"They say you canít learn screenwriting from a book. They were right—until  Inside Story. This is a book every screenwriter must read before writing the words, 'Fade In...'"
Andrew Smith, Screenwriter
The Main Event, Who's That Girl?, Former head writer Saturday Night Live
more...












INSIDE STORY: The Power of the Transformational Arc


The ability to write deeper, more meaningful movies doesn't arise from merely applying a bit of character development here and there amid the activity of a plot. Character development must be systemic or it will never fully integrate into a story. As the conflict of a plot grows in a well-told tale, it puts pressure on the protagonist to grow as well. When story structure is seen only through the singular lens of plot development, it cannot express much more than just the architectural shape of a story. The development of character becomes an add-on or an afterthought, not an intrinsic part of the form itself. Such a tendency creates shallow, one-dimensional stories that are likely to idealize rather than dramatize the human condition.

The conflicts and problems encountered in a person's outer, physical world impact his or her internal reality. When problems of great magnitude arise, one's own personal character is tested and often strengthened or diminished by the experience. In story terminology, this challenge to grow and evolve is referred to as the transformational arc of the character. In the film industry this concept is widely used to indicate the need for interaction or interrelatedness between plot and character development. What the book, Inside Story, demonstrates is that the transformational arc has much greater significance. In effect, it is a second line of structure that runs concurrently, wrapping itself within the structural line of the plot itself. These two structural lines are symbiotic; each pushes the other forward, giving the story its true momentum.

Inside Story defines the transformational arc in a manner that gives writers a tangible tool with which to identify and integrate the authentic movement of character in a story. The book also illustrates that there is a central source from which all story structure naturally wants to evolve. This source is the writer's own thematic intentions. Once writers learn how to define these intentions, their story choices will cease to be random and arbitrary. Instead, they will become deliberately focused around values that the writer is attempting to express.

Inside Story is intended to assist writers in gaining insight into their stories and into their own process of creation. Acquiring even a small piece of insight into one's own work not only makes for better stories, but it makes the writing experience more successful and personally fulfilling.

Ultimately, it is the discovery of one's own personal truth that the writer is searching for in the creative process. Art does imitate life; it holds up a mirror to expose life as it truly is. Film is a unique artistic medium because it shows images of life in motion. These images not only portray a sequence of events, but they can also communicate the artist's perspective, observations, and feelings about the human condition. At this level of personal truth, cinema becomes truly potent. It not only engages audiences through action and activity, but the experience of the characters on the screen will become the audience's experience as well. Inside Story is intended to help writers achieve this goal and in so doing help elevate their craftsmanship to the level of art.