Friday, January 09, 2009

New Script Mag, baby!

The new issue of Script Magazine should be hitting the stands around the world and inside, you’ll find a stormy passion piece from me called “The Case AGAINST Characters Arcs.” Here’s a taste:

It’s funny to me that the biz is fill with individuals who purport themselves to be “open minded;” yet, when it comes to the art of storytelling, they’re the most close-minded formula freaks you’ll ever meet. And many believe that all protagonists in all stories must have arcs to their inner nature for better or worse. Are you kidding me? This myth has pervaded every area of Hollywood from gurus to screenwriting professors to pro consultants and just about everyone else, so that all new writers (and many working pros) encounter a thought police on this subject the likes of which we haven’t seen since the pre-wall days of East Germany. Who let this false gospel into our church? Friends, Script readers, fellow writers, and anyone else out there, hear my words and hear them well – this myth about arcs does not hold up against the record of cinema history. A story is not of a lower quality simply because a protagonist doesn’t “change,” but rather, this principle about arcs has been wrong since the beginning.

Hehehe… I love controversy! It’s actually a revision of an old article that went through its baptism of fire here and on TriggerStreet. I now feel pretty confident about this piece as a whole. Many thanks to everyone who argued and nitpicked every detail!

A few other goodies:

Win, Place & Showbiz: Handicapping the Writing Awards for 2008
by Bob Verini with additional reporting by Ray Morton
It’s an awards-season tradition: Bob Verini talks to the writers in contention for Best Adapted and Best Original Screenplay nominations. This year’s field is one of the most diverse in recent memory -- as far-reaching as Australia, as quiet as a revolution, as big-budget as a government bailout, as cute as post-apocalyptic robot love. Check out the odds on this year’s contenders.

Script to Screen: The Wrestler
by David S. Cohen
Former Onion editor Robert Siegel fought his instincts when stepping into the screenwriting fray. After a few comedy misfires, Siegel decided to go with his tastes -- Easy Rider/Raging Bull-type tales -- and found his voice. Now, he skips the laughs for the tragic character study The Wrestler.

Writers on Writing: Slumdog Millionaire
by Simon Beaufoy
Heretofore known best for his full-frontal comedy The Full Monty and last year’s comedy of manners Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Oscar®-nominee Simon Beaufoy headed for the slums of Mumbai to find out what he didn’t know. Hereafter known best for his affecting adaptation of Vikas Swarup’s Q & A, Beaufoy reflects on what he learned.

Interview: Peter Morgan on Frost/Nixon
by Ray Morton
At the end of an American president’s reign, Peter Morgan examines the after-effects of the abuse of power on a nation, personified in the 1977 David Frost-Richard Nixon battle of wits.

Film School Confidential
by Mike Notzon
To be or not to be ... a film school enrollee, that is. Are screenwriters served in attending formal programs, and if so, how? AFI grads Jonathan Levine and Brad Ingelsby make their cases.

New Media: Videogame Writers Sound Off
by Robert Gustafson & Alec McNayr
Halo 3 outgrossed Spider-Man 3 in 2007, harkening a shift in the balance of entertainment-industry power. Learn how the growing videogame medium is spawning opportunities for screenwriters.

Independents: Investing in Screenplays
by William Martell
As the spec market continues to contract and the studios scale back, William Martell dissects the nine elements that make your screenplay a great investment for a producer.

Good Examples: Best of the Best
by Ray Morton
Does anything tie the canon of Best Screenplay winners together? Ray Morton takes a closer look at nine classic films and points to the elements that make them the best of the best.

Hall of Fame Honoree: Stephen J. Cannell
by Ray Morton
A prolific career in television, fierce determination, and an unwavering work ethic: all three are characteristics possessed by 2008’s Final Draft, Inc. Hall of Fame Honoree.

Do you know what I’ve noticed? Ray Morton writes a lot of articles. I admit, I love the peeps at Script Mag. In any case,
check it out.



Matt said...

Yes! I was just going to e-mail you to tell you I picked up my copy on the East Coast today, but then I saw this.

I'm going to go tear into it right now.

Joshua James said...

Congratulations, dude, I'm really happy for you1

Sabina E. said...

congrats :-)

crossword said...

D'ya see Nick's letter to the Editors. lol

Congrats on yet another excellent article, MM.

Anonymous said...

Finally got round to seeing Slumdog last night and you will be glad to hear - no character arc for the protag!

OK, so his brother has one perhaps, but the story is a straight-up protag-has-goal-and-has-obstacles-to-overcome-to-get-it one.

The structure is unusual and if there is a weakness it is that one more-or-less knows from the outset what happens at the end (some subversion of expectations but nothing game-changing) but it still does a good job of having tense sequences even if there isn't that much over-arching suspense.

No Script mag here in Spain, unfortunately, but I'm sure it is terrific.

Nick H said...

Just wanted to see my name in print, Len.

Haven't got my copy of Script yet, so nobody tell me how it ends.

Karim said...

Congrats, MM!

Halo 3 had a writer? Ugh...He must suck.

Some games have great writing. Like this one, which beats Casablanca to death with a stick. And all the other games that same guy made. But Halo 3 is not one of them, God no.

Mystery Man said...

Matt – Woo hoo! Thanks, man.

JJ – It’s exciting to finally give these views a public platform. Long overdue.

Pretty Punk Girl – Thanks.

Len – Yeah, I sent Ger an e-mail thanking him. He said, “Don’t flatter yourself. I just like to see my name in print.” Bwaaah ha ha ha!

Terra – I’m seeing “Slumdog” on Thursday. Really looking forward to it. Also seeing “The Wrestler” Monday night.

Nick – Speak of the devil. Well, you know I don’t believe in happy endings.

Crumbs – That looks hilarious. I hadn’t heard of Grim Fandango. I wish I had more time for PC games. I still tinker around with Evil Genius, 1701, and Oblivion. But I don’t love them as much as I loved those Tex Murphy games. God, those were fun.


Karim said...

MM, I know I sound whiny but you *have* to play Grim Fandango, or anything that Tim Schafer ever made. The British even game him a BAFTA! For a GAME! I'm telling you the writing would put Charlie Kaufman to shame. Anything by Telltale Games is brilliantly-written as well.

Just saying. We all love good writing, and these guys are the masters. If they were in film, they'd be hailed as geniuses.

(PS: Just read your article, good stuff man, good stuff.)

Mystery Man said...

Crumbs - Really? I'll have to get it, then. I love a good game.


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