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Protagonist

Protagonist's Flaw

Enabling Circumstances

Bonding Character/Ally

Antagonist

Catalyst

Lifechanging Event

(NOTE: must make protagonist choose between his flaw and the new opportunity)

Jeopardy

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who is the protagonist?

what does he want?

who's trying to help him?

who's trying to stop him?

what happens if he fails?

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Character Development

Function

Ghost

Flaw

Ally

Ally MO

Antagonist

Antagonist MO

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Beat Sheet

1. Opening Image (1):

2. Theme Stated (5):

3. Set-up (1-10):

4. Catalyst (12):

5. Debate (12-25):

6. Break into 2 (25)

7. B Story (30):

8. Fun and Games (30-55):

9. Midpoint (55):

10. Bad Guys Close In (55-75):

11. All Is Lost (75):

12. Dark Night of the Soul (75-85):

13. Break into 3 (85):

14. Finale (85-110):

15. Final Image (110):

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Monster in the House - Monster, House, Sin

Golden Fleece - Road, Team, Prize

Out of the Bottle - Wish, Spell, Lesson

Dude with a Problem - Innocent Hero, Sudden Event, Life or Death

Rites of Passage - Life Problem, Wrong Way, Acceptance of Hard Truth

Buddy Love - Incomplete Hero, Counterpart, Complication

Whydunit - Detective, Secret, Dark Turn

Fool Triumphant - Fool, Establishment, Transmutation

Institutionalized - Group, Choice, Sacrifice

Superhero - Special Power, Nemesis, Hero is cursed

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Monster in the House - Monster, House, Sin

- Alien

- Fatal Attraction

- Scream

- The Ring

- Saw

Golden Fleece - Road, Team, Prize

- The Bad News Bears

- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

- Saving Private Ryan

- Ocean's Eleven

- Maria Full Of Grace

Out of the Bottle - Wish, Spell, Lesson

- Freaky Friday

- Cocoon

- The Nutty Professor

- What Women Want

- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Dude with a Problem - Innocent Hero, Sudden Event, Life or Death

- Three Days of the Condor

- Die Hard

- Sleeping with the Enemy

- Deep Impact

- Open Water

Rites of Passage - Life Problem, Wrong Way, Acceptance of Hard Truth

- Kramer vs. Kramer

- Ordinary People

- 28 Days

- Napoleon Dynamite

Buddy Love - Incomplete Hero, Counterpart, Complication

- The Black Stallion

- Lethal Weapon

- When Harry Met Sally

- Titanic

- Brokeback Mountain

Whydunit - Detective, Secret, Dark Turn

- All the President's Men

- Blade Runner

- Fargo

- Mystic River

- Brick

Fool Triumphant - Fool, Establishment, Transmutation

- Being There

- Tootsie

- Forrest Gump

- Legally Blonde

- The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Institutionalized - Group, Choice, Sacrifice

- M*A*S*H

- Do the Right Thing

- Office Space

- Training Day

- Crash

Superhero - Special Power, Nemesis, Hero is cursed

- Raging Bull

- The Lion King

- The Matrix

- Gladiator

- Spider-Man 2

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when the hero enters Act Two and takes on a new moniker and the name change usually occurs as a disguise or by accident.

NOTE

the transmutation that occurs for the hero goes beyond the usual because in the Fool Triumphant the fool assumes a new name or he changes his mission

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a line or visual punctuation that ends a scene: an ironic comment, a joke, or a note of deep meaning.

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(from out of the bottle)

usually a beat found in any movie using "magic" that indicates a change in the hero in act three.

up til then the protagonist has been empowered - or cursed - with some form of magic spell, and now must choose not to use the magic in order to learn a lesson.

but this is a general term for movies without "magic." it can indicate any act three change where the hero "learns he had it in him all along" or "learns he already possesses the bravery or skill he needs to win."

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also known as the midpoint bump

those events found at the middle of a story that supply sudden pressure, new problems, or "bad news" for the hero(es)

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in any movie with a love story at its heart, invariably one lover will leave near the end, prompting a frantic "chase to the airport" to stop him or her.

This big finish is required according to every studio exec you will ever hear on the subject, so be prepared with yours!

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(from Dude with a problem)

the break from the fast-paced, confusing, and dangerous situation our innocent hero suddenly finds his bad self in. it can be a friend or a love interest who also offer the hero a needed lesson.

when the hero is tossed into many a maelstrom, there is often that eye of the storm moment - and a partner who is the only friendly ally in a sea of trouble.

it doesn't have to be a love interest offering a romantic interlude, although it helps!

this character not only provides a place to discuss what's happening, but gives the writer a break from the A Story.

