Screenwriting : One size does not fit all - quoting Beth Fox Heisinger by Regina Lee

Regina Lee

One size does not fit all - quoting Beth Fox Heisinger

You might have seen me getting my ass handed to me by a passionate S32 member who felt I was disrespectful of his Original Post. I admire passion more than just about anything, so it's totally cool to see passion come out! All good. Through my interactions on S32 and outside of S32, I learn about ways in which new writers try to apply advice that does not apply to their own story. Different stories should be told in different ways. I will protect these writers' privacy, and I will not give any specific details. What I will say is, for example, I was surprised to learn an action/thriller writer was trying to apply comedy advice to a script (based on instruction from a book), and a horror writer was trying to apply what I guess was thriller/mystery advice to a script (based on non-S32 coverage). These writers devoted their precious time and energy in attempts to execute on advice that was irrelevant to their particular stories, and trying to prevent writers from shoehorning in irrelevant advice is a chief reason I speak out in the Lounge. It's also why I believe in highly individualized, tailor-made development support. In fact, I find it really hard to come up with S32 class "lesson plans" because it's hard to teach general concepts to a class in which every participant is writing his/her own unique story. I will now quote from a few posts that I think are great posts, which come from generous, articulate people (more articulate than I am, as I am admittedly a non-writing producer) who want to help their fellow writers. From Beth Fox Heisinger: "Videos ... talk in generalizations. One size does not fit all. :)" From Owen Mowatt: "...this advice is relative to your story and can In fact, be destructive if taken as literally as you claim." CJ Walley posted some great advice from John August, but I can't remember which thread it was in. In that post, he and Beth both said that multiple books/sites advise against something to amateur writers. CJ pointed out that the pros like John August don't seem to make it a big deal. Which brings us to this next quote below: From William Martell: "Anyone who says 'Don't use voice over' really means 'Don't use it incorrectly' - and the problem is, most new writers use it incorrectly. They use it as a crutch. That's the truth behind every 'rule' - there are no actual rules, but these are things that so many people get wrong that it's just easier to say 'Don't do that.'" I also got upset when I saw someone claim that an hour-long TV Teaser "cannot" be longer than 4 pages. In the US, this is untrue, and it's advice that could harm another writer. (I'm not talking about Phil's post!) Please do not try to shoehorn in advice unless you know it to be relevant to your own unique story, intent, and situation. Some advice is totally relevant; other advice is good advice, but it's just not relevant to you. And some advice is, well, it's just not good advice.

Regina Lee

Beth, CJ, if you remember that post, I'd love for you to reference it here.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Great post, Regina—not because of me, haha!—just in making that keen observation about aspiring screenwriters taking and applying generalized "rules" or some guru's book or video on screenwriting as absolute truth—one they must follow no matter what, no matter the genre or their individual creative intent. Why? Why force every instance of narrative fiction through reductive filters without specific creative consideration? I find it absolutely perplexing and frustrating. Granted, all these insightful tips and understandings about story, craft, how it works, structure, etc, are incredibly helpful—great observations!—but they are tools and devises at the writer's discretion to use, not the other way around. There seems to be this strange void of misinterpretation or misrepresentation between what's told to amateurs and what's more attuned to reality? Perhaps? I know I sometimes get lost in that void.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Oh, I remember the thread you are thinking of... It was about the use of "we see," right? I'm currently looking for it.

Regina Lee

Ah, yes, I bet it was the "we see" thread!

