Page 1 of Notes on Lajos Egri's “Art of Creative Writing”. 1. Universal Man. Every type of creative writing depends on the credibility of a character. Whatever a. Title: THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING. Other Titles: ITS BASIS IN THE CREATIVE INTERPRETATION OF HUMAN MOTIVES. Authors: EGRI, LAJOS. Keywords: THE link-marketing.info, INTRODUCTION, kB, Adobe PDF, View/Open. Read "The Art of Dramatic Writing Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives" by Lajos Egri available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get.
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THE ART OF. DRAMATIC WRITING. Its Basis in the Creative. Interpretation of Human Motives. BY. LAJOS EGRI. WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY. Editorial Reviews. link-marketing.info Review. For many years, Lajos Egri's highly opinionated but very enjoyable The Art of Dramatic Writing has been a. The Art of Dramatic Writing - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf) or read book online. Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives by Lajos Egri.
Randy Ingermanson. We have witnessed, then, how tartuffe, with subtle methods, and with the help of Orgon, his intended victim, is digging a pit for Orgon. He advanced toward the statue with the apparent intention of smashing it to bits. If the reader accepts our reasoning, he will drop the idea of writing a play about how someone committed a perfect crime, and turn to why someone did. Obviously the premise of this novel is: She decides to marry her sweetheart, thereby breaking off relations with her family.
Premise, character, conflict: His book is a direct, jargon-free approach to the problem of achieving truth in a literary creation. Creating Character Arcs: The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws. Becca Puglisi. The Screenwriter's Workbook. Syd Field. Into the Woods. John Yorke. Elements of Fiction Writing - Conflict and Suspense. James Scott Bell. Writing 21st Century Fiction. Donald Maass.
Make a Scene. Jordan Rosenfeld. The Screenwriter's Problem Solver. Bryan Cohen. The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Attributes. The Story Grid. Shawn Coyne. A Writer's Guide Second Edition. Rory Miller. Robert McKee. The Plot Whisperer. Martha Alderson. Orson Scott Card. Story Engineering.
Larry Brooks. The Anatomy of Story. John Truby. Planning before Writing a Novel. Shruti Chandra. Story Physics. Wired for Story. Lisa Cron. Structuring Your Novel. On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition. William Zinsser. Reading Like a Writer. Francine Prose. Bird by Bird. Anne Lamott. The War of Art. Steven Pressfield. Writing Tools. Roy Peter Clark. Creating Character Arcs Workbook: Turning Pro.
On Writing. Stephen King. The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Psychological Trauma. Save the Cat! Blake Snyder. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces. The Rural Setting Thesaurus: Structuring Your Novel Box Set. Outlining Your Novel Box Set: How to Write Your Best Book. How to Write Pulp Fiction. The Emotional Craft of Fiction.
The Mental Game of Writing: The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. How to Write Dazzling Dialogue. The Secret Power of Great Writing. Take Off Your Pants! Libbie Hawker. Conquering Writer's Block and Summoning Inspiration: Learn to Nurture a Lifestyle of Creativity. Making It in Historical Fiction. Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story. Writes a Novel. Jessica Brody. Randy Ingermanson.
Outlining Your Novel Workbook: Story Genius. Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels. Gwen Hayes. Gotta Read It! Rachel Aaron. Paula Wynne. Structuring Your Novel Workbook: The Alchemist. Paulo Coelho. The Lord of the Rings. Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More. Sacha Black. A systematic way to develop phenomenal fictional characters.
Rock Your Revisions. What would they make of all the furious rushing around, the sleeping tablets taken when there is no time to sleep them off, the wonderful dinners ordered and never eaten, and so on and so on That play didn't work either. I kept worrying at it, and the earlier people, the titled couple, returned continually. It would take all afternoon and probably a lot of tomorrow to trail all the steps that made those two plays into Watch on the Rhine.
The titled couple are still in, but as minor characters. The Americans are nice people, and so on. All is changed, but the new play grew out of the other two.
Let us trace an idea which will slowly arrive at a premise. Let us assume that you want to write a play about love. What kind of love? Well, it must be a great love, you decide, one that will overcome prejudice, hatred, adversity, one that cannot be bought or bargained with. The audience should be moved to tears at the sacrifice the lovers make for each other, at the sight of love triumphant.
