Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Moral Premise Screenplay Workshop

Top 20 Secrets of Successful Movies and Stories
Saturday, April 2, 2011 - 9 AM to 5 PM

presented by
Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D.

William Goodman was wrong: Somebody Knows Something. Come learn what every successful filmmaker knows and yet why the movies of some of the best players in Hollywood bomb. The secrets have nothing to do with star power or money. In fact, anyone can do this. But you must first know how. This workshop will SHOW you. Read what others have said.

For detailed workshop information and registration

Click Here

What You Will Learn
At the heart of all successful stories is a True Moral Premise. That sounds soft and abstract. But we will make it clear and practical to you. Thus, in this workshop you will learn:
    1.    The 3 story elements needed in every successful hook
    2.    The 4 requirements of a high-concept log line
    3.    The 1 conflict your story can't do without
    4.    The 2 inter-dependent essences that all stories require
    5.    The 1 keystone upon which all stories are based
    6.    Why the hero must be imperfect
    7.    What the hero must always be doing
    8.    What the audience must always see
    9.    What the protagonist must realize before the goal is reached
    10.    Why the biggest obstacle for the hero is not physical
    11.    The 1 moment for each character that changes their world
    12.    The 1 four-part rule that must consistently be applied
    13.    Why speeches are sometimes necessary
    14.    The 2 choices the antagonist must make
    15.    The 4 choices the protagonist must make
    16.    How to design a scene-to-scene emotional roller coaster
    17.    The 3 major and 14 minor ways audiences identify with your characters.
    18.    How chase scenes can mean something
    19.    The 6 most popular ways to structure a story
    20.    The A-lister's Story Diamond tool for plotting
    21.    Why some A-lister movies fail
    22.    Why some Academy Best Pictures fail
    23.    Why structure never fails
    24.    Why stories need to fit structure and not the other way around.

For a full description, outline, and sample slides of the workshop
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Narrative writers, producers, and directors of all story genres and media will find this session beneficial, if not foundational. Fans of motion pictures may also want to attend. If you're a writer this session will give you a practical understanding of the moral premise that will speed along and improve the quality of your story's structure. In many ways the moral premise is a powerful muse; when used correctly it will inspire and focus your efforts, and powerfully connect you with your audience. Say "Good-bye" to writer's block. As a fan you'll have a greater appreciation of movies, plays, and novels when you understand and see how writers and directors use the moral premise as the center and motive force of their tales.

The seminar lectures will be illustrated by both computer graphics and motion clips from popular films. Dr. Williams will, for the most part, follow the structure of the book. The presentation is continually being updated with new insights thanks to the generous contribution of past session participants, bloggers, story consulting sessions, and, of course, new films. The outline on the DETAIL page, therefore, may be slightly different from one presentation to the next.

Friday, March 11, 2011


DEADLINE, Midnight, March 31, 2011.

 No one has said it too me directly, but I know one of the big weaknesses of The Moral Premise. It's that writers sometimes concentrate too much on the moral meaning of a story and not the story that gets people into the theater... the physical story... the story that begins with the (physical) hook.

What's a hook?  It's the physical idea that makes a story engaging, and hooks both the writer and the audience to want to know what the story is about. A hook is NOT a log line. Here are notes from my writing class, actually the first step of my 8-Step Iterative Writing Process.
1.   A Physical Premise (the Hook) is:
·   Otherworldly
·   Out of the ordinary
·   Intriguing
·   What if?
·   Only one hook per story all else in the story must be normal for the setting.
·   A young man falls in love with a real mermaid.
·   A monster shark attacks a town.
·   A rat can cook better than a man.
·   A lawyer loses his ability to lie for 24-hours.
·   A special type of warrior uses psychokinesis in battle
·   A teenager takes on the Nazis

The Contest Assignment. 

Write a good hook, based on the etymology of the term "GADZOOKS". My students are no eligible. My past and present customers are.

The winner, which I will pick, gets an hour of free story consulting. 

You must post the answer in the com box of this post, and post your real name with the hook. Off line send me your email address. Stan AT moralpremise DOT com

Retired Mac Laptops vs Windows 7

Do you think this will work? 
The two Mac laptops are old and retired. But I think Windows 7 might still learn a few things. I have Macs everywhere in the house, and one PC running Windows 7 for my QuickBooks accounting system. Imagine how much better QB would run on a Mac, if Intuit would hire Mac programmers. I'm still amazed at the klutzy work-arounds and inability of QB to do simple things.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Writing Lessons

Once a month for three hours in my living room, I tutor seven motivated Catholic home school teens on screenplay story structure. The group is part of the St. Augustine Home School Enrichment experience run by Dr. Henry Russell out of Ann Arbor. The image at right is of them taking a essay exam (hey, their writers) over our first eight sessions. Ms. J.S., their sponsor and test checker, sits at the end of the table on the right.

I really enjoy teaching them. During the week we exchange emails as they send in their iterative structural beat sheets. We're moving into the synopsis and treatment stages on some great stories. 

Later that session I asked them for a list of writing rules that would reflect what they had learned. Here's what they said:

1. The hook and log line must reflect the core physical conflict and imply the underlying values.

2. There must be irony in the premise.

3. The story must have market appeal.

4. Audiences must identify with the protagonist's imperfect but talented characteristics.

5. Good characterization must be exaggerated; or a character must have an exaggerated life.

6. A writer must be organized and find the right structure for a story.

7. The story must be about something physically and morally important to a universal audience.

8.The physical spine should be a metaphor for the moral (or psychological spine)

9. Write everyday.

Reel Wisdom

I have written that movies only connect with audiences when they impart learning about how to live life better. Audiences do not consciously walk out of theaters thinking, "Great I know how to live my life better" -- but they do like a film or not based on their subconscious recognition of life lessons portrayed in the film.

Here is a YouTube montage of clips that point out a few of the common life-lessons, or messages, that films communicate. It's called REEL WISDOM.