William Martell

I think one of the things we either learn along the way or maybe already know is that all advice should be seriously considered, but not necessarily always applied. There's a thing called "the note under the note" where a note makes sense, points out a problem, but may offer the wrong solution. If we give that note serious consideration we may spot the actual problem (which is often something different than what's pointed out, as Billy Wilder pointed out: "If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act." Sometimes the real problem is not in this scene, but somewhere earlier in the script where things were not set up well or there was some issue there that may not be obvious but creates an issue later in the script). If we spot the actual problem - the note under the note - we can then solve that problem. Sometimes the solution is the opposite of the advice, or the advice just makes things worse. We need to use our own judgement. But if a couple of people have the same problem, there is a problem in there somewhere. Rejecting the note out of hand is just as big a mistake as addressing it without question. One of the things I've said here (and elsewhere) before is that there are two types of people: Seekers and Parrots. People who try to figure things out, and people who don't want to think they just want to be told how to do it. Unfortunately, the path to success is all of the hard work and frequent failures of figuring things out. So when you get some note - think about it! It may not pinpoint the actual problem, but if someone reads your script and something doesn't work for them... the development exec who reads your script at the production company may have the same problem! So try to figure out why the script is losing them and figure out what the best solution for your screenplay is. Another thing: it's impossible to listen if all you do is talk (or type in this case).

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, keeping one's eyes wide open and considering all advice and notes thoughtfully is a great approach. The difficulty comes when deciphering those notes, learning to decide what would be beneficial or which to apply to your screenplay. What best would help you achieve your creative intent. Perhaps that comes with time and experience. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Regina, I haven't been able to locate that thread. I believe that particular conversation about "we see" was within a discussion under a different topic—which I can't remember. Perhaps CJ may? Anyway, I recall the discussion was about avoiding the use of "we see" and "we hear" in a spec script—a hard "rule" that is stressed/taught in amateur writing circles, schools, blogs, by script consultants, etc, even though it is used in the industry. The Scriptnotes /John August article basically said; if you can write the line without "we see/we hear" then do. But if it works with it, that's okay too. Just don't go overboard. So, yet again, it's a personal creative choice.

Regina Lee

Beth, you're going to kill me. I did a search for "we see" - nothing. Based on your post, I searched for "POV," and... https://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting/POV-Format

Danny Manus

I wanna read the post where you got yelled at because your posts and advice are almost always dead on IMO. and given your experience I'm not sure why there'd be much argument. You're a bigger person than I because arguing with someone who is "passionate" and also wrong is not something I deal well with lol

Cherie Grant

just scroll down to next page or two. you'll find it. about core wounds.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Regina, I have ALWAYS appreciated your advice and comments on all threads and messages. You're awesome.

Melissa Willis

Regina - we haven't interacted very much, but I always find your knowledge to be both intelligent and insightful (among other things) and I always appreciate the fact that you share it with us. We can get really passionate about our work (as I'm sure you well know) and I think that's why things escalated so quickly. Thank you once again. I've also always heard that you shouldn't use voiceover because it's a prime opportunity to do it incorrectly, but sometimes it's the best way to tell the story. I can't imagine Veronica Mars NOT using it.

Beth Fox Heisinger

You found it! That's great, Regina. I tried all kinds of key words for topic search, but not POV! LOL!

Brian Walsh

I always read Regina's threads because they are always relevant and informative. In this situation it's a fantastic subject because too many people take advice or direction literally instead of getting to the core of what it means. Looking at things from several viewpoints and then getting to the core of what all that advice means is the true challenge.

Rayna W.

I missed this "ass-handing" situation, but how silly. You're so generous with your advice and your time, and you give such useful info. People get very uptight about this stuff, but I understand that it comes from a place of passion (and probably anxiety). The most interesting advice I heard was "If it doesn't help you tell your story, it's not good advice, even if it's right." A few writers disagree with this, but I got what she was saying. Our job is to tell the best possible story and if we get advice that we're not ready to hear we won't use it well anyway.

Dan Guardino

I found it and I am not sure why the guy got so upset. I love screenwriting but some people tend to take things a little too seriously sometimes.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well, I think there's also a tendency for writers to be too precious about their writing sometimes, which is understandable. We're ego-invested as well as developing and honing our craft. However, we must be able to consider our own work as objectively as possible.

