Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Need ideas for your novel or screenplay plot? Try Consequences Mapping.
You're probably familiar with mind mapping. If you're stuck on a plot, a variation I call Consequences Mapping might be helpful especially during the early stages of developing your story.
You start with one thing you know you want to have happen in your story. For an example, let's say you want to write a story about how losing one's job can lead someone to extreme actions (this could be a short story or part of a novel or screenplay). You know that the character will lose his job, so that goes on the left.
Draw three lines out from that, one upward, one straight out, one downward, and attach one possible response to each of them. These might be: in retaliation he trashes his office/ he takes valuable information with him on a memory stick/ he decides to sue the company.
From each of those, draw a line and jot down at least two possible consequences.
Trashes his office: he's arrested/ he's blacklisted within his industry
Takes valuable information: blackmails to get his job back/ sells the information to competitor
Sues the company: is offered a payoff to settle/ is counter-sued
You can keep branching out with the further consequences of each development you write down (start with a big piece of paper and write smaller as you go along). It's an excellent way of generating loads of plot points quickly. Of course some won't fit the character you have in mind, and that's fine; ultimately you'll choose only the actions and reactions that make sense.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
No, it hasn't changed my view of the role. You know, Bob Towne once said, very famously, that the reason everyone hates the writer is because nobody can go to work until the writer is done. Everybody's always waiting.
Writers have always been in a position of being rewritten. The difficulty is that too many directors find themselves competing with the writer rather than looking for the truth or the sense of feeling or the dramatic value in whatever the writer has done and trying to express that the best way that they can. Those directors are in short supply. I suppose that's what happened mostly over the years, because of the shifts in the way that movies get made, more and more of us have tried to become directors and direct our own material, so I think the rise of the writer-director is bigger, proportionately, then it was in the past.
The Masters: Frank Pierson