginning, a turn, and an end.

I am a HUGE fan of structure. I can't imagine creating without it.

But structure varies immensely depending on he need of the story. And a story should follow it's own logic. I've pointed out many examples here in the forum in the past. Rocky is a great example.

Rick mentions weak characters and lack of conflict, for example. This is exactly what I am talking about, actually. Often writers are more focused on hitting plot points than in creating those things. The models can help you create those things...but sometimes they can harm you by denying you the space you need. For example, you might have a great scene ripe with potential conflict. Bu in trying to hit your beats, maybe you shorten that scene and it never reaches its potential. Excessively modeled scripts do this all the time.

Maybe if I have time I'll break down Rocky later.
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Gum
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Very thought provoking, gentlemen. I’m super pleased with the response I’ve received on this so far, and I thank you kindly for that! As well, I’m glad I put this in the WIP section, cause now my head is a flurry of ideas swimming about; as to the pro’s and con’s of using models for scripting. I’m thinking I might add a blurb (forward) explaining the perils of relying solely on a script structure as the Alpha-Omega.

On the one hand I want to emphasize that this could surely be used as a tool by writers looking for a stepping stone or, perhaps, used as a ‘Break Glass in Emergency’ type situation when a writer is stuck in the mud and just needs a little push to help them along; God knows I’ve been there many late nights, just staring at a blank piece of paper.

On the other hand, with respect to character development, I’ll agree, this is definitely not the most intuitive tool; I even went as far as addressing one of my Psychopomps in a script as a… Psychopomp, lol. That’s a no-no, I’ll have to go back and fix that pronto, lest I be ostracized for unimaginative behavior.

As well, I noticed after a re-read, that I said the Jungian Archetype could exist as an inanimate object, but was really thinking it (sentient Psychopomp) would control those existential forces from a distance to arose suspicion, or a conscious interaction from the Protag. Great analysis of the ‘model structure’, guys, I truly appreciate the feedback!
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leitskev
Posted: April 11th, 2017, 7:28pm Report to Moderator
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It's a great, tool, Canis, I have used it twice now.
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Gum
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Just a shameless bump for new writers who may (or may not) have found this document somewhat useful in the past; now updated with additional info on some basic development of character structure. The update is by no means canonized or complete, simply an entry template for creating interesting or surreal character quirks.

Thanks all…
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Scar Tissue Films
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The big thing in script writing these days is 'post narrativity'.
Marvel universe, Game thrones, Walking Dead, Star Wars... Basically stories designed to never end.

Noone really knew what it means, but there's been a break from the traditional idea that stories are complete and meaningful and now about moments to be enjoyed and disposed of
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Gum
Posted: June 24th, 2019, 3:51pm Report to Moderator
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While I never caught onto the whole ‘Avengers Noni-ology’ or ‘Deci-ology’, or (insert comic themed superhero franchise) I’d have to agree. For example, yesterday I finished the second season of ‘Dark’ on Netflix and was left wondering -- while thought-provoking… where the hell does this go from here?

On that note, I jumped on this bandwagon myself, and have recently devoted any and all of my writing time to develop a character (Mr. Whipple from a series I’ve titled ‘I Scream Parlor’) that has no beginning and no end; like a dream, just a snapshot ‘in the day’ of a peculiar individual that I have no idea as to where to take him/or what to have him do next. Just something I hope people would find fun and entertaining to read, but, with no real course of resolve on his true purpose in life… kind of like where I am at this exact moment in time. Where to go from here…?
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leitskev
Posted: June 24th, 2019, 5:03pm Report to Moderator
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Thank you, Gum. I had completely forgotten about this thread. Man, so much has changed in 2 years, it feels like this converation took place centuries ago.

At the moment, I only had time to read our back and forth(and of course Rick's). I'll go look again at the document itself later.

Looking at my notes in this thread, I copied these points from your theory:

- 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

I am currently in the finishing round of a YA novel, and I wondered if any of this, a) applied, or b) might help me as I go into the final act.

Let me bore you with something I went through when I got to the midpoint and stopped to plot out the second half of the book. I decided that in creating the highs and lows of the story I needed to look for an all is lost moment. For a couple of days I was stuck. What was the worst thing I could do this character? What would really make her feel the sting of defeat? The story is middle grade/YA, so I couldn't have any death. She had a best friend in the story. So I started thinking what if he turned on her? But that felt weak and forced.