Regina Lee

Hey Danny, as for "passion," I have to give credit to NATIONAL TREASURE. When you're passionate, you gotta speak up for what you believe in! (I'm not saying anyone is crazy or obsessed. I just like this quote!) Pulling this from IMDb Quotes: Riley Poole: Anyone crazy enough to believe us isn't gonna want to help. Ben Gates: We don't need someone crazy. But one step short of crazy, what do you get? Riley Poole: Obsessed. Ben Gates: Passionate.

Regina Lee

Thanks, everyone. All good. Everyone should speak their mind (within the rules of S32). To Mr. Martell's point, yeah, of course you're often looking for the real note behind the note. And for some who are really new to the scene, he/she might take a note too literally, especially when it's coming from a respected source whose advice he/she is dying to follow. The following is a really reductive example that doesn't speak to the full complexity. I heard this anecdote from a Market Research exec whose job it is to help interpret focus group data. Someone may say, "I don't like the bad guy." That could mean anything from: "You filmmakers did your job so very well. I'm not supposed to like the bad guy. I'm supposed to like the good guy. Don't change a thing! Bravo!" Or it could mean: "Your bad guy is offensive and I will be writing a letter of complaint to my Congressman. I would never bring my family to your crappy movie." This example is of course extreme and reductive. You're thinking, "How could anyone misinterpret that kind of feedback? Ask the right questions and get clear on what the feedback really means. Then figure out if you really want to address the note (or not). Define your intent and the market intent! Bueller?!" But man, sometimes I am really surprised when a new writer tries to shoehorn in advice or misinterpret advice. "They didn't like my bad guy. That means I must change my bad guy." If I didn't have that experience (see OP), I wouldn't feel the need to bring it up to you.

Regina Lee

Again, and I bet Danny agrees, this is why simple coverage can do more harm than good. Simple coverage doesn't typically provide an avenue for you to understand the "big picture" or the "note behind the note." Personalized, tailor-made support is far preferable. This is not a plug for script consulting per se. I'm advocating that people consider what advice applies to them and what doesn't because each story should be executed on its own terms. If that means getting help, great. If that means writing on your own, also great. From Owen Mowatt: "...this advice is relative to your story and can In fact, be destructive if taken as literally as you claim." - Yes! General advice almost always applies to some work, not to all work.

Regina Lee

@Melissa Willis - some of my fave VO: American Beauty and Grey's Anatomy. Love it.

Beth Fox Heisinger

...Yeah, I'm not one for screenwriting "rules"—that's obvious, right? LOL! I liked this section: "Tools, not rules. This simple phrase re-frames the discussion. When we talk about rules, we are coming from a place that is about restriction and denial, a negative place. When we talk about tools, we are coming from a place that is about creativity and construction, a positive place." That's great! Now, as far as personal taste goes... I've never liked "we see/we hear." Never. And that's just that—personal taste. Haha!

Dan Guardino

So I just have been breaking tools. That makes me feel better because I break enough rules on the road without adding more to the list.

Zlatan Mustafica

I just saw JOY. Loved it! A lot of movies I´ve seen lately have a lot of VO in them. Is it a trend or something?

Zlatan Mustafica

Jerry McGuire is good, sure, no arguments here. :)

