Day #12 of MasterClass Online – Case Study of Structuring Plot – Glengarry Glen Ross
As I listened to this new Case Study about Structuring Plot with David Mamet, he finally stated the obvious, that Tragedy and Drama are two different things. He went on to explain that Tragedy is more about a series of incidents that follow one another and can’t be changed. Drama is different because it’s more about your audience being able to see how the story is just like life. The focus isn’t about the hero experiencing reversal and revelation.
Drama is should have your audience talking about relating the story to their life. Even in a fantasy world, the audience is going to see themselves as the protagonist. David went on to say that Drama today, is about “Gang Drama” or a group of protagonists in a profession.
He gave the example of a Drama by Glengarry Glen Ross. The story is about a group of real estate agents that need to sell land, and it’s bad or fraudulent land. The first 3 scenes take place in a Chinese restaurant and opens in the middle with them talking about getting leads.
Starting your introduction in the middle of the story is one technique to hook your audience. They will continue to listen to find out what happened. David went on to say that you should keep the story simple so they can follow your lead into the next part of the story.
His case study has the characters cross connecting to find out who robbed the office. The second part, ties them all together as they try to find out who broke into the office. All the interrogations and scenes together lead to the revelation of one salesman who was worried about the making his quota. The audience may have suspected the two in the opening scene who were plotting to steal leads but there was a twist in the end.
After his example, I created the following points when it comes to structuring drama:
- Start the story in the middle.
- Stories today use a group of protagonists in a profession, or “Gang Drama”.
- Keep the story simple, enough that the “enemy” can follow.
- Remember, the audience wants to connect to your story and relate it to their life.
- You can’t have a character than can do it all or you’ll lose the audience. Even our superheroes have a kryptonite. Why? They can’t relate to someone who’s perfect. An audience needs to identify with the character even if they’re “bad”.
- End with a twist.
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