This is the idea, and it is not a bad one. But you have no premise, and until you choose one you cannot write your fine play. There is a fairly obvious premise implicit in your idea: It says too much and therefore says nothing. What is this "all"? You might answer that it is obstacles, but we can still ask: In your premise you must designate exactly how great this love is, show exactly what its destination is, and how far it will go. Let us go all the way and show a love so great that it conquers even death.
Our premise is clear-cut: They will die for love. It is an active premise, so that when you ask what love will defy, it is possible to answer "death," categorically. As a result, you not only know how far your lovers are willing to go; you also have an inkling as to the kind of characters they are, the characters they must be to carry the premise to its logical conclusion.
Can this girl be silly, unemotional, scheming? Can the boy, or man, be superficial, flighty? Hardly -- unless they are shallow only until they meet. Then the battle would begin, first, against the trivial lives they had been living, then against their families, religions, and all the other motivating factors aligned against them.
As they go along they will grow in stature, strength, determination, and, at the end, despite even death -- in death -- they will be united. If you have a clear-cut premise, almost automatically a synopsis unrolls itself. You elaborate on it, providing the minute details, the personal touches. We are taking it for granted that if you choose the above premise," Great love defies even death," you believe in it. You should believe in it, since you are to prove it.
You must show conclusively that life is worthless without the loved one. And if you do not sincerely believe that this is so, you will have a very hard time trying to provide the emotional intensity of Nora, in A Doll's House, or of Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet. Almost certainly. But if they did not, their genius was strong enough to feel what they described, to relive their heroes' lives so intensely that they convinced the audience of their sincerity.
You, however, should not write anything you do not believe. The premise should be a conviction of your own, so that you may prove it wholeheartedly. Perhaps it is a preposterous premise to me -- it must not be so to you. Although you should never mention your premise in the dialogue of your play, the audience must know what the message is. And whatever it is, you must prove it. We have seen how an idea -- the usual preliminary to a play -- may come to you at any time.
And we have seen why it must be turned into a premise. The process of changing an idea into a premise is not a difficult one. You can start to write your play any way -- even haphazardly -- if, at the end, all the necessary parts are in place. It may be that the story is complete in your mind, but you still have no premise.
Can you proceed to write your play? You had better not, however finished it seems to you. If jealousy predicated the sad ending, obviously you might have written a play about jealousy. But have you considered where this jealousy sprang from? Was the woman flirtatious? The man inferior?
Did a friend of the family force his attentions upon the woman? Was she bored with her husband? Did the husband have mistresses? Did she sell herself to help out her sick husband? Was it just a misunderstanding? And so forth.
Every one of these possibilities needs a different premise. For instance: The premise will suggest the one and only road that you must take. Many premises can deal with jealousy, but in your case there will be only one motivating power which will drive your play to its inevitable conclusion. A promiscuous person will act differently from one who is not promiscuous, or from a woman who sells herself to help keep her husband alive.
Although you may have the story set in your mind or even on paper, you cannot necessarily dispense with a clear-cut premise. It is idiotic to go about hunting for a premise, since, as we have pointed out, it should be a conviction of yours. You know what your own convictions are. Look them over. Perhaps you are interested in man and his idiosyncrasies. Take just one of those peculiarities, and you have material for several premises.
Remember the fable about the elusive bluebird? A man searched all over the world for the bluebird of happiness, and when he returned home he found it had been there all the time. It is unnecessary to torture your brain, to weary yourself by searching for a premise, when there are so many ready to hand. Anyone who has a few strong convictions is a mine of premises. Suppose you do find a premise in your wanderings. At best it is alien to you.
It did not grow from you; it is not part of you. A good premise represents the author. We are taking it for granted that you want to write a fine play, something which will endure. The strange thing is that all plays, including farces, are better when the author feels he has something important to say. Does this hold for so light a form as the crime play? Let us see.
You have a brilliant idea for a drama in which someone commits the "perfect crime. You tell it to your friend, and he is -- bored. You are shocked. What's wrong? Perhaps you'd better get the opinion of others. You do, and receive polite encouragement. But you feel in your marrow that they do not like it. Are they all morons? You begin to doubt your play.
You rework it, fixing a little here, a little there -- and go back to your friends. They've heard the darned thing before, so they're honestly bored now. A few go so far as to tell you so. Your heart sinks. You still do not know what is wrong, but you do know that the play is bad. You hate it and try to forget it. Without seeing your play we can tell you what was wrong with it: And if there is no clear-cut, active premise, it is more than possible that the characters were not alive.
