A federal judge google sniper review
Florida on penny stock egghead review
became the first to strike down the entire law to overhaul the nation's health-care system, potentially complicating implementation
of the statute in the 26 states that brought the suit.
MEXICO CITY -- President Felipe CalderÃ³n on Monday vigorously
condemned a tough new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to question anyone who appears to be in the country illegally -- a measure CalderÃ³n
said "opens the door to intolerance
and hatred."From Casablanca to The Killing
â€“ the elements of a great script are
same. John Yorke â€“ who is responsible for some
of the most popular recent British TV dramas â€“ reveals how and why the best screenwriting worksOnce upon a time, in such and
such a place, something happened." In
that's about it â€“ the very best definition of a story. What an archetypal story does is introduce you to a central
character â€“ the protagonist â€“ and invite you to identify with them;
effectively they become
your avatar in
So you have a central character, you empathise with them, and
something then happens
to them, and that something
is the genesis of the story.
Jack discovers a beanstalk; Bond learns Blofeld plans to take over the world.
The "something" is almost always a problem,
sometimes a problem disguised as an opportunity.
It's usually something that throws your protagonist's world out of kilter â€“ an explosion in the normal steady pace of their lives: Alice falls down a rabbit hole; spooks learn of a radical terrorist plot; Godot doesn't
character has a problem that he or she must solve:
Alice has to get back to the real world; our spooks have to stop a bomb going off in central
London; Vladimir and Estragon have to wait. The story is the journey they go on to sort out the problem presented. On the way they may learn something new about
themselves; they'll certainly be faced with a series of obstacles to overcome; there will be a
moment near the
end where all hope seems lost, and this will almost certainly be followed
by a last-minute resurrection
of hope, a final battle against the odds,
and victory snatched from the jaws of defeat.You'll see this
shape (or its tragic counterpart) working at some level in every story.
It might be
big and pronounced, as in
Alien or Jaws, it might be
subtler, as in Ordinary People, or it might represent a reaction against it (Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend) â€“ but it will
It reveals itself most clearly in the framework of the classic crime or hospital drama.
is committed or someone
gets sick; the detective or doctor must find the killer or make their patient well.
That's why detective fiction is so
popular; the unifying factors that appear at some level in all stories are at their
most accessible here.The protagonistNormally the protagonist is obvious. It's Batman, it's James Bond, it's Indiana Jones. If it's difficult to identify a protagonist then perhaps the
story is about more than one
person (say EastEnders, or Robert Altman's Short Cuts)
but it will always be the person the audience
cares about most.But
already we encounter difficulties. "Care" is often translated as "like",
which is why so
many screenwriters are given the note (often
by non-writing executives) "Can you make them nice?" Frank Cottrell Boyce, a graduate of Brookside
and one of
Britain's most successful screenwriters, puts it more forcibly than most: "Sympathy is like crack cocaine
execs. I've had
at least one wonderful screenplay of mine
maimed by a sympathy-skank. Yes, of course the audience has to relate to your characters, but they don't need to approve of them. If characters are going to do
something bad, Hollywood wants you to build in an excuse note."We
don't like Satan in Paradise Lost
â€“ we love him.
And we love him
because he's the perfect gleeful embodiment of evil. Niceness tends to kill characters. Much more interesting are the rough edges, the darkness â€“ and we love these things because, though we may not want to admit
it, they touch something deep inside us. If you play
video games such as Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (and millions do), then
you occupy literal avatars that
do little but kill, maim,
destroy, or sleep with the obstacles in your path.
David Edgar justified his play about Nazi architect Albert Speer
by saying: "The awful truth â€“ and it is
awful, in both senses of the word â€“ is that the response most great drama asks of us is neither 'yes please' nor 'no thanks' but 'you, too?' Or, in the cold light of dawn, 'there but for the grace of God go I.'"The
key to empathy, then, does not lie in manners or good behaviour. Nor does it lie,
as is often claimed, in the understanding of motive. It's certainly true that if we know why characters do what they do, we will love them more. However, that's a symptom of empathy, not its root cause. It lies in its ability to
access and bond
with our unconscious.Why are so many fictional policeman and doctors mavericks? Laziness
on the writers' behalf possibly, but can that really account for the widespread prevalence of one particular character trait? Why did so many find themselves drawn to
Sarah Lund in
The Killing? Like her pulp-fiction counterparts, she broke the rules, ignored her bosses and went
behind their backs; like them she was told by her bosses: "You've got 24 hours or I'm taking you off the case." Why did she â€“ and why do all mavericks â€“ prove so
because that's how many of us
feel at times, too.