Regina Lee

Hey everyone, if I haven't lost you yet, may I please ask another moment of your time? Here's why this topic is important to me. Over the last couple days, 2 different threads were posted. One is my "ass-handing" thread, which included a suggestion that character-driven movies are somehow "better" than plot-driven movies, and another thread included the observation that some genres are often viewed as "less than" other genres... Here's why these posts matter. If you're writing a plot-driven movie (not character-driven) or if you're writing a cutesy rom com (not an Oscar contender), you are not "less than" anyone else. Maybe I'm thinking about cultural elitism, race, and class as well as storytelling. Let's use a music analogy. What if some high-minded music critic said that classical music is "greater than" country music? What if he said that Mexican ska is "less than" European ska? What if he said that NYC urban hip hop is "less than" British invasion punk rock? You'd cry bull crap. That guy's reputation would be tarnished because we're (thank heavens) in a progressive era of cultural diversification! You can't compare folk rock to electronica. They are different genres. You compare one folk rock song to others in its same genre. You might not need a piano in hip hop, but you need one in classical (like you need a deep character exploration in some movies, but not others). These genres should be enjoyed on their own terms. The same consideration should be given to screenwriters. If you're writing a horror movie, your script is no "less than" a British ensemble comedy. If you're writing a plot-driven movie like THE MARTIAN, your script is no "less than" a character drama. Like a broken record, I say that "it depends." And I don't want any aspiring screenwriter to feel they're somehow "less than" just because of the kind of story they have chosen to tell. And I hope you tell it well.

Regina Lee

Sorry - one more thing, and perhaps the most importantly... If we say that one kind of story or one genre is "better" than another, we're also saying that one segment of the audience is better than another. Like the people who listen to punk rock are "less than" the people who listen to opera. We all know that's not the case. So the writer writing non-character-driven sit com, and the audience who DVRs non-character-driven sit com, is no "less than" any other person. The documentary filmmaker, and the audience who loves documentary films, is no "less than" any other person. Shutting up now!

Zlatan Mustafica

Don´t ever shut up, Regina! Your posts are so helpful and true and always come from the right place no matter the topic. I enjoy reading every word you post around the Lounge and many of them have really helped me, personnally. I think you´re awesome!

Jeff Mehlman

You label these things "plot "driven" or "character driven" I doubt you could give me a good description of either. You think the Martian is plot driven when it is a character driven script. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT -is a character driven romantic comedy and DID win Academy award. Tell us what is a plot driven script is and what a character driven script is.

Laurie Ashbourne

Character-driven (and plot-driven) are a pair of 'high concept' terms that are batted about with no real thought as to what they mean to a script. I wrote a post of character driven (somewhere that I cannot find) and why ALL films that have longevity and stick with us (and win accolades) are character driven. The nut of it is, plot exists to force characters to change, we have to care enough about the characters to want them to change. I get why the terms are used in pitching because it helps lay a foundation of the type of film you have, but it's a lazy way to present your story. If you introduce your genre, and the main character, the journey they go on, and what's at stake, in a way that engages, you have essentially presented how your character drives the plot within the story world. Here is a post I did find on how to make us care: https://www.stage32.com/lounge/screenwriting/Todays-Wish-and-Creative-Ti...

Laurie Ashbourne

Sadly, Jim -- they do it, a lot. It's a one of those buzz word terms people glom onto and yes, in some ways it's a trap.

Tom Stohlgren

To Laura Ashbourne -- "The nut of it is, plot exists to force characters to change, we have to care enough about the characters to want them to change." Beautifully and simply put!

Bill Costantini

Laurie - sometimes it's easy for me to lose sight of this belief: "What is character but the determination of incident. And what is incident but the illumination of character." JJ - that's how I would answer the question if someone asked me "is it a plot-driven movie or a character-driven movie?" in a pitch.

Laurie Ashbourne

Love that, Bill!

Regina Lee

Hi Jeff Mehlman, if you "doubt I could give you a good description of either," then there's really no use in us having this conversation right? Thank you for expressing the other side. I'm not here to argue. I don't believe that I have written to you saying I doubt you. If I have, I shouldn't have because I don't even know you.

Dan Guardino

What is the difference if a script it plot driven or character driven as long as it is a good story and will make good movie and ultimately money. That's really is the bottom line in this business so I never think about whether or not my script is plot driven or character driven as long as it will make money in the end.