Then it dawned on me: it must be something she does to herself. Not just a mistake, but something that was just plain selfish and petty and heartless. Which would be out of character for her, but we all are capable of that when we allow our jealousies to win out over our better nature. So I decided to have her do something that would make all of her friends...not exactly turn on her, but close. Make them very disappointed in her. And she's also disappointed in herself. It's a really low moment, and the key is, she does it all to herself.

It seems to me there is no better way to create the hero's destruction then when the hero destroys herself.

Once I hit on this, the other plot points naturally fell into place, even the midpoint. So the false high of the midpoint became intricately connected to how the hero is reborn. The structure really is beautiful.

None of that would have been possible without having studied structure.

But it also would not have been possible if I had shoehorned plot points into a structure. In fact, I did not structure this story until I got the roughly middle of the book. Before that I was going on instinct, perhaps incorporating some structure that I've learned unconsciously.

Also, what I am calling the "midpoint" will probably not actually be the literal midpoint. Man, I recently read an article where the guru went back and checked the literal midpoints of major books to see if the structure is that exact. He convinced himself it is, which I think is absurd.

Rick said in his comment that no story suffers from too much structure. Of course not!

But there are different structures and a story can have a structure unique to its own story. It's PERFECTLY structured, but does not follow perfectly any model.

OK, I'll bring in Rocky.

Years ago I read an article by the Bitter Screen Reader that insisted Rocky was a "love story". When you read his article it's clear he's trying to force Rocky into the Save the Cat plot points.

Which was absurd. When does the "love story" part of Rocky end? Precisely at the end of act one!! After that there is no question that Rocky and Adrien are a couple. Had it been a love story they would not have cemented their relationship until the end of the story, or at least the end of the second act.

It's easy to spot the real structure of Rocky...but you simply won't be able to if you are trying to rely on standard structure.

Rocky is a story about an underdog getting one last chance to make something of himself. The inciting incident doesn't come until the end of act one. Go ahead, watch it. It's at the end of act one when the heavyweight champ picks Rocky out of a book of fighters because of his name. That's how Rocky gets his chance. The love story comes before that and is entirely separate.

However, the love story is essential, for a strange reason: as a destraction. As something that exists to carry the long set up.

You see, Rocky requires a long set up because it's important to establish two things: 1) Rocky is really washed up, as a fighter and in life; 2) Rocky is a character we want to root for. The set up is EVERYTHING for the story. Every little scene in that first act feeds into this. He walks the teen girl home he finds smoking on the corner with boys. He gets his locker taken away by Micky and called a bum. He's a reluctant leg breaker. He lives alone. He loves animals. A lot of little scenes needed to establish his character as down and out but big-hearted and lovable.

But...you simply can't spend 30 minutes of a movie merely establishing character. So what do you do? How do you buy that 30 minutes? The mini-story!

The love story is merely a side story to hold our attention while Stallone sets up the character. That's it. Perfectly structured, just not standard model...at least no model I've seen. I've never seen a model that called for a 30 minute side story to open things.

My guess is Stallone had been taught no theory(and I don't know what theory existed in 1976; even Syd Fields didn't publish til around 1979 I think). I suspect that Rocky would never have been written like that if Stallone had been poluted by rigid theory.

This reinforces for me:
- every story needs structure
- models can be useful
- models can also get in the way

I'm going to go over your structure tomorrow. I think return to isolation might be usefull. Or at least it fits. Maybe transporrted to the realm of the antag.
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Gum
Posted: June 24th, 2019, 8:44pm Report to Moderator
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Hey, Kevin,


Quoted from leitskev
I had completely forgotten about this thread. Man, so much has changed in 2 years, it feels like this converation took place centuries ago.


You and me both. I actually updated this document last year, but only got around to reposting today cause I completely forgot about it… aaah, time flies when your mind starts to go, lol.


