Creating Two New Novels. Writing One Chapter Weekly. Podcasting As I Go. Welcome to The Experiment.
I’ve started to believe that all novels would be better if written like a screenplay, but with more words. Screenwriters, we have a formula, measured beats, things that must happen, and we have rules as to when. Generally, when these rules are followed, you have a number one hit at the box office. When they are not…Hollywood attempts to recoup its loses.
Here’s beat number 1: The Catalyst*
In the first 10 pages of your script, something should happen to give your central character a goal, a desire, a mission, a need, or a problem. The “Catalyst”!*
Here’s the principle: When a story begins, life is in balance. Your hero may have a problem, but it’s a problem he’s always had-his status quo.*
Then the Catalyst kicks things out of balance and gives the central character a new problem, need, goal, desire. The Catalyst begins the movement of the story.*
Here’s the point: Readers need to know right from the get-go what kind of story they’re reading, who to root for, and an idea of the direction of the conflict.*
Here’s something you may not know: a single page in a movie script roughly equals one minute on film. Pop in your favorite movie and watch the first ten minutes. I’ll wait. 😉
Are you back? I bet you just saw a few points we haven’t gotten to yet, (like the main characters), and the Catalyst. The problem, the goal, the mission, or desire was made clear. The Catalyst.
And remember, all of that was captured in writing within ten pages.
Novels are the same! Readers don’t want to read for an hour and still not know what your novel is about. It should be made cleared within the same amount of pages and definitely by the end of chapter one. Grab your work in process and see if your readers know what’s going on before the end of Chapter 1.
*Quoted from, The Screenwriter’s Bible, by David Trottier