So, if you are following along, you might remember that the last post was about The Big Lebowski. If you were reading carefully you know that it wasn’t about the Big Lebowski at all, but more about the plot idea the Coen brothers use, which is someone solving a problem in the worst possible way.
“The worst possible solution” is a great starting point, but all novels or scripts really end up revolving around a single sentence and each sentence is made up of (at least) a noun and a verb, so you can think to yourself that really this whole book, script, play…whatever… has a key word or two.
These words may not be repeated ever again, but the fulcrum of the plot – the tipping point, if you will, comes down to something pretty simple. What is your idea? What are you writing about?
Let’s look at an example like “brain cloud.” This is the pivotal phrase in the script and movie “Joe vs the Volcano.” (A great movie which never found an audience while it was in the theater.)
So the movie is not about Joe’s brain cloud, but the brain cloud causes Joe to make a series of bold decisions that change the course of his life forever. The movie is about the way a character changes when his outlook on the world changes. This is also expressed in real life by the phrase “your inner world creates your outer world” which is so true.
If you take a character, a mundane character and force change on them, suddenly their world opens up and things happen. Plot is all about ‘things happening.’ Maybe this is overly simplistic, but there it is.
In my first book, Someone Else’s Tomorrow, Roger is accidentally killed off by the computer network that forms the foundation of that world. He is still alive, but he can’t live his old life anymore. He loses his job, his apartment and his old life. His new life could take him anywhere.
I think most stories that people get engrossed in are about personal growth. Whether it’s Luke Skywalker discovering his destiny, Stella getting her groove on, Katniss Everdeen becoming a leader, Frodo facing unimaginable fears, Harry Potter becoming a wizard or Yossarian trying to get a discharge, great stories are about people growing and changing.
All that starts with a single sentence.