DZ-44: First Acts and Establishing Characters

How can your first act effectively establish your character journey?

First Acts are hard. They have to set so much in motion, especially setting up characters. To help them understand how to write effective first acts better, Stu and Chas turn their analytical gaze to a franchise that has been refining and reiterating its first act “schema” for over a decade… THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE.

The MCU has made (to date) six separate origin films, each tasked with establishing their titular characters. So you’d think they’d have found some patterns that works for them. In this episode, we take a look at three of these: IRON MAN, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, and DOCTOR STRANGE. Stu also makes numerous comparisons to THOR, and we enthuse about GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Vol 2.

As we breakdown where these first acts succeed (and, er, not-succeed), our discussion moves through sequence structure, macguffins, supporting characters, exposition… and — most importantly — Character Wounds and Character Flaws.

Even if you don’t care for MCU films, there is plenty to learn from how they approach their first acts.

SPOILERS ABOUND!!

… and stick around after the end credits, for an important announcement re: our launching of a Patreon.

Audio quotations used for educational purposes only. Timestamps indicated below. Chapter markers included in the mp3.

EPISODE LINKS

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating or subscribing to us on Apple Podcast! or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like finding new listeners.

Thanks to Khrob and Nick for being patrons. They’re good people.

DZ-43: Driving Sequences – Character and Plot Intensity

What gives your sequences their intensity?

Chas and Stu are joined for the fourth time by the inestimable Stephen Cleary – this time to take a deep dive into sequences. A real deep dive. A 3+ hour deep dive.

Stephen postulates that sequences can compel the audience in different ways via the type of dramatic questions being posed. Are they plot questions (“Will she defuse the bomb?“) or character questions (“Will she understand what compels her to defuse bombs?“) or a combination of both? What is the impact on the pacing, structure of your story or audience experience of your characters by changing the type of question being asked? What happens to your story when your protagonist decides to literally abandon the plot?

Our deep dive roams through THE BOURNE IDENTITY, NAKED, THE DIVING BELL & THE BUTTERFLY, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, FARGO (the movie) and CHILDREN OF MEN… with many-a-tangent referencing HEAT, FRENZY, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, AMOUR, CHEF, HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, THE KINGSMAN, FURY ROAD, THE COLOUR OF POMEGRANATES, LIVING IS EASY WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED, MOONLIGHT, and probably some more that we’ve forgotten.

SPOILERS ABOUND!!

Audio quotations used for educational purposes only. Timestamps indicated below. Chapter markers included in the mp3.

PS: Thanks to all our listeners who provided feedback on a draft edit of this episode.

EPISODE LINKS

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating or subscribing to us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like finding new listeners.

DZ-42: One-Shot – Character Worldview & Macro POV

What screenwriting lessons can be we learn from SPLIT?

In our first (and perhaps last) one-shot, we take a close look at the M. Night Shyamalan’s SPLIT. Rather than having one topic with many examples, we use the one example to look at many topics. Well, okay, a few topics.

Firstly, we take the opportunity to revisit theme. SPLIT offers a very clear example of the worldview of the characters and the rules of the world working together to create a coherent theme.

Then we look at the SPLIT’s use of macro point of view. Given the film’s contained nature, it makes some interesting choices in the story structure in order to control what the audience knows vis-a-vis the characters. This assists in generating tension (in both conventional and unconventional ways) while also creating a dramatic journey for the protagonist and reinforcing the theme.

We also cover (in lesser detail) flashbacks, tactics, contained spaces, character individuation, and… being a M. Night Shamalyan film… TWISTS.

And if its not obvious… this episode is FULL OF SPOILERS.

Love it, hate it or indiffererent, please let us know what you think of this new format. We’re not going to do it every episode, but it gives us the opportunity to look at some great films in more detail.

EPISODE LINKS

Please send feedback to ask at draft-zero.com, via our web form or twitter @draft_zero  We are @chasffisher and @stuwillis on twitter.

Please considering rating or subscribing to us on iTunes! or sharing us on the Social Medias! We like finding new listeners.