Excerpt from Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay, coming soon.
Scott Rosenberg is a very successful screenwriter whose produced credits include Armageddon, Beautiful Girls, Things to do in Denver When You’re Dead and Gone in 60 Seconds. I had been a fan of his for years before I met him at the Austin Screenwriters Conference.
I went to an after-party with a new business card. On the back of the card I had printed the logline for my screenplay, a supernatural action script that I like to describe as “Frankenstein meets Predator” as it’s about a troubled scientist who loses his wife to a mysterious Yeti-like creature. He believes her to be dead, but years later he tracks down the monster’s lair and finds that she is not only alive, but she has become the mate of the creature. The original draft had a very extreme way of showing this at the end of Act Two turn — the scientist finds his wife and the creature having sex. But I cut this scene as I felt it was too off-putting and would alienate readers and present problems for ratings.
The actual beat was not evident in the logline when I showed it to Scott Rosenberg — it only said that he found the wife alive. He took one look at it and said:
“What if the guy gets there and the monster is f**king his wife?”
He had looked at the logline and immediately extrapolated the dramatic elements to their logical extremes.
I knew that I couldn’t hold back. I needed to go back to my original idea.
In short, it was a reminder to do what we all should do if we are being true to our story:
I love it when I see a movie or read a script and the writer is willing to “go there,” to go all the way.
Tomorrow I’ll go into more detail on this topic with some great examples from recent movies.
Good Luck and Happy Writing,
Go to Part Two