How to write a SCREENPLAY

The typical structure for summarising a screenplay in three acts, would be:

ACT ONE:

  • Show that the main character has a serious flaw (but not detailed)
  • Show the evidence of the flaw by its effects on others
  • Introduce the Key Flaw (shown to us by dialogue from someone close)
  • Allow the audience to perceive some depth to the main character and wonder how far down will the character sink – while having some good point
  • Introduce a Crisis Point – which needs to be solved before moving on
  • Escalate rapidly into a Climax – exposing raw emotion and inner self

ACT TWO:

  • Change the location or circumstances of their environment – hint at changes
  • Gradually awaken the main character to think about their problems
  • Make the central character aware of their serious flaw (needs, desires, hurdle to overcome)
  • Introduce sub-plot relationships (love works well with audiences)
  • Midpoint – main character is now fully aware of Key Flaw- not in denial to self – but inability to rise above (“I can’t, and I won’t” inner expression and conflict)
  • Make the central character face up to the Key Flaw – possibly as an internal challenge
  • Produce the Catalyst for changing their behaviour – can become proficient in another task – healing of one element by another unrelated event
  • More work on sub-plot relationships – involving the effect of new behaviour on others
  • All indications of change and turmoil and choices – leading to a Dilemma – What to do?  Making the right choice at the expense of other things (needs, desires, love interests, problem solving etc.)
  • Crisis Point occurs when some factor pushes the main character too far – enabling a change in thinking to be made – and a new chance of success
  • Climax point for Act Two (hard to write) – major event releases emotions in other areas – major point is good, but often negative smaller issues suffer – especially relationships

ACT THREE:

  • Give the main character a chance to beat their Key Flaw and associated effects and character traits
  • Catalyst for change in obtaining an expression for breaking their Key Flaw
  • Show main character has resourcefulness – as all heroes exhibit this
  • Establish a proving ground where main character is Confronted by their fears and goes beyond the call of duty to beat their Key Flaw attributes
  • Throw in a final Crisis Point, where it looks as though the main character will eventually lose out, after all they have been through – generally because they are up against an insurmountable choice or have too much to lose on behalf of others
  • Resolution is the end result of overcoming the Key Flaw, and the problems encountered, that were the reason why the problems could not be faced.
  • Send the audience home with a tear in their eye, a sense of having lived the tale themselves, having experienced all the roller-coaster emotional tugs and pushes – and left with a thought that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

(c) Stefan Nicholson 2009

Never, Ever, Ever, Ever Ending Story

Well . . . here is a story line that has me thinking . . . but obviously not too deeply.

Hmmmmm, Canterbury Tales meets 60 Minutes.
What if people cared enough about fixing things?
What if we could actually get along with each other and just trade our goods for mutual benefit?

How would I start? How would it end – before the over-prescribed medications kick in?

Why am I asking you?

It was a dark and stormy night alright – the power grid was down again and the writer’s tummy was rumbling for lack of food. Woolies and Coles had sold out, to Amazon.

“The Economy doesn’t bloody work!!” shouted the inebriated economist who could not pay for the next round of drinks, or get up from the floor.

“Sit ordinary people down with a beer and a few slices of pizza and they will tell you how to fix the economy, the health system and the education system, where kids can’t read and write after 10 years in ‘school’. Academics, politicians and business executives who are in economics should be exported as burly for fishing,” replied the once-rich cray fisherman, now selling seagull poo to the social elite as ‘White Gold’.

“Many of our problems can be fixed quickly, efficiently and without bias. We need to stimulate the economy by getting manufacturing going locally, instead of importing goods. A business that buys goods, orders them on demand from overseas, and sells them at a higher price as sole agent is a sham, if those goods can be made here,” added the tradie, wearing his hi-vis shirt, to prove he has a job.

“We give away our land, water, minerals and profitable businesses for a song and then work for foreign companies. Those in the know sell their assets and shares, just before they drop in value, readying themselves to buy again, at the bottom of the abyss. Insider trading is rife,” screamed the passing ten year-old girl in tears, making her way to the scrolling, red-lined computer display.

Dan, the independent member for Stupor was becoming fidgety, and started to rave on as usual about all the things that he could change, if only someone would let him into a major political party.

“The multinationals take our natural resources and pay little or no tax. The media giants try to dumb us down, uninformed with biased news, and bombard us with their advertising and fake business articles. The inequity between government and private schools is another rort. Health, education and policing, should be uniform across all of Australia. We are over-governed by states and councils, overwhelmed by their administrative avalanche of paperwork and red-tape. Make television programs for normal, sane people (not cheap rubbish to meet the 10% local content rule). Stop splintering up major mental and social problems into narrow help-groups, creating more administration and less ‘clout’ for lobbying our politicians to act. With mental problems on the rise, it seems incredibly uncaring to keep closing down formal government assisted services.”

