Jasmine's pond of dreams

Jasmine's pond of dreams

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dragonweaving Back to the Future part 4 storyteller's log

Sorry for the delay's with Back to the Future. I ran out of Plutonium and got stuck. Anyway, I'm still analyzing the beats of acts 2 and 3.  In the meantime,  I thought I'd give you a glimpse of what and how we're going to be mapping Back to the Future. I'm calling it Dragonweaving.

As we saw earlier, the dragon gestalt is composed of 4 progressions and three turns or changes of direction. These correspond to the three acts, with the second act being twice as long. (Remember, a gestalt is an emergent property that's greater than the sum of the parts.)

We're mapping both the ups and downs of the character along with the hopes and fears of the audience over time.

Here are the four progressions of Back to the Future:

Progression 1:
Marty has been hanging out with the dangerous Doc. We know he's dangerous because Principle Strickland tells us so. But we see just how dangerous he is right in the opening scene- he's stolen plutonium.

Turn 1:
Doc's actions cause consequences. The terrorists don't like being tricked so they kill him. Marty narrowly escapes in the time machine back to his past in 1955.

Progression 2:
In the past Marty disrupts the flow of the space time continuum changing the future. He saves his father causing his mother to fall in love with him. And he beats the bully Bif.

Turn 2:
Marty tracks down Doc and learns he's stuck in the past because you can't buy plutonium at the local 5 and 10. (For those who don't know a 5 and 10 store referred to stores where you could buy things for 5 and 10 cents. I guess it's equivalent to our current dollar stores. But even they don't sell plutonium) The consequence of this is that his brother and sister are starting to disappear from existence, this is shown by the visual icon of them fading from Marty's family photo.

Progression 3:
As Marty is beginning to lose everything, in the manner of Alice who worried she's going out like a candle flame. Doc makes a plan, which is BRILLIANTLY demonstrated by the use of a scale model. It shows us exactly what's at stake. The model car drives through the town and connects with the lightning bolt at a scale speed of exactly 88 miles per hour. (Ever wonder why 88 miles per hour?) What's brilliant about this scene is, not only to we see what the plan is with no dialogue needed, but we get to see what could happen if things go wrong- the car bursts into flames. A second plan is made where Marty will get his father to take his mother to the dance and have their first kiss.

Turn 3:
Marty gets his parent to kiss.

Progression 4:
Marty prepares the time machine while Doc has to deal with obstacles of getting the wiring back to the clock tower. The plan works and Marty is sent back to the future. The doc is saved and his family has changed for the better.

Here is it mapped on the dragon. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Let's try one example of one thread of the dragonweave of Back to the Future:

Early in the film, Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer are about to kiss.
OBSTACLE & SETUP: The clock tower lady interrupts their kiss wanting a donation to save the clock tower.
ACTION: Jennifer needs to give him a phone number where he can reach her so she writes it on the flier and he puts it in his pocket. 
Now this information has been setup for later use. It also served as a story delay for their romance.

Later, in the past, Marty wants to go back to the future. (That was a very weird sentence- later, in the past...) 
OBSTACLE: They don't have enough power for the time machine to work. They would need a lightning bolt which you can't predict.
PAYOFF!: Marty remembers he can predict a lightning bolt strike- exactly where and when.
ACTION: Doc makes a plan to power the time machine with lightning.
OBSTACLE & STAKE: The model car goes up in flames.

Now we cut away to the dance action. Once Marty is successful in getting his parents to kiss he goes to meet the Doc.

Doc has the time machine all set and the clock tower wired. 
OBSTACLE 1. The wiring to the clock tower comes out.
OBSTACLE 2. The DeLoean time machine won't start.

The clock tower is a great prop to use because it also literally functions as the "ticking clock" countdown. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

You'll notice I've color coded some of the parts. The red boxes indicate obstacles and they are connected with an incoming red arrow. This means that things are going back for the character and the audience will start to grow tense and fear for the characters. The green arrows indicate a rise up towards good things and the audience's hope. The yellow dotted arrow shows where the setup has been paid off. 

As you can see dragonweaving becomes a very eleglant way to map the progress of not only your story and plot but also how it's affecting your audience.

This is the first time I'm doing a dragonweave so according to my theory I'll probably do some things wrong and then suffer the consequences and... 

One thing I already discovered is that this one thread contains 11 threads. I've got over 80 storybeats to map. I'm going to need a really big dragon.

See you next time and extra credit for anyone who can figure out why 88 miles per hour. 

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