The new, 14-pt. coated Moral Premise Bookmark with rounded corners and improved check list is now available. The bookmark will help you write stories and screenplays better.
If you'd like a "physical" Moral Premise Book Mark Check List (2.75" x 8.50", with 14pt UV coating on both sides), send me a No. 10 SASE to Moral Premise Book Mark, P.O. Box 29, Novi, MI 48376, and I'll send one to you, FREE.
When I travel to Hollywood to work on a film as a story consultant I don't always take as proactive an approach as I think would be welcome. Part of my holding back is the natural intimidation I experienced because: (a) I am not as familiar with the story as the producer and writers are, who have been discussing the project for months before I arrive. And (b) I'm just a bit star struck being in the same room with people I've only read about in the trades.
Yet, when I analyze a successful film I'm amazed at the depth to which so much about the film consistently applies a true moral premise. For example, in THE BLIND SIDE each of the main characters (Michael, Leigh Anne, Michael's teachers, and Alton the drug boss) are involved in a multilayer retelling of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE. Each of the movie's characters test the moral premise, which is about courage and honor. That premise is made fairly explicit in the poem and in Michael's essay about the poem featured at the film's end. Such "discoveries" remind me that I need to be more proactive and bring more to the table, so that future films have the potential to entertain and enlighten audiences... and help producer's succeed at the box office... like THE BLIND SIDE has.
The book mark will thus help them and me do a better job at telling stories. Here's the check list on the back, revised April 5, 2011.
The Moral Premise Story Check List
- What is the conflict of values around which everything in your story revolves?
- What is the Protag’s main physical goal?
- What are the P’s secondary physical goals (e.g. personal, professional, family, and career)?
- How is your P morally imperfect related to each of those goals?
- What is P’s psychological problem (vice) that obstructs the physical goals?
- Toward what greater virtue or vice does the P progress?
- How does P show desire to change?
- What physical obstacles, metaphored by the psychological problem, do the characters encounter, especially the P?
- What story altering moral decisions does the P make at the story’s key turning points? (see other side)
- Do the characters’ major decisions come from the psychological motivations generated by the story’s virtue and vice?
- What is your story’s SINGLE Moral-Physical Premise Statement (MPPS)? Will a general audience think it’s true?
- Does the P’s psychological and physical arc follow the MPPS in every scene?
- Do all the other main characters struggle with the same MP, but in regard to their own issues?
- Is there a Moment of Grace (MOG) for each of the main characters?
- Does the P’s motivation, either side of the MOG, parallel the the MPPS’s vice-virtue structure?
- How is the MP consistently applied to all other aspects of the story & movie-craft: e.g. art direction, music, songs, lens selection and position, lighting, wardrobe, blocking, marketing?
- Is the MP creatively but clearly stated somewhere in dialogue? Need it be?
- Is the truth of the MPPS tested by the characters through the story like an emotional roller coaster scene-to-scene-to-scene from beginning to end?