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It's all a plot : an examination of the usefulness of the popularly accepted structural paradigm in the practice of writing of a feature film script

By Anthony Kevin Morris


This study took the widely-accepted, ‘industry standard’ Structural Paradigm of feature film plotting, and ‘road tested’ it, assessing its value as a tool in the process of actually writing a feature film script. The methodology employed was to write a feature film script (titled THE ARM THAT DOES THE HARM) and look to apply the Paradigm to the writing process. Journals recording the process were kept and peer assessment undertaken. The data from these sources was then analysed and conclusions drawn. The reason for and value of this study are that, while this Paradigm is widely espoused by screenwriting gurus, taught as part of film courses and applied as a tool of script assessment and review, there is very little documented evidence of its actual value to the practice of writing a script. My findings revealed that, though a useful reference point throughout, the Paradigm is most valuable during the early stages of story structuring and again, most particularly, when editing later drafts. An important outcome of this study was that it identified the Paradigm as a valuable tool, not a rule that must be adhered to, a series of points a narrative must be seen to ‘hit’ in order for it to be considered to have been told correctly. Further, this study demonstrated in practice how this tool can be applied. This study suggests that trying to force an evolving story into the confines of the Paradigm can inhibit the story from developing ‘organically’ from its characters. Rather, the Paradigm should be applied as a tool for helping shape stories that first and foremost should be character-driven

Topics: scriptwriting, film structure, story structure, film plotting
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 2008
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