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we know what death means.

Stasis = things staying the same

it is the moment before the journey begins where we know the hero will "die" if his life doesn't change

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(From Golden Fleece)

the thing that stops the team from gaining the prize.

it's the set back, surprise backstab, or bit of new information that makes the participants think they will never win the day.

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a great principle of storytelling

when we meet the hero, he must do something that makes us like him. save a cat and we will!

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a character that appears for the first time toward the end of a movie and lifts it to its final push

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(from Institutionalized)

A character that stands opposed to the system by his very nature and reveals its flaws.

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when characters lack character, that thing which gives them a unique identifying quirk or habit.

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(from Institutionalized)

the character who has so bought into the establishment that he has sacrificed his humanity for it, resulting in robotic side effects that often include sexual dysfunction and a general crankiness.

NOTES

an automaton entrenched in the system.

oddly, many of these characters suffer from sexual dysfunction and insanity.

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an ally whom the hero can trust with his secret because the hero has to tell someone (and us) what's happening

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(From MITH)

a survivor who has run into the monster before - or has prior knowledge of the evil - and come away damaged because of it.

this is the "false mentor" who can tell the hero - and us - the horror of what dealing with the monster will entail - and who is sure to die!

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(from Superhero)

the loyal and very human underling who looks up to the title character, but can never be him.

often used by the nemesis to threaten the superhero.

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(from Institutionalized)

This character is being brought into the system, helps explains the rules.

this character may be the hero - eventually!

he is the character the audience identifies with most - he's us - for we know nothing of the rules.

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(from Fool Triumphant)

the jealous one who realizes the "idiot" is wiser than everyone and seeks to stop him before others see this too.

this is the jealous brother who gets it, who knows the fool has magic powers, sometimes ones that - in the beginning - threaten him. these are the "smart guys" who often pay for their insight by getting the karmic backlash from trying to compete with the fool.

NOTE: for every fool there is often a character described as The Insider, and he and the fool are a matched set in many an FT story.

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How Archetypes help us

  • when an archetype is activated in your life, it provides a structure that makes immediate growth possible
  • Archetypes helps you grow and develop
  • Understanding the archetypes can help you make peace with your life
  • Recognizing archetypes can provide you with the freedom to choose the life you want
  • Recognizing archetypes can help you achieve balance and personal fulfillment
  • Awareness of the archetypal plot lines that determine your life can give you the freedom to avoid making mistakes - or making the same mistakes over and over
  • Archetypal recognition can help you better understand others and how they see the world
  • Understanding the archetypal basis for the ways in which people see the world cannot only make you smarter; but also help you see beyond the unconscious bias scholars and journalists often bring to their work
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    Surviving Difficulty: From the Innocent to the Orphan

    QUOTE: The hero rides out to face the unknown.

    Orphan- How I suffered or how I survived

    Resilience

    Dilemma: he cannot resolve problems without assigning blame.

    Story: begins in paradise

    Benefits

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    Finding yourself: The Wanderer

    QUOTE

    Wanderer - How i escaped or found my own way

    Independence

    Dilemma

    Story: begins in captivity

    Benefits

    Helps us free ourselves from worrying what others will think and let us embrace fully our own natures and our own journeys

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    Proving your worth: The Warrior

    QUOTE: The hero slays the dragon

    Warrior - How i achieved my goals or defeated my enemies

    Courage

    Dilemma: The achilles' heel of the warrior is arrogance

    Story

    Benefits

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    Showing Generosity: The Altruist

    QUOTE: The hero commits to something greater than his/her self

    Altruist - How i gave to others or how i sacrificed

    Compassion

    Dilemma:

    Story

    Benefits

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    Achieving Happiness: The Innocent's Return

    QUOTE: The hero finds the treasure

    Innocent - How i found happiness or the promised land

    Faith

    Dilemma

    Story

    Benefits

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    Transforming your life: The Magician

    QUOTE: The hero returns to a transformed kingdom

    Magician - How i changed my world

    Power

    Dilemma

    Story

    Benefits

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    1. Opening Image (1):

