Writing for Emotional Impact: Advanced Dramatic Techniques to Attract, Engage, and Fascinate the Reader from Beginning to End
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From the Back Cover
IT’S NOT ABOUT PLOT POINTS. IT’S NOT ABOUT ACT STRUCTURE. IT’S NOT ABOUT CHARACTER. IT’S ABOUT EMOTION!
There are three kinds of feelings when reading a story — boredom, interest, and WOW! To become a successful writer you must create that WOW! feeling on as many pages as possible, and this requires writing that engages the reader emotionally.
In his best-selling 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters, screenwriter Karl Iglesias explored the working habits of A-list Hollywood scribes. Now, he breaks new ground by focusing on the psychology of the reader. Based on his acclaimed classes at UCLA Extension, Writing for Emotional Impact goes beyond the basics and argues that Hollywood is in the emotion-delivery business, selling emotional experiences packaged in movies and TV shows. Karl not only encourages you to deliver emotional impact on as many pages as possible, he shows you how, offering you hundreds of dramatic techniques to take your writing to the professional level. You’ll learn:
- Over 40 techniques to humanize a character for instant empathy. - The seven essential storytelling emotions and over 70 techniques to create them. - Over 50 ways to craft powerful scenes, including the Emotional Palette. - Over 30 techniques to shape your words and energize your narrative description. - The most common dialogue flaws and fixes for each. - Over 60 techniques to craft dynamic dialogue that snaps, crackles, and pops off the page.
"Not only does Karl Iglesias ‘get’ emotion, he shares insider secrets for moving the reader from tears to laughter and everywhere in between. This is a must-have book for every screenwriter, director, and producer." -Rosa Graham, president of Find The Funny
"Reading Writing for Emotional Impact will shake up your world. This is the book that tears through the clutter so that you can write from the heart." -Michael Lent, author Breakfast With Sharks, co-producer Hard Scrambled
does—like when a character says he loves dogs, but then recoils when he sees one. The subtext comes from the action, not the dialogue. This is why we say actions speak louder than words. To create subtext, make a character say something that’s counter to what he does, like at the end of When Harry Met Sally, when Sally tells Harry she hates him, but then kisses him, or in Casablanca, when Rick says he sticks his neck out for nobody, but then pockets the transit letters. DIFFICULTY REVEALING
innocence or coming-of-age. Out of this combination, characters and scenes should materialize. An example of a great movie that capitalized on this technique is Chinatown, whose theme according to Robert Towne was actually an emotion—the feeling of knowing what’s going on, while not really knowing it. The related ideas include mystery, deception, corruption, and secrets—all masterfully woven in this classic script. Not only is detective Jack Gittes in the dark as he tries to solve the mystery,
that successful, emotionally satisfying, and well-liked plays followed similar dramatic principles, and wrote about them in Poetics. I realize that for some of you the three-act structure may seem formulaic. However, just because it looks the same in most stories, it doesn’t mean most stories are identical. Most human beings are unique, and yet their skeletons are relatively similar. So if you decided to build a human being, you’d have to start with the “formulaic” skeleton, otherwise the end
for nobody, but he pockets the transit letters. TWISTS AND REVERSALS Just as plot twists are essential to maintaining momentum in a story, a scene twist or reversal is the key to maintaining momentum in a scene. Most well structured stories have at least two major turning points that end the first two acts. Similarly, a dramatic scene will have two turning beats that create surprise, raise the reader’s curiosity, reveal insight into the scene or character, or point the scene into a new
CHARLES: How’s that gorgeous girlfriend of yours? JOHN: Oh, she’s not my girlfriend anymore. CHARLES: That’s probably for the best. Rumor had it she had sex with every guy she ever met. JOHN: She’s my wife now. L.A. STORY (STEVE MARTIN) HARRIS: Hey, so some weekend sailors lost some boats. Big deal. If they were rich enough to have a boat, they were rich enough to lose it. And what kind of an asshole sailor would trust the wacky weekend weatherman, anyway? TOD: This one. You’re fired.