All the people at the bar looked around at once. Dan’s trousers had fallen down as a metaphor for the economy. It was deathly silent (trousers can’t talk without A.I.). There was no one left to say anything . . . . .

The observing writer took his cue to end the rambling story. It had run its course and had died.

“And so, we all lived happily ever after . . . abandoning all hope for the future. We then decided to seek out a meeting place where we could think quietly,” he raced off confidently.

Thank God there were churches for sale, and the flock had gone to greener pastures. Dan now wants to be an angel. I bet there’s money in that caper. Bloody economy!

After-thought . . .
If even one political party had policies for addressing all the problems of today, we may have a chance to get people interested in helping to solve them. But we don’t. They are only self-serving to their own interests . . . and to ensure they get re-elected every 3 years. We don’t have a 5 year plan, never mind a 10 year plan. Your children will grow up with today’s values. They can’t survive with that!!

Getting: The RIGHT Job!

I’m not even going to mention COVID (Blast!!!)

Anyway, let’s get on with what this post is all about. It is about getting the RIGHT Job.

You may be lucky (or unlucky) to be:

  • in a job
  • out of a job
  • fed up with your job, boss, low pay
  • thinking your job is too bloody awful for words
  • working too hard, too much, not enough
  • getting paid too much (yeah right!)

Then do I have the information that may help you?

YES (How obvious was that little dangler)

And here it is:

I wrote most of this when I was working in a boutique Recruitment Agency in Perth (Premium Personnel with Mary McArdle). I regard working with Mary and her company one of life’s highlights, for their caring and nurturing approach to Personnel Management and people.

People need work to acquire some purpose in life. For some people, work that they enjoy is no longer just work. That is why it is important to try and find work that is enjoyable and stimulating.

Once your mind is set on what you want to do in life:

  • Relax
  • Listen to music
  • Share a joke or just get together to have a coffee . . . or a beer/wine
  • Eat something fresh(keep the dog and cat safe from harms way)
  • Make a list – even a shopping list (then you can cross it all out, even if you don’t do things)
  • Buy an over-sized pullover and pretend you have lost 20kg
  • Ignore my frivolities during this post (I am a writer . . . that’s always my excuse)

Best wishes that you find your perfect job.

Climate Change – It’s up to the individual now

All I ask is for your time – about 15 minutes to really think about our natural environment – unless you decide that your interest lies elsewhere. Time is precious . . . and so is all life on Earth.

The climate is always changing. How do we know? What have we learnt? We all bear witness to “the four seasons” varying in severity, depending on where you live and how you, your city and farming community have treated the environment. Nature is neither forgiving or forgetful. Just ask the Mesopotamians, Aztecs, Incas, Babylonians and now modern industrial humans – all have followed the same path to reducing their environment to dust by overpopulation, deforestation, wars and greed. Human civilisation leaves a familiar destructive footprint. We always seem to be at war with someone else – plotting and pushing by stealth at first, before taking what is not ours when a weakness is created in an opponent’s society.

Modern city landscapes resembling termite mounds, darken busy congested streets below, whilst suburban roofs treat the clouds with a reflective dose of radiation, effectively curing the sky of its moisture-laden white patches.

Farmers and loggers cut down our trees, replacing the land with ‘farming land’ and new commercial forest growth of a different species. The environment is changed rapidly, forcefully and greedily for short-term gain.

What are some of the immediate changes?

  • The water table rises, often bringing up salt which kills all useful vegetation
  • Animals and plants no longer have shade from the trees
  • Local habitats for animals and plants are destroyed
  • More of the sun’s radiation is reflected from our cities and barren lands, then trapped in our ‘greenhouse’
  • Evaporation increases – due to higher air temperatures
  • Farm animals belch out carbon dioxide and methane
  • Industrial sites poison the air, waterways and the land around them
  • Failed land becomes dust bowls – eroding and removing the soil
  • Poison baits are laid to kill wildlife in logging and farming areas
  • Fertiliser, plastics, drugs and pesticides leach into the waterways and out to sea
  • Burning wood, peat and coal releases carbon dioxide
  • The land creates its own micro climates

The effects of human efforts to maximise primary industry profits at the expense of the environment is not new. Civilisations have come and gone mainly because they became unsustainable, due to lack of food and water, with overpopulation soon becoming no population in that area.  Humans have also affected the natural cycle of biological systems to the point of extinction and have introduced new species to decimate the land further. We create and change ‘tipping points’ (physical, biological, chemical, natural) – the points of no-return to previous states, no matter what effort we apply. Too little, too late for the majority of people. We are at the mercy of politicians and multi-national corporations who plan short-term, to maximise their returns. Their success is our global failure.

