Friday, July 9, 2010

How I Write a Script by Scott Myers, Part 1

Today I studied a very interesting ten part blog which appears in Going Into The Story by Scott Myers titled, How I Write a Script. It was originally posted in June, 2008 at  I heartily recommend this blog.

About conceiving a story concept, Myers writes, “The two most important words in the story concept process are What if?” Once a story concept is found he enters brainstorming ideas into a word processing file on his computer. The key to brainstorming the right way is, “no pre-judgment” All ideas go into the master brainstorming file. “Research generally goes hand-in-hand with brainstorming as research feeds that process.”

“As you are brainstorming and doing research, characters emerge, plot ideas pop up, themes evolve. At some point, you will have accumulated enough story ‘stuff’ that key characters will spring to life. Then it’s time to dig into them. He creates individual files for the primary characters. The single biggest key he found about working with characters is to be curious about them. Ask them questions. Interview them. Talk with them. That works for some characters; others I find myself writing a narrative of their past.”

“At some point, I apply seven questions to my characters to try to see what narrative functions might play in the story:
• Who is my Protagonist?
• What do they want (External Goal)?
• What do they need (Internal Goal)?
• Who is keeping them from it (Nemesis)?
• Who is connected to the Protagonist’s emotional growth (Attractor)?
• Who is connected to the Protagonist’s intellectual growth (Mentor)?
• Who tests the Protagonist by switching allegiances from ally to enemy (Trickster)?”

I think these character archetypes link to the James N. Frey book, The Key, How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth, that I read in January, 2010.  Frey wrote, “Myth-based fiction is patterned after what mythologist Joseph Campbell has called the monomyth. According to Campbell, the monomyth is structurally a reenactment of the same mythological hero’s journey; it is prevalent in all cultures, in every era, from the dim beginnings of human consciousness eons ago to the present.”

Frey writes, “Jung thought that the components of myth were actually biological structures of the brain – that they are, so to speak, hardwired into a mental computer. Myths, Jung proposed, were automatically responded to upon an individual’s hearing them. The individual uses these structures and the myths themselves to help in his or her own transformations. They are patterns of behavior, stored away for future use… To accomplish any kind of personal change, you will find yourself following the path of the hero of a monomyth.”

I have so much to learn about myths. The concept is fascinating. And if we are in-fact hardwired to respond to them, authors, especially new authors, ignore them at our own peril.

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