NonFiction ~~- The 10 Commandments Of ScreenWriting

DRAMATIC PROPOSITION

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Your dramatic proposition is your core idea proposal:

William Thompson Price, founder of the American School of Play-writing, wrote a great book on drama structure that gets into this and other core old-school drama concepts, which you need to master in order to write GOOD Hollywood-style movies.

DRAMATIC PROPOSITION:
1. Set up a potential fight.
2. Touch off the fight to the finish.
3. Leave the conflict in an unresolved state, in the form of a question the audience wants answered so badly that they sit trembling on the edge of their seats until the final resolution in which the question is answered.

Drama is conflict.
Drama is an argument.
Drama is two people in a shoving match that ends in war.
That is true of any genre.
Without the conflict, no drama works.
At the high point of suspense, when the fight to the finish is set off, the audience comes up off of their seats and is frantic to know the answer to a highly specific question: who will win.
If you can pinpoint the question your audience wants answered at the high point of suspense, then you can thread your whole script along that spine and have a powerful script.
This question is evident at a point in the script we call the "declaration of war."
i.e. Will the rich pedophile beat out the poor private investigator? (Chinatown)
If that question is weak, then the entire piece will feel weak.
Be as brutally honest with yourself as possible.
Pump up that question to the max before you even start writing, perhaps even before you have a title.
The dramatic proposition becomes your logline:
A poor private investigator struggles to unmask the billionaire child-molester who controls the Los Angeles Water System.
One angle is: The sheep learns to use wolf tactics to beat the wolf in sheep's clothing.
Audience interest = a powerful dramatic question involving the fate of people we care about.

Pinpointing your dramatic core is like building a working model of a bridge.
Dramatic action is NOT events and effects.
Action IS the subjective state of attention and interest in your audience's hearts and minds.

Start by visualizing the "fight to the finish."

Visualize the conflict.
Conflict is in every genre; the tone is all that differs between Genres.
The conflict should be very clear and easily articulated.
What action by the protagonist touches off the fight to the finish?
The central dramatic question is your tent-pole.
You frame the question from the viewpoint of the protagonist, because the audience identifies with the protagonist.
To identify with someone means to pretend to be them.
We root for and care about the protagonist.
We want the protagonist to perform the action the sets off the fight to the finish, that's around 2/3 through.
We also want the protagonist to set off the sword clash at about 1/3.

The Common Term
Socrates is a man.
All men are mortal.
Therefore Socrates is Mortal.

Find something in common between the 'sword-clash' and the 'touch-off of the fight' that binds those events together.

Strip your drama down to the absolute core.
The core is what sets up the fight, and what touches off the fight.
X-Ray right down to the setup and touch-off.

EXAMPLE:
SETUP: The thug spits in your Grandma's eye.
At this point, you could just walk away.
TOUCHOFF: You punch the thug.
At this point, either you or the thug are goin' down.

Then add back in only what makes that core more powerful.

Strip your drama down to the 'chassis,' then add back in at least a 'steering wheel' and a 'driver's seat.'

At every moment in the script, there should be some pressing unresolved question the audience wants answered.
The script is a series of dramatic questions, all tied together by the central dramatic question.

The question will be simple and direct, for instance, "is the bad guy going to kill the good guy."