The articles in this column reflect Linda's ideas on the art of plotting talked about or touched upon in her seminars and books. They cover a variety of topics related to both feature and short form screenwriting. Below you'll find titles and synopses.
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Plot is more than an outline of events; it's the ordering of emotions to make the events resonate with the audience.
Story structure and plotting are two sides to the same coin, and are two distinct steps in the process of writing a terrific screenplay.
Great movies depend on great characters, but what's the key to creating ones? Character isn't a laundry list of qualities and traits; it's shown in actions, emotional reactions, and choices characters make under pressure.
Stories are stronger when characters are moved by the events; credible emotional reactions allow the audience to connect more deeply with the work. But if a writer gets carried away with emotion, he's apt to sacrifice plot momentum. Here are some ways to keep the train of events on track and moving, and still get to the emotional stations.
Dating back to D.W. Griffth and the silent era, the ensemble film is a staple of Hollywood as well as indie fare. Though many filmmakers attempt these interwoven stories, more fail than succeed. Understanding a few clear points can help a writer create the dramatic unity that can hold the multiple plot lines together.
It's a lesson worth learning early: there's more to successful drama than just a string of vaguely related sequences.
One of the hardest ideas for new screenwriters to get is the active protagonist. Movie heroes must be active. The simple way to push them to act is to give them something they want.
Film segments are the chapters of your story; they lead your audience from one important point to the next and add emotional power by making a story point and emotional one.
Movies are about pain and suffering; characters caught up in conflicts that change their lives. Writers must understand the role conflict plays in both building a plot as well as defining the character.
Action plays an important role in organizing the plot of a nonlinear film, but it isn't based in a singly pursued goal that dominates the plots of most conventionally structured films. Dramatic unity is achieved by the intersection of two key factors: a theme or controlling idea and a framing action.