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IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STORY
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Building Your Story
Get Started on Your Screenplay
Writing the First Ten Pages
Create Your Screenplay site
has been updated
May 10, 2011
YOUR SCREENPLAY, BONDING
CHARACTER - DAY
you have an affinity for the night
you've likely had the experience of
to make out the shape of a
you're looking for.
a screenplay is similar. You
to create a constellation of
that will drive your story
and keep the eyes of the audience
on the screen. So here's a
part of what I present in my
book IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STORY.
Started On Your Screenplay Now
you're at the beginning of your career, or you're about to start writing
your first screenplay, this is a great book to get you going! What's even
more enticing is that you can read and understand it in a couple of hours,
or less -- about the time it takes you to sit through your top choice
at the local multiplex.
about to go on a creative journey, and this book is a basic road map.
You'll learn how to get original ideas -- not just copies of someone else's
how to get your good ideas out of your head and into your computer. Find
out how to source powerful psychological and emotional ideas for your
characters and themes.
the most efficient, professional ways to build your story, and your script.
I show you how to energize your ideas, how to tell which ideas are good
movie ideas, and where to look for elements that make winning movie scripts.
expose the secret of the powerful principle of mendacity in movie characters
and plot, and I show you examples of how to use it in your own screen-play.
course, there are skills you need to learn and use --formatting, scene
structure, dialogue, and writing good narrative prose, for example. But
you'll never have the chance to learn them if you don't
STARTED ON YOUR SCREENPLAY NOW.
Think about building
your story by "seeing" the emergence of the characters in a pattern.
Unique, yet composed of types that work for the movies. If you
study movies long enough, you'll see certain typical patterns
of characters cropping up repeatedly.
As a storytelling
form, the feature-length movie tends to be tightly structured.
Specific patterns are adhered to more than in the novel, the short
story, the biography, etc. Movies as we know them have been in
existence for less than a hundred years. In that time, though,
they've evolved their own unique storytelling form.
of screenwriters discovered what pleases and what displeases their
audience, and today's screenwriters are following suit. The story
pattern we see at the movies is largely the result of writers
responding to the desires of the audience.
In a way,
writing a movie is like writing a sonnet — there exists an evolved
convention within a writer is expected to work. It's a blessing
because the writer doesn't have to reinvent the wheel, and a curse
because the creative process is never unfettered.
news is that, as in most other endeavors, knowledge and understanding
is power. So
let's do some stargazing into the galaxy of screenplay characters
to find the patterns of the modern screenplay.
Not all Hollywood movies parade
their constellation of characters as blatantly as American
Graffiti did, but most advertising displays the two
main characters, and sometimes a third character as well.
final comparison and I'll spare you any further extension of this
of the Hero as the Pole Star — He or she is the character around
whom all the other characters revolve.
not prescribing a recipe. I'm describing the nature of 90% of
successful movies. You're the writer. You can choose to work within
the patterns I'm describing or not. But to make that choice intelligently,
you need to know what the patterns are.
for creativity and invention within the patterns is almost infinite.
Knowing the convention and its patterns will not stunt your creativity
or board up your muse.
Hero — then what?When you've decided on your Hero, where do you
go next? There are numerous options.Early in my career, I struggled
to create satisfactory connections between my Heroes and the other
characters in my stories.Why was I struggling? Because I was thinking
about story and characters in a literary way, a "straight line"
way— HERO— INCITING INCIDENT— GOAL— RISING ACTION— etc., etc.Even
worse, I just assumed that drama consisted mainly of "conflict"
between two entities: Protagonist and Antagonist (Hero
okay for Literature and stage.Not for movies.My scripts didn’t
always work, and so I struggled.One day, after enough years of
this writer’s angst, and after studying enough movies, the light
dawned.I discovered that the essential appeal of the screen story,
unlike many literary forms, was not to be found in the
conflict the villain created.
course the villain's important, but in my analysis of movies,
I learned that the villain often got less screen time than another
secondary character who had a lot of scenes with the Hero.
at these movie posters. Two characters are prominently depicted
on each poster.
character is the Villain.
What does that tell you?
this idea of the "second character" intrigued me, because I'd
been giving the second largest chunk of screen time to the Antagonist.
I rationalized that, well, this other secondary character existed
because the Hero had a romantic interest, or else a Buddy.
didn't prove out either, because I found many movies where the
character who got second most screen time was neither a lover
or a buddy.
was preparing to lead seminars on screenplay writing, I did a
deeper analysis of the character layout of successful movies.
by studying the role of Heroes and Antagonists in hundreds of
movies, and even though I was reluctant to accept the fact at
first, I discovered that the typical movie story is dominated
by a personal relationship between two other characters—the
Hero and what I called at the time the "second most important
all. Just those two characters. When I first explored this principle,
there wasn’t any information about screenplay writing that dealt
satisfactorily with this "second most important character."
this character the BONDING CHARACTER. And then by studying movies
further, I deduced four things about the audience’s response to
the Bonding Character that truly surprised me:
the Bonding Character
The more unlike the Hero and Bonding Character are, the
better the audience likes them and gets involved in their
show two popular unlike pairings:
Roberts and Albert Finney
Pictures Erin Brockovich.
plays a young single mom struggling to make ends meet.
