Frequently Asked Questions
Or interesting questions asked just once...
I'm curious about the Story-Type Method and interested in Screenwriting Unchained, but I'm not sure it's for me. How can I find out more?
We want our readers to be happy readers, so we have decided to make the first fifty pages of the book available to download as a free sampler PDF.
If you're not convinced by the introduction and most of the first chapter, if the full table of contents doesn't raise your interest further, then the book is probably not for you and there is nothing wrong with that. 🙂
One more thing you might want to do beyond downloading the free sampler is give The Structurator a try. This interactive story tool introduces the Story-Type Method and is designed to help you identify the story-type of your project. It's free, you only need to register with the website. At the end of the page related to each story-type, you can download a detailed case study (Misery for plot-led stories, Groundhog Day for character-led stories and Crash for theme-led stories).
In your book do you talk about how plot based stories are also character driven stories? Or do you think they are different? Do you talk about how to develop a story that has a problem that's both external and internal such as Rocky and most other stories? (Dave)
That's a great question. Yes, absolutely, most plot-led stories have a character-led element, but the idea is to be clear about the location of the main problem (is it internal or external?). This should help you to define the stakes clearly, design the story efficiently and get a satisfying ending (which can be happy or unhappy).
Some stories can be hybrids or near-hybrids. For example in Midnight Run it’s very hard to say if the story is plot-led or character-led because Jack Walsh's evolution (De Niro) and the evolution of his relationship with the Duke (Grodin) are what interest us in the story, as much as the action, fights and stunts connected to the main external sources of conflict.
Also some stories are character-led stories disguised as plot-led, for example Silver Linings Playbook or Two Days, One Night. The conscious goal is very strong (getting a wife or a job back) but that’s not what’s at stake in the story. What’s at stake is the evolution of the characters, their ability to move on, to be happy. They give up their conscious goal at the end and yet it feels like a happy and satisfying ending.
The idea is to understand how the plot-led and the character-led elements work, so you can find the right balance for each specific story. In plot-led stories, we can have anything from no evolution as in Indiana Jones (who doesn’t need to change and even can’t change or he wouldn’t be the same in the next instalment) right up to the extreme opposite where the character absolutely needs to change in order to reach the goal (many thrillers or horror movies are transformative that way, the internal change or growth is needed to reach the external goal, or happens as a consequence of having reached the goal).
This need for an internal change in plot-led stories can be a bit of a cliché though. Because, supposedly, “the protagonist is the character who changes most”, we often get protagonists with estranged spouses, dead children, etc who all need to move on.
It’s fine if it’s done well, but it’s not always needed. For example, in Billy Elliot, Billy grows (he stands up to his father) but he doesn’t really change because there is nothing wrong with him. He just has to be himself and stand up to his dad. His father, on the other hand, is the one who needs to change and indeed turns from being an antagonist to a co-protagonist by the end of the film. It’s all much more fluid and flexible than what has become “the norm” in the industry.
The key here is to make the distinction between growth and change, which is explored in depth in the book. Understanding these principles is the best way to break the so-called rules.
What's the difference between the three editions of Screenwriting Unchained (e-book, paperback and hardcover)?
The e-book version includes 21 illustrations in colour, provided your device doesn't have a black and white display of course. The Kindle edition available on Amazon can be read on any device supporting the Kindle app, not just on Kindle devices (see next question).
The hardcover (468 pages) also has the 21 illustrations in colour. The interior is slightly thicker than the paperback (overall 38mm vs 27mm with the cover). Otherwise the size is the same (6"x9" trim).
The paperback (also 468 pages) is a bit easier to carry around as it's thinner and lighter, but the illustrations are in B&W. The upside is that it's less expensive than the hardcover.
We decided to make the first fifty pages available to our readers as a free sampler to download (as part of the Screenwriting Unchained bonus content), so that even those with a black and white device or those who prefer the convenience (or the lower price) of the paperback over the hardcover can see the most important illustrations in colour.
The only e-book version of Screenwriting Unchained seems to be for Kindle on Amazon. Does that mean I need a Kindle to read it as an e-book?
Thankfully not! The Kindle version purchased on Amazon can be read on any device supported by a Kindle app, which means almost all iOS, Android, PC and Mac devices. You only have to download/install the Kindle app for your device and register it with Amazon. Then, when you purchase Screenwriting Unchained in the Kindle store, get it delivered to that device. If you have already purchased it, it will appear in your library on that device when you launch the Kindle app and it can then be downloaded and read. If you're in the U.S. (and possibly other countries), Matchbook is enabled for Screenwriting Unchained, which means that you can get the e-book for only $0.99 as long as you buy the paperback edition from Amazon (not a third-party seller).
Not really, each has its pros and cons.
The e-book is handy as you can have it with you at all times for a quick reference on any device, including a phone, tablet or a PC/Mac. It also allows you to search the text for any term, name or title which can provide quicker access to the information you're looking for.
The hardcover looks great with its colour interior while the paperback is less expensive but still high quality, and possibly more convenient to carry around than the hardcover. You can't beat the e-book version for portability, but that's only an option for those who actually enjoy reading a non-fiction book on an electronic device.
As mentioned above, readers in the U.S. and possibly from a few other countries can benefit from the Matchbook program and get the Kindle e-book for $0.99 if they purchase the paperback edition from Amazon, so they can get the best of both worlds at a great price.
We tried to provide the best possible product at a variety of price points so that everyone can pick the version they prefer at a price they can afford/justify, according to their personal taste and priorities. Most importantly, we wanted all the versions to be available at launch because we didn't want the price or the medium (print vs electronic) to be an obstacle for anyone interested in the content.