Storytelling is getting formulaic. This is an opportunity

An earlier post on TVWriter™ today by Ken Levine addressed the problem with this summer’s “underperforming” tent-pole features. Nathan Bransford has another perspective on it. (And we think they’re both right.)

Design_for_a_Flying_Machineby Nathan Bransford

There were two articles in Slate last month about summer movie doldrums that hold a lesson for storytellers, including novelists.

The first is about how Steven Spielberg predicted a disastrous summer movie season because of studios’ over-reliance on formulaic blockbusters at the expense of a more diverse lineup. His prediction looks prescient so far, with relatively modest Despicable Me 2This is the End, and The Conjuring outperforming the massively budgeted RIPD,The Lone Ranger and Pacific Rim.

The gargantuan special effects uber-spectacle this year has resulted in some gargantuan uber-flops. (Though the Star TrekIron Man, Superman and Fast and Furious franchises are chugging right along).

And in the second article, Peter Suderman notes how if all Hollywood movies are starting to feel familiar and formulaic… it’s because they are literally following a formula . One book, Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! has become so thoroughly influential that nearly every movie made these days follows its beat by beat model. Save the Cat! doesn’t just offer suggestions on structure, it literally says what needs to happen on specific pages, from the opening image that sets up the protagonist’s problems to the false victory at 90 minutes to the closing image, which mirrors the opening image.

This isn’t the apocalypse for storytellers. This is an opportunity.

Read it all