Hello, everyone. I wanted to point out in this week’s post how crucial it is to be as succinct as possible with your narrative. This has changed dramatically over the years.
Let’s take another example from “Inception.” As you recall Cobb has been offered a job to go into the mind of the son of a corporate titan and plant an idea there – that the man will hopefully feel this is his idea – Not the inception of someone else.
The son of the owner will think that it’s his idea to break up his father’s company. Cobb’s partner, Arthur, doesn’t believe it can be done.
Cobb knows it can be done as he’s already accomplished it.
Here’s the scene.
INT. PRIVATE JET – LATER
Cobb reclines his seat. Arthur picks up a salad, angry.
ARTHUR
I know how much you want to go home.
COBB
No, you don’t.
ARTHUR
But this can’t be done.
COBB
It can. You just have to go deep enough
ARTHUR
You don’t know that! –
COBB
I’ve done it before.
Arthur is taken aback. Cobb turns to the window.
ARTHUR
Did it work?
COBB
Yes.
ARTHUR
Who did you do it to?
Cobb looks at Arthur. Closed. Arthur shrugs.
ARTHUR
So why are we headed to Paris?
COBB
We’re going to need a new architect.
I’ve picked this scene because I wanted to point out how lean it is. There are hardly any stage directions. This is due in part to the fact that it’s written by the director (Christopher Nolan) but it’s also a style that is becoming more and more prevalent in the modern world of screenwriting.
Anything that is not needed is cut: For example:
CUT TO’S:
DISSOLVE TO’S:
CONTINUED’S (at the top and bottom of the page)
EXTRANEOUS STAGE DIRECTIONS: that describe unnecessary details to the actors – Their little gestures, looks, the way they say the lines, etc – Totally Unnecessary. Let the actors do their job!
TOO MAN PARENTHETICALS (angrily) (happily) (furiously) etc. –
Let the actors decide how they want to say the lines.
UNNECESSARY SET DESCRIPTIONS – going into way too much detail about how a room looks. Let the set designer figure this out –
And finally – OVER DESCRIBING ACTION SEQUENCES: Once again, a stunt co-ordinator is going to do all this, so why waste a lot of precious space describing every blow of a fight or battle. Give us a general impression:
“He beats him bloody,” to me is better than a blow by blow description of a fight.
This leanness of good screenplays of course doesn’t happen in the first draft. It occurs in the 3rd of 4th or 5th draft when you’re really looking closely at every line of narrative and every line of dialogue.
The good stuff gets even better when we can cut out all the mediocre stuff!
Let’s get stingy with all those extraneous lines of narrative and dialogue. Do you feel me?
Next week, we’ll see one last scene from ‘INCEPTION.’
Until then – KEEP WRITING!
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Hi, everyone. As we saw in this last scene from “Inception,” Cobb (played by Leonardo Di Caprio) is a reluctant hero. That is — he doesn’t jump at the chance to go on a daring mission or journey.
It’s occurred to me that we haven’t talked about this particular aspect of the Protagonist’s character arc. The reluctant hero is a very common step of every hero’s journey. Why is that?
For one – it’s human nature. Who in his right mind wants to go on a dangerous journey where he might be killed? Our first instinct is self survival.
When we are presented with the dangers of facing killers or confronting evil – leaving our home and loved ones – our first instinct is to say no.
Think of all the great hero’s journey movies and you will see the reluctant hero at work. Whether it’s Star Wars where Luke Skywalker is presented with the chance to be a Jedi Knight, he refuses until the water farm he’s working on is destroyed and his grandparents are killed.
Same with “Unforgiven.” The Hero (played by Clint Eastwood) is offered the chance to get a big bounty for killing the man who scarred a prostitute. He refuses until he sees how desperate his children are and finally returns to the ways of danger and violence.
Same with Lord of the Rings, where Frodo doesn’t want the responsibility and danger of leaving the Shire and facing evil forces. It’s not until he realizes what grave danger the Hobbits are in that he agrees to take the ring to the Land of the Elves – and then from there accepts the greater burden of taking the ring all the way Mordor – to the Volcano and destroying the ring forever.
So it’s human nature not to want to accept the journey. We all try to feel safe in the little bubble we exist in, to face greater challenges and new dangers and unexpected threats and evil adversaries is not something we would naturally do unless we’re forced into it or see we have no choice.
The call to adventure is only for those who have the courage and sense of responsibility to take on the quest. This call to adventure by the way is the plot point of every Hero’s Journey film – where the hero must go on a quest of some sort.
Therefore, not everyone is destined to be a hero. You need to ask yourself if the character you’ve chosen has the stuff to be the protagonist of your story.
And that doesn’t mean that ordinary people can’t be heroic – as was the heroine in “Blind Side” or the protagonists in “The Hang-Over.” What makes them worthy of being heroes? Simply that they refuse to give up in the face of danger or overwhelming odds.
No one wants to change. We must be forced to change because of the plot points that we throw at our protagonists – there’s a war to be fought, there’s a bad guy who needs to be stopped, there’s a pending danger to our families, our society, our countries, our loved ones.
No one willing changes. They either hit rock bottom or they have no other choice. That’s where the plot point comes in – defined as an action or event that comes out of the blue and turns the story around in a new direction.
We’ll see how this works in screenplays we analyze in the future.
Until then – KEEP WRITING!
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Hello, everyone. As you’re all aware, I do these posts to provide information you wouldn’t normally receive in your typical screenwriting class, screenwriting workshop or screenwriting course. This certainly fits that bill.

