Now this will be a quick post, but I saw INCEPTION last night and wanted to make a couple of comments – without discussing in-depth until more people have seen it.
The movie is a great one to see not just because anything Christopher Nolan does is worth seeing, but also because it illustrates how useful it is to watch movies and read books with story structures specific to what you’re writing yourself. There are two things especially I wanted to suggest you guys keep in mind when you see it.
First of all – the movie is about the nature of dreams, sure, but while you’re watching it, ask yourself – “What KIND of story is it? (See here if you don't know what I'm talking about). It’s a very specific sub-genre that Nolan uses to tell this story, and all the conventions of that genre are used and laid out very -conventionally. Instead of giving you the answer, though, I think I’ll let you see it and tell me.
Also, the movie is interesting structurally because it uses a convention we haven’t talked about yet – a Point Of View character. Even though DiCaprio is the protagonist, we maintain a certain distance from him because he is so unreliable. So there is also a character who carries the emotional investment of the audience – a character who observes DiCaprio, worries about his mental state, and steps in at a crucial moment with a plan of her own. Ooops, there, I gave it away, but it’s not really a spoiler – I just wanted to mention that Ellen Page is serving as the point of view character, and you can see how that works. (Actually I think the Ellen Page character is a very weak character, and it’s a weak performance, but the presence of that character as written still works to build suspense about DiCaprio as a dangerous character, unsuited to do the job he’s supposed to be doing.).
Another good example of a point of view character is the Linda Hunt character, Mel Gibson's little person guide, in THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY.
This is a storytelling trick used when you want to build in a whole other layer to your protagonist, and observe her or him as a character instead of simply being inside the character as a vehicle for your experience of the story. Often this character will actually BE the protagonist, the one with the biggest emotional arc.
Also, this is a great movie to watch for the outlining of the PLAN.
And oh, all right - what class MYTHS do you see working in this one? (One too easy for words, but not ALL on the nose...)
I’ll develop this into a bigger discussion some time, but can you think of other examples of a Point Of View character?
And yes, I want to hear what KIND of story you think INCEPTION is!
How To Write A Novel From Start To Finish: previous posts
How to write a novel from start to finish (part one)
What is genre?
What's your premise?
The Price (more on premise)
What is High Concept?
The Dream Journal
Three-Act Structure Review and Assignments
The Three-Act, Eight-Sequence Structure
The Index Card Method and Story Structure Grid
Elements of Act One
Story Elements Checklist for brainstorming Index Cards
What KIND Of Story Is It?
Elements of Act Two, Part 1
Plants and Payoffs
Plan, Central Question, Central Action (part 1)
What's the PLAN?
Plan, Central Question, Central Action (Part 3)
Elements of Act II, Part 2
The Lover Makes A Stand (romantic comedy structure
Elements of Act Three (part 1)
What Makes A Great Climax? (Elements of Act III, part 2)
Screenwriting Tricks For Authors
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