Academics and scientists who write countless specialised research papers on these very topics are muted into silence to protect their careers and reputations. The tobacco industry failed our present civilisation with products which destroyed individual lives directly and others indirectly by passive smoke. The legal and scientific information which was manipulated and selectively used to destroy many court battles, allowed the tobacco companies power and wealth to take precedence over the truth. The same pattern of illusion and deception allows other companies to steal the mineral wealth of a country, create pollution, enslave the poor and avoid paying tax.

However, we are all responsible for the global climate emergency. We buy the goods from these companies and use their energy to power our homes and workplaces. We also vote. We vote for comfort ahead of practical responsibility.

Ancient civilisations failed because of the actions and decisions taken by those in charge when confronted by their own failures and natural disasters. In every continent even a child can see the evidence. We don’t need more PhDs on the subject. Where are these academics – the economists, scientists and sociology experts- who advise and steer their governments towards social responsibility?

Deserts, bare hillsides, barren land and the fossilised remains of the flora and fauna that used to live there is evident to every primary school child. Increasing mental illness and the social decline in face-to-face communication raises more questions about how we are ‘surviving’ our lifestyles. In each case, social and environmental factors combined with natural disasters created unique area “Tipping Points”. We have reached the point of no return and the sixth mass extinction is happening now. Insects populations are declining. Bees are dying. As are the trees – those that are not cut down or burnt in wildfires.

Many early civilisations practised sound agricultural methods, like leaving one field fallow to recover for a year, rotating crops for optimal return. Farming was for local markets and in such quantity that ensured no waste. They respected the earth and worshipped the natural cycles of life and death.

They did not dump produce into the ground to protect a market price. Having a surplus stored away for lean years and securing a diverse genetic base for crops and animals was sound management.

Of course, they were not responsible for the meteor strikes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, pandemics and the evolution of biological systems (life’s survival mechanism) that controls living populations by chance events and complex algorithms that we call ‘laws of nature’. However, the actions of ‘modern humans’ are enacting damage of a lesser magnitude but equally devastating – in a short time. Damage that could have been avoided based on historical evidence alone.

Our industrial revolution was the start of business greed and credit consumerism and pollution on a grand scale – especially by plastics, oil, radiation, pesticides, hormones, sewage, background radiation, drug effluent and the greenhouse gasses – carbon dioxide, methane and other chemicals.

Historical evidence shows that the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere did not start ramping up until our industrial revolution – where we won the war by using up resources and nature lost out. During the last 400 years, humans introduced horses, birds, camels, bees, rabbits, deer and a host of other “useful” animals into new environments without a second thought. The new arrivals competed for survival over the native species, changing their habitats and food availability.

We knew this would happen. We have always known. Our greed for land, produce, minerals, oil and potable water, put an end to many species. Like the koala of today –nearly extinct because of the early fur trade and now displaced from their habitat, burnt by fires and bull-dozed into the ground. All at the same time as others are trying desperately to protect them. Surely, a few good forest areas with their favourite eucalypt trees is not too much to ask for in 100 years – for an icon of Australia’s fauna.

Then we realised our mistakes and tried to kill off the introduced animals in many cruel ways. We tried to stop the spread of rabbits by introducing a grotesque disease to kill them.  Scientists brought the caned toad to Australia, where we cull (murder) camels, kangaroos, brumbies (horses), wombats, foxes, eagles and others by poisoning them or shooting them from helicopters. Many are only wounded and die slowly, in pain. We also poison our land to stop wildlife returning to cleared land.

Now we have G.E. (genetically engineered) products with which to meddle in nature’s processes. G.E. works well to increase yields (temporarily) and empowers its patent holders.

Apart from modifying gene structure, G.E. also limits diversity and causes the poor farmer to keep buying seed stock from the supplier – because the new plants are designed to be infertile. You may be surprised to know that your own genes are patented by certain pharmaceutical companies.

Enough about farming practices . . . most farmers are caring and respectful when it comes to farm practices. Bumper years are quietly enjoyed by reinvesting in stock and machinery, increasing the value of the farm, whilst drought, floods, fires and pestilence ensure that the community is obliged to bail them out (insurance, donations, government), even if their farms are no longer commercially viable.

Male chicks are thrown into blending machines because they don’t lay eggs (surprise). Dairy stock animals are only selected for milking and breeding. Race horses and racing greyhounds are despatched cruelly if they are no longer competitive. We send live cattle and sheep across rough seas in hot conditions because the customer wants to kill them fresh for market. We over-fish the seas with huge nets and discard other marine life like garbage, left dead or dying, back into the sea. Middlemen (and middle women) make their money by distributing produce to the consumer, leveraging both sides of their business equation to maximise their profits.

If you take off your consumer glasses and open your eyes, it is obvious that human commerce takes as much as possible from the Earth – only now we take much more than is available. We are in debit and insolvent. We are greedy and look to take other people’s resources – sometimes by force.