    2. Theme Stated (5):

    3. Set-up (1-10):

    4. Catalyst (12):

    5. Debate (12-25):

    6. Break into 2 (25)

    7. B Story (30):

    8. Fun and Games (30-55):

    9. Midpoint (55):

    10. Bad Guys Close In (55-75):

    11. All Is Lost (75):

    12. Dark Night of the Soul (75-85):

    13. Break into 3 (85):

    14. Finale (85-110):

    15. Final Image (110):

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    Ordinary World

    Call to Adventure

    Refusal of the Call

    Meeting with the Mentor

    Crossing the first Threshold

    Tests, Allies, Enemies

    Approach to Inmost Cave

    The Ordeal

    Reward

    The Road Back

    The Resurrection

    Return with the Elixir

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    1 Ordinary World

    2 Debate

    3 B Story

    4 Fun and Games

    5 Bad Guys Close In

    6 Dark Night and Death

    7 Finale

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    1 Ordinary World

    Opening Image

    Theme Stated (MP)

    STC

    Stasis = Death

    Catalyst

    2 Debate

    Debate (Flaw)

    Break in 2

    3 B Story

    B Story

    4 Fun and Games

    Fun and Games

    Midpoint (Flaw, MP)

    Protagonist chooses Vice MP

    Antagonist chooses Virtue MP

    5 Bad Guys Close In

    Bad Guys Close In

    6 Dark Night and Death

    All is Lost

    Dark Night of the Soul

    Break in 3

    7 Finale

    Create Plan

    Execute Plan

    It's a Trap!

    Dig Deep Down (MP)

    Climax

    Denouement

    Final Image

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    the new "thing" introduced at the midpoint of a movie that indicates we are going to be heading for the finish at a faster pace - and with added pressure.

    think of a slippery lemon seed between your thumb and index finger being slowly squeezed until it squirts out in the Act Three climax!

    it is introduced mid-movie at the "stakes are raised" point.

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    a distracting way to bury exposition, so called for a scene in a script I know where the pope swims in the vatican pool while boring plot details are told to us

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    Coming from the musical world, this term implies a sometimes improvised bit, routine, or off-the-cuff piece of "business" that springs from a particular set-up.

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    Paul Schrader - The Last Reveal

    LINK

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    this is the dictate (at least in my book) that a story not only moves forward, but faster and with more energy - particularly from midpoint on

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    (from Out of the Bottle)

    the magic in an OOTB story needs these parameters, guidelines, or boundaries to keep what happens credible.

    state the RULES up front and stick to them!

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    typically in a romantic comedy or love story, the sabot in the machinery: the person, place, or event that stops the lovers from being together.

    ironically, it is also the thing that keeps the lovers together - and is usually what your rom-com is "about."

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    TWO-HANDER

    each of the buddies experience character growth and they have a set-up and a pay-off

    THREE-HANDER

    includes leaving the wrong guy or gal for the right one, as in most triangle movies

    FOUR-HANDER

    which dissects two couples

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    my favorite word and a guiding force in good stories

    to test if your story is so, ask: would a caveman understand?

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    my ironic cry of boredom while sitting through a disaster movie or revenge tale when the heroes know a showdown is coming, but which is slow in coming (one inch a year) that we in the audience must wait and twiddle our thumbs.

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    (from Whydunit)

    describes any progression that reveals the plot points of a story. In a whydunit, it's the series of clues leading the detective to a final secret.

    this genre is only concerned with turning over cards, those "reveals" writers can explode like time-bombs all along the trail

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    (from Out of the bottle)

    in movies using "magic," the tendency of the writers to pile it on, or use several forms of it, and unwittingly make the story feel fuzzy or confusing. the rule is: we, the audience, are allowed to suspend disbelief once in a movie. you cannot be led to believe aliens and vampires exist in one world.

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    A way to let us know how much longer we've got and to put pressure on the heroes to solve, get out of, or triumph before it's too late.

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    (from Whydunit)

    when the set-up of many whydunits involve one case that seems to end and then have a reappearance as a new case with new players that brings the hero back to the initial escapade in a way we all know will address the real problem.

    NOTE: this often reveals the THEME because by returning to the first caper, and discovering what it means to the detective, we learn what the real story has been about all along.

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    the moving text at the beginning or the end of movie that explains its context, giving background to, or a time frame for, a historic or futuristic setting that we need to know to understand what will happen next. it is usually slow enough for us maroons to read - and getting slower every year!

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    Whenever I come up with a good movie idea, my first question, and that of a lot of movie producers who might buy it, is: "What are the set pieces?"

