Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Disney Cheats--Or A New Approach to Synopsis Writing

Anyone looking for a secret formula to synopsis-writing? I think I've found it.

In an industry where the golden ticket consists of 'the same thing, but original', I'm always on the lookout for a new way to look at ANYTHING. So this morning, while being subjected to my son's animated version of comfort food--BEAUTY AND THE BEAST--I was hit over the head with new perspective.

No, Newanda, I'm not talking about Hero's Journey, which we all know is Disney's handbook. This time I'm talking about The Disney Cheats, the Disney Synopses all neatly packaged, tied with a beautiful bow, and sitting under your nose.

Are you ready?

They are...the songs!

I know. I know. It sounds too simple. But listen to the opening song of Beauty and the Beast and watch for the hidden gift . Go ahead. I'll wait.

I KNOW! And there's more! Ready?

For every major plot point in the story, there is another song!

So, let's review what goes into a great, succinct synopsis.
Characters and their motivation.
Conflicts, stakes.
Turning points, and resolutions.

Don't know what a Disney character's motivation is? Just wait. They'll sing it to you. And this is not just Disney. I think Pixar is in on it too.

I believe the real magic of great animated movies is the ritual of handing Randy Newman a copy of the synopsis and letting him put it to music.

So. Now what? How do use this insider information to make a lucrative trade? How about writing a song for your characters? How about writing a song for the POV character to sing at turning points? Don't worry about the tune--steal one. It's not like anyone's going to hear it.

Too lazy? Try listening to the soundtracks of these movies. Just like studying other works of fiction, this may just give you the pacing and rhythm to write that award-winning song--I mean, synopsis.

A cheat only works if you show up to take the test, you know.


stanalei said...

Now, you've done it. I'm going back to the musicals... and Disney. And here I thought I left my inner child behind.
Thanks, you.

Cindy A Christiansen said...

Awesome viewpoint, Lesli. You are so creative.

Anonymous said...

see Kal's deconstruction of The King's Speech and Black Swan, accessible from ; it's not just Disney.

Lesli Muir Lytle said...

Dear Anonymous,

My mind is blown, and I studied screenwriting for four years at the U of U!

Screw the new wallpaper. I'm printing those out and hanging them all over the office.

Today, I have become a better writer. Thanks to the brilliance of...Anonymous.