Bonding Character is Albert Finney, a modestly successful
lawyer winding down his career. Not like each other
Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon.
a widowed, suicidal cop paired
with Glover, the conservative family man.
many lines do I have?
second principle that emerged for me was one that stemmed
from my stop-watch studies of which characters had how much
screen time. This is what I concluded:
The audience expects the Bonding Character to have at least
as much, if not more, screen time than the Villain.
idea isn't a tablet toted down from the mountain, but if
you give the Villain too much screen time, the audience
could feel cheated because the Hero/Bonding Character relationship
will necessarily be weakened. But amount of screen time
is partly a technical issue, and easy to solve if it gets
out of balance. The third principle I learned, however,
is right at the core of what makes a successful screenplay:
The audience invests its positive emotion in the relationship
between the Bonding Character and the Hero.
often this relationship grows throughout the movie
to become a romantic involvement, but if you study
the function of Bonding Characters in many different
movies, you discover that the Hero/Bonding Character
relationship has a number of consistent qualities,
which do not necessitate that the relationship be
In my book IT'S
ALL ABOUT THE STORY
. I go into detail about
these qualities. The important thing to understand
is that an audience follows a screen story not just
with eyes and ears, but with emotions.
the emotional attachment of the audience
consequence of this audience interaction with that central
relationship is the following fact:To write a successful
screenplay story, you need to exploitthe fact that the dominant
emotional attachment of anaudience is to the Hero/Bonding
is the best way to do that?You make the relationship the
instrument to defeat the Villain.
the typical movie, the Hero and the Bonding Character are
forced into contact with each other. This event usually
occurs somewhere during the first thirty pages.
for example, the Hero, Sam Wheat is murdered in the
early part of the movie, and as a ghost, desperately seeks
a means to contact his girlfriend, Molly.
visits a medium named Oda-Mae Brown, and even though
she thinks she's faking being a medium, she discovers
that she can hear Sam when he speaks to her. The subsequent
scene is a welcome piece of comic relief after the
intense drama of the beginning.
we come to the fourth principle — a key component
of good story making, which is dictated by the moviegoing
As part of their involvement in the central character
relationship, the audience expects the Hero to use
the Bonding Character's qualities to help defeat the
the case of Ghost, the Villain is a co-worker
of Sam's named Carl Bruner, and Sam determines that,
by using Oda-Mae to carry out his plans, he will be
able to expose Carl as the thief and murderer he is.
a movie, the audience "tracks" the progress of the
Hero/Bonding Character relationship and yearns for
the Hero to "get together" with the Bonding Character
in some way.
When you are writing your screenplay, you need to
satisfy this audience desire. Sometimes the only way
to do that is to have the Hero and Bonding character
part at the end.
is the case with such movies as Casablanca,
Report, and many others.
Report, Tom Cruise hooks up with Agatha, the
precog, in order to defeat the villain, and in so
doing, they rescue each other, and go on to reclaim
the lives they had almost lost.
immensely satisfying ending for the audience.
film that I use extensively in my book IT'S
ALL ABOUT THE STORY is Witness,
starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis.
movie contains one of the most unusual unlike
character pairings: A hard-bitten, inner city cop
bonds with an Amish widow to bring a rogue police
officer to justice.
interesting twist is that the Hero, John Book, adopts
his Bonding Character's pacifism in order to finally
defeat the homicidal villain.
Paramount Pictures Corp.
and on the run from his would-be killers, John Book
takes refuge in Rachel Lapp's Amish community.
growing attraction to each other is one of the most
skillfully written, and sensitively directed, romances
success of this movie illustrates the effectiveness
of using an extremely unlikely pairing when creating
your Hero/Bonding Character relationship.
you understand the working dynamic of the Hero/Bonding Character
relationship and apply it to crafting your story, you'll
be preparing a solid foundation for the creation of the
other characters in your story, particularly the Opposing/Attacking
Force (Villain). And you'll be laying a firm foundation
for the plot of your movie. Find out more about the Bonding
Character and these relationships when you order my book
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STORY
secret of The Bonding Character©
-- the key
...concept for creating a dynamic
The Bonding Character© is Barry Pearson's original
.. concept -- a new strategy in the
creative process of
.. screenplay writing.
It's simple to understand, it's proven, and it works.
to make the most of your natural talent
sparking your imagination
developing creative freedom
defeating anti-creative myths and habits
trapping great ideas
proven techniques for creating
plots that producers,
and studios love.
most popular movie genres and how to.pick
for YOUR screenplay.
a test pick of the ideal mix of genres for your
idea or screenplay, visit the GENRES
3 basic phases
of writing a screenplay story --
the story, shaping
the story, and preparing
write the draft.
learn how to work through each phase
a highly creative way.