Magazine article Filmmaker

Organic Arc

Magazine article Filmmaker

Organic Arc

Article excerpt

Often relegated to the self-help section of the film enthusiast's library, how-to books on screenwriting have been a little passé since Brian Cox played story guru Robert McKee in Adaptation. But a new book by a well-known Hollywood script consultant, Dara Marks, is shifting the how-to dialogue back toward the personal, character-driven ground historically called home by the indies.

In Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc (Three Mountain Press, 2006), Marks argues that "the arc inside the arc" - the emotional journey that's taken by the writer, the character and the audience all at once - is the actual essence of the story. "While the line of action tracks the protagonist's engagement in an external conflict," she writes, "the transformational arc tracks the protagonist's internal struggle to rise to meet that external challenge by overcoming internal barriers."

While she describes her approach with a linear, three-act model (and supporting triangular diagrams) that recalls the work of her more mechanical predecessors, Marks eschews plot-driven tendencies in favor of a more organically evolved character arc, expanding on techniques such as finding the character's "fatal flaw" and "turning theme into character. …

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