Corey Deshon and The Everyman

Image by tookapic from Pixabay

A double blog post today in these difficult times. Starting this second Monday of quarantine without any more symptoms but still plenty of uncertainty. I'm going to start by summarising Corey Deshon's screenwriting method. He posted it on Twitter here. I love methods and will record mine at some point although I have more a collection of tools rather than a single strict process. As I write across different formats and ideas form in different ways, a universal process would be challenging.

 

Corey Deshon

His golden rules are:

  • Push the actual writing of the script to as late in the process as possible.
  • Focus on the mood and emotional tone of the ending while outlining, without ever deciding how to end.


Here's his process as best I could record it, based on a 3-month time period: 

1. Research (listen to music, watch movies)

  • Milestone: completed research document
  • Deliverable: a document of up to 20-30 pages including images and thoughts
  • Time: Two thirds of the total writing time

 

2. Beat Sheet

  • Milestone: completed beat sheet
  • Deliverable: 5-6 page document of all the beats
  • Time: maybe 1/2 week

 

3. Outline

  • Milestone: completed outline
  • Deliverable: story in prose with scene headings and dialogue
  • Time: maybe 1/2 week

 

4. Script

  • Milestone: a screenplay
  • Deliverable: a completed, formatted script
  • Time: 2-3 weeks at a minimum rate of 5 pages/day

 

There you go.

 

The Everyman

When I undertook a recent scriptwriting course, we had a brief discussion about heroes and the everyman. Is the everyman a hero and do they have a skill? Lert's start with the classic short trait list of the archetypal hero:

    1. Goal: improve world
    2. Skill: courage
    3. Flaw: arrogance
    4. Fear: vulnerability

 

Now, we've begun to consider every protagonist in a typical hollywood type film as a hero, because  they follow the hero's journey. This can easily create some confusion. Does the protoganist have to have the four traits above? Of course not.

The protagonist may usually follow the hero's journey but that doesn't mean they're archetypal heroes of the Hercules mold. They often show some of the traits probably because it's hard to not do so when you put them into the structure. Asnowball in the sun is probably going to melt.

I suggested that since all protagonists have a skill, if the everyman was the 'hero', they'd bring it with thee. Looking through my list of character archetypes (magician, hero, creator etc.), what is the everyman's profile? Here it is:

  1. Goal: to belong
  2. Skill: realism
  3. Flaw: losing self
  4. Fear: being left out

 

So their skill is realism. Seems a little odd and a bit dull. Plus aren't most of us everyman/women. Yes, probably. But where the everyman comes into their own, using their skill is in sitcoms. Here we have extreme situations and characters, particularly the monster at the heart.Having the everyman, shows their ridiculous, providing the voice of most of the audience.

So in the Good Place, its probably Kristen Bell, Douglas Adams has at least two: in Hitchikers Arthur Dent, and Todd in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, while in The Big Bang Theory it's Leonard. They provide the anchor, holding us to the ground as things get thrown into the air. So I do think the everyman has a skill, even it if may only work in a fantastical setting.