"Now, according to our definition Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete, and whole, and of a certain magnitude; for there may be a whole that is wanting in magnitude. A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A beginning is that which does not itself follow anything by causal necessity, but after which something naturally is or comes to be. An end, on the contrary, is that which itself naturally follows some other thing, either by necessity, or as a rule, but has nothing following it. A middle is that which follows something as some other thing follows it. A well constructed plot, therefore, must neither begin nor end at haphazard, but conform to these principles."
(Aristotle, The Poetics, Part VII, The Internet Classics Archive)
"A few years ago, Open Culture readers listed Slaughterhouse Five as one of your top life-changing books. But Kurt Vonnegut was not only a great author. He was also an inspiration for anyone who aspires to write fiction - see for example his 8 rules for writing fiction, which starts with the so-obvious-it's-often-forgotten reminder never to waste your reader's time.
In this video, Vonnegut follows his own advice and sketches some brilliant blueprints for envisioning the 'shape' of a story, all in less than 4 minutes and 37 seconds."
(Open Culture, 4 April 2011)
1). Kurt Vonnegut 'The Shape of A Story'
2). 'The Emotional Graph'
3). 'Eight rules for writing fiction'
"It was eons before I discovered that 'lauded' was a good thing.
Anyway, I'm more like that slack-assed buddy who doesn't return your phone calls, has owed you twenty bucks for the last 14 years and flirts with your wife when it comes to updating the site at times. For that I feel shame. Shame, I feel. But hey, it's 2010 now, and I'm a changed man. Besides, don't I get some slack since I've had this site up since 1995? Val Kilmer used to be Batman back then! And Mr. Showbiz left you high and dry, but your friend Drew, he sticks with you while simultaneously referring to himself in the third person!"
[Note that this site includes a large number of inelegant ads.]
The British feature film director Mike Leigh, is famous for developing screenplays in an improvised and collaborative manner. Leigh allows the plot of the film to evolve through extensive rehearsals/improvisations with his actors. He both facilitates and involves himself in the process to develop a raw script. After which he refines the script through conventional screenplay editing techniques.
Fig.1 Mike Leigh by Chris Saunders [http://www.chrismsaunders.com/gallery/portraits/]
"Again, Tragedy is the imitation of an action; and an action implies personal agents, who necessarily possess certain distinctive qualities both of character and thought; for it is by these that we qualify actions themselves, and these- thought and character- are the two natural causes from which actions spring, and on actions again all success or failure depends. Hence, the Plot is the imitation of the action- for by plot I here mean the arrangement of the incidents. By Character I mean that in virtue of which we ascribe certain qualities to the agents. Thought is required wherever a statement is proved, or, it may be, a general truth enunciated. Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality- namely, Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Song. Two of the parts constitute the medium of imitation, one the manner, and three the objects of imitation. And these complete the fist. These elements have been employed, we may say, by the poets to a man; in fact, every play contains Spectacular elements as well as Character, Plot, Diction, Song, and Thought.
According to Aristotle every tragedy has 6 parts, appearing in order from most important to least important: Plot; Character; Diction; Thought; Spectacle; Song."
1). Aristotle (350 B.C.E). 'Poetics', Part VI, translated by S. H. Butcher