I once got to work on a charity building project where we took the man's house down to the studs and built it back up again. (Ha! I know which kind of studs you were thinking of!) Well, today I did that with a movie, but without the build up, or the drywall dust.
See, last week I promised that I'd try a movie analysis à la Larry Brooks' post on storyfix.com. The idea is to boil each scene down to its generic mission. Then you should end up with a story structure that could apply to any movie/book in the genre.
The whole concept is foreign to me, and I must say that it was harder than it sounded.
With the movie I picked–a romantic suspense that was available for instant viewing on Netflix–I had difficulty picking out the Midpoint shift and Pinch Point 2. Maybe the timing was off, or I'm just not as good at this as I'd like to think. Either way, below is my attempt at creating a generic romantic suspense template based on the movie I watched. I'll provide the title at the bottom. If I've done my job correctly, you won't have a clue.
Scene. Mission (Movie length: 105 minutes)
- Establish heroine's occupation and ordinary world
- Reveal heroine's loneliness and her dreams
- Foreshadow villain (1), introduce backstory
- Introduce villain (2) and heroine's stakes
- Establish heroine's new goal and motivation
- Fish out of water scenes and introduce conflict through villains (1,2)
- Heroine creates her own obstacles through naïveté
- Introduction of hero, he saves her life
- Reveal full identity of villain (1)
- Introduce hero's goal
- Plot Point 1: Heroine makes deal with hero that forces them to go forward together (~ 30 minutes)
- Show hero's disdain for heroine's lack of preparedness for what they face, reinforce fish out of water
- Villains are back
- Hero saves heroine again, running, obstacles, escape, find safe shelter
- Establish initial attraction between H/H, heroine reveals her goal and hero explains villains' ultimate goal, foreshadow possible betrayal by hero
- Hero saves her again
- Pinch Point: Reminder that villains (1,2) are looking for them (~ 50 minutes)
- H/H bonding while safe, reveal hero's backstory, nature, and goal to heroine
- H/H leave shelter and make an ally
- Villain (1) finds H/H and ally helps them escape
- Reminder that villain (2) is still out there, and reveal that he's found them
- Midpoint Shift: Hero decides to betray heroine, she starts thinking about taking action to gain stronger position against villains (~ 70 minutes)
- Show increased attraction between H/H
- Sex, show hero's betrayal (unknown to heroine)
- Pinch Point: Villains are back (~ 75 minutes)
- Begin pursuit of additional goal (prize) to help gain power against villains, reveal that villain (2) is with them but they don't know it
- Show viewer that villain (1) is following
- Introduce obstacles in pursuit of prize
- Plot Point 2: Heroine reveals change in mindset/thinking (~ 80 minutes)
- H/H find the prize (false victory)
- Villain (2) takes the prize away, and reveals hero's plan to betray heroine
- H/H recapture prize and run from villains (1,2)
- H/H separated, and hero ends up with the prize, heroine believes he's betrayed her, but he promises to meet up with her
- Black Moment: Heroine arrives at meet point and hero doesn't show
- Show heroine's disappointment and vulnerability, but resolve to face villain (2) alone
- Original goal achieved, but villain (1) interrupts and demands prize, threatens heroine, holds hero captive
- Climax: Series of scenes with H/H in fight with villain (1), while villain (2) flees; hero must choose between heroine and his goal
- Hero chooses heroine, but takes too long to arrive
- Heroine finds strength to save herself
- H/H share personal moment, and hero leaves to pursue his goal
- Resolution: Show heroine back in her everyday world, but now different because of experience
- Hero comes back for her and implied HEA ensues
I hope I've done the movie justice. I think Plot Points 1 & 2 were in the right place, but the middle of the story is a bit out of whack. Either that or I misinterpreted it horribly. Feel free to let me know if you agree. The movie was–drumroll, please–Romancing the Stone.
It was worse than I remembered, but very much in the tradition of its era, and still entertaining. I wanted to review Mr. & Mrs. Smith, but I'll have to wait since it's not available for instant play, and I don't know if my husband wants to watch it again anytime soon.
So, what do you think? Was it generic enough? Would it be a helpful structure on which to hang your own story?