Gangemi Q&A #1

Author of INAMORATA

Moderator: Liz

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Gangemi Q&A #1

Unread postby Liz » Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:36 am

Welcome to the Inamorata Q&A with Joseph Gangemi. :welcome:

We are all so very fortunate that Joe has agreed to participate in this. :bounce: Today is the first of 14 questions that will be posted here—one per day. Enjoy and feel free to comment.....


1. How difficult has it been to adapt your own novel into a screen play?

Gangemi:
Not too difficult at all. In fact, it was much easier than, say, adapting a Stephen King novel for the screen (which I've done; a big screen version of "Salem's Lot" which Warners decided not to make). Because I'd "built" the book using a three-act structure (the standard for movies) it adapted well and I didn't have to cut out too much. Of course there were a few sequences I had to cut for length, like the scenes where Finch goes to Kirkbride Asylum. But I still think the movie will be regarded as a "faithful adaptation."
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
Endora
Posts: 16345
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 5:03 pm
Location: Darkest UK~ Down in Albion

Status: Offline

Unread postby Endora » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:17 pm

Can anyone explain the "three act structure"? How does it apply to the book?
Work hard, learn well, and make peace with the fact that you'll never be as cool as Johnny Depp. GQ.

Solace in the flood

User avatar
Theresa
JDZ Webmaster
Posts: 26564
Joined: Sun May 01, 2005 1:21 am
Location: Houston, Texas

Status: Offline

Unread postby Theresa » Mon Mar 06, 2006 1:49 pm

Endora, I found this really interesting explanation of the three-act structure in a lecture by Stephen J. Cannell.

Screenwriting
Lecture by Stephen J. Cannell


WHAT IS THE THREE ACT STRUCTURE?


Often, when I ask a writer this question I am told that it is a beginning, middle and an end. This is not the answer. A lunch line has a beginning, middle and an end. The Three-Act structure is critical to good dramatic writing, and each act has specific story moves. Every great movie, book or play that has stood the test of time has a solid Three-Act structure. (Elizabethan Dramas were five act plays, but still had a strictly prescribed structure.) The only place where this is not the case is in a one-act play, where "slice of life" writing is the rule.


ACT ONE
(Book or screenplay)


In Act One the protagonist meets all of the characters in the play. We also find out what the main problem of the story is. Everybody can usually plot Act One because we have to know the problem to have the idea. The trick in Act One is to keep it interesting. Don't just start rolling out story points. Start at the most interesting point, where there is conflict and excitement, and help the audience sort it out.

Act One is a preparation act for the viewer or reader. They are asking who is the hero. Do I like this person? Is this guy a heavy? Do I care about the relationships? What is the problem for the hero? Is the problem gripping?

You should try to have a quick attack on Act One. Don't start at "Once upon a time." Open with a hook.

FADE IN:

Three men are chasing a woman down a deserted alley; she is carrying a screaming infant.

What's going on? Who is she? Whose baby is it? Let's go! Get the story started! Make it interesting!

By the end of Act One you should also have introduced the heavy (antagonist) and set up all of the secondary character relationships.


ACT TWO


This is the most important act in the drama because you have the two most important structural moves in the story.


1. THE COMPLICATION.


The complication usually comes at the top of Act Two. The problem that we already set up in Act One, now has to become much more dangerous and difficult. A good way to design the complications is to let it be a piece of the back-story that has remained hidden until Act Two.

The baby in the woman's arms is not hers, as she originally thought when she left the hospital, but was accidentally switched in pediatrics by an angel nurse, who is in reality the New Messiah. Now all the evil forces on earth are trying to kill the new Christ child. (Much bigger problem!)

The heroes must then start to try to solve this bigger, more complicated problem, while the adversaries make moves to defeat them. YOUR ADVERSARIES MUST BE IN MOTION. Adversaries should not be standing around, waiting to be caught.

At the end of Act Two is the second act curtain. This is the destruction of the hero's plan. At the end of Act Two the protagonist should be almost destroyed, and at the lowest point in the drama, either physically and/or emotionally. He (or she) is flat on his back and it looks like there is no way he can succeed.