When we watch Sarah Lund rejecting her bosses, we think,
"I wish I could do
that"; when we watch Miranda Hart's Chummy in
Call the Midwife, we bleed for her clumsiness.
There is something immensely attractive in living through a character who does obtain revenge, who is proved to have value or, like Lund, is finally proved right.
The attraction of wish fulfilment,
benevolent or masochistic, can't be underestimated â€“ what else can
explain the ubiquity of Cinderella or the current global dominance of the Marvel franchise? Isn't there a Peter Parker in most of
us, longing to turn into Spider-Man?
We may recoil
at the idea of empathising with Adolf Hitler but,
as Downfall attests, we can and do.The antagonistSo something happens to a central character that throws them off the beaten track and forces them into a world they've never seen. A beanstalk grows; a patient collapses, a murder is
of these actions have consequences; which in turn
provoke obstacles that are commonly dubbed forces
of antagonism â€“ the sum total of all the obstacles that obstruct a character in the pursuit of
their desires.The detective and "monster" templates illustrate this well, but antagonism can manifest itself in many different ways, most interestingly when
it lies within the protagonist.
Cowardice, drunkenness, lack of self-esteem â€“
all will serve as internal obstacles that prevent a character reaching fulfilment; all make the person more real.
While antagonists can be external (James Bond), internal (The Diving
and the Butterfly) or both (Jaws),
all have one thing in common, which Hitchcock summarised succinctly:
"The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture."What
do Bond and Blofeld,
Sarah Connor and the
Terminator, Sam Tyler and Gene Hunt (Life on Mars), Fiona and Frank Gallagher (Shameless) have in common? They're all opposites.
"We're not so very different, you and I," says Karla to
Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. "We both spend our lives looking for the weaknesses in one and another's systems."As the Joker, displaying an uncharacteristic grasp of story structure, says to Batman in The Dark Knight, "You
complete me." All forces of antagonism embody the qualities missing
in their protagonist's lives.The desireIf a
character doesn't want something, they're passive. Aaron Sorkin, writer of The West Wing put it succinctly: "Somebody's got to want
something, something's got to be standing in their way of getting it. You do that and you'll have a scene."The
Russian actor, director and theoretician
Konstantin Stanislavski first articulated the idea that characters are motivated by desire. To find Nemo, to put out the Towering Inferno, to clear their name, to catch a thief, purpose must be bestowed and actively sought.
Why do characters
in EastEnders offer up the mantra, "It's all about family"? Because it gives them
something to fight for; it
gives them a goal â€“ it brings them
to life. "Tell me what you want," said Anton Chekhov,
"and I will tell you what manner of
man you are."Whether simple (kill the
shark) or profound (return the key in Channel 4's The
Promise), the underlying "grail quest" structure is ever present. Cops want to catch the killer, doctors want to heal their patient.
In North by Northwest, everyone is simply chasing
microfilm of an unspecified variety. Again, Hitchcock says it best: "[We] have a
name in the studio, and we call it the 'MacGuffin'.
It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook
stories it is almost always the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers."When "something happens" to a hero at the beginning of a drama,
that something, at some level, is a disruption to their perceived security.
Duly alarmed, they seek to rectify their situation;
their "want" is to find that security once again. They may often, however, choose to find that security in the wrong place. What a character thinks
good for them is often bad. This conflict is one of
the fundamental tenets of
structure, because it embodies
the battle between external and internal desire.External and internal desireBlockbusters, with one or two exceptions, are twoâ€“dimensional.
It's a world where desire is simple: the
hero wants something - to kill Bill or find the secret of the Unicorn.
In pursuit of that
goal the multiplex hero doesn't change.The
cynic might say that's because of the demands of the franchise â€“ we want James Bond
to be the same in every film.