Do you all realize that although “Inception,” didn’t win many Academy awards it’s made over 850 million dollars worldwide gross box office? That’s not too shabby.

So why is it so successful? Apart from the amazing visuals, it’s a great screenplay. What makes it so amazing? It’s incredibly dense and complicated (unlike most film scripts which are deceptively simple) and yet we’re never bored and stay with the story despite lots of twists and turns we might not get on first watching it.

I know I had to see it a couple of times and read the screenplay as well to truly understand the story.

Normally, that would totally turn me off. But in this instance, it just made me want to learn more.

As we saw in the last scene from the film, exposition which abounds in the screenplay, is doled in pieces and oftentimes hidden when conflict is high. Exposition can easily kill a scene because the audience has to sit there and hear a bunch of explanation rather than continue to see the story unfolding. So hiding exposition is one of the most important things a screenwriting has to learn.

Here is more exposition that gets snuck into the scene as Cobb has to make a big decision. Does he take this impossible job or not? First he completely refuses to attempt Inception. Now, Saito offers him the one thing he can’t refuse – to get back to the U.S. to see his children.

EXT. AIRFIELD – MOMENTS LATER

The helicopter sets down next to a private jet.

INT. HELICOPTER

Saito indicates the plan.

SAITO

Tell the crew where you want to go, they’ll file the plan en route.

Cobb and Arthur look at each other. Then move for the door.

SAITO

Mr. Cobb…? There is one thing I could offer you.

(Cobb stops)

How would you like to go home? To America.

To your children.

Cobb turns back to Saito.

COBB

You can’t fix that. Nobody could.

SAITO

Just like Inception.

Cobb considers this. Arthur touches his arm.

ARTHUR

Cobb, come on –

COBB

How complex is the idea?

SAITO

Simple enough.

COBB

No idea’s simple when you have to plant it in someone else’s mind.

SAITO

My main competitor is an old man in poor health.

His son will soon inherit control of the corporation.

I need him to decide to break up his father’s empire.

Against his own self-interest.

ARTHUR

Cobb, we should walk away from this.

COBB

If I were to do it. If I could do it… how do I know you can deliver?

SAITO

You don’t. But I can. So do you want to take a leap

of faith, or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?

 

Cobb looks at Saito. Barely nods.

 

SAITO

Assemble your team, Mr. Cobb. And choose your team wisely.

 

You see what I mean by sneaking in exposition. We learn what the plot will revolve around – convincing the son

of a very wealthy industrialist to break up his father’s empire when the father is gone. We barely realize we’re getting

this exposition. The film doesn’t stop dead in its tracks as we’re more focused on Cobb, who finally takes the bait.

 

Now in screenwriting terms we will enter Act 2 – the reluctant Hero accepts the challenge and goes on the journey.

We’ll see another scene from Inception next week.

Until then – KEEP WRITING!