Quoted from leitskev
Then it dawned on me: it must be something she does to herself. Not just a mistake, but something that was just plain selfish and petty and heartless. Which would be out of character for her, but we all are capable of that when we allow our jealousies to win out over our better nature. So I decided to have her do something that would make all of her friends...not exactly turn on her, but close. Make them very disappointed in her. And she's also disappointed in herself. It's a really low moment, and the key is, she does it all to herself.

… It seems to me there is no better way to create the hero's destruction then when the hero destroys herself.


Curious you said this. Just recently I caught a Youtube video where this dude was going on about our minds literally being programmed from birth to about seven years old; that being, this programming is the basic construct of how you will perceive reality for the rest of your life. The aspect of self-sabotage he speaks of are ingrained within our subconscious by outside influences –

Vis-à-vis: “a child being told they are worthless and will never amount to anything, over and over by a parent/guardian, etc, will actually (subconsciously) self sabotage their entire life to ensure the subconscious programming that was drilled into them plays out.”

A strange aspect of the subconscious mind is; it doesn’t know what it does, it just does what it’s programmed to do. Breaking away from previous destructive programming is another realization in itself.

Your story, the story you speak of here, by encapsulating this into your Protag (I believe) is a great way to flesh out a truly 3D character, as well, leaves room to draw out backstory when they’re in the presence of those responsible for instilling destructive values onto their (Protag’s) subconscious.

I’ve tried doing something a little similar with a previous script, kind of an experiment in ‘total loss of self-control’, by blatantly exposing a chunk of backstory into a title sequence. I did video compositing for a living back in the day and was quite enamored by the compositing/art styles of ‘Saul Bass’,‘Kyle Cooper’, etc. That is, using an entrancing, entertaining (and informative when required) title sequence to really squelch the viewer’s mind into the perfect frequency for the ride, so to speak.


Quoted from leitskev
This reinforces for me:
- every story needs structure
- models can be useful
- models can also get in the way.


Agree, agree, and agree. Initially, I wanted to go full throttle by calling this document something along the lines of ‘Hollywood’s Immutable Archetypes in the Demonic World of Stereo CinemaScope’ but thought I might scare away a lot of new writers, thus I went with something a little more generic… ‘Template’.

Anyway, great insight as always, thanks kindly for all the info; it really stoked my imagination about character flaws and how to dig deeper to really bring out the surreal. As well, think I’ll tune into 'Rocky' over the weekend and watch it again. I haven’t seen it in years, and your breakdown of the beat structure sounds interesting.

Cheers for the feedback!
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leitskev
Posted: June 24th, 2019, 9:17pm Report to Moderator
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A strange aspect of the subconscious mind is; it doesn’t know what it does, it just does what it’s programmed to do. Breaking away from previous destructive programming is another realization in itself.

What happens in story is that some outside thing forces change onto the character.

Let's say tomorrow the power grid went down forever. You would still be driven by subconscious urges that stem from childhood, as well as by biological urges, and who knows, maybe even by a mysterious collective unconscious. But your subconscious will ALSO adapt to the new surroundings and needs. It's not as though the subconscious is ignorant of the outside world...it's not. We are just ignorant of it.

Maybe a character suffers from a degree of OCD and subconsciously finds safety from anxiety within routine. But if the grid goes down, routine is no longer possible. The character may make a conscious decision to change from routine to survive. But if does not, the subconscious will seek ways to force him to change.

So things like environment and outside forces interact with our subconscious. It can drive us in positive or negative directions. But the subconscious is not locked in by its formative forces. The effects of those forces will always be there, and they will interact with the new forces of the changed environment.

And I don't think it's true that we are completely locked onto a path pre-determined by the early forces that shape the subconscious. And we can't accept that as writers, because the whole idea behind story is that people are capable of change, capable of growth, capable of exercising some influence over who they are. The subconscious is devious and persistent. But it also reacts to circumstances.

When you watch Rocky, and it's been a long time for me too, but there is a distinct end to act one. I think even the music changes. I mean it's so distinct you can imagine a curtain going up. And the love story ALL comes before that turn. By the time Rocky gets called with the fight opportunity they are a couple, and no further obstacles develop in their relationship, even when the brother gets jealous and goes crazy on Thanksgiving.

But without the love story in act one, we're looking at 30 minutes of set up! Well, take out the love seens and maybe it's 20 minutes of set up with 10 missing from the movie. But the set up Rock's character is included in those romance scenes, so it's critical. He's sweet, lonely, awkward, courageous-, desperate.