But Bond is the refined, simplified bastardisation of
a deeper archetype. He is
white bread: impurities removed, digestion eased; a product of the demand
for the thrill of story, minus its more troubling and disturbing
Bond just wants; he is an embodiment of pure desire. Three-dimensional characters, however, do change.When
meet Thelma and Louise they are living in darkness, mortgage-holders in a conservative American society. In The Lives of Others, Hauptmann Wiesler is a
Stasi agent, the product of a world where empathy doesn't exist. Here he can flourish â€“ his power and steel are terrifying.Thelma,
Louise and Wiesler are
all flawed characters, and it is this concept of "flaw" that is
critical in three-dimensional
Wiesler cannot care; the women are unknowingly repressed.Flaw or need isn't the same as want or desire. Wiesler wants to punish the
dissident couple he has been sent to spy on; Thelma and Louise want to
escape the police
and get to Mexico. Both sets of characters go on a journey to recognise that what they want stands in direct opposition to what they need. Going to Mexico or imprisoning dissidents
will not make them complete.The
Russian formalist Vladimir Propp coined the beautiful term "lack" for what a
protagonist is missing in the initial stages of any story,
and it's this lack that
three-dimensional stories exploit.While
it's possible for
characters to get what
they want and what
they need (certainly that's what
happens in Aliens or Star Wars), the true, more universal and powerful archetype occurs when the
initial, ego-driven goal is abandoned
for something more
important, more nourishing, more essential. In Rocky, Cars, Saving Private Ryan, Little Miss Sunshine, Midnight Run and Tootsie,
the heroes find a goal they weren't aware they were
looking for.The inciting incidentAll stories have a premise â€“ "What if?" This is almost always the inciting
incident, or the "something" that happens.
In The Long Good Friday Harold Shand is a gangster, planning to develop London's derelict docklands. He's invited the mafia to London to secure their investment when, without warning, one of his gang, charged with taking Harold's mother to church, is blown up in his car. That's the inciting incident â€“ or part of it, because what the inciting incident must also
do is awaken a desire. We go back to our story shape: a problem occurs; a solution is sought.
Harold's solution is to track down the perpetrators and destroy them: "I'll have his carcasses dripping blood by
midnight," he mutters.
That's his "want",
and that's the
film.Hollywood tends to insist that inciting incidents are massive explosions. But as Fawlty Towers demonstrates, they may just be the arrival of a guest followed by an
ever-growing complication AW Schlegel first
codified the structural point in 1808, calling them
In many ways, it remains
the perfect term.The
journeyIn Terminator 2,Arnold Schwarzenegger was
turned from villain into
hero, arguably helping position him as a family-friendly star, but the far more significant adjustment was
the upgrade the character underwent.
The new model Terminator, the T2, was programmed to learn from
his surroundings and experience. Cunningly, his ability to
undergo internal change was actually built
into the script.Compare From Russia with Love with Casino Royale, and The Terminator with Terminator 2: the
former in each case is a brilliantly slick product, but
the latter has a far greater depth and resonance. As the heroes
pursue their goals, their journeys in the latter
films move us beyond visceral thrill to touch not just our senses but something deeper.
In both sequels, the protagonists' superficial wants
remain unsated; they're rejected in favour of the more profound unconscious hunger inside.
The characters get what they need. Expecting one thing
on our quest, we find ourselves confronted
with another; traditional worldviews aren't reinforced, prejudices aren't reaffirmed; instead the
protagonists' worldviews â€“ and ours too â€“ are
realigned.The quest is an integral ingredient of all archetypal stories, internal or external, and, perhaps most rewardingly, both. Change of some kind is at the heart of this quest, and so too is choice, because finally the protagonist must choose how to change. Nowhere is
this more clearly embodied than in the
crisis.The crisisThe crisis is a kind of death: someone close to the hero dies (The Godfather), the heroes themselves appear to die (ET) but more commonly all hope passes away.
TV drama series refer to it as the "worst case," and
in BBC continuing drama, "worst point" has become an almost ubiquitous term. Not for nothing; it's the point of maximum jeopardy
in any script, the moment the
viewer should be shouting "Oh
no!" at the screen, the
moment where it seems impossible
for the hero to
"get out of that". The crisis is also, in self-contained stories, almost always the cliffhanger before the last commercial break and the ending of every episode of EastEnders, of the 1960s Batman TV series and every American serial film of the 1940s from Superman to Flash Gordon.The
crisis occurs when the hero's final dilemma is crystallised, the moment
they are faced
with the most important
question of the story; just what kind of person are they?