How could they be? They do not know, for instance, why they should commit a perfect crime. Their only reason is your command, and as a result all their performance and all their dialogue are artificial.
No one believes what they do or say. You may not believe it, but the characters in a play are supposed to be real people. They are supposed to do things for reasons of their own. If a man is going to commit the perfect crime, he must have a deep-rooted motivation for doing so. Crime is not an end in itself. Even those who commit crime through madness have a reason. Why are they mad?
What motivated their sadism, their lust, their hate? The reasons behind the events are what interest us. The daily papers are full of reports of murder, arson, rape. After a while we are honestly nauseated with them.
Why should we go to the theater to see them, if not to find out why they were done? A young girl murders her mother. But why? What were the steps that led to the murder? The more the dramatist reveals, the better the play. The more you can reveal of the environment, the physiology and the psychology of the murderer, and his or her personal premise, the more successful you will be.
Everything in existence is closely related to everything else. You cannot treat any subject as though it were isolated from the rest of life. If the reader accepts our reasoning, he will drop the idea of writing a play about how someone committed a perfect crime, and turn to why someone did. Let us go through the steps of planning a crime play, seeing how the various elements fit together. What shall the crime be? Embezzlement, blackmail, theft, murder? Let us choose murder, and get on to the criminal.
Why would he kill? For lust? To right a wrong? There are so many types of murder that we must answer this question at once. Suppose we choose ambition as the motive behind the murder and see where it leads us. The murderer must reach a position where someone stands in his way.
He will try everything to influence the man who stands in his path, he will do anything to win his favor. Perhaps the men become friends, and the murder is averted. But no -- the prospective victim must be adamant, else there will be no murder -- and no play. But why should he be adamant? We don't know, because we don't know our premise. We might stop here for a moment and see how the play would turn out if we continued without a premise.
But that is unnecessary. Just a glance at what we have to work with will indicate how flimsy the structure is. A man is going to kill another man who thwarts his ambition. That has been the idea behind hundreds of plays, but it is far too weak to serve as the basis for a synopsis. Let us look more deeply into the elements we have here and find an active premise.
The murderer will kill to win his goal. He's not a fine type of man, certainly. Murder is a high price to pay for one's ambition, and it takes a ruthless man to -- That's it!
Our killer is ruthless -- blind to everything but his selfish ends.
He's a dangerous man, of no benefit to society. Suppose he succeeds in escaping the consequences of his crime? Suppose he attains a position of responsibility? Think of the harm he might do! Why, he might continue his ruthless path indefinitely, never knowing anything but success! But could he? Is it possible for a man of ruthless ambition to succeed completely? It is not. Ruthlessness, like hate, carries the seeds of its own destruction.
Then we have the premise: It opens up unlimited possibilities. We know our ruthless killer. There is more to know, of course. The understanding of a character is not as simple as this, as we shall show in our chapter on character.
But it is our premise which has given us the outstanding traits of our main character.
There are as many ways to arrive at a premise as there are playwrights -- more, since most playwrights use more than one method. Let us take another example. Suppose a dramatist, on his way home one night, sees a group of youngsters attack a passer-by.
He is outraged. Boys of sixteen, eighteen, twenty -- and hardened criminals! He is so impressed that he decides to write a play on juvenile delinquency. But he realizes that the subject is endless. What exact phase shall he deal with? Holdup, he decides. It was a holdup which so impressed him, and he trusts it will affect an audience the same way.
The kids are stupid, the dramatist reflects. If they are caught their lives are over. They will be sentenced to from twenty years to life imprisonment for robbery. What fools! They were risking their lives for nothing! But the story refuses to grow.
After all, you can't write three acts about a holdup. The playwright storms, bewildered by his inability to write a play on what he is sure is a fine idea. A holdup is a holdup. Nothing new. The unusual angle might be the youth of the criminals. But why should such youngsters steal? Perhaps their parents don't give a thought to them. Perhaps their fathers are drunk, wrapped up in their own problems. But why should they be? Why should they turn to drink and neglect their children?
There are so many boys like this -- not all their fathers can be habitual drunkards, men without any love for their children. Well, they may be men who have lost their authority over their children. They may be very poor, unable to support their children. Why don't they look for work? Oh, yes, the depression.
There is no work, and these kids have lived their lives on the street. Poverty, neglect, and dirt are all they have known. These things are powerful motivation toward crime.
