Introducing The Story-Type Method
A New Framework for Developing Screenplays
In Screenwriting Unchained, Emmanuel Oberg offers a powerful yet flexible way to handle the script development process: the Story-Type Method. This truly innovative book is aimed at screenwriters of all levels of experience as well as anyone involved creatively in the Film and TV development process: directors, producers, development executives, show runners, story editors and more generally, storytellers keen to reach a wide audience at home and abroad.
As a screenwriter, Emmanuel has been commissioned by:
About the Book
"Nobody Knows Anything" and "Structure is Everything". In two pithy statements, screenwriting legend William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Misery; The Princess Bride; Marathon Man), brilliantly encapsulates the essence of the film industry.
With Screenwriting Unchained, Emmanuel Oberg navigates a perilous journey between these two islands of truth. His refreshingly new approach to story structure leads to a powerful yet flexible way to handle the script development process: the Story-Type Method.
Having identified three main story-types - plot-led, character-led, theme-led - he explains how each of these impacts on the structure of any screenplay, and how we can use a single set of tools to develop any story. Crucially, he also looks at hybrids and exceptions, those unique gems that don't fit any of the story-types but still work beautifully because they follow the same principles, just in a less classical way.
If you've ever questioned why all screenplays have to be written in three acts, eight sequences, fifteen beats or twenty-two steps then this book was written for you. And if you never have, well... no time like the present!
Using many case studies including films as diverse as Gravity, Silver Linings Playbook, Crash, Billy Elliot, The Intouchables, Birdman, Alien, Groundhog Day, Misery, Edge of Tomorrow, The Secret in Their Eyes, Cloud Atlas, L.A. Confidential and The Lives of Others, Screenwriting Unchained will transform the way you write, read, pitch, design, assess and develop screenplays. Guaranteed!
About Emmanuel Oberg
Emmanuel is a screenwriter and script consultant with more than twenty years of experience in the Film and TV industry. After selling a first project to Warner Bros as a co-writer, he went on to be commissioned by StudioCanal and Gold Circle before working solo for Working Title / Universal and Film4. He has also designed an internationally acclaimed 3-day Advanced Development Workshop around his innovative Story-Type Method. Screenwriting Unchained is the first in a series of books on screenplay development based on this new method.
Emmanuel lives in the UK with his wife and his two daughters. His film agent is Rachel Holroyd at Casarotto in London.
Five Key Points About Screenwriting Unchained
- Structure is everything, but what is structure? Oberg defines a good story as a metaphor for a problem-solving process. Identifying where the main problem lies (outside the protagonist in other characters or nature; within the protagonist; in society) leads to the Story-Type Method, which defines three main story-types (plot-led, character-led and theme-led). This innovative way of looking at story structure works as well for a character-driven story as an action movie, a multi-stranded narrative or even hybrids and exceptions. Each story-type uses the same set of tools and principles, just in a different way.
- Story structure has a fractal aspect, which means that the three-act structure can be used to design not only the whole film but also its parts: acts, sequences, scenes, subplots, strands... This is one of the many differences between what Oberg calls the dramatic three-act structure and the more well-known logistical three-act structure, based on page numbers or minutes, such as the 30-60-30 paradigm. The dramatic three-act structure is more flexible, more powerful and is even optional, at least when it comes to designing the story as a whole.
- Oberg also dives into other structural elements, such as the way various tools can be used to manage information, which is another part of story structure. Tools like dramatic irony, surprise, mystery and suspense. Many films such as Tootsie, Avatar, The Lives of Others, Sleuth, Infernal Affairs and its remake The Departed have a structure based on managing information rather than simply managing conflict. Unlike the Story-Type Method, the logistical 30-60-30 paradigm on its own can't explain how these stories are designed.
- Oberg comes up with a completely new way of looking at Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, a well-known theory of human psychology, and explains how it can be applied to screenwriting. This results in practical applications in relation to potential audience, genre, story-types and ultimately getting the film made. It also leads to a powerful assessment tool called the M-Factor.
- In the last chapter, Bringing it All Together, Oberg makes the distinction between selling documents and story design tools, explaining how to use well-known documents such as step outlines, beat sheets, index cards or treatments, but also less well-known tools such as relationships maps, strands maps or story structure frameworks. In The Rewrite Stuff - 12 Ways to a Stronger Screenplay, he offers a practical guide to the re-writing process, using twelve aspects of the Story-Type Method to cut down the writing of a new draft into more manageable tasks and check if a story engine is firing on all cylinders.