 

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Hello, screenwriters. In these posts I attempt to provide information that you don’t normally get in your typical screenwriting course, screenwriting class or screenwriting workshop.  We are now back to examining some exceptional scenes from the work of professional writers who will hopefully inspire us and help us understand what makes great screenwriting.
The following is of particular interest as it comes from a screenplay that is extremely complex. I know I was fascinated by this film and had to watch it multiple times and read the screenplay as well before I really understood its complicated structure and plot.
But somehow Christopher Nolan pulls it off. It’s a rare feat as you will notice most films are really very simple – and that is what makes them so difficult. Because simplicity is exceptionally hard to accomplish without the writer becoming simplistic as well.
Here is an example of a film that is complex in its plotting with multiple twists and. The writer somehow communicates all the exposition without completely making the story come to a grinding halt.
I’m talking of course about ‘INCEPTION,’ written and directed by Christopher Nolan.
This scene comes early on in Act 1, after Cobb tries to steal corporate secrets from a Japanese industrialist, Saito. Saito discovered the plan and now offers Cobb (Leonardo de Caprio) a chance to redeem himself. Arthur is Cobb’s #1 guy. They’re on a helicopter:
COBB
What do you want from us?
SAITO
Inception.
Arthur raises his eyebrows. Cobb is poker-faced.
SAITO
Is it possible?
ARTHUR
Of course not.
SAITO
If you can steal from someone’s mind, why can’t you plant one there instead?
ARTHUR
Okay, here’s planting an idea: I say to you,
“Don’t think about elephants.”
(Saito nods)
What are you thinking about?
SAITO
Elephants.
ARTHUR
Right. But it’s not your idea because you know I gave it to you.
SAITO
But could you plant it subconsciously—
ARTHUR
The subject’s mind can always trace the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake.
COBB
No, it isn’t.
SAITO
Can you do it?
COBB
I won’t do it.
SAITO
In exchange, I’ll give you the information you were paid to steal.
COBB
Are you giving me a choice? Because I can find my own way to square things with Cobol.
SAITO
Then you do have a choice.
COBB
And I choose to leave.
You see here, that what could have bogged down to a boring scene about what Inception is – or what the plan Saito has in mind is – plays extremely well. It also helps that the scene has a great button – that is, the scene ends with a great line or piece of action.
How does the screenwriter pull this off? First and foremost, there is great conflict in the scene. Cobb doesn’t want to do it, he knows it’s highly dangerous and almost impossible. He also has his partner, Arthur, tell him to forget it, they should just leave.
But we also learn in this scene that Cobb knows Inception is possible. So he can be persuaded if Saito has the right incentive.
The hardest scenes you will ever write are those where there is very little action – that is people just talking to one another – And scenes which have a good deal of exposition. How do you overcome these obstacles? You sneak in the exposition during heightened states of conflict or you dole out the exposition a little at a time.
Here in ‘Inception” Nolan does both. We will discover tons more exposition about what Inception is as the film goes on. But here we get the first real sense of what we are about to experience.
We’ll study more of this screenplay next week.
Until then – KEEP WRITING!
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Hello, everyone. As you all know I try and present material that you don’t normally get in your typical screenwriting course, screenwriting class or screenwriting workshop. Today, let’s take a minute and think about the value of looking at these scenes every week from great screenwriters, who are writing films for today’s marketplace.

Not only am I attempting to point out tricks of the screenwriting trade – pointers or lessons we all can learn from in these scenes – but I’m also trying to accomplish something else – not just for you – but for me as well.

The more we read the best of what Hollywood has to offer, the more we are inspired to elevate the skill of our own writing.

Our standards need to be incredibly high. We should never give ourselves justifications for not writing the very best that we can.

This is why I teach private screenwriting workshops. Because I want to hold every writer – and myself included – to the highest standards possible. And we never let out a script go out until we’re convinced it’s as good as it can possibly be.

There comes a point with every screenplay that you’ve looked at it too many times and you can’t see it objectively anymore. So you need a new pair of eyes to help you understand how to make it even better.

Make sure you’re getting really good feedback, hopefully from a professional who will not let you get away with mediocre or sub-mediocre work. It has to be great.

Art as I’ve talked about previously art is not about pure skill – it’s about having enough skill to communicate the emotional moments you want to convey to the audience. Skill is not the end goal – but you need to have enough of it to make your audience feel what your characters are experiencing moment to moment.

