Michael Arndt is the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Little Miss Sunshine. He wrote the first draft of this, his debut script, in just three days (but went on to do around 100 revisions before the film was finally made). His second script was Toy Story 3, for which he also received an Academy Award nomination.

In the following short film Arndt shares how a close examination of Toy Story 1, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, and a better understanding of how the early stages of these scripts set up their characters, helped his own writing process.

Fellow screenwriter John August (Go, Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels) contacted Arndt about the insights he shares. Arndt explained:

I’m aware the model I set up here applies imperfectly to Toy Story 3 itself. (It applies much more cleanly [for example] to Tootsie, which I consider one of the best comedy first acts of all time.) The broader point is that the emotional fuel for your first act break is largely set up in your inciting incident — and that is something that does apply to Toy Story 3.

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Back to the Story Spine by Kenn Adams - aerogrammestudio.com
A guest post by Kenn Adams. Kenn is a teacher, author and the Artistic Director of Synergy Theater.

I created the Story Spine in 1991 and, over the years, I’ve been thrilled to watch more and more people use it, teach it, discuss it, and even modify it in order to make it their own. One of my favorite modifications is the addition of “And, the moral of the story is…” at the very end. Over time, however, some of its permutations have become less powerful, I think, than the original due to a missing link here or a different word there. So, I’m happy to present it here in its original 8-line format along with a brief analysis, a couple of interesting examples, and some tips on how to best make use of it.

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