ACT THREE


This is simply the resolution of the problem. From the rubble laying around him/her, the protagonist picks up a piece of string and follows it to the eventual conclusion of the story. Some stories have downbeat endings, where the hero learns a lesson, but dies or is defeated.

It is always possible to alter this Three Act Structure, but remember, if you break these plot rules, you should at least know why you are doing it.

You can see from this brief description why Act Two is so important. It complicates the initial problem and it defeats the protagonist at its end. (The two major Act Two plot developments.)

If you have ever watched a movie or read a book where it starts out great and then, after about a third of the way through, becomes a "hummer" where nothing new is happening and you're starting to get bored, this is almost always because there is no second act. Next time, put the book or movie to my three act test, look for the complication and the second act curtain. See if I'm not right.

Here's the rest of the speech, with more examples: http://www.writerswrite.com/screenwriting/lecture4.htm

User avatar
Liz
ONBC Moderator
Posts: 12971
Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 2:13 pm
Location: The Left Coast

Status: Offline

Unread postby Liz » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:06 pm

Wow, Theresa! :-O Thanks for that fascinating explanation. :thanks!: I can think of a few movies and that fail in Act 1. :eyebrow:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

User avatar
suec
Posts: 1381
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:57 pm
Location: uk

Status: Offline

Unread postby suec » Mon Mar 06, 2006 2:35 pm

Thanks theresa! That is fascinating. I just checked the book. Part One deals with the various fake mediums, meeting the Crawleys, and the first seance with Mina where Finch hears Walter for the first time, but doesn't learn of his identity. Part Two, the Walter and Mina section, ends with the fire at the hotel and Finch being hauled off in handcuffs. That would seem to correspond to this:

"At the end of Act Two is the second act curtain. This is the destruction of the hero's plan. At the end of Act Two the protagonist should be almost destroyed, and at the lowest point in the drama, either physically and/or emotionally. He (or she) is flat on his back and it looks like there is no way he can succeed."

And Part Three, Scientific Americans, deals with Finch meeting Patterson, and being offered a new theory, and all the rest of it.
"Luck... inspiration... both only really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose, and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate-filled moment."

User avatar
DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Posts: 10378
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2004 10:43 pm
Location: Austin

Status: Offline

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:15 pm

Excellent info! Thanks, theresa. :cool: Also, if you watch POTC and listen to the writers' commentary they discuss how they wrote POTC in the three act style. The end of Act 2 is when Jack is left on the island. If you haven't watched POTC that way I highly recommend it. It's very enlightening! :-O
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

User avatar
Gilbert's Girl
Posts: 162763
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2004 3:14 am
Location: UK

Status: Offline

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:26 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:Excellent info! Thanks, theresa. :cool: Also, if you watch POTC and listen to the writers' commentary they discuss how they wrote POTC in the three act style. The end of Act 2 is when Jack is left on the island. If you haven't watched POTC that way I highly recommend it. It's very enlightening! :-O


Yes I recall them talking about that, but I think I've also heard it and seen it with regard to other films too.Escpecially in regard to adding new characters in the third act, not a very good idea apparently.
I'm sorry though he has not included the asylum scenes, maybe that would make things too complicated.

User avatar
Endora
Posts: 16345
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2004 5:03 pm
Location: Darkest UK~ Down in Albion

Status: Offline

Unread postby Endora » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:54 pm

Thanks for that. The three act structure certainly seems to be universal model. I wonder if anyone could quote a story that it doesn't fit? Maybe those based on a life, such as the story in The Lib? But on further thought, maybe it fits this too.
Work hard, learn well, and make peace with the fact that you'll never be as cool as Johnny Depp. GQ.

Solace in the flood

User avatar
gilly
Posts: 6552
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:14 pm
Location: australia

Status: Offline

Unread postby gilly » Tue Mar 07, 2006 3:36 am

That's interesting about the asylum sequence...because that's a strong element in the split personality/ disorder theory.. :cool:
Life is beautiful.

I have faith in you.


Return to “Joseph Gangemi”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest