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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Plotting 101: The Room!

Writing Song of the Day: "In the Next Room" by Neon Trees

On Monday, we mentioned the awesomeness that was Weekend of Awesome. On Friday night, we all gathered around the tube to watch the monstrosity--whoops, I meant "epicness" that is The Room.

Quita and I first learned about The Room from this article by Entertainment Weekly. We promptly rented it, and then stared at the screen like cliched characters in shock: our mouths agape and eyebrows lifted. Needless to say, we were more than thrilled when we discovered some of our WOA peers have also seen this movie. You see, The Room is so, so awful, that it's deliciously good. It's the kind of movie that'll make you look at your POS first draft with pride.

We, along with Erinn, Alicia, and KO, have decided to share what we learned about writing from the cinematic masterpiece that is The Room. And now...

The Three Don'ts of Plotting:
1. Don't Drop a Bombshell and then Forget About It.
Protagonist Johnny has a skankified fiancee (Lisa) who no longer loves him, as she'll remind the audience a bazillion times. However, even more irritating than Lisa is her mother--who's pretty much a prying, judgmental you-know-what. During one of their "heart-to-hearts," Lisa's mom reveals that she has breast cancer. Lisa tells her mom to focus on the positive, and the cancer was never. Mentioned. Again.




Um, WHAT??? Sorry, but cancer sucks. You can't just think good thoughts and will it away. And you also can't reveal something that extreme to your audience and then abruptly disregard it. Writers, this is why we revise. Make note of when something this HUGE is in your story. But, if you wrote about an element this serious in your first draft and then forget about it, you have to ask yourself: Is this important? Does this push my plot forward?

2. Don't Create an Unrealistic Climax.
SPOILER ALERT! Basically, Johnny's fiancee cheats with his best friend, Mark. All throughout the movie, Mark was riddled with guilt for his actions. However, out of nowhere, Mark becomes a jackass--at Johnny's birthday party no less!



I get it. Johnny needed to learn about the affair in order to make a life-changing decision. That is the purpose of a climax after all. But--HUH?? Why did Mark become a jerk? Why did he all of a sudden not care about Johnny's feelings?? Writers, remember--character development plays a HUGE part in plotting. Don't make your characters do anything--well, out of character--in order to move your story along.

3. Don't Pull Something Out of the Blue Just to Make Your Ending Work.
There's this creepy kid that Johnny takes care of named Denny/Danny (his name changes depending on who says it), that has a dangerous encounter with a drug dealer.




Yeah, apparently Denny/Danny owes a drug dealer money--but this wasn't mentioned before OR after this scene occurred. Basically, the gun that Johnny takes from the big, bad drug dealer is significant for the conclusion of the film. I get that--but you want to avoid deus ex machinas, which is a HORRIBLE plot device. Try to find natural ways to lead readers to your ending--or they may not just make it there.

There you have it. The Room in all its horribly decadent glory. If you haven't checked this out yet--GO. RENT. NOW. I promise you, you'll want to pat yourself on the back after watching it. :) Don't forget to check out Erinn, Alicia, and KO's blogs for their writing tips from The Room.

16 comments:

Christine Murray said...

I love that film! Apart from being hilariously ridiculous, it make you think 'Maybe I'm not too bad at this plot building thing...'

'Oh hai Mark!'

Alex Mullarky said...

Oh, good lord. Is that a genuine film, or a joke? I am honestly confused.

Christine Murray said...

It's a genuine film. The guy who made it now says it's a 'comedy', but when he wrote it he intended it to be a serious drama. It's definitely worth a watch, honestly!

Meredith said...

I've never even heard of this movie, but it's going on my Netflix queue like IMMEDIATELY.

Alicia Gregoire said...

Great points, ladies. I always wondered why the cancer issue never came up again or why Denny/Danny never seemed strung out.

Christine Murray said...

@Alicia: I think Denny was strung up because Lisa and his mother were ganging up on him. 'Stop ganging up on ME!' I laughed so much at that movie. Classic stuff.

Rebecca B said...

I have been meaning to go to the monthly midnight showing for ages--you've sold me. It counts as writing research now, right?

Marquita Hockaday said...

Great comments so far...this movie does teach so much about plotting...like maybe your MC should be wearing more than shades if a store owner (from a flower shop they frequent OFTEN!) doesn't recognize them...those of you who have seen the film know what I'm talking about:

"Oh, hi Johnny. I didn't recognize you" says the flower shop owner.

Who knew shades were such a good disguise?!

Tracey Neithercott said...

All great tips. I'm actually kind of excited to see this horribly bad movie.

Racquel Henry said...

I've never seen this movie, I'll definitely have to check it out, especially if it will make me feel better about my own work. LOL. There's so much we can learn about plot from movies in general. Excellent post! :)

Kristin Briana Otts said...

Oh dear. I need to see this movie ASAP. lol.

KO: The Insect Collector said...

You guys SO rock! This post is hilarious. I'm having trouble acting normal as I read it!!!!!

Katy said...

Don't judge me, but I've never seen The Room. I did, however, learn a lot from its apparent suckiness and your awesome tips. Thanks for the laughs, as usual!

Alison Miller said...

Awesome post - hilarious. I've never seen this movie, but I just might now so I can feel better about what I write. :)

Reminds me of the WHAT?! ending for the fourht Indiana Jones - disappointing.

Ghenet Myrthil said...

"It's the kind of movie that'll make you look at your POS first draft with pride."

Sounds like something I need to watch! HA.

Medeia Sharif said...

Hilarious! I'm curious about this movie.