Monday, April 15, 2013

Theme and Dilemma

Part of the Story Engine.

The theme and dilemma permeate the whole movie but are most expressed in the B stories. 

  • Vital to have the story theme.
  •  Meaning of the story.
  •  What it’s about.
  •  What the story is trying to say.
  •  The moral.
  •  What the character has to learn to beat the bad guy.
  • What the bad guy opposes.
  •  The reason to tell the story.
  •  What the audience leaves with.
The protagonist's beginning inner moral choice is the opposite of the Theme. They start by not knowing the moral of the story. By the end they learn the moral of the story.

  • All Oscar winning movies have strong dilemmas. 
  • The dilemma is how the protagonist experiences the theme. 
  • The characters choice in the crisis of the dilemma and the subsequent consequences are the moral of the story.
  • Outside influences vrs interior values.
  • Enough to keep the character up at night.
  • Dilemma adds weight to the story.
  •  Makes the story stick to the audience.
  • At the CRISIS the character has to finally make a decision.
  • “a situation with a choice in which neither alternative is acceptable.”
  • The dilemma is rooted in the story's theme.
Example from Shawshank redemption:
Andy's internal value is hope against all hope
the external world is ALL about destroying hope
Moral of the story: if you hold on to hope you will reach freedom.

Key Story Elements - Crisis
this is when the dilemma comes to a head and the protagonist has to choose a side.
Character responds to the Crisis with an action.
Their decision reveals their true character 
there is immediate negative consequences to the characters action (all is lost).
This leads into the dark night of the soul.

Key Story Elements - Decision and Action
After the revelation the character chooses what to so and takes the step into the final act.

Citation: Rozlynn Waltz wrote this with inspirations from:
“Writing a Great Movie” - Jeff Kitchen
“Save the Cat - Blake Snyder

________Theme and Dilemma Template:_________
Basic Theme:
Connection of theme and moral:
Bad guy believes (has to believe the same as the external forces):
What the character has to learn to beat the bad guy:
Moral Arc:
Reason to tell the story:
What the story is trying to say:
Meaning/ What it’s really about:
What the audience leaves with:

Protagonist Dilemma (a dilemma is an an internal value or moral vs and external force):
Outside influences:
protagonists interior values:
Crisis (when the character critically has to choose a side of the dilemma, occurs half way through act 2B and leads to dark night of the soul):

Dilemma Pros and Cons
Pros of sticking to moral:

Cons of sticking to moral:

Pros of abandoning moral:

Cons of leaving moral:

The Dilemma in each Act (the following are the specific beats that relate most to the theme)
Act 1 - Debate:
Act 2A - Progress:
Midpoint False Victory and Midpoint Turn:
Act 2B - Crisis:
Act 3-calling upon the supernatural:

Template by Rozlynn Waltz

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