Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Man Behind The Curtain

I had one post all ready to go, but then I got the chance to go see INCEPTION last night and knew something good would come of that for this, so here we go. I'm still processing it a bit, but for a complex movie, the filmmakers did a great job of keeping us in the loop and making it easy to understand. We always knew what the goals were, what would happen if they didn't meet the goal, and why they were doing it.

And that's the thing that I want to talk about today. I hear a lot of writers say they can't enjoy books or movies anymore because they're always looking to see how it was done and that takes away the magic. But I disagree. As writers, we get to experience an extra layer of enjoyment with a film like INCEPTION because we know how hard something like that is to pull off. I imagine it's like an architect who can enjoy the outer beauty of a building but also appreciate how it was built and how it met the basic requirements of a building. Or mechanic who can appreciate the outer beauty of a a car, but also appreciate how beautiful the Corvette is but also how they were able to get so many cup holders in such a small car.

I've been studying screenwriting a story theory a lot lately to give me some structure in my revisions and it's been fascinating to say the least. But it makes you realize that even a movie as cool and original as INCEPTION is rooted is the most basic of storytelling forms and is built on the same structure as almost any other movie. So the cool part is seeing how they incorporate the required scenes and character moments into the story.

For me, where character motivations were one of the main problems in my previous drafts, understanding story structure is vital to making them come alive. It sounds simplistic but the plot should come out of the characters and the characters should come out of the plot.

So for the audience: if you're a reader, do you like to think about how a story is put together or do you feel that spoils the magic? And for the writers, how conscious are you of traditional storytelling structure when writing your novels?

1 comment:

Chuck said...

I speak a little to this at terribleminds today -- more from the technical side of things, from the construction angle, from the lessons learned.



Me, I don't necessarily like to see the seams showing until later -- if I'm thinking about the construction as I watch (or read), the magic is a little lost. I do like to examine it afterward, though. And, like with most films, INCEPTION follows a pretty standard path, narratively speaking. Not a bad thing, mind you. I can speak to the fact that it's actually a necessary thing.

-- c.