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Getting Extreme (Part II)

Story Maps by Daniel Calvisi book coverContinuing this Excerpt from Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay (Part One here):

GET EXTREME!

I love it when I see a movie or read a script and the writer is willing to “go there,” to take the story to the extremes of the dramatic conflict. Not afraid to shock, offend or make their audience uncomfortable, but to be true to the story and the dramatic elements that they have built.

In The Hangover, the guys tell Phil (Bradley Cooper) not to leave the baby in the car alone and he argues, “I cracked the window!” Awful…but hilarious.

In Million Dollar Baby, Maggie (Hilary Swank) is not just hurt but she is paralyzed from the neck down. Her condition worsens in horrible ways and she asks Frankie (Clint Eastwood) to euthanize her. There is no last-minute save; he must end her life to allow his arc to come to fruition.

In Sideways, Jack (Thomas Hayden Church) has already had one affair and got his nose broken in 3 places, but he still insists on sleeping with the waitress, leading him to get caught by her husband. It gets worse when Jack makes Miles (Paul Giamatti) go back to the house to retrieve his wallet, and Miles gets chased by the naked husband. This represents the ultimate test of Miles’ loyalty to his friend.

Or in Total Recall, when this happens to Arnie…

Total Recall copyright Sony Pictures

Now that’s good writing.

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Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg Gets Extreme

Story Maps by Daniel Calvisi book coverExcerpt 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. Read more