Interrogating your Story
THE ESSENTIAL DRAMATIC QUESTIONS

01/13/14

1
CAVEAT EMPTOR


It is possible that you may answer all of the
questions and still not have a screenplay
worth making if t...
It’s the CHARACTERS, stupid!!!





Characters in the script
Audience
Tribe
Screenwriter

01/13/14

3
The Characters in the script


Dramatically, what CHARACTER/S
has/have the most significant problem in the
story?



Wha...
Objectives, actions, opposition


What is the character’s INITIAL GOAL in
response to this problem/opportunity?



What ...
Obstacles/complications


What major OBSTACLE/s or
COMPLICATION/s other than the opposing
force confronts the character/s...
STAKES / RISK


STAKES : In terms of the character’s
ultimate goal, what is at risk?



What if anything raises the stak...
CHANGE


How does the character’s problem
and/or goal CHANGE during the
story and what NEW plans of action
does this brin...
Climax & Resolution


What is the CLIMAX of the story? Ii it
(emotionally) satisfactory? If so, WHY?
If not, WHY NOT?


...
The emotional logic


SCENE SEQUENCING and LOGIC: Does
each scene contribute to advancing or
retarding the main character...
AUDIENCE
For the screenwriter, alone, to answer:
To whom is the story addressed, and what
impact/result would you like it ...
TRIBE
For the screenwriter, alone, to answer:
Who is it that is speaking THROUGH the
writer, or FOR WHOM is the writer
spe...
DRAMATIC QUESTION


01/13/14

What is the DRAMATIC QUESTION?

13
THEME & PREMISE


What is the DRAMATIC ISSUE as
dramatised by the core emotional
energy? In other words, what is the
stor...
THE GIVEN
CIRCUMSTANCES

01/13/14

15




SOCIETAL - (I.e.: the significant groups,
clans, sub-cultures to which the
characters belong)



01/13/14

CULTURAL...




LEGAL – (i.e.: the ways in which the
tribes’ enforcement of their values
impacts upon the actions of the
characters)...


SPIRITUAL – (i.e.: the ways in which the
characters’ spiritual notions or values
impact upon or influence their actions...
That’s ALL Folks!!!

01/13/14

19
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SHORT FILM REPORT

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An analytical tool for exploring the effectiveness of the short-form film script.

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SHORT FILM REPORT

  1. 1. Interrogating your Story THE ESSENTIAL DRAMATIC QUESTIONS 01/13/14 1
  2. 2. CAVEAT EMPTOR  It is possible that you may answer all of the questions and still not have a screenplay worth making if the dramatic action in the script is predictable, stale, obvious, clichéd or formulistic. 01/13/14 2
  3. 3. It’s the CHARACTERS, stupid!!!     Characters in the script Audience Tribe Screenwriter 01/13/14 3
  4. 4. The Characters in the script  Dramatically, what CHARACTER/S has/have the most significant problem in the story?  What is this PROBLEM or OPPORTUNITY confronted by this character/s at the beginning of the main story? 01/13/14 4
  5. 5. Objectives, actions, opposition  What is the character’s INITIAL GOAL in response to this problem/opportunity?  What PLANS OF ACTION does the character initiate for achieving this goal?  Who or what or what provides the OPPOSITION to the character’s plans of action? 01/13/14 5
  6. 6. Obstacles/complications  What major OBSTACLE/s or COMPLICATION/s other than the opposing force confronts the character/s after deciding upon the initial plan of action?  In what manner or aspect is/are this/these character/characters EMOTIONALLY COMPELLING? 01/13/14 6
  7. 7. STAKES / RISK  STAKES : In terms of the character’s ultimate goal, what is at risk?  What if anything raises the stakes or increases the threat during the course of the story? 01/13/14 7
  8. 8. CHANGE  How does the character’s problem and/or goal CHANGE during the story and what NEW plans of action does this bring about? 01/13/14 8
  9. 9. Climax & Resolution  What is the CLIMAX of the story? Ii it (emotionally) satisfactory? If so, WHY? If not, WHY NOT?  Is the character’s initial problem in any way AMPLIFIED or RECONTEXTUALISED by the climax? Explain. 01/13/14 9
  10. 10. The emotional logic  SCENE SEQUENCING and LOGIC: Does each scene contribute to advancing or retarding the main character’s progress towards a clear goal?  Is there a clear cause & effect relationship from one scene to the next? Please note any scenes that are not doing so. 01/13/14 10
  11. 11. AUDIENCE For the screenwriter, alone, to answer: To whom is the story addressed, and what impact/result would you like it to have, and why? 01/13/14 11
  12. 12. TRIBE For the screenwriter, alone, to answer: Who is it that is speaking THROUGH the writer, or FOR WHOM is the writer speaking? 01/13/14 12
  13. 13. DRAMATIC QUESTION  01/13/14 What is the DRAMATIC QUESTION? 13
  14. 14. THEME & PREMISE  What is the DRAMATIC ISSUE as dramatised by the core emotional energy? In other words, what is the story ABOUT? What is its THEME?  What is the story’s PREMISE - the central TRUTH about human and/or non-human reality conveyed by the characters’ actions? 01/13/14 14
  15. 15. THE GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCES 01/13/14 15
  16. 16.   SOCIETAL - (I.e.: the significant groups, clans, sub-cultures to which the characters belong)  01/13/14 CULTURAL -- (i.e.: what separates “my kind” from “their kind”? Who is the “US” and who is the “THEM”, tribally?) INTELLECTUAL -- (i.e.: the ways in which the characters go about obtaining or realising whatever it is that they value) 16
  17. 17.   LEGAL – (i.e.: the ways in which the tribes’ enforcement of their values impacts upon the actions of the characters)  01/13/14 POLITICAL – (i.e.: the ways in which tribal governance impacts on the actions of the characters) ECONOMIC – (i.e.: the ways in which the system of exchange and barter and trade impacts upon the values and actions of the characters) 17
  18. 18.  SPIRITUAL – (i.e.: the ways in which the characters’ spiritual notions or values impact upon or influence their actions)  TIME (period and duration)  LOCATION/s 01/13/14 18
  19. 19. That’s ALL Folks!!! 01/13/14 19

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