Screenwriting : True stories by Donnalyn Vojta

Donnalyn Vojta

True stories

What do you do when you tell a true story in your script, but it seems so unlikely that the script loses credibility by coverage readers?

Craig D Griffiths

Credibility (my thoughts) has two components. They add together to give you a credibility score. Once you meet the magical number in the readers mind you have credibility.

If you have no credibility in the readers mind because you are an unknown. The burden is on the story. If you have credibility, you can have a story with no credibility. How you approach this is up to you.

Is this reader important? Do they have cash? If they are just some note giving. Assess their credibility in your eyes.

Terrence Sellers

I ask myself this question all the time. It comes up quite often when telling stories with either a racial or gender component.

Sandeep Gupta

Donnalyn Vojta , I remember Bob McKee pointing to Sarah Connor (Terminator) monologue as a technique to make impossible plausible, one that end with “... one can go crazy thinking about this stuff.” Guess the technique would apply to make implausible plausible.

Kiril Maksimoski

First - there is no "true" in fiction. That goes for all them "based on true event" pieces. Wanna make believable story? Know your subject. You either write of your own experiences, or do an extensive research. And don't worry of things u can't control such as coverage/contest readers...

Robert Clark

My goal is to entertain by allowing the reader to connect to what seems authentic. If the truth seems implausible, then tweak it with some untruth to make it seem authentic. For me, a true snippet embedded in my script should serve as inspiration, not be master of content.

Robert Clark

Sorry… I woke up before dawn and believe I misinterpreted your question. I really need coffee before I write! My answer (above) applies if you are trying to write a series of true events into your otherwise fictional script… or if you are trying to write fiction “inspired by true events.” Instead, if you are trying to document “a true story”, then the truth is master… and a lack of credibility is is what makes an “Incredible!” story. If you have proof to back up your documentary, stick to your guns!

Donnalyn Vojta

Robert, I totally get the coffee factor. LOL. Thank you for the thoughtful response.

Donnalyn Vojta

Sandeep, I think you solved my problem. Thank you!

Donnalyn Vojta

Craig, that's true. In this case, I trust the reader. That's why I'm giving it so much thought.

Dan MaxXx

guessing the setup doesnt sync with the payoff/conclusion? Go back to act 1 and add some foreshadowing, either verbally or visually.

Donnalyn Vojta

Dan, you are correct. I have to do that. Thanks for the reminder. I have to take the two storylines which are almost both A stories and better intertwine them.

Dan Guardino

I wrote one that someone who read it didn't think it was plausible. I didn't tell him was based on a true story. I optioned it to John Travolta's manager/producer a long time ago. I had another producer last year say he wanted to produce it but I decided not to sell it.

Robert Clark

Regarding foreshadowing the two Intertwined stories in Act I, you might also try to reveal as early as possible some emotional wound (even in a secondary character) that eventually results in an outward act — adding credibility to your incredible moment.

Ewan Dunbar

Sometimes films add a modifier to the standard "Based on a True Story" in a way that acknowledges just how unbelievable it really is. Some have said things like “a surprizing amount of this actually happened”. Its answering the question did this "really" happen before its asked.

Jason Mirch

I saw one title card that said, "Yes, this really all happened." - I particularly liked that one.

Donnalyn Vojta

Jason, I'm thinking a title card, now, because when I tried the voice-over, it changed the tone too much for my genre. I guess think about the genre, too, before deciding what exactly to do.

Eric Sollars

We did one script about Doctor Frederick Banting who discovered insulin. Half of it is fiction.

Mike Boas

This is a problem with real life, there are sometimes coincidences that wouldn’t be believable in fiction. So your job is to make it plausible or leave it out. Is it vital to the story? If not, leave it out or change it. If it’s important, then find a way to support it, perhaps with narration or commentary from a character. What’s the tone of the story? Have you set up a world where these events fit in?

Mike Boas

Another thought is the “one coincidence” rule. You get one coincidence to set your plot in motion… Peter Parker getting bit by a radioactive spider. But you don’t want to use a coincidence to get them out of trouble later.

Donnalyn Vojta

Mike B., I did not know of that rule. Thank you for sharing!

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