L. A. BOOK SIGNING RIOTS – EVEN MORE OF THE STORY

 

I awake in a darkened classroom.  What the hell is going on?  It’s really creepy, something out of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

 

A bare bulb lights and swings back and forth.  There are the two book groupies, Tiffany and the Redhead.  Now, in the shifting light, they don’t look so innocent.  They actually look downright scary.

 

Tiffany snarls, “Well, Professor Lazarus, story happening fast enough for you?”

 

Behind them, in the shadows, a figure of an elderly man appears and walks slowly toward me.

 

I don’t know him, but he looks familiar, like I’ve seen him on the back cover of some book.

 

He speaks in a phlegmmy, senior citizen voice.  “Tom Lazarus, finally we meet.”

 

“And you are?”

 

“Syd Field.”

 

Oops!

 

See, I’ve been kind of badmouthing the legendary Syd Field’s approach to screenwriting – the antiquated three act structure – for years now.  In fact, I teach and write books about an alternative, more contemporary structural approach to screenwriting. (THE LAST WORD – Definitive Answers To

All Your Screenwriting Questions.  Available from Michael Wiese Productions)

 

I’m in trouble here.  This guy is pissed.

 

He continues, “Where the hell do you get off putting down the Three Act Structure.  You’re taking food out of my mouth, you goddamned jerk!”

 

“With all due respect, Mr. Field: one, watch your language, please; and two, the three act structure is hopelessly out of date.  I’m talking about Rising Action, about starting a script without your impossibly lame thirty pages of introduction.  But, it’s not only that, Mr. Field.  The insanity of your ‘plot points’ and ‘inciting incidents’ coming on specific pages for every story.  How, Mr. Field, can all stories be structured the same?  Answer me that!

 

Syd Field is speechless.  Stunned.

 

I continue: “Look at the scripts for STRANGER THAN FICTION and ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN andIRONMAN.  Those films start the story the audience came to see on page one and never let up.  That’s what I’m talking about.”

 

Field is apoplectic.  “Why you young whippersnapper!”

 

“Even your anger is old fashioned!”

 

There’s blood in Field’s eyes.  “Get him!”

 

But, the girls hesitate.

 

I go for it.  “My way makes sense, doesn’t it, my nubile, young screenwriters?”

 

Syd Field shouts “GET HIM!”

 

Tiffany and the Redhead look at each other, then slowly turn to Field.

 

When he sees the look of contemporary screenwriting in their eyes, he screams and flees into the night. “The horror….the horror.”

 

The girls untie me.  Tiffany pleads.  “Oh, Mr. Lazarus, teach us the contemporary way to write screenplays.”

 

And then the sultry Redhead, who rarely speaks, purrs, “Please.  Teach us everything.”

 

Before I can celebrate my victory with these adorable young screenwriters, four burly thugs in black crash though the windows!

Two of them grab the Book Groupies and drag them out kicking and screaming, while the other two throw a gunny sack over my head and spirit me away.

 

= to be continued =

 

 

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THE LAST WORD

 

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http://shop.mwp.com/products/the-last-word-definitive-answers-to-all-your-screenwriting-questions

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