We will continue to read and discuss the best work that I can find. In the meantime, locate a screenwriting workshop that will inspire you to push your material to the highest level of writing you are capable of.

If you’re in Los Angeles, ask me about my screenwriting workshops. If not in Los Angeles, keep working on your craft and getting consultations with professionals who will guide you. Don’t accept mediocrity.

I hope I can help.

Until then – KEEP WRITING!

 

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Hello, everyone.
I can’t emphasize enough how important the read is. I work relentlessly with the writers in my screenwriting workshops on their story structure, their characters and the protagonist’s character arcs and of course on the dialogue and scene construction.
But when we get down to the 3rd or 4th draft – I emphasize more than anything the writing of the film narrative.
This is probably the last thing a professional screenwriter will learn when it comes to the craft of writing great screenplays.
When a reader or agent or manager reads a screenplay from a new writer, it’s extremely easy to detect the beginner from the professional.
What makes this difference? In large part, it’s the narrative.
The narrative is either written with style and elegance or it’s not. It has a rhythm that is unique to the writer (also known as a writer’s voice) or it’s pedantic. That is, the writer just slapped together sentences, giving stage directions that may be workmanlike but have not been composed with a sense of poetry and style.
Your narrative will define you as a true professional or a wannabe.
It may be fine in a first draft to just get down the action, but in your subsequent drafts you need to really spend time on the crafting of your sentences, just as a novelist does when he’s writing prose.
So how we express those images – our narrative – must be written with a sense of poetry. It’s not just a matter of writing stage directions – it’s a matter of conveying the mood and feeling of your work. If you’re doing a dark comedy the style of your narrative will be very different from a drama – or a horror movie – or an action suspense film.
If this is still abstract to you, read more great screenplays. See how the narrative is written. See how it fits the genre of the film. Do the sentences have a rhythm? Is there a voice talking to you? If it’s a comedy, is the narrative just as amusing as the dialogue? It should be. Is there a style to the sentences?
Put the greatest amount of effort into those first 5 pages because that is what will determine how the reader judges you. And if he or she judges you as being a beginner, you are literally then dead in the water. Because it’s almost impossible to turn those perceptions around.
Let’s really pay attention to that in the weeks to come.
Until then – KEEP WRITING!
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Remember this. That the person who reads your script has read many, many scripts. He or she knows what a professional screenplay should read and sound like.

It shouldn’t feel like a first draft. Every sentence has to have energy and rhythm and punch. It’s not just the dialogue that has to connect with the reader – the narrative is equally as important. The sentences should have a style and tone that match the genre of the film you’re writing.

Shane Black began this new awareness of writing exciting narrative with “Lethal Weapon,” and even more so with “The Last Boy Scout,” which sold for many millions of dollars in a bidding war.

What excited the readers of this screenplay was the voice of the writer – the strength of his narrative.

Every screenplay should have a voice – you should feel like a distinctive voice is talking to you and that voice should be very compelling.

Once again, I’m quoting from the following book, where I wrote a chapter about writing great film narrative:

“Now WRITE! SCREENWRITING”

Screenwriting Exercises From Today’s Best Writers and Teachers

Edited by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson – a Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin Book

The following exercise will help you get the hang of writing energetic film narrative.

EXERCISES:

Take the opening description of your screenplay, where you describe the setting and the characters:

1. Take the action words – the verbs – and see if you can make them even stronger and more visual. Instead of “He falls on the floor,” find a stronger way to say that. For example, “He gets splattered on the floor.”

2. When you introduce your protagonist find a great and succinct line or two to really nail who he or she is. Instead of describing your hero in general terms, give us an indelible impression. This is an example from FACE/OFF: “Jo Archer…older…unshaven…fatigued…his EYES reveal a man in the grip of obsession.

3. This is a description of Dexter’s sister from the TV show of the same name: “And we see DEBRA (twenties) dressed as a classic cheap shore, her shapely body shrink-wrapped tight in a pink neon tube top, miniskirt, fishnet stockings and high heels, talking into her cell phone.”