This choice is the final test of character, because it's the moment where the hero is forced
to face up to their dramatic need or flaw.
In the Pilgrim's Progress-type structure that underlies Star Wars, Luke's choice is between that of being a boy and a man; in Casablanca Rick has to confront and overcome his selfishness ("I stick my neck out for no man"), and in Aliens Ripley learns, by choosing to save Newt,
that she can
be a mother
In all you can see
the cleverness of the structural design, where the external antagonists are the embodiments of what each
fears most. To overcome that which lies without, they must overcome the chasm within.Hence the stench of death â€“ every crisis is the protagonists'
opportunity to kill off their old selves
and live anew. Their
choice is to deny change and return to their former selves, or confront their innermost fears, overcome them and be rewarded. When Gary
sings, "Am I a man
or a Muppet?" at his crisis point
in 2011's The Muppets, he's articulating the quintessential dilemma all protagonists face at this crucial structural point. Being a "man" is the road less travelled, and it's the much harder choice.The
climaxThe climax is the stage at which the protagonist finds release from their seemingly inescapable predicament. It's the final showdown with their antagonist, the battle in which the hero engages with their dramatic need and overcomes their flaw. Historically it is sometimes referred
to as the "obligatory scene" (a term
coined in the 19th
century by French drama critic Francisque
Sarcey).When Thelma and Louise shoot the rapist and decide to run from the law, there's one essential sequence that has
to happen: they must do battle with the law. Once Elliot has adopted ET and saved him from the faceless hordes of government, he has to face the "villains" he's hidden
each film we
watch as Thelma, Louise and Elliot
develop the skills they need to overcome their flaws; the two women need to believe in themselves and each other; Elliot needs to find the tenacity and
selflessness within. And here, in the
climax, they apply them. Both are classically
structured films, where the flaws of the protagonists are embodied in the characterisation of the antagonists, so that in ET, when Elliot overcomes his external obstacle, his internal need is liberated, and when the women renounce society they become (we are led to believe) emancipated and whole.A climax can be subverted (the Coen brothers' No Country For Old Men kills its protagonist at the crisis point, but it's
very much an
exception) but the effect is akin to Bond running from Blofeld. Unless it's part of a wider schematic plan it feels wrong â€“ the writer has set up something and
then refused to
pay it off.The inciting incident provokes the question "What will happen?", and the climax (or obligatory act) declares, "this". It
is the peak of the drama. Protagonist
faces antagonist â€“ all come together to fight it out and be resolved.The resolutionThe word "denouement" is a derivation of dÃ©nouer, meaning "to untie", and that's what it is â€“ the knots of plot are undone and complications unravelled. But
it is also a tying up of loose ends. In a
classically structured work there must be a payoff for every set-up, no strand
left forgotten.Traditionally, stories always ended happily ever
after, with all action resolved.
Either the tragic hero died or the romantic couple got married. As the journalist and author Christopher Booker has
observed, a number of significant changes took place as a result of the industrial revolution
in the way we tell stories. "Open endings" have become more commonplace, partly to add an air of uncertainty and partly because,
in a godless universe, death doesn't mean what it once did.
As Shakespearean scholar Jan Kott noted: "Ancient tragedy is loss of life, modern tragedy is loss of
purpose." Characters nowadays are just as likely
to drift into meaningless oblivion as to die (The Godfather: Part II); just as likely not to marry as to find themselves at the altar
(Four Weddings and a Funeral).
Archetypal endings can also be twisted to great effect. The Wire found an extremely
clever way of subverting the normal character arc, by brutally
cutting it off at an arbitrary point. The death of Omar
Little at the hands of a complete stranger
works precisely because
it's so narratively wrong;
it undercuts the classic hero's journey by
employing all its conventions up to the point of
sudden, tawdry and
unexpected death. In effect, saying this is a world where such codes don't operate, such subversion also
has the added bonus of telling us just how the
godless world of Baltimore drug-dealing really works.Putting
it all togetherThese building blocks are the primary
colours of storytelling. To a greater or lesser extent they either occur in all stories, or else their absence (the missing bit of
Omar's arc in The Wire; the early death of
the hero in No Country for Old Men) has an implied narrative effect. In archetypal form these are the elements that come together to shape
of almost every story we see,
read or hear. If
you put them all together, that skeleton structure looks like this:Once upon a time a young friendless boy
called Elliot discovered an alien in his backyard. Realising that unless he
helped the creature home it would die, he took it on himself to outwit the authorities, win over sceptics and in a race
against time, in a true act of courage, set his friend free.It
sounds very simplistic, and
in some senses it is, but like the alphabet or the notes on a musical stave, it is an endlessly adaptable form.