Regina Lee

MINOR EDITS FOR ADDITIONAL CLARITY: Relatively speaking, when considering the weight given to plot vs. character (or to plot set-up vs. character set-up), I would characterize a movie like JERRY MAGUIRE or GROUNDHOG DAY as one utilizing a story engine that is driven by a character addressing his flaw or his wound or his area in need of growth/change/evolution. This "internal need" is a part of the protagonist's opening set-up. (To me, not every protagonist needs a wound; some just need a flaw or an area in which he needs to grow/change/evolve.) Relatively speaking, it's clear to me that these protagonists are forced on this particular journey, to face these sources of antagonism, because they need to overcome these obstacles in order to emerge as "better" people or "more capable" people; this particular journey will allow them to address their internal character-driven flaw or wound or area in need of growth/change. Those are stories driven by a character issue, or created to explore a character issue via a movie. Personally, and I know I'm in the minority, I don't love GROUNDHOG DAY enough to own the DVD. Most of my friends like it more than I do. I do own the Special Edition JERRY MAGUIRE. On the other hand, relatively speaking, I would characterize a movie like JAWS or THE MARTIAN as one utilizing a story engine that is driven chiefly by a plot problem, rather than a character problem (or by plot set-up rather than character set-up). To me, I would not characterize JAWS as a movie about a police chief who must address his fear of the water in order to become a better or more capable person. Relatively speaking, JAWS is a movie chiefly about a man overcoming a shark, not about a man overcoming a crippling fear of the water, a character flaw, or some other "internal need" set up in his protagonist's set-up. To me, JAWS is chiefly about overcoming/addressing a plot problem (the shark), and is therefore chiefly plot-driven. In either case, the protagonist does emerge from his arduous journey much "more capable." But was the narrative driven by a plot problem or by a character problem? Where was the weight assigned? Isn't there a spectrum? Was the journey more about the protagonist overcoming an "internal need," a character flaw, a deep wound, or simply an area in need of growth/change? Or was the journey more about the protagonist overcoming an external force of antagonism - a plot problem? And in some cases, yes of course, I believe equal or nearly equal weight is given to both character and plot. In my own experience, when I speak to new writers, I find that I often need to talk through these paradigms. When I work with experienced writers, I don't need to do so because it's understood. I wouldn't be talking about fundamental issues if some people using Stage 32 weren't self-described newbies. Your experiences, your taste, and the way you interpret and talk about material can and SHOULD be different from my own. That's totally cool. If we all saw the world the same way, it would be a very boring place. But again, please, like Beth said, "one size does not fit all." I'm not saying that I'm always right. I'm saying please be careful not to make a blanket statement that a new writer can interpret as gospel, which could set them off on a mission to fit a "rule" or piece of advice into a script when that a particular "rule" or piece of advice doesn't apply to their specific story. Like I said, I was upset to read someone post a TV drama Teaser "can't be more than 4 pages." In the US in 2016, that is factually untrue and therefore, could be harmful to new writers. You don't have to agree with me, but please try to use language that leaves advice "open" for application to different situations. And filmmakers/audiences who devote themselves to what I consider a more plot-driven movie like STARSHIP TROOPERS are not "less than" those who devote themselves to what I would consider a more character-driven movie like CONTACT. Musicians/audiences who devote themselves to rap are not "less than" those who devote themselves to bluegrass. Just different. That doesn't mean your own tastes can't draw you more toward one than the other.

Regina Lee

Yes Dan G, if the script is good, we don't need to even talk about it! I couldn't agree more, and that's my wish for everyone. Someone will just greenlight it. :-) But if a script that I'm developing or consulting on needs work, then I have to find a way to talk about its elements with the writer. We have to have terms to break down a story, or else we couldn't find a common language to talk about a story. Another example - I almost never talk about structure with experienced writers; but I almost always talk about structure with new writers. That's only my personal experience.

Regina Lee

Hey everyone, I really appreciate you all taking time to add to my post. I'm in a tough spot because when I'm directly criticized, what do I do? If I argue, then I'm a jerk or obstinate. If I don't engage, then I'm a pushover. I hope the "one size does not fit all" message came across. Thanks again for your help with the conversation.