4. Break up the action into shots. Stay away from big, thick paragraphs.

5. Give us interesting visual images to look at. Your job as a screenwriter is to write in visual images. Figure out what your scene is about visually and then find the central visual image that tells the story of that scene. If you do this correctly, the scene will write itself and the dialogue will come easily.

6. Find a rhythm to your narrative. If it’s a hard-boiled detective story, find a short, tough way to describe the action. If it’s an off-the-wall comedy, find a way to make the reader laugh or at least smile on page one.

7. Make it easy to read and follow. Don’t throw more than a few characters at us in the first scene. Make sure we know who the protagonist is and what genre this is: Is it action? Is it a comedy? Is it a dark comedy? I want to know that just by reading the first page.

What’s crucial in this exercise is that your attention is drawn away from the fact that you’re writing for yourself and instead becomes focused on the fact that you’re writing to amuse, entertain and /or delight the reader. Every sentence, every word is there for a reason.

If the first page vibrates with energy and skill, then the reader has a great first impression of your screenplay. Put all your writing ability into that first scene. If done correctly, it will pave the way for your success.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this attention we’re putting on the narrative. We will continue with great scene writing in the weeks to come.

Until then – KEEP WRITING!

 

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Hello, everyone. I was just published in a screenwriting book: “Now WRITE! SCREENWRITING” — Screenwriting Exercises From Today’s Best Writers and Teachers.

I wrote a chapter devoted to writing Great Film Narrative: Chapter 14: It’s The Read – Writing Great Film Narrative.

I thought you might enjoy some of the lessons I laid out for making description (also called narrative) as powerful as possible.

Unfortunately, most beginning screenwriters focus on the dialogue – which is fine, but the narrative is equally as important.

Writing great film narrative is usually one of the last skills the professional screenwriter learns – as the narrative in a script should be as compelling and fun to read as the dialogue.

So the following is what I wrote in this book. I hope it helps you to beef up your narrative – as the read of a script is what tells the agent, producer, manager how professional of a writer you actually are:

“The most common mistake I come across in reading the many scripts I analyze is that the film narrative for descriptive passages are tedious and lack energy.

As a screenwriting gets more and more professional, he or she realizes that the read is everything. What do I mean by that?

The narrative is not written with style or energy, it’s just pedantic, it’s way too long or it’s confusing. The writer seems to be over-describing every stage direction rather than honing it down to crystal clarity; so that we get the entire mood of the scene or what a place looks like or who a character is in one line.

So what gets in the way of a great read? Big locks of narrative.

Make every paragraph reflect a different shot: Here’s Bill, and he’s sighting in on the target. Next paragraph is Mary, who’s running for cover. Next paragraph is Mary’s mother, who screams for her to get down.

Clumsy narrative lines, “A raging fire burns through the building and brightly lights the fire crew trying to tame it.”’

That’s okay, but a little awkward and not as visual as it could be. The writer rewrites this to read: “A raging fire burns through J.R.’s building. It has turned night to day and lights the sky.”

Narrative lines in a screenplay are not comparable to prose in a novel. We want short, pithy images. More like you’re reading a poem.

Here’s an example:

“Amusement park rides glisten against a bright blue sky, and the weather’s just fine.

Come closer. Teens shrieking by on the roller coaster, bikini-clad bladers, wide eyed tourists from the Midwest munching corn dogs – can’t believe this is March.

Enter a balding tourist in a loud Hawaiian shirt. He’s barely a blip on the radar screen as he wanders over to a telescope, deposits a quarter. We take a look, too – “

 

This is a description of the Santa Monica pier on a spring day. It’s got energy and pacing and great images.

If you’re interested in purchasing this book, please visit:

http://www.tarcherbooks.com/

Next week I’ll give you some exercises from this book to help you achieve better narrative writing.

Until then – KEEP WRITING!

 

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Hello, screenwriters.  As you recall, my sole purpose in doing these posts is to provide information you wouldn’t normally hear in your typical screenwriting course, screenwriting workshop or screenwriting class.  This certainly fits that bill.