Just how adaptable starts to become clear when we see how it lends itself to conveying a tragic tale.TragedyWhen
we first meet Michael Corleone
in The Godfather he's in an army uniform.
Every inch the war hero, he explains the nefarious deeds of his father and his brothers to his fiancee, before mollifying her: "That's
my family, Kay, that's not me." Macbeth
bears an uncanny
emerges from the mists
battle, Duncan cannot
help but be impressed:
"So well thy words become thee, as thy wounds: They smack of honour both."Michael Corleone and Macbeth are both flawed, but their faults are not what are traditionally described as tragic flaws or blind spots.
They are, instead, good qualities:
selflessness and bravery, and it is this that provides the key
to how tragic story shape really works.Tragedies follow exactly the same principles as Jaws or ET but in reverse.
In tragedy a character's flaw is what conventional society might term normal or
that characters overturn to become evil in their own way. Historically, critics have
focused on the Aristotelian definition of a fatal malignant
flaw to describe tragic heroes, but it is just as instructive, I would argue, to chart how their goodness rots. It's a
common trope of
liberal American movies (in
both The Good Shepherd and
The Ides of March idealistic patriots find
their morals slowly eaten away) but
it's equally apparent in
Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, where Thomas Cromwell undergoes a similar corruption.
It is Cromwell's goodness that corrodes him, his loyalty to
Cardinal Newman that fixes him on the same tragic trajectory as both
Macbeth and Michael Corleone. Furthermore, it's a goodness that is corroded according to an absolutely archetypal pattern. From Line of Duty to Moby-Dick, Dr Faustus to Lolita ("good" is
a relative concept), there's a clear pathway the characters follow as, in pursuit of their goal,
their moral centre collapses. The initial goals can
be good (The Godfather or Line of Duty), seemingly innocuous (Carmen, Dr Faustus), but the end-result is the same: the characters are consumed
by overwhelming egotistical desire.It seems impossible to
understand how, with only eight notes in
an octave, we don't simply run out of
just as tones give rise to semi-tones and time signatures, tempo and style alter content, so we start to see that a simple
pattern contains within it the possibility of endless permutations. Feed in a different
kind of flaw; reward or punish the characters in a variety of ways; and you create a different kind of story.What's more fascinating perhaps is just why the underlying pattern exists, and why we
reproduce it whether we've studied narrative or not. Every act
of perception is an attempt to lasso the outside world and render it into meaning.
Elliot's journey to maturity, just like the Terminator's journey to human understanding, are interpretations of that basic act.
Both metaphorically (and literally in the case of ET)
every story can therefore be seen as a
journey into the woods to find the secret that lies outside the self.
that journey that narrative shape is forged.â€¢ Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey into Story by John Yorke is published by Particular Books on 4 April (Â£16.99).FilmDramaTelevisionDramaguardi
an.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds "Allowing children to leave school at that age,
without good levels of
literacy and numeracy, would trap them in low-paid jobs for the rest of their lives," he tells the Daily
Mail. Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments BEIRUT
- Syrian police sealed off a southern city
Saturday after security
forces killed at least five protesters there in the first sign that the Arab world's pro-democracy
push is seeping into one of the region's most repressive places.
In these intertwined essays, Cynthia Zarin reflects on love, work and the surprises of timeâ€™s passing.
At last, the well is dead.
BP's Macondo oil well is physically incapable of
leaking another drop, according to
the head of the U.S.
government's response effort. Retired
Coast Guard Adm.
Thad W. Allen said Friday that this discovery was made after a "relief well" finally broke through into the...
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) announced this week that he has secured more than $1 million in federal homeland security grant funds for