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By Michael Schilf · June 27, 2010
Another way to look at story is by examining it as a syllogism, a three part form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two propositions (or premises).
Example: If Mary is a girl, and all girls play tennis; therefore, Mary plays tennis.
Major Premise: If Mary is a girl,
Minor Premise: and all girls play tennis;
Conclusion: therefore, Mary plays tennis.
The conclusion is reached logically based upon the premises that set it up. Of course, it is easy for us to see that the second premise is flawed because NOT ALL girls play tennis. So we always must be careful that our premises our sound.
The basic spine of a screenplay can work exactly the same way.
Example: An interesting protagonist with a clear goal versus a powerful antagonist and obstacles leads to drama and the audience’s satisfactory emotional response.
Major Premise: An interesting protagonist with a clear goal
Minor Premise: versus a powerful antagonist and obstacles
Conclusion: leads to good drama and the audience’s satisfactory emotional response.
As long as our premises are not flawed – we must empathize with our character, his goal must be attainable, the obstacles believable – then we will be satisfied with the resolution.