Tag Archives: screenwriting

Character Geometry

In my writing, I tend to avoid intellectual constructs: Save the Cat beat sheets, the Hero’s Journey touchpoints, etc. I tend to latch onto a intriguing character, opening line or concept and just “have at.” the one thing I do tend to do as I prepare to wade in to a new writing project is to plot out the central characters in a chart to show their social dynamics and interactions.

That I am not making six-figures a year means you don’t have to listen to me. Since this is my blog, I am going to keep typing anyway.

For my super-secret horror/comedy screenplay, I have seven teenagers stuck in the woods with the world’s most incompetent monster. Three are female, four male. The three young women form a tight triangle of Best Friends Forever. Three of the young men form a triangle of their own with the Football Quarterback, his Wing Man and the Center who brings beer. The two triangles interlock with tight links of blood and desire to form a character’s Solomon’s Seal. The seventh teenager, a hopeless nerd, is on the outside of that structure. His efforts throughout the film are focused on wedging his way into that, when he isn’t avoiding the monster.

For my novel “Camp Arcanum” I used a Four Humours character structure. This is based on the medieval theory that the human body is filled with four vital fluids the affect personality. Avoiding all the obsolete terms, the Four Humours characters each display a dominant trait: Action, Emotions, Intellect, and Senses.

Many famous stories use this format. Star Trek: Kirk, McCoy, Spock and Scotty. The Three Musketeer: D’Artagnan, Athos, Artemis and Porthos. Even, The Wizard of Oz: Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion.

Camp Arcanum has a stable triangle formed by Marc Sindri, shovel-wielding Man of Action; Michael Caravaggio, Intellectual artist and historian; and Eleazar, renaissance faire libertine and Sensualist. Brenwyn, Wiccan High Priestess, provides an Emotional power to the Power Trio and stabilizes it.

Until the readers give their opinion on book, I can’t say how well it works, but the underlying structure has given me many opportunities for resonance and meaning in the writing past the jokes and undead skinless bunnies.

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So, You Want to Write a SyFy© Original Movie?

You may think that screenwriting is an involved and serious undertaking, but not with the new SyFy© Original Movie template.  Just fill in the answers based on your own information and you will have the plot outline for the next direct-to-cable blockbuster.

First you will need a title.  Almost all SyFy© Original Movies have two word titles made up of two great words that are even scarier together.  The whole “vs” slate of films is an exception that will be saved for the advanced class.

Title Part 1: First letter of your first name:

A: Polar
B: Psychic
C:  Alien
D:  Night
E: Death
F:  Ice
G:  -Nado (put after Part 2, as in “Shark-Nado”)
H: Desert
I:  Fire
J:  Ghost
K:  – Wars (put after Part 2, as in “Dragon Wars” )
L:  Mutant
M:  -Ageddon (put after part 2, as in “Squid-Ageddon”)
N:  Franken-
O:   Mecha
P:  Hell
Q: Cyber
R: Stone
S: Giant
T:  Robo
U:  Doom
V:  Octo-
W: Mega
X:  Neuro
Y:  Space
Z:  Big Ass

Title Part 2: The first letter of your last name.  (What will be menacing your heroes)

A:  Shark(s)
B:  Soldier(s)
C:  Dragon(s)
D:  Bug(s)
E:  Witch(es)
F:  Alien(s)
G:  Snake(s)
H: Spider(s)
I:  Mutant(s)
J:  Gator(s)
K:  Quake(s)
L:  Werewolf(ves)
M:  Hamster(s)
N:  Zombie(s)
O:  Libertarian(s)
P:  Fungus
Q: Storm(s)
R: Squid(s)
S:  Wolf(ves)
T: Ant(s)
U: Sheep
V:  Vampire(s)
W:  Robot(s)
X:  Invader(s)
Y:  Demon(s)
Z: Fish

A(n) (Lone Expert) discovers  the problem with (Title Part 2) but his/her findings are suppressed by the authorities for their own selfish reasons.

