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The Dramatic Curve - Writing

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on 27 November 2012

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Transcript of The Dramatic Curve - Writing

The Dramatic Curve - How to ensure drama in your story ”Dramas should be complete and whole in themselves, with a beginning, a middle and an end...with all the organic unity of a living creature.”
-Aristotle It all boils down to three act structure.
The Dramatic Curve applies the same approach to how you ensure drama in your story.

Start with three sentences...
The first sentence is the set-up and conflict.
The second is the journey with the
Third ending the story. For example: Two Italian brothers from New York during WWII try to find acceptance in the Deep South while hiding a German soldier who came ashore from a sunken U-Boat. In spite of spies and busybodies, the brothers bring the German out in the open endearing him to the town. As the military rides in, the town rallies for their new friends. The key to creating drama is to build one scene at a time. If each scene is well crafted, it will draw the reader to the next.
If scenes are unified to the next and each progressing toward an answer to the story question, the piece will take shape naturally. BEGINNING:

1. Introduces CHARACTERS
2. Establishes the STORY
3. States the CONFLICT
4. Poses the story QUESTION
MIDDLE:

1. lead toward RESOLUTION of the conflict.
2. REVEAL more about the characters.
3. RELATE to the premise.
ENDING:

1. The CLIMAX resolves the conflict
2. The RESOLUTION answers the question

Not Taken by the Dramatic Curve by Stefan Stenudd November, 21, 2012 The film Taken from 2008, where Liam Neeson is a retired agent showing all his fury in saving his daughter from human trafficking, is a decent action movie, much thanks to him, but it fails mainly in its dramatic curve. So, the end can be nothing but disappointing.

Any drama needs to conform to the dramatic curve of increased and decreased tension. That also goes for thrillers, action films, horror stories, and so on. Basically they're all drama, from a narration perspective. Now, the drama that gets us hooked from the beginning to the end has a curve of tension or excitement, which is almost the same in every successful drama. The simple form of this curve is the exponential increase of tension all the way to the climax, after which the tension drops to almost nothing as the closing scene unfolds. It looks something like this: It plays tricks with the senses, if well executed. A good drama gives the impression of having its climax about one third from the end. Actually, it's no more than five to ten minutes. Check it with a timer. You'll be surprised.

It's needed, because the climax leads to the solution, and after that the audience is impatient to exit.
In a refined drama, the curve gets more complex. It can start with quick initial excitement, just to grab the attention of the audience. Then it drops to low, followed by a slow increase – maybe with some short drum beats of tension on the way. But the general figure of tension development is still basically the curve above. The film Taken failed completely to follow that curve. It started slowly, like a thriller usually does, but at the moment of the daughters kidnap it went up high and remained there all through. Were it not for the very competent acting of Liam Neeson, we would have lost interest long before the end. He was an interesting hero – a seemingly loving father with a raving mad capacity. That's why an audience would not be disappointed until the end, which was simply finding the girl and killing the bad guys. Exactly what he set out to do. In that way, the film also failed another basic law of drama: the development of the protagonist. For the audience to stay enchanted by the story, it has to show some major development of the one who is the real main character of the story – often not the obvious hero. Someone has to learn something, discover something, or accomplish something previously deemed impossible for him or her. Nothing of the sort happened in Taken. The father-hero just went on with his rampage until he saved his daughter, and then everybody was happy. Nobody changed significantly. It just didn't work. We may still see the movie through, but we forget it the moment the end credits start rolling. Created by: Patrick Dunn, Instructor Content provided by: Johnny B. Dunn, Screenwriter 'Not Taken by the Dramatic Curve' Stefan Stenudd Blog, November 2012
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