Archive for July, 2011

Based on a True Story: THE HELP

July 29, 2011

The Help

The film THE HELP, based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett, is coming out next month. (They’ve bumped the release date up from 8/12 to 8/10). This is a great book, and promises to be a good film as well. It may surprise you to learn that although this is a fictional work, it’s all based on true story.

What’s really interesting about this project for the true story screenwriter is that this is a work of fiction based on a true story AND it’s about a work of fiction based on a true story. In the story, the heroine is writing a book about real women, but she has to fictionalize it just enough to protect the innocent and the guilty. This storyline itself is invented, but the characters are all based on real people from the author’s childhood.

In my opinion, this is a story worth reading and seeing. It’s about people of different races and classes coming together in a spirit of unity and love. It’s about how we help each other as human beings. Cool.

Stockett discusses the intersection between her own personal journey and the work of art she created in

this Q & A

Tate Taylor (Winter’s Bone) wrote the screenplay and directs. He is a childhood friend of Stockett’s, and they were in close collaboration on the screenplay. Check out the LAT article about the politics behind the process.

What it all comes down to is that even though real life makes bad drama, our true stories can be shaped, developed, reinvented and re-imagined to create stories that move and affect others. What version of your truth will you come up with? Just imagine.


Writing True Story

July 27, 2011

In the last chapter of my book, Shaping True Story into Screenplay, I talk about the importance of taking your time in revisions. Whereas the first draft can be, and often should be, written quickly in order to access your subconscious, the rewrite happens in stages and layers and sometimes takes an excruciatingly long time.

This is what I’m experiencing this week, as I tweak and polish, hone and refine. I am putting the final touches on the book, which will cover such topics as:

  • Clarifying the theme of your true story
  • Finding a metaphor to use as a springboard for the development of plot and character
  • Shaping the plot along a story spine
  • Inventing a frame to contain and propel the plot

We all have something unique and important to share and contribute with the world. At the moment, this is my contribution, and I’m happy to report that it really, truly, is almost done!