Lone Expert: Month you were born:

January:               Street Savvy Cop

February:            Defrocked Priest

March:                  Brilliant Scientist

April:                     International Spy

May:                      Stateless Mercenary

June:                     Hardened Ex-con

July:                       Eccentric Hacker

August:                  Meteorologist

September:           Animal Wrangler

October:                 Master of the Occult

November:             Decorated War Hero

December:              Ambitious Journalist

 

(Location) is threatened by the presence of (Title Part 2).

Location: The date you were born:

1: A sleepy desert town

2: A sprawling metropolis

3: A traveling carnival

4: A general store in Appalachia

5: A spaceship crash site outside town

6: A public beach

7: A tropical resort

8: The sewers beneath the city

9:  A high-rise office tower

10: A suburban shopping mall

11: A derelict freighter

12: A housing estate built on a Native burial ground

13: A remote military base

14: The harbor of a sleepy fishing village

15: A quiet native village

16: An abandoned hotel

17: An isolated farm

18: A cave

19: A distant planet

20: An abandoned amusement park

21: A cabin in the woods

22: An arctic research post.

23: A plague-infested wasteland

24: A supposedly haunted house

25: A nuclear test site

26: A prison

27: Hoboken, NJ

28: The whole goddam world

29: The deep woods

30: An underground bunker

31: The White House

 

And a (group of Clueless Victims) are endangered there.

Clueless Victims: The month you were born:

January:               dozens of drunken college students

February:            unit of highly trained commandos

March:                  half-dozen bikini models

April:                     trio of meddling kids and their dog

May:                      class of grade school students on a field trip

June:                     reality TV cast and crew

July:                       harried bunch of refugees

August:                  married couple with relationship issues

September:        pack of gamers and sci-fi fans

October:              dysfunctional family

November:         local TV news crew

December:         team of X-games/Parkour athletes

 

The (Clueless Victims) attempt to flee, in part aided by (Cannon Fodder)’s heroic act of sacrifice.

Cannon Fodder: the month your father was born:

January:               originally creepy homeless guy

February:            dedicated civil servant

March:                  hero’s best friend

April:                     dying Grandma/Grandpa

May:                      frag-worthy lieutenant

June:                     secretly sensitive jock

July:                       greedy developer

August:                  misguided scientist

September:            corrupt government official

October:                  girl all the boys wanted

November:              Sean Bean

December:               the Marine with just two weeks left to serve

 

The (Lone Expert) comes up with a brilliant plan using (Outlandish Plot Device).  The (Full Title) are defeated and the world is saved in two hours of broadcast time.

Outlandish Plot Device: The month your mother was born

January:               an exorcism ritual from an ancient text

February:            a chainsaw

March:                  a nuclear self-destruct device

April:                     an improvised explosive

May:                      a magic spell

June:                     a booby trap made from all-natural materials

July:                       a pit of burning oil/guano/sheep flatulence

August:                  a high voltage electrocution device

September:            an equally dangerous monster

October:                  a huge amount of toxic household chemicals

November:              an uploaded cyber virus

December:               a Swiss army knife, a cheese log and a paper clip

 

As an example, my SyFy© Original Movie ended up like this:

Ghost Hamsters

An Ambitious Journalist discovers the problem with Hamsters but his/her findings are suppressed by the authorities for their own selfish reasons.

An abandoned amusement park is threatened by the presence of Hamsters.

And a team of X-games/Parkour athletes are endangered there.

The team of X-games/Parkour athletes attempt to flee, in part aided by Sean Bean’s heroic act of sacrifice.

The Ambitious Journalist comes up with a brilliant plan using a pit of burning oil/guano/sheep flatulence.  The Ghost Hamsters are defeated and the world is saved in two hours of broadcast time.

Though this is all meant to be parody, your information may actually produce a story you have seen on the SyFy© Channel.  I’m really, really sorry about that.

If you share this, and I am encouraging you to do so, please remember to include “written by Josef Matulich at dalmatianalley.wordpress.com or Josef Matulich – guy who writes funny/scary stuff on Facebook”.  That way I might get the recognition for my hours of labor and the Asylum and the SyFy© Channel will know where to send the pack of ravening Ghost Hamsters once they raise them from Hell.

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