And it is not only the boys in this one slum section. Thousands of boys, all over the country, poverty-ridden, turn to crime as a way out. Poverty has pushed them, encouraged them, to become criminals.
That's it! He looks around for a locality in which to set his drama. He remembers his own childhood, or something he has seen, or a newspaper clipping. At any rate, he thinks of various localities which might well encourage crime. He studies the people, the houses, the influences, the reason for the poverty abounding. He investigates what the city has done about these conditions. Then he turns to the boys.
Are they really stupid? Or have neglect, illness, near-starvation made them so? He decides to concentrate on one character -- the one who will help him write the story.
He finds him: The father has disappeared, leaving behind the two kids and a sick wife. He could not find a job, became disgusted with life in general, and left home. His wife died soon after. The girl of eighteen insisted she could look after her brother. She loved him, and it was unthinkable to live without him. She'd work. An orphan asylum could have taken Johnny, of course, but then "Poverty encourages crime" would be senseless as a premise.
So Johnny prowls the streets while his sister works in a factory. Johnny has his own philosophy about everything. Other children look to their teachers and parents for guidance.
These teach: Johnny knows from his own experience that this is all bunk. If he obeys the law he will go hungry many a day. So he has his own premise: He has stolen things and got away with it.
Against Johnny stands the law, whose premise is: Guys who got away with it. He is sure they can outsmart any cop. There is Jack Colley, a local boy, for instance. He came from this very neighborhood. All the cops in the nation were chasing him, and he made fools of them. He's tops. To know Johnny as you should, find out about his background, his education, ambition, hero worship, inspiration, friends.
Then the premise will cover him and millions of other kids perfectly. If you see only that Johnny is a roughneck, and you don't know why, then you will need, and find, another premise, perhaps: An ignorant person might say yes.
But you will have to explain why millionaires' sons do not go out and steal bread, like Johnny. If there were more police, would poverty and misery diminish in proportion? Experience says no.
Then "Poverty encourages crime" is a truer, more practical premise. It is the premise of Dead End, by Sidney Kingsley. You must decide just how you are going to treat your premise. Will you indict society?
Will you show poverty and a way out of poverty? Kingsley decided to show poverty only and let the audience draw its own conclusions. If you wish to add anything to what Kingsley said, make a subpremise which will enlarge the original one. Enlarge it again, if necessary, so that it will fit your case perfectly. If in the process you find your premise untenable because you have changed your mind as to what you wished to say, formulate a new premise and discard the old.
Of course, this play will differ from Kingsley's. You can formulate any number of premises -- "poverty," "love," "hate" -- choosing the one that satisfies you most. You can arrive at your premise in any one of a great many ways. You may start with an idea which you at once convert to a premise, or you may develop a situation first and see that it has potentialities which need only the right premise to give them meaning and suggest an end. Emotion can dictate many premises, but you must elaborate them before they can express the dramatist's idea.
Test this with an emotion: Jealousy feeds on the sensations generated by an inferiority complex. Jealousy, as such, cannot be a premise, because it designates no goal for the characters.
Would it be better if we put it thus: No, although we now know what action it takes. Let us go further: We know, and the dramatist knows, that the play will continue until jealousy has destroyed itself. The author may build on it as he chooses, saying, perhaps, "Jealousy destroys not only itself but the object of its love. The variations are endless, and with each new variation the premise of the play is changed. But whenever you change your premise, you will have to go back to the beginning and rewrite your synopsis in terms of the new premise.
If you start out with one premise and switch to another, the play will suffer. No one can build a play on two premises, or a house on two foundations. See synopsis and analysis on page The premise of Tartuffe is: Tartuffe was taken into the house by her son, Orgon.
Tartuffe is obviously a scoundrel masquerading as a holy man. Tartuffe's real objective is to have an illicit love affair with Orgon's wife and to take possession of his fortune. His piousness has captured Orgon's heart, and he now believes in Tartuffe as if he were the Saviour incarnate.
But let's go back to the very beginning of the play. The author's objective is to establish the first part of the premise as quickly as possible.
Mme Pernelle is speaking: He is seeking to lead you all on the road to heaven, if you would but follow him. I'll travel no road in his company! MME P.: That is not only foolish but a wicked thing to say. Your father both loves and trusts him, which should surely dispose you to do likewise.