Brian Walsh

I think the debate about what the differences are between character and story driven scripts is a good one...but the personal attacks on Regina are not. Part of why I like Stage 32 over other social writing sites is that this seldom happens. We all have opinions but insulting someone is not cool, and should not be tolerated.

Regina Lee

Laurie Ashbourne, just fyi, S32er Phil Parker wrote a blog about THE MARTIAN that I believe aligns with your own article. Thanks for adding to the convo here!

Tom Stohlgren

It helps when we don't take things too seriously. It's the "entertainment" industry. I'm new at screenwriting but not to viewing movies. I've assumed good movies are plot driven, and all clown-cars are character-driven. Hee Hee.

Regina Lee

You can please substitute my use of "character-driven" and "plot-driven" with more description wording. I do completely understand that people use those terms in different ways.

Bill Costantini

Laurie - I could see how some writers/filmmakers/filmmaking entities put more emphasis on "the action/plot" and less emphasis on "the character". Some films have minimal amount of....for lack of a better word..."substance", when it comes to character. That's one of the reasons why I really appreciate big action films like Silence of the Lambs, The Exorcist, The Godfather, Casino, Jaws, ET, Star Wars, Goodfellas, etc...that really have a great balance between character development and action/plot. Those films become more memorable to me as a viewer: the characters drive the plots in those films, and as a writer, I have to take note of that and remember what ultimately makes a great story, at least in my mind. I would also say that there are a lot of action-driven films that simply don't become memorable because the characters in those films are so minimalized. I can literally watch films like that with the sound off - and sometimes do, just to follow action sequencing. Character development is not as important in those films, which is obvious to writers, readers and critics.

Laurie Ashbourne

It's important, Bill, it's just not done. That's why when it IS done, no matter the genre, it stands out.

Laurie Ashbourne

And Regina -- yes, your (and Beth's) one-size-does-does-not-fit-all, is certainly true and came through. Which is sort of where I was going with term character-driven being misused and over used. Interesting segue the thread took, but it is very useful for those being bombarded by rules and that is why ST32 is so much better at discussing things than a place like DDP where people are all high on their horse and ready to charge at any given moment.

Bill Costantini

Regina - I would disagree (respectfully, of course) with your assessment of Jaws. Brody's rational and cool-headed nature conflicts with Quint's stubborn and impulsive traits - and even pathological traits. Brody knew they "needed a bigger boat". Quint destroyed the engines. Brody wanted to call for help. Quint destroyed the radio. Brody knew a madman was running the ship, and he continued to keep cool under pressure, and all the way until the end, when, as the boat was sinking under the man who hated the water, his inner strengths were ultimately tested,. I'd consider the realizations of those plot points/events to be based on who those characters were. The yin-yang of Brody and Quint is what made the increasing struggles in Jaws so natural and effective - at least in my opinion. Quint is even the "bad guy" in the boat. And, yet...I love him because he's so crusty and (fun) wacky, and I love him even more when I discover his real reason for becoming a shark killer: because of what happened in WWII on the Indianapolis. That's what great characters help achieve for their filmmakers, unlike so many of the following films that featured pretty flat characters in boats that were being attacked by sharks. That's some serious character development, and is the basis of what makes Jaws such a complete and brilliant story - at least in my respectful opinion.

Mark William Chambers

Character doesn't define action. Action defines character -- "The War of Art"

Regina Lee

Thank you, Bill and Laurie. I have to get back to other work, and I don't mean to be short. Bill, I completely agree with your characterization of JAWS and its characters. However, may I ask one more question? Was the core story of JAWS about Brody's need to overcome a character flaw? Or an internal need? Or a deep wound? Or a shortcoming that he needed to address in order to grow/change?

Regina Lee

Whereas, I agree, Bill that in STAR WARS, that core story is as much about Luke addressing his internal growth as about trying to defeat the Empire.