I look at it this way: in any moment of story there needs to be some of the essential structure elements of story in order to keep us watching(or turning the page). For example, there is usually a character goal, or a compelling mystery. The goal could be something thrust on him, such as the need to survive. Any moment in story where you don't have one of those elements is very risky. You might get away with a little at the very beginning, but even that is risky. So as Rocky is being slowly set up for us, we get the love story. His goal is to get shy Adrien to go out with him. Then the goal is to get her to accept him as a boyfriend. Because we are intrigued and we start to care about him, we want him to succeed. Meanwhile, Rocky's down and out character can be fully set up.

Act two is really just about him gaining the confidence he needs, establishing his father relationship with Micky, further bonding with Adrien. By the end of the movie, it doesn't matter anymore if he wins the fight. He's no longer alone, he has her, and he's no longer a bum because he went the distance. By today's standards the movie is slow, but it's one of the most endearing and powerful movies of all time.
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Gum
Posted: June 24th, 2019, 10:33pm Report to Moderator
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I think we may have opened up a can of worms, lol, re: the subconscious. None the less, I always respect others’ opinion on this topic, because we all come from different walks of life… makes one think outside of the box.

I believe, at this point in time, I have a tendency to migrate my views on subconscious behavior based on ‘white papers, articles, etc’ written about MKULTRA…  and, of course, a strange sycophantic romance I have with Cold War espionage; tomes could be written about that stuff in itself.

Thanks again for the informative synopsis, I’ll be sure to consider some of your points next time I sit down and write for compelling character structure. Cheers!
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leitskev
Posted: June 24th, 2019, 10:55pm Report to Moderator
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What we should do is this: next time you or I am stuck on a structural problem, we pose it here and see if some of the models might help us out. I'm going to read your model again tomorrow and see if I can apply any to my novel.
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Gum
Posted: June 25th, 2019, 10:46pm Report to Moderator
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Kevin

Sorry, man. I meant to get to this earlier, my daughter had her Grad today, was a whole day thing… all good.


Quoted from leitskev
What we should do is this: next time you or I am stuck on a structural problem, we pose it here and see if some of the models might help us out. I'm going to read your model again tomorrow and see if I can apply any to my novel.


Deal, but you do realize if we can’t resolve any issues with this script model… I’ll have to commit ‘Seppuku’ with a rusty lawnmower blade; if that doesn’t kill me, surely the ‘Tetanus’ will cause (deserved) discomfort.

Thanks again for all the positive feedback!
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Dustin
Posted: June 26th, 2019, 1:44am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from leitskev
Breaking away from previous destructive programming is another realization in itself.


Isn't it just. I work very hard to be a 'free thinker'. It's not just old programming, but the new stuff too that we need to watch out for.


Nice to see there are others out there trying too. Too many mindless people... even the ones that believe they are free thinkers, often they have merely chosen an alternative side to the main... or, worse, are New Atheists.


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leitskev
Posted: June 26th, 2019, 10:10am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dustin


Isn't it just. I work very hard to be a 'free thinker'. It's not just old programming, but the new stuff too that we need to watch out for.


Nice to see there are others out there trying too. Too many mindless people... even the ones that believe they are free thinkers, often they have merely chosen an alternative side to the main... or, worse, are New Atheists.


I should have had that in quotes because I think it was from Gum's story model. As for myself, I'm not very good at much in life, but one thing I think I do well is to always, always challenge my assumptions or conclusions about anything. Even if I'm arguing with someone, part of my mind is going, well, maybe the bastard has a point. I think it's the Celtic blood in me. Those contrarian voices are hard to shut up.
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Gum
Posted: June 27th, 2019, 12:03am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dustin

… It's not just old programming, but the new stuff too that we need to watch out for.


Unfortunately, yes, and not that I haven’t already milked the shit out of this thread, here’s some credibility to that claim re: New World addictive programming: It has literally become weaponized and will eventually have devastating results on society.

Could make for a creative screenplay with ‘richly layered characters’, if done well... like Tiramisu.

https://www.henrymakow.com/2019/06/insider-rips-the-mask-off-face.html
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