Dilemma Is The Source Of A Story by Alan Watt, Founder of L.A. Writers’ Lab

Film Courage: At some point you made the decision that you were going to write and the books and teach courses. When did you write THE 90 DAY SCREENPLAY: From Concept To Polish again?

Alan Watt, Author, Screenwriter and Founder of L.A. Writers’ Lab: The 90 Day novel came out in 2010, the 90 Day screenplay was 2012–2013 something like that?

Film Courage: Is there a chapter in the 90 Day screenplay book that is most contested? Or which people have the most questions about (one part of the process)?

Alan: I’m not really aware of anything being particularly contested? I get a lot of people who love it. But it is better (I think) than a lot of the screenwriting books out there.

My perception of it is that it’s very much about process and less about results.

I think when we lose ourselves in the process, the results can take care of themselves.

One of the things that I teach is how dilemma is a source of the story. A lot of writing books talk about the dramatic problem. The implication with that for me and why I was resistant to a lot of the writing books that I’ve read is that problems are solved. They are intellectual (you solve the problem).

Dilemmas are resolved through shifts in perception. Something that (I didn’t discover this but sort of drilled down into it is) the source of our story is our protagonist dilemma.

A dilemma is a problem that can’t be solved without creating another problem. You know you’ve got a story when what the protagonist wants is impossible to achieve based on their current approach or their current identity.

In other words it’s going to necessitate a shift in perception. They are going to have to become a new person so to speak by the end of the story.

When you think about problems you think about I have a flat tire. I call the tow truck, they solve my problem. Not an interesting story.

But if I have a flat tire and I’m out in the desert and I call the tow truck and I’m dying of thirst and this guy drives out to the desert and it’s the guy who is sleeping with my wife, now I’ve got an interesting story. Now I want to hurt the man who is here to save my life.

When you can connect to your protagonist dilemma then you’ve got something to work with…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

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