    These are the "trailer moments," examples of the premise that demonstrate the essence of the movie.

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    Six is an arbitrary number, but should indicate there are a bunch of defects in the hero's life when we first meet him that will be healed during the movie.

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    an alternate to having the hero do something nice - like save a cat - so that we're on his side, is to have someone do something mean to him.

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    Monster in the House

    MONSTER

    supernatural in its powers, even if its strength derives from insanity, and evil at its core.

    HOUSE

    an enclosed space that can include a family unit, an entire town, or "the world."

    SIN

    someone is guilty of bringing the monster in the house, a transgression that can include ignorance.

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    FOOL

    a fool whose innocence is his strength and whose gentle manner makes him likely to be ignored - by all but a jealous "Insider" who knows too well.

    ESTABLISHMENT

    an establishment, the people or group a fool comes up against, either within his midst, or after being sent to a new place in which he does not fit - at first. either way, the mismatch promises fireworks!

    TRANSMUTATION

    a transmutation in which the fool becomes someone or something new, often including a "name change" that's taken on either by accident or as a disguise.

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    GROUP

    every story in this category is about a group - a family, an organization, or a business that is unique.

    CHOICE

    the story is a choice, the ongoing conflict pitting a "brando" or a "naif" vs. the system's "Company Man."

    SACRIFICE

    a sacrifice must be made, leading to one of three endings: join, burn it down, or commit "suicide."

    NOTE: the choice for either the Brando, the Naif, or both is the ongoing conflict to answer one question - will he stick with the group or quit

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    POWER

    the hero of your tale must have a special power, even if it's just a mission to be great or do good.

    NEMESIS

    the hero must be opposed by a nemesis, of equal or greater force, who is the "self made" version of the hero

    CURSE

    there must be a curse for the hero that he either surmounts or succumbs to as the price for who he is

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    ROAD

    a road spanning oceans, time, or across the street - so long as it demarcates growth. it often includes a "road apple" that stops the trio cold.

    TEAM

    a team or buddy the hero needs to guide him along the way. usually it's those who represent the things the hero doesn't have: skill, experience, or attitude.

    PRIZE

    a prize that's sought and is something primal; going home, securing a treasure, or re-gaining a birthright.

    NOTE

    the golden fleece reveals the amazing range of the genre, each with a unique gola, hero, lesson - and a host of meaningful pit stops!

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    Out Of The Bottle

    WISH

    a wish asked for by the hero or granted by another, and the clearly seen need to be delivered from the ordinary.

    SPELL

    a spell which, in setting up this illogical thing, we must make logical by upholding "The Rules," no matter how tempting it may be to use "Double Mumbo Jumbo."

    LESSON

    a lesson for the hero, be careful what you wish for!

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    INNOCENT HERO

    an innocent hero is dragged into this mess without asking for it - or even aware of how he got involved.

    SUDDEN EVENT

    a sudden event that thrusts our innocent(s) into the world of hurt is definite - and comes without warning.

    LIFE OR DEATH BATTLE

    a life or death battle is at stake - and the continued existence of an individual, family, group, or society is in question.

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    LIFE PROBLEM

    from puberty to midlife to death, these are the universal passages we all understand.

    WRONG WAY

    a wrong way to attack the mysterious problem, usually a diversion from confronting the pain.

    ACCEPTANCE

    a solution that involves "acceptance" of a hard truth the hero has been fighting, and the knowledge it's the hero that must change, not the world around him.

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    INCOMPLETE HERO

    it's about an imcomplete hero who is missing something physical, ethical, or spiritual: he needs another to be whole.

    COUNTERPART

    a counterpart that makes the hero's completion come about or - in the case of a three-hander or a four-hander - has qualities the hero(es) need(s).

    COMPLICATION

    a complication, be it a misunderstanding, personal or ethical viewpoint, epic historical event, or the prudish disapproval of society.

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    DETECTIVE

    the detective does not change, we do; yet he can be any kind of gumshoe - from pro to amateur to imaginary.

    SECRET

    the secret of the case is so strong it overwhelms the worldly lures of money, sex, power, or fame. we gots to know! and so does the whydunit hero.

    DARK TURN

    finally, the dark turn shows that in pursuit of the secret, the detective will break the rules, even his own - often ones he has relied on for years to keep him safe. the pull of the secret is too great.

    NOTE: to write this, start with the crime and the criminals who engineered it. your job is to be brilliant in your obfuscation, then be just as brilliant as you uncover it.

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