Neither Father nor anyone else could induce me to love him or trust him! I loathe the fellow and all his ways, and I should lie ii I said I did not. And if he tries to domineer over me again, I'll break his head for him. I did not ask for your opinion. This is the first hint of what is actually going to happen later, when Orgon entrusts him with his fortune.
You may think him a saint, Madame, but to my mind he's a good deal more like a hypocrite. I'll be sworn he is. Hold your malicious tongues, both of you --! I know you all dislike him -- and why?
Because he sees your faults and has the courage to tell you of them. He does more than that. He is seeking to prevent Madame from entertaining any company at all.
Why should he rave and thunder at her as he does for receiving an ordinary caller? Where's the harm in it? It's my belief that it's all because he's jealous of her!
Yes, he is jealous, as we'll find out later. Dorine, that is nonsense! It's worse than nonsense. Think what you've dared to hint, girl, and be properly ashamed of yourself! My son never did a wiser thing in his life than bringing worthy Tartuffe into this house, for if anyone can recall wandering sheep to the fold, it is he. And if you are wise in time you will heed his warnings that all your visiting, your routs, your balls are so many subtle devices of the Evil One for your soul's destruction.
Why, Mother? For the pleasure we take in such gatherings is innocent enough. If you reread the premise, you will notice that someone -- in this case, Tartuffe -- will ensnare innocent, believing persons -- Orgon and his mother -- with his hypocritical pretension of saintliness.
This will enable him later to take possession of Orgon's fortune and make the lovely Elmire his mistress -- if he succeeds. In the very beginning of the play we feel that this happy family is threatened with dire disaster. We didn't get a glimpse of Orgon yet, only of his mother taking up the cudgel for the pseudo saint. Can it be true that a man in his senses, an ex-army officer, believes in another man so implicitly that he may give him a chance to play havoc with his family?
If he does believe so much in Tartuffe, the author established the first part of his premise explicitly. We have witnessed, then, how tartuffe, with subtle methods, and with the help of Orgon, his intended victim, is digging a pit for Orgon. Will he fall into it? We don't know yet. But our interest is aroused. Let us see whether Orgon's faith in Tartuffe is as firm as his mother wants us to believe. Orgon has just arrived home from a three-day journey.
I heard you were expected shortly, and waited in the hope of seeing you. That was kind. But you must pardon me if, before we talk, I ask a question or two of Dorine here. Not altogether, Monsieur.
Madame was taken with the fever the day before yesterday and suffered terribly from pains in her head. Did she so? And Tartuffe? Oh, he's prodigiously well -- bursting with health. Poor dear fellow! At supper that evening Madame was so ill that she could not touch a morsel. Ah -- and Tartuffe?
He could manage no more than a brace of partridges and half a hashed leg of mutton. Madame could get no sleep all that night, and we had to sit up with her till daybreak. Oh, he went straight from the table to his bed, where, to judge by the sounds, he slept on sweetly till the morning was well advanced.
But at last we persuaded Madame to let herself be bled, which gave her relief at once. He bore up bravely, and at breakfast next morning drank four cups of red wine to replace what Madame had lost. So all is now well with both of them, Monsieur, and, with your leave, I will now go and let Madame know you are returned. Do so, Dorine. And if she did, my dear Orgon, is there not some excuse for her?
Great heavens, man, how can you be so infatuated with this Tartuffe? What do you see in him that makes you indifferent to all others? Obviously Orgon can't see the pit Tartuffe is digging for him.
Tartuffe has dug a pit; will Orgon fall into it? We don't know -- and we're not supposed to know -- until the end of the play. Needless to say, the same principles govern a short story, novel, movie, or radio play. Let us take Guy de Maupassant's short story, The Diamond Necklace, and try to find the premise in it. Mathilda, a young, daydreaming, vain woman borrowed a diamond necklace from a wealthy schoolmate to wear to a ball. She lost the necklace.
Afraid to face the humiliating consequences she and her husband mortgage their inheritance and borrow money to buy a replica of the lost necklace. They work for ten long weary years to repay their debt. They become coarse, work-worn, ugly and old.
Then they discover that the original lost necklace had been made of paste. What is the premise of this immortal story? We think it started with her daydreaming. A daydreamer is not necessarily a bad person. Daydreams are usually an escape from reality; -- a reality which the dreamer has no courage to face. Daydreams are a substitute for action.
Great minds are dreamers too, but they translate their dreams into reality.