Life and movies are not the same, but we can take from life and improve our stories by seeing what really happens and using the structure of reality to improve our plots. By putting happy and sad events next to each other, we create irony and raise the stakes.
Here was my day in real life:
The good news is that my essay on The Four Magic Questions of Screenwriting was published by Tarcher/Penguin as part of the Now Write book series. More good news, it was my sister’s birthday.
The bad news was that my mother was given some painkillers and slept all day and evening without waking and my Aunt Barbara died suddenly.
Some juxtaposition, huh?
I called my uncle, who was my late father’s brother and said, ” It’s too much to lose your wife and your brother in the same few weeks. What can I do?” he said,”Nothing, unless you can bring her back.” I felt so sad for him. This same uncle survived The World Trade Center Bombing because he was late for the first and only time he was late. As a result, he was about to step into the elevator as the first bomb hit, and got out just in time. More bad news/good news.
In your current screenplay or book, can you move events around so that good events are more closely juxtaposed with bad? It will improve your story. For example, in The Godfather, Michael saves the family business, but loses the love of his life.