Jasmine's pond of dreams

Jasmine's pond of dreams

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stranger than Fiction, Storyteller's Log 2-12-2013

"Little did he know..."

In the movie, Stranger than Fiction, Will Ferrell plays an IRS agent who hears his life being narrated. In seeking help he meets Dustin Hoffman playing a professor who specializes in "Little did he know...." Upon hearing the phrase, "Little did he know..." He agrees to help him. "Little did he know..." is a manifestation of dramatic irony.

Dramatic irony is a situation where the audience knows more than the character. Thus rather than watching a scene without emotion, they watch knowing something and this makes them feel for the character. I described this process in my book, Directing the Story. When the audience constructs meaning, meaning automatically evokes emotions. So since the writer and director cannot directly make people feel something, they can setup a situation where the audience pieces together meaning from sequences of causality. And when the audience makes those connections it evokes emotions.

This is something I discovered about the structure map. During the whole second part where the character goes about their goal the wrong way. The audience knows that they're doing it wrong. This whole part is laced with dramatic irony. "Little did he know..." So what happens?

I'm sure you've watched a horror movie and the characters decide to go into the basement. What happens? You know they shouldn't go in the basement. And what do they do? Of course, they go into the basement. And the audience goes, "Noooo!" Well, we know what happens next. But if they didn't go into the basement there wouldn't be a movie, would there? They have to go into the basement. And they have to suffer the consequences.

This makes the audience really involved in your storytelling. They're rooting for your character to do things the right way but your characters are doing it wrong. So the audience knows they'll have to suffer the consequences. So what do you write. You deliver the consequences to your audience and they feel justified.

I bring this all up because a had an event of my own, "little did he know..." while writing this blog. LIfe is full of "little did he know..." but it takes an audience to recognize it. It turns out someone else had mapped the characters ups and downs over time! I couldn't believe it. I first learned of it over a year after I found my story shape. Ironically, I learned of it right when I was writing about the symbolic death! In the next blog post I'll share who it is and what they did.

Can't wait? I'll give you a clue. This person studied chemistry and anthropology. Both subjects are all about structure.  Interesting...

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