Writing and Erasing then Rewriting and Burning

I had an eventful day yesterday. I worked out some major issues with Episode 5 as well as filmed material for a new YouTube video. I can’t understate how enjoyable it is to be working with a camera again and having something to edit. I’ve found a balance between doing video editing and editing the screenplay. It’s not hard to guess which one I like more.

I’ve taken my 27 page short and condensed it down to 21. I’ve had to significantly limit the amount of lines a few of the minor characters have. I’ve come to believe giving them too much on-screen time adds a whole lot more to their personalities than it does to the question that drives the story. I also think Quentin Tarantino writes this way (and does just fine).

It is so easy to see the ingredients that make up a good plot, yet a challenge to implement them. You must constantly barrage your protagonist with obstacles then look within yourself to figure out how they might overcome them. The lessons they learn become the theme. The training the protagonist does in act 2 should pay off in act 3.

Two new tools I am determined to use in this episode are:

  1. Hermeneutics
  2. Moral uncertainty

Hermeneutics deals with the interpretation of information. The term came to exist in order to explain how different religious sects came to understand the same biblical text. I featured a post on this subject a while ago that highlighted a video discussion about how Christopher Nolan uses it in his features. When done right, Hermeneutics has a profound effect on viewers. The information does not change, but the protagonist’s understanding of it does. I believe the typical description of a solid mid-point for a story fits this definition. Here’s an example of Hermeneutics in action:

  1. You receive $20 from your grandma as a Birthday gift.
  2. You learn your Grandma is broke and doesn’t have enough money to cover her own electricity bill.

The action, amount, and gesture has not changed. New information, however, has changed your response to the money from excitement to grief.

The second tool on my list is moral uncertainty. I’ve been trying to place my protagonist in situations where he must choose between 2 not so great options. A couple examples of this would be:

  1. Confessing to a widow you had could have saved her spouses life.
  2. Confronting an enemy whose daughter is in a nearby room.

I feel that using these emotional triggers will help to draw the viewer in. I am eager to move away from the basic methods of conflict, time constraints, and variable successes from effort. I am also trying to push the theme and character arc more into my subconscious. The protagonist’s reaction to the story as it occurs should change him over time. As long as I can end with a different set of values then I begin with, I anticipate a character arc will be there.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m hoping to complete my next YouTube upload today or tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted.

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