Screenplay Formula

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  • Screenplay Formula

    I still get stuck on screenplay formula. To me a good story is a good story and I don't over think it. However, I play some blues on the piano and I use the 12 bar blues for the most part. There are some deviations but you can do a lot of improv and use a lot of your own combinations within that structure. I also as a kid knew that music had a climax and would wing it and put the climax in where I thought it sounded good and then later learned that there was an exact place for it.

    The funny thing was that was where I was naturally putting it and did better than most in my composition classes because I understood there was a natural placement for it that came from who long you build to it even if it was a silent climax which I have also seen in movies where there was not more sound and more action but instead the actors voice was gone and he silently stood in a silent scream.

    How can we try new things if we are locked into a pulp factory of filmmaking? Can't we feel if it's good or not and know that the climax and turning points are there without locking ourselves into the standard screen writing cookie cutter methods?

    In the 12 bar blues you can change out chords from the 4th and 5th of the scale and replace the 2nd and even switch to minor and there is some places that a good old chromatic walk down or walk up sound good but if you stick to that 12 bar standard you won't explore those things until you hear someone else do it. Then it's not your discovery but it's mimicking.

    In the book "The writing Live" by national book award finalist Marie Arana, who wrote Lima Nights and American Chica", she says, There is no one way to approach the writing of a book, unless, of course, you are producing pulp-cookie-cutter version of the same thing. IF you strive to become a real writer, and original, you need to be told clearly: There is no magic formula."

    Now, with that said, I think there are parameters and guidelines but locking into a formula and doing it without feeling it and seeing what one is doing it limiting the creative process. I can't see any other way of it.

    I use the standard 12 bar blues but I am free to explore from that basis and if it sounds good it sounds good. Disagree with me but don't do it with knee jerk reaction. Tell me why and what the structure is and why it is that way if you believe it has to be exactly some perfect way. How did it become that way? What variations to it have worked and why?
    Last edited by Kim Welch; 06-26-2017, 10:07 AM.
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  • #2
    My opinion is that you are leaps and bounds ahead of a lot of "experienced" screenwriters.

    I think of it as a custom structure for each story because not everyone story is served the same way. What are the "ingredients" or "tools" used to tell the story, not what is the "paradigm" I can fit my story into.

    I feel there was a long discussion on here last year about the topic...my thoughts are still the same.
    Jared Isham
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