Our population is near to 8 billion and our civilisation is now one big community, regardless of political or religious boundaries. We have moved on from the simple farming and logging of land. By inventing technology to power machines and enabling the instant computation and distribution of information to our world, we have added more risk and complexity into the survival equation.  Life is easier for some that can afford the technology. Homelessness, poverty and the great wealth divide is on the increase. People can no longer cope. They are rebelling against the controlling powers of politics and multinationals who know no border. Ordinary people are rising up to confront the power brokers – as in Arab countries and South America, with the wave of protests growing around the world. People are waking up to how they have lost control of their lives.

Global climate change and overpopulation are the biggest risks facing us today (oh, and the threat of a global nuclear war and pandemics). We will cope with all of this, as per usual, taking from the poor – but the world will never be the same. Tomorrows children will accept the new “normal” and read about how life was so rich and diverse and full of hope. It is as if humans have outlived their welcome and the algorithms for balance and diversity are fighting back.

We see evidence of global climate change in the annular rings of trees, core samples taken from deep ice and the fossilised remains that have been unearthed from history-telling rock formations and ancient bogs. They form the baseline for measuring the changes to the environment in the last 200 years.

Modern life is reliant on the energy companies, factories, mining companies and the burning of fossil fuels (industry, vehicles, power stations)- all darlings of the stock market which trades (to their own chosen tribe first) in nothing, for no work and for no benefit to society except share-holders.

With the advent of solar power, wind power, tidal power and hydro power, we are at last seeing the end of the internal combustion engine in Western society. If Tesla had not been silenced more than 100 years ago, we could have had electric cars then and a better, cheaper power system. As the West attempts to cut down on pollution, the 3rd World countries are playing catch-up with huge populations and huge appetites for power using fossil fuels. The foreseeable future indicates that carbon dioxide emissions will keep increasing. Food and water shortages will cause conflict. The ice is melting and the oceans are getting warmer.  Our greed for growth and profit insatiable.

When do we get serious?

When do we elect smart governments and business leaders?

Where are our academics who have studied these problems and supposedly advise governments and industry?

When do we start caring for future generations?

Meanwhile, nature continues to aggressively seek to maintain an equilibrium, with her built-in algorithms and timeless sense of purpose. That is our disadvantage – we don’t have the time to argue with nature.

We wasted it.

Christmas Special and Freebies – December 2021

Father Christmas and the Seagulls Encounter

The time has come to prepare for Christmas – stocking up on food and drink, buying presents, getting ready for the kids to be at home ALL DAY . . . and thinking ahead to when it will be all over for another year.

Yes, for some it is a time of giving, getting, singing, drinking, renewing religious and family ties and finally. . . looking forward to a well-earned REST. I hope 2022 will be a better, safer and more enjoyable year.

Without further ado, let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

Please let me know what you think of my writing (good or bad) and email me: stefannicholson@bigpond.com

First the freebies (yes, you did read the title correctly). Just some snippets from my books and poetry.

Jemma and the Red Seal (adolescent fiction short story with female teen lead):

Spy Within a Ruby (adolescent fiction novel with female teen lead – 1st Chapter):

Diamond for a Ruby (adolescent fiction novel with female teen lead – 1st Chapter):

Ruby’s Covert Mission (adolescent fiction novel with female teen lead – 1st Chapter):

And some more of my POEMS:

RUBY TRILOGY (novels) and Jemma Short Stories – by Stefan Nicholson

Snippets from Books

Here is the first chapter: of my latest novel “Unexpected Unintended”:

This story is a complex interweaving of personal tragedies all stemming from the spreading of lies and deception in a  small town. There is a wayward psychiatrist who has a baby with her patient’s husband as the starting point for a cascading effect over two families and a cruel criminal who knows how to control others.

They all meet their match in Detective Inspector Sutton who carries out an intricate strategy to fight for justice, whilst fighting his own demons – the loss of his daughter. Everyone thinks they know the truth about certain events but time and again, they learn that lies, rumours and gossip have affected their thinking and their subsequent actions.

There are no winners except the truth, which is revealed by pitting one against the other. A young psychologist and her delusional client steer the story through to its conclusion by focusing on a painting, a book and self-awakening.

This was a difficult first adult novel to write because of the necessary complexity in the first chapter to explain the premise of the plot.

See my author page on AMAZON (for  Printed Books and KINDLE e-Books)

https://www.amazon.com/Stefan-Andrew-Nicholson/e/B07GDPDCPB

Snippets from my books:

Snippet 1: First Chapter of: CIRCLE in a SPIRAL (Sci-Fi Novel with Sarah in lead role)

Snippet 2: JEMMA’s BLUES (From Twelve Stories Short Short Stories: one of twelve short stories)

Snippet 3: THE RING (From Twelve Stories Short – one of twelve short stories)