Plot -Tobias-Noble-Sawyer Introduction
MODELS OF SCREENPLAY PLOTS:
The Noble and Noble (1985) Model of 'Plot Motivators' and 'Story Spicers'
The Sawyer and Weingarten (2004) Strategy for Story Plot Event Generation
Introduction - Distinction Between Genre, Story and Plot.Many movie-goers think of screenplays in terms of ‘Genre’. The American Film Institute, Blockbuster and Amazon.com have whole lists of genres that range from Western, Romantic Comedy, Sport, Science Fiction, Courtroom Drama, Epic, Film Noir and Gangster. In this sense, ‘Genre’ really means ‘Setting’ - either the place where the action occurs or the mood of the film.
From the standpoint of screenwriting, however, it is much better to view screenplays in terms of ‘Action’, ‘Motivation’ and ‘Emotion’. Put another way, an audience is far more interested in the impact of what your characters do and what they experience emotionally (as a way of vicarious experience), rather than where they are located. For instance, High Noon is a story set in the Wild West of the late 1800s with themes about justice, self-respect and love - that is what captures our emotional attention. But, High Noon would be just as compelling a story if it was set in a tough neighborhood in New York City today, or a new colony on Mars in the next millennium.
Tobias argues that while ‘Story’ refers to a chronicle of events, ‘Plot’ addresses why things happen. Plot the chain of cause–and–effect relationships that constantly create a pattern of unified action and behavior. Plot requires the ability to remember what is already happened, to figure out the relationships between the events and people, and to try to project the outcome. In contrast, story only requires curiosity about what will happen next.'Action’, ‘Motivation’ and ‘Emotion’ translate into ‘STORY’ and ‘PLOT’.
Three invaluable books address the meaning of, and differences between, ‘Story’ and ‘Plot’, and generate ideas of what actually happens to the characters:
- Ronald B. Tobias: 20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them). Writer’s Digest Books, S. and W. Publications, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio (1993). (Click here to read more about Tobias' 20 Master Plot model).
June and William Noble: Steal This Plot: A Writers Guide to Story Structure and Plagiarism. Paul S. Erickson Publisher, Middlebury, Vermont (1985). (Click here to read more about Noble and Noble's Plot Motivators and Story Spicers models - In Preparation)
- Tom Sawyer and Arthur David Weingarten: Plots Unlimited: A Creative Source for Generating a Virtually Limitless Number and Variety of Story Plots and Outlines. Ashleywilds Inc., Malibu, California, (2004). (Click here to read more about Sawyer and Weingarten's Strategy to Generate Movie Plots - In Preparation).
Tobias (1993) Master Plots: (Click to read more...)
7. The Riddle
18. Wretched Excess
15. Forbidden Love
Noble and Noble (1985) Plot Motivators
5. The Chase
6. Grief and Loss
3. Love and Hate
Noble and Noble (1985) Story Spicers
9. Criminal Action
13. Honor and Dishonor
2. Material Well-Being
7. Mistaken Identity
4. Making Amends
8. Unnatural Affection