Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Plotting for Cheaters

Morgan Hawke pointed this out. I'm just passing along the info. She taught us this trick to teach us how to get to the essentials of a plot. "Stripping" a plot from a movie makes sense, because many successful screenwriters use the Vogler system. By stripping a movie plot, you're getting it down to the Vogler plot points, which are the simplest elements and therefore not --I repeat NOT--plagiarism. 

This is important to note-- You must remove all identifying elements like character traits and all setting notations. Practice this with a movie you know well. Keep the remote handy and pause to note every time you recognize a Vogler plot element.

Here are the 12 Basic Elements to refresh your memory.  You may wish to keep this list handy to divide your plot notes up after you've finished the movie.

1.        THE ORDINARY WORLD.  The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable, or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma.  The hero is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history.  Some kind of polarity in the hero's life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.
2.        THE CALL TO ADVENTURE.  Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change. 
3.        REFUSAL OF THE CALL.  The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly.  Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.
4.        MEETING WITH THE MENTOR.  The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey.  Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.
5.        CROSSING THE THRESHOLD.  At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values. 
6.        TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES.  The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World.
7.        APPROACH.  The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special world.
8.        THE ORDEAL.  Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear.  Out of the moment of death comes a new life. 
9.        THE REWARD.  The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death.  There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.
10.      THE ROAD BACK.  About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home.  Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission.
11.     THE RESURRECTION.  At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home.  He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level.  By the hero's action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.
12.       RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR.  The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.

Variations on this theme are expected upon occasion. There is a female version used and quoted at the Vogler site that you may find useful. I personally don't find the feminine version useful, but every author is different.

Why is this not plagiarism? Because you still have to write the blasted thing using your words and your descriptions. This is the same as what happens when two different people witness the same event. I guarantee you, they will not use the same words. Upon occasion, you'll wonder if they even saw the same event. Really.

Try it with a writer friend. Agree upon a stripped movie plot and go write. You may write your specialty--high fantasy. Your friend may end up with romantic suspense. For example, have you noted the similarities between the plots of "Avatar" and "Pocahontas"? One is science fiction. One is children's literature. Yet, the plots are remarkably similar.

No comments:

Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for popping by! Don't sit on the whipping horse unless you want to find out how it's used. I speak my mind and annoy many people, but all of it is meant in good spirit. Feel free to argue with me. I like it.

Best way to reach me is by email: