"Treat yourself to a screenplay analysis by Dara Marks; she's worth every penny."
Creative Screenwriting Magazine, 1999 Script Analysts Review


March-April 1999 Issue

Analyzing the Script Analysts
by Laura Schiff

RANKING THE EXPERTS:  This list ranks the consultants on their expertise, cost notwithstanding.

1. Dara Marks

What I Got For The Money: A one-hour phone consultation and eight pages of notes.

How Long Did It Take?: Five weeks.

Her Credentials: Has worked for most of the major studios. Development Executive, Tetragram Productions for Disney Studios and SunRae Productions for Columbia Studios. Wrote an episode of A Different World (NBC), as well as an ABC pilot and two independent films. Teacher of national screenwriting workshops and clinics. Colleague of Dr. Linda Seger (Making a Good Script Great).

Her Method: Dara Marks is the architect of an innovative structural technology called The Inner Script®. The system is designed to assist writers in maintaining the artistic integrity of their vision throughout the development of their story. Marks analyzes screenplay structure by breaking down a script into three distinct stories - A, B, and C. The A story is the Plot, the protagonist's physical experiences in the world; the call to action that drives die story. The B story is the Internal Subplot, the storyline that contains the protagonist's fatal flaw. It asks, what's wrong with this character? What needs to be healed? This is the storyline that expresses the theme of the film. The C story is the Relationship Subplot. It reflects the B storyline by mirroring the internal struggle of the protagonist. It shows us how the protagonist's fatal flaw is manifested in his/her interpersonal relationships and how it's ultimately resolved.

Marks uses this method within the context of the classic three-act structure, which traditionally has an inciting incident and setup within the first ten pages, a turning point around page thirty and a second turning point around page 90, followed by the climax and the denouement. The first act serves as the setup, the second act as the conflict, and the third the resolution.

Keeping this classic paradigm in mind, Marks analyzes each storyline individually. She determines each storyline's Set-Up, Central Question, First Turning Point, Midpoint, which reflects a shift of consciousness out of resistance and towards fulfillment of the protagonist's goal, Second Turning Point, Climax, and Resolution.

Her Overall Impression Of My Script: By applying this original technique to my screenplay, Ms. Marks had this to say: “This is a very well-written, nicely structured draft of your screenplay... I especially like the way you've placed Gothic horror in an updated, modern context. I'm particularly impressed with your grasp of the jargon. It is used in a highly effective manner that not only pulls us into the world of this particular subculture, but it also deepens and sharpens your protagonist, Trina, who is clearly nobody's fool. This attribute of character, however, while one of your script's biggest strengths, also holds one of your script's biggest weaknesses. In great storytelling we see the relationship of the external conflict as an opportunity for the character to grow and ascend internally. Because Trina is so dear and confident about where she stands in relationship to all the manifest powers that are reeling around her, she has a very small arc in terms of transformational change.

Specific Areas Suggested For Improvement: Protagonist growth through increased internal and external conflict. Clarify the antagonist's goal. Clarify and strengthen theme.

My Evaluation Of This Analysis: If you've got the money, I suggest you treat yourself to a screenplay analysis by Dara Marks; she's worth every penny. Out of all the script consultants in this study, I was most impressed with her. I think her Inner Script technique was extremely effective in analyzing my script. By examining the story structure, we were able to discuss my theme, underlying metaphors, characterization, and plot. Marks pointed out strengths in the script I didn't even know were there, such as the classic mythological and Jungian underpinnings of my protagonist and her quest. Working with Marks over the phone, and in reviewing her written notes, I found ways to strengthen my story further while still maintaining its essential core. In other words, Marks respected what my writing partner and I were trying to accomplish with this script, and she didn't try to rewrite it or change it into something else. Now I clearly saw the story's weaknesses and how to fix them. What really surprised me, however, was that after discussing this script with Marks, I conceived of an entirely new, more exciting and appropriate ending to my story.

Excerpt from Creative Screenwriting Magazine, March-April 1999 Issue

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