I used to think that either you had a great ear for dialogue or you didn’t – it wasn’t something you could learn. But now I know that’s not true. You can learn how to structure your films effectively, you can also learn how to write better dialogue. The idea of talent is overblown. Everything can be learned if someone is ready to work hard enough to sharpen their skills.
Let’s study a scene from “The Social Network” by Aaron Sorkin — between the two brothers, Cameron and Tyler and their best friend, Divya. The two brothers and Divya first presented an idea to Mark Zuckerberg which was eerily similar to Facebook. Clearly, Mark took that idea and changed it into what Facebook became. Is this stealing? Well, that’s up to the audience to decide. Here we go…
DIVYA This is a good guy?
CAMERON We don’t know that he’s not a good guy.
DIVYA We that he took our idea and stole it. We know that he lied to our faces for a month and a half while he –
CAMERON He didn’t lie to our faces.
DIVYA He never saw our faces! Fine, he lied to our e-mail accounts and he got himself a 42-day head start because he knows what apparently you don’t which is that getting there first is everything!
CAMERON I’m a competitive racer, Div, I don’t think you need to school me on the importance of getting there first.
DIVYA (beat) Alright. He’s telling us to go fuck ourselves. We know plenty of people on the Crimson. While we’re waiting for dad’s lawyer to look this over, we can at least –
CAMERON No.
TYLER –get something going in the paper so that people know—
CAMERON What? TYLER That this thing is in dispute.
CAMERON We’re not starting a knife fight in the Crimson and we’re not suing anybody.
DIVYA Why not?
Cameron wants to answer that question but doesn’t…
DIVYA Why not?
CAMERON (beat – referring to Tyler) He’ll say it’s stupid.
TYLER Me?
CAMERON Yeah.
DIVYA Say it. Why not?
CAMERON Because we’re gentlemen of Harvard. (beat) This is Harvard. You don’t plant stories and you don’t sue people. (beat) That’s why. There’s a right way to do things.
DIVYA (pause) You thought he was going to be the only one who thought that was stupid?
Okay, a really awesome scene. What makes it play so well, apart from the great repartee, is that this is the opposite viewpoint of what Mark believes. Mark feels it’s alright to take one concept and morph it into another and then give no credit to the people that inspired him.
Did he steal this idea – well, yeah, pretty much. In real life, he ended up settling with Cameron, Tyler and Divya for 65 million dollars. It’s always good in a movie to present the opposite side of the argument or theme that is being represented.
For Mark, anything goes as long as he gets to accomplish his dream. He makes some unethical choices along the way which gets him into legal trouble, and he ends losing his best friend. But each choice strangely enough is the right choice for making Facebook what it is today. So dishonesty in a way works for him, because it helps him to accomplish his goal. He suffers as a result by being all alone at the end of the film.
The opposite point of view is represented here by Cameron. No, it’s not okay to cheat and he has a real code of honor. He states it plainly – We’re Gentlemen of Harvard. We don’t plant stories and we don’t sue people. Cameron and his brother come from an upper class world of gentlemen who don’t believe that the end justifies the means. Mark’s viewpoint can justify anything as long as his world changing idea becomes a reality. This is really a brilliant way to show the polar opposites.
Always show different points of view in your script. Because then your central theme will be as rich as possible. We’ll start on some new material next week.
Until then – KEEP WRITING!
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Hello, screenwriters. As you’re well aware, I do these posts because I want to contribute information you wouldn’t normally get in your typical screenwriting course, screenwriting workshop or screenwriting class.  This certainly fits that bill.