Regina Lee

I believe I need to stop saying "character-driven" and start saying "driven by the protagonist's internal flaw or wound or area in need of growth/change conveyed via the protagonist's set-up." I know that people use the term "character-driven" to mean different things. I think Bill and I are talking about different aspects of "character-driven." Just my interpretation.

Regina Lee

If nothing else, the Lounge is a place that proves how incredibly hard it is to write about something as complicated as STORY! :-) Reduction does not help us, but impossible to write fully and clearly about all possible aspects of any story element.

Laurie Ashbourne

There's no doubt the semantics of this can be debated for quite sometime, and if this were not a virtual lounge many a cocktail would provide a tipping point, just as it did with Quint and Brody. Bruce, (the shark) in JAWS is a character,; an antagonistic character, much in the way a TWISTER or ghost (as in THE OTHERS) can be the antagonist that the 'hero' has to take down. Brody did have to overcome his fears and change his mindset (he had a few of them) to kill Bruce. That film would be nothing without the characters driving the plot to get the shark.

Regina Lee

Thank you again, Laurie, for adding that fantastic clarity, which I'm sure will help a lot of readers. I believe you're 100% right. To me, on the spectrum (sorry to repeat myself), I find the movie to be chiefly one thing over another, but of course, every detail in that crystal clear post is IMO on the money. I also want to take this opportunity to point out another thing within Laurie's post - every movie (except experimental films or similar) needs an antagonist or force of antagonism, but not every movie needs a villain. I bring it up because I've also heard confusion in this area. Thank you all for the conversation!

Bill Costantini

Regina - I would say Brody's needs were multiple, emerging throughout the story, and ultimately transformatve. As police chief, he originally wanted to restore law and order to his town. Getting slapped in the face by the dead boy's mother shamed him, obviously, and he wanted to restore law and order even more. When his son was almost killed by Jaws, it became even more personal. His wife's response inspired him even more. When he saw Quint destroy the engines and radio, he knew his own survival was at risk, and he knew it was going to be up to him and Hooper to save themselves, and maybe even still have a chance to kill Jaws. When he was sinking at the end, he didn't know if he was going to survive, but he wasn't going to go down without swinging....and swimming. Talk about "sink or swim" - literally and figuratively. So yes.....Brody certainly had many internal (and external) needs - to restore order; to preserve his honor and his self-dignity; to keep his family safe; to survive under a crazed captain; and to kill Jaws. He had a serious character flaw to overcome as well. Was it essential for Brody to have a deep core wound in order to succeed? Ideally, as a writer, I would say yes, and would say that all great stories do that in the telling of a great story. "It's about this one thing on the surface, but it's REALLY about this, too...." That's what made Jaws such a brilliant novel. Man against man....man against nature....man against himself. Mr. Benchley hit all three conflict types in one story, and the majority of those conflicts were created by the characters themselves (other than Jaws being a hungry people-eating shark, of course.) Brilliant!

Lee Jay Iddings

I just finished reading all of this and I am so glad I'm in the community. Such smart and thoughtful conversation.

Regina Lee

I love JAWS too. Thank you so much, Bill, for giving so much time to this thread!

Bill Costantini

Full disclosure - Jaws was the first book I studied extensively in both a high school English lit class and in a college English lit class. And if I was ever chasing down a people-eating shark, I'd feel pretty confident with Regina, Laurie and Beth on board. I don't think any of us would go full-out Quinty....and it would probably be an uneventfully boring and conflict-free victory. Or would it? Heh-heh.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Great discussion! Thank you so much Regina, Laurie, Bill, William and everyone! :)

Doug Nelson

Sorry I’m a little late to the party (preoccupied with my little cable program) because this is the sort of discussion I’m keen on. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s a valuable educational discussion and as far as I’m concerned, that’s why I participate in this forum – to teach and learn.

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