K.M WEILAND’S TEMPLATE TO CREATE THE BACKBONE OF A STORY USING THEME (4TH PART).

Okay! so now it’s time to build the plot of our story, are you ready?

So far we have two main elements that are going to help us in this endeavor. The first one is the thread of information that we managed to articulate at the end of our previous endeavor, you remember?

We managed to build our protagonist as a skillful and selfless person, who has fear of change, and so prefers not to attempt to change the destiny of things.

The second element is our antagonistic force, which as I remember was something like this;

A prison, ruled by a person who considers criminals to be less than ordinary men, not subject to the same rights or respect, especially from the prison guards he commands.

We can already see the conflict building in these two sentences, a selfless person against another who considers prisoners to be less than ordinary men.

As the two of them collide it is guaranteed that sparks are going to fly. Just think about it, our protagonist is bound to consider everyone as his equal, while the antagonist will surely engage others from a superior position, right?

Now, according to K. M. Weiland’s Theme template, our next step would be to define the first act, using the manifestation of the big lie.

Do we even remember the big lie?

Hope makes people suffer and waste their lives.

Okay, Weiland tells us that, at the beginning of the story, the big lie will manifest in a specific message that is either urging the protagonist toward the want (in our case; to escape from prison) and/or is presenting a direct obstacle to his ability to move towards the need and/or want.

Let’s take the first scenario. A message urging the protagonist toward the want. Now, we had previously talked about “to escape from prison” being the concrete want, fueled by a more abstract take on it, remember?

That more abstract idea for a want was something like this:

To find meaning in life.

Now, considering that our big lie is “hope makes people suffer and waste their lives“, which message emerging from it could push a skillful and selfless person, who has fear of change, and so prefers not to attempt to change the destiny of things, towards finding meaning in life by escaping from prison?

Let’s start by saying that, in our story, the destiny of things can be summarized as suffering and the waste of life through the false hope of leaving prison, right?

This means that the setting of our story is a prison in which a warden (main antagonist), a person who considers prisoners as livestock, has some sort of sick game or contest which involves the false hope of leaving, of achieving freedom.

This contest gives prisoners the manifestation of the big lie, a sort of sick version of hope that makes them suffer and waste their lives to entertain people and make the warden a rich person.

And I know, I know. This plot sounds a bit cliché. But before you go judging this freestyle version of plotting a movie idea, let me remind you that plot templates are often similar as structure and goal-driven narratives go, yet is in the execution where we will often find originality.

So, let’s try to add some of that sought-after originality, okay?

Our plot template would be something like this:

A skillful and selfless person, who has fear of change, and so prefers not to attempt to change the destiny of things, gets trapped inside a prison where the warden, a person who considers prisoners as livestock, has some sort of sick game or contest which involves the false hope of leaving, of achieving freedom.

In essence, what we’re saying is that our protagonist is a person who is inclined to accept his destiny because it allows him not to experience the fear that defines him, and that he gets trapped inside a prison in which staying or accepting his destiny will only get him killed, because destiny inside this prison is to participate in a contest where prisoners compete in such a way that they suffer and risk their lives, driven by false hope of winning the possibility of escaping from this place, just to entertain a lot of people and make the mayor richer and more powerful.

Now, to face such a challenge, many prisoners would opt for fighting by themselves, adopting an individualistic approach to the matter, kinda like the antagonist’s position, remember?

“Our protagonist is bound to consider everyone as his equal, while the antagonist will surely engage others from a superior position”.

So, we already know that, to win this battle, the protagonist is going to have to break this false belief expressed in the big lie, that hope makes you suffer and gets you killed, which is what happens when you participate in the challenge and it’s also the antagonistic approach, which permeates in all of the prisoners who fight by themselves.

No, no. The protagonist will face the issue with his own version of hope, which comes from his selflessness. He will aid others instead of hurting them, he will seek help instead of stabbing someone in the back, he will build a new movement, a new way of thinking, a new hope.

Okay, so with all these elements in our plate:

  • A prison setting.
  • A selfless character inspiring new hope by achieving team work amongst criminals.
  • An antagonist who considers prisoners as inferiors and pins them against each other to profit.
  • A contest/challenge in which prisoners compete with the false hope of achieving freedom.

Here comes the originality.

Let’s say that the prison setting is in fact some sort of reality show in which the participants live all together in a small town, even with their families. Problem is, they can’t escape from this town, trying so would probably mean being shot in the head.

Let’s also say that, to maintain their families, these criminals have to participate in a series of challenges, either to win or to survive. But here’s the twist, if they fail, they have the opportunity to sacrifice one of their family members to keep participating, but if the participant gets killed every member of the family dies too.

Here’s the catch, the one participant who wins all of the contests can choose to become the new warden, and by doing so, they can choose the new rules of engagement, they can even choose to free all the prisoners.

So yes… the antagonist is a former winner!!!

I think we’re ready to try a logline now, what do you say?

It would be something like this:

A selfless and skillful person gets trapped in a prison town, where he will have to unite all prisoners to survive a sick challenge, involving the sacrifice of family members, to win his and everyone’s freedom.

That’s it for today, next time we’ll continue writing this story, which I have to say it’s becoming a true epic! We already have the introduction of the big lie, now we have to dive into the next part of K.M. Weiland’s template, the small introduction of the truth, which we already hinted at!

Until that time comes, good luck in writing!

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