My NYU class is going well. I am so proud and pleased with my students!
As we get to class 4, the question of how to work with outlines naturally resurfaces. Students who were willing to use the techniques discover that they have a strong but flexible map and can head for the finish line with confidence.
In my writing system, we begin the outline process at the conception of a project in class 1 using The 4 Magic Questions of Screenwriting to design a story that arises from what our character wants. This way, the outline creates a supportive bridge and doesn’t inhibit the story from being told in an authentic way. Think of the interplay of plot and character as being like the caduceus symbol.
The central pole is The 4 Magic Questions of Screenwriting, the character and the plot are each one of the two snakes wrapped around it. By creating a plot from the character’s wants, the story will be born with a beating heart. First, we do a light pass working with our main character to get a general sense of what they want.
Next, by asking ourselves the four questions about the story’s villain or obstacle, we can easily identify the plot in a rough form. This character often drives the first part of a story because frequently, the main character is just trying to maintain his or her life as it is.
We then use the villain or obstacle’s answers to design the story in the classic 3-act structure because by creating obstacle first, it’s easier to discover what the main character wants because the expression of the want is now in the main character’s actions, so it’s no longer general. Specificity is the key to good story creation.
For example, in the film, The Wizard of Oz, Miss Gulch drives the story because she’s the one who’s out to get Toto. That’s the easy way. It’s way harder to try to dream up a story for an unhappy little orphan girl trying to find “home.” By starting with the villain, the story becomes easier to conjure. Suddenly, we have clarity about what the story will look like: the story’s about a little girl who must save her dog from being put to sleep by a vengeful woman.
Try it! You’ll find greater ease in your story creation or revision. To assist further, I’ll be holding a session of Rewriting The Screenplay in Six Weeks beginning May 18 -June 29 (no class 5/25 Memorial Day Weekend).
I’m very excited to be holding the final session of my free webinar Use Scripting to Succeed in Your Writing and Your Life. This is by invitation only, so those in the class, I can’t wait to see you next Wednesday, March 24 at 7:00 pm. Please send any stories by Tuesday at 5:00 pm. In this webinar, students kept a special kind of journal. We will be reading some of the amazing results that my scripting techniques have inspired these talented writers to create.
I’ll offer the Use Scripting to Succeed in Your Writing and Your Life webinars as a proper class for a small fee beginning in June. The class will be held each Thursday from 7:00-8:30 pm EST. The cost is $300.00 or $50.00 per class and includes handouts and a copy of the book, The 4 Magic Questions of Screenwriting.
And, as always, I’m thrilled to share Jokeonastick Episode #65. Enjoy the featured joke here, then sign up for a free subscription and receive four new jokes in your mailbox every Friday.
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz