Category: Writing

QUICK, WHERE’S MY CAPE? by Ric Gibbs, Mythmaker Films & Media, Los Angeles California, 2017. SELF-HELP/Personal Growth

Some time ago I began casting about for a book idea big enough to encompass the many lessons of in my twenty-five years of travel, human observation, and professional storytelling.

At the same time, I was nagged by a strange and growing recognition that the story patterns I observed in my fictional writing, were showing up in the everyday lives of the humans I knew as well! Real humans. Real ugly ducklings. Real Romeos & Juliets. Real men and women battling their way home through some Odyssey of challenges that could not have been more perfectly written to transform them!

At first glance these alignments were simply odd. The kind of cute conversation heard at university cocktail parties. ‘Doesn’t OJ Simpson remind you of Othello? The celebrated black hero, driven by mad jealousy to murder his white wife?’ Or doesn’t such-and-such athlete make the perfect Cinderella story? Rising from neglect to claim the gold?

And yet, as these alignments continued, they became harder and harder to laugh off. Something was going on here! All around me, life was unfolding in patterns that the dramatist in me could not fail to recognize. Now why, I wondered, would that be?

The other side of ‘you’

This book is about the ‘you’ you do not know. The you that drives your unconscious behavior, your appetites, your creativity and yearnings. The fact that you do not know this side of yourself is no indictment of you personally; or your intellectual faculties or perceptivity. Your mind was designed to hide these things from you – with each of us being divided from ourselves by sleep. We are divided into a ‘conscious self’ we know, and into an ‘unconscious self’ we know almost nothing about, except that it is connected in some mysterious way to forces larger than ourselves. This predicament leaves you, cosmically speaking, just outside the loop of what’s really going on. And striving – if you’re smart – to figure it out.
 (more…)

Next month (April and again in June) I am teaching a class in Story Analysis at UCLA Extension. Teaching has given me a chance to revisit some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in 20+ years of screenwriting, and foremost on that list are the principles of CHARACTER.

“A story starts with a character”

– Frank Daniel

Although screenwriters and many development executives tend to focus a great deal on concept and plot, every story is about SOMEONE. Even if that someone is a dog (Marley) or a pig (Babe) or a robot (Chappie) it is a story of someone’s transformation. Because transformation is what great stories are all about.

“I started here. I believed such-and-such. Something unexpected took me away from all that. It forced me to do what I had not done before. It forced me to become who I was not before. I am not the same person now, I am new.”

This basic story, what Joseph Campbell called the mono-myth, is the template that underlies every well-composed drama: The going out, the adventure, and the return as someone new, someone changed.

Whether that person’s transformation is one of character, or of circumstance, or fortune, or understanding –  (more…)