Movies are all about story telling, just like books. My favorite ones are all about character and plot, challenges and risk taking. About characters making choices and achieving (or not) their burning desires, learning and discovering new insights. Apart from an overload of movies and a chocolate high (a must when sitting that long!) I ended up with a few interesting facts that day which I’d like to share with you:
· It’s all about character
So, Revelation 1 - a character with no burning desire to want something is boring.
· Character choice moves the plot
Something has to be happening, not just to the characters, but also from the choices they make. What would have happened if Elliott had decided to turn ET over to the authorities when he found him? If Sid hadn’t taken the T-Rex eggs because he wanted to have a family of his own? If Bolt chose to give up the journey to find his owner after he discovered he was just an ordinary dog, not a crime-fighting superhero? And if Melanie had given up trying to get her husband’s signature on the divorce papers?
Revelation 2 – a character must make choices to move the story forward - and even when they don’t make one, that’s still a choice.
· Challenges and obstacles
A plot doesn’t have to have the ripper tension and breakneck action of Speed to keep you engaged. But it does need an escalation of the story, which means throwing challenges in front of your character to see what they will do. Just when you think they’re getting somewhere or on the verge of their goal... BOOM! A spanner’s in the works. In ET, after we find out ET’s alien friends are returning for him, ET ups and dies. Oh, yeah (I still cry at that scene!) In Sweet Home Alabama, Melanie thinks she’s going to get that signature on the divorce papers once, twice, three times at least. But every time something happens to delay it. And by the time she DOES get it, she knows it’s not what she wants. In Bolt, not only does Bolt have to physically travel across the US to return to his owner, but he also encounters internal issues, like trust and loyalty. In Ice Age 3, there’s a rampaging T-rex, a very-pregnant Ellie and a hostile new world to deal with.
Revelation 3 – The more crap the characters have to overcome, the more they deserve their prize.
At a risk of waffling on too much, I’ll throw it open to comments. Is there a particular movie that was helpful to your writing? One that you think encapsulates great storytelling...how?
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