We looked at a scene recently where Mark Zuckerberg faced down the Administrative Board at Harvard after devising a website that shut down the computer system. In that scene, Mark’s arrogance clearly was covering up some sense of insecurity he carries around – that he’s not as good as the waspy prep school kids that get into all the final clubs – something he desperately wants to be a part of.
This is one important point on Mark’s diamond. For those of you who haven’t heard about a character diamond (a device created by David Freeman in his Beyond Structure class) – it is a four or five pointed star that exhibits important characteristics of the protagonist.
One important point of Mark’s diamond is that he’s arrogant, which is a cover for his underlying insecurity – that he’s not good looking enough, that he’s Jewish in a very waspy school and that he’s a nerd and lacks social skills. Ideally, every aspect of a character’s dialogue should reflect one or more points of his diamond.
Here is a very different kind of scene where another aspect of Mark’s diamond is revealed. It’s his undeniable brilliance and the pure joy he gets when he makes a discovery. In this scene, Mark will discover the final key to making Facebook the huge success that it will eventually become…
INT. COMPUTER SCIENCE LAB – DAY MARK is working at a station. We can see through the windows that it’s a frigid, snowy February day in Cambridge but MARK’s in his hoodie and cargo shorts nonetheless. It looks like he hasn’t slept in days. On his monitor we can see that he’s working on the profile page for the Facebook.
DUSTIN MOSKOWITZ steps up to him quietly.
DUSTIN Mark? (pause) Mark.
MARK turns his head and looks at him…
DUSTIN (quietly) There’s a girl in the art history class that you take. Her name is Stephanie Attis. Do you happen to know if she has a boyfriend?
MARK just keeps looking at him – barely even blinking. “Why am I being interrupted?”
DUSTIN (beat) I mean, have you ever seen her with anyone? (beat) And if not, do you happen to know if she’s looking to go out with anyone?
MARK (pause) Dustin. People don’t walk around with a sign on them that says –
And MARK stops short right there. Because in his head, he’s just discovered the cure for cancer.
DUSTIN (pause) Mark?
EXT. COMPUTER SCIENCE BUILDING – DAY As MARK, with his backpack stuffed, comes flying out of the building and into the snow, barely keeping his balance on the ice and we CUT TO:
INT. KIRKLAND HOUSE/LOBBY – MORNING The heavy doors burst open and MARK comes bursting through. He makes his way with speed and intent up a flight of stairs. Then another. And then another until he gets to his floor. He sprints down his hall toward his dorm room and barely notices Eduardo leaning against the door.
EDUARADO We were supposed to meet at 9.
MARK is searching the pockets of his shorts for his keys.
EDUARADO Have you slept yet?
MARK opens the door and they go into his suite—
MARK I have to add a feature.
EDUARDO What are you adding?
MARK’S in his own world as he sits at the computer and calls up theFacebook. The home page fills the screen.
EDUARDO (simply) Shit. (beat) That looks good. (beat) That looks really good.
MARK It’s clean and simple. No flashing lights.
The CAMERA surveys the screen as MARK slips through some functions to show EDUARDO and we see things that are now familiar—A photo, sex, a profile, a list of attributes, a poke application, etc.
MARK But watch.
MARK’s called up the Emacs program and quickly writes out several lines of code…
EDUARDO What’d you write?
MARK goes back to the profile page. There’s a new area to be filled in…
MARK “Relationship Status”, “Interested In”. (beat) These two things are what drive life at college. Are you having sex or aren’t you? It’s why people take certain classes, sit where they sit, go where they go, do what they do, and it’s, um, center, you know that’s what theFacebook is gonna be about. People are gonna log on because after all the cake and watermelon there’s a chance they’re gonna—
EDUARDO — meet a girl. MARK — get laid. Yes.
EDUARDO Really?
MARK (beat) And that’s it.
EDUARDO (beat) What do you mean?
MARK It’s ready.
EDUARDO It’s ready?
MARK Yeah.
EDUARDO Right now?
MARK It’s ready, that was it. And here’s the masthead.
MARK hits another couple of keystrokes and the website’s masthead comes up.
MARK (done) Okay.
He hits “Send.”
MARK The site’s live.
EDUARDO (pause) You know what? Let’s go get a drink and celebrate.
MARK is staring at the computer…
EDUARDO Mark?
MARK doesn’t hear him. We just see MARK’s head from the back and it’s ever so slightly bobbing back and forth.
EDUARDO (pause) Mark? (beat) Are you praying?
Very nice, isn’t it? This takes true talent to make something that is inherently not very interesting or visual – putting up a website – into a huge event. This is the Mark that is truly inspired, who sees a chess game 10 moves ahead of everyone else, who loves to create and has a vision. That’s also a part of his diamond and it’s what allows Mark to become a hero of sorts.
Somehow in Mark’s head, he sees Facebook become the world changing event before it ever becomes a reality in the real world. He somehow knows this is it. This will make a difference. Facebook has become much more than finding a way to get laid, it’s become an intricate part of the way people communicate and organize, a way for people to connect and change the way they live – because when everyone is connected, dictators have a much harder time oppressing its citizenry. So it is a very big deal. We’ll continue on with writing great scenes next week.
Until then – KEEP WRITING!
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