Dramatic Action

Old picture. Funny I never realized how out of focus it was until now.

I’ve decided my next youtube video will shine a spotlight on another low budget short film. It will not be as much of a review as a study. I will have to a.) find a film b.) contact its creator and c.) dive in deep. I would like to critique the story in an honest but complimentary way. I feel that bringing attention to another creator who has similar ambitions can help build a community and propel my own viewership. I will either do this or make a video about my girlfriend’s cat and his plot to kill me.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time combing through the scripts I received. I forgot how good a practice critiquing another writers work can be – it’s much easier to recognize faults and areas for improvement. Consequently I’ve been able to return to my own script with a fresh, critical mind. As I read my own pages I realize the dramatic action is lacking.

Drama is the major reason we turn to cinema. Regardless of the genre we love to see characters wrestling over moral grey areas. We find ourselves intrigued by characters who behave against our expectations. And when we find protagonists who overcome their own faults we find hope for overcoming our own short comings.

I’ve condensed my script down to 16 pages. The driving force of the plot revolves around a “who-dunnit” type clue. My character follows this clue to the first suspect, who points him in the right direction. After meeting with a group of potential perpetrators, he narrows down his choice to 1 man – whom he attacks.

This simple plot has me wondering what type of character change best fits the story. To find that I must begin with figuring out what his final dramatic action it is – it may be the attack, the accusation, the assertive decision, or the decision to trust his missing wife over the conclusion he has formed from the notes contents (Ah yes I think I like that one).

So we first figure out what the climatic action will be. It should involve a choice between two options – one option finalizes a change, and the other option is what the protagonists would have chosen as his former self. He must go against his former nature in order to complete his arc. Story is, after all, a study in moral development.

Every scene in a story should involve some form of dramatic action. It is not enough for events to simply occur as characters observe their happenings. Your characters should effect the world in which they live, and the world should effect them. The inciting incident – or occurrence that ignites the plot – should be the event that sparks this change. Each experience that follows should add pressure for the character to change further. The final judgement on who the protagonists becomes can be summarized with the theme of the story.

In short, Kelly is snoring on the couch and this post has helped me clarify my thoughts on how I will approach my edit today. I’m still waiting for feedback on the current draft that is out to a few separate readers. Once I sense that my story has impressed, appealed to, or entertained a reader I will move forward with casting the actors and reserving a location. Moving to this stage has taken me months longer than expected. Though I regret the passage of time, I do feel compelled to enter production with a story that is solid. If you can start with that, you have a chance to make something special. Film a story that is shit on paper and all your effort will produce is shit on a screen.

Have a great day and remember to feed the birds. They die if we do not feed them.

2 thoughts on “Dramatic Action

  1. Pingback: Dramatic Action – "Writing Moore" TM

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