question about TotallyWrite

An
AndreasvanHaren
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Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:50 am Post

Does anybody know what TotallyWrite is about? I understand now that Mariner Software is going to release Contour that is based on TotallyWrite, but I would love to know what it is about. Is it based on something like the Monotmyth again? I searched everywhere, but cannot even find a simple outline that they maybe use.

André

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Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:15 am Post

Hi Andreas.

When LordLightning posted a link to the Mariner press release I was curious, too. Here are 2 interesting pages on TotallyWrite:

http://www.storyscribe.com/totally-writ ... -suite.php
http://totallywrite.wordpress.com

Franz

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Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:58 pm Post

Thanks, I found them already before but they don't show much about the program itself. I am curious about the system behind it and would like to know more about that.

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Lord Lightning
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Wed Oct 08, 2008 1:35 am Post

See if you can get hold of a book by Dr. Carol Pearson. It's title is "The Hero Within".

TW is a system based on 44 extremely clear and well argued plot points using various top ranked films as models. It interrogates story development in a tight-loose way that leaves you looking at your script as it comes together so that you can see the big picture at a glance and at the same time look at each plot point in great detail.

It is broken into three acts (which is really just a way of saying beginning, middle and end so you can explain your screenplay to Hollywood accountants). Intriguing beginning, compelling crisis, exciting climax and satisfying resolution - as per James Bonnet's ideas - a great formula for writing a synopsis in three or four short paragraphs.

Act One has 12 plot points. Intriguing beginning
Act Two has 14 + 14 plot points. Compelling crisis
Act Three has 4 plot points. Exciting climax and satisfying resolution

Think, 'Save the Cat' with brains and a real respect for screenwriters.

Hope this helps a little - but the new app based on TW will have the deft and engaging touch of the Mariner stable. It will also be more fully developed and focus on writing for getting produced. I would strongly suggest that getting a handle on the ideas and the practical no-nonsense approach to getting your screenplay in shape is worth the effort. In that sense it is a bit like Scrivener - the more you invest in mastering its tools the better they serve you.

Why not contact Logan Ryan at Mariner and make a case for beta testing of Contour. It should be ready for beta testing in a couple of weeks.

PS: Dr. Carol Pearson's book "The Hero Within" and James Bonnet's "Stealing Fire From the Gods" can change the way you write screenplays. Contour will confer a huge advantage to any screenwriter who has read these two books and understood them.

:)
Lord Lightning

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George the Flea
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Thu Oct 09, 2008 12:47 am Post

Mariner is looking for beta testers here:

http://marinersoftware.com/sitepage.php?page=120
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AndreasvanHaren
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Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:10 am Post

Thanks, I signed up for the beta testing of Contour.

In your opinion, what program or screenwriting system is better, Save the Cat or Totallywrite?

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Lord Lightning
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Thu Oct 09, 2008 2:09 pm Post

TW - No question at all. STC is really a marketing plan.

:)
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nggalai
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Thu Oct 09, 2008 4:51 pm Post

I have to admit I am VERY sceptical about TotallyWrite, STC, Contour etc.. I don’t know, perhaps I’m an idealist who believes modern authors should try to find modern approaches to story telling, rather than rehashing Archetypes and plot structures that have sold Hollywood movies …

I just don’t know.

Cheers,
-Sascha

P. S. Perhaps I should also say that I’m just as sceptical about those university degrees in “creative writing” you apparently can earn in the US. Somehow, it just feels … wrong to me. As for the application Contour itself, I’m sure it will work pretty well for what it’s designed for. Mariner is quite determined to deliver good user experiences. -.rb

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kewms
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Thu Oct 09, 2008 7:03 pm Post

nggalai wrote:I have to admit I am VERY sceptical about TotallyWrite, STC, Contour etc.. I don’t know, perhaps I’m an idealist who believes modern authors should try to find modern approaches to story telling, rather than rehashing Archetypes and plot structures that have sold Hollywood movies …


It isn't just that they have sold movies, it is that they are deeply embedded in pretty much every important work of world literature for the last several thousand years. Arguably, the classical archetypes and plot structures like the Hero's Journey capture stuff that is fundamental to the human condition. IMO, a "modern" approach to storytelling cannot succeed --artistically or commercially-- unless it also touches those deep roots. Without that human connection, you're just playing word games.

Katherine
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George the Flea
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Thu Oct 09, 2008 10:08 pm Post

My opinion has always been that archetypes and standard plot structures are tools in a storyteller's toolbox. If they're all you use, then either you'll perfect them or (more likely) you'll be an incredibly limited storyteller.

No matter what, though, being aware of what tools are readily available is a good idea.

A creative writing degree is like a degree in clinical psychology. Knowing exactly how to do it is impossible, but the degree gives you a better idea of what's been done before and more importantly provides you with a network of people who all want to do the same thing.
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Lord Lightning
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Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:19 am Post

nggalai, perhaps you should read the two books I suggested earlier then enter the argument for abandoning archetypal approaches.

You are treading surface water with an opinion that may or may not make sense after a bit of intensive reading.

By reading, I mean very close study, not superficial glossing over of the text.

So let me repeat:

Dr. Carol Pearson's book "The Hero Within" and James Bonnet's "Stealing Fire From the Gods" can change the way you write screenplays. Contour will confer a huge advantage to any screenwriter who has read these two books and understood them.

Katherine and George are making solid sense here. Do the reading then see how you feel about your current views. You might actually change your mind.

:)
Last edited by Lord Lightning on Mon Oct 13, 2008 6:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Lord Lightning

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nggalai
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Fri Oct 10, 2008 7:57 am Post

Mornin’ y’all!

You may be right that I appear a bit short-sighted here. It’s just that I don’t feel comfortable with the idea that a piece of software should do this kind of work for me. Hence the scepticism.

I far more prefer the way Lord Lightning suggests: Read a book about that sort of thing. Or two. So you can mull it over and really understand how it works, rather than relying on software.

Just to make it clear – I am fully aware of the importance of, say, archetypes in writing and literary criticism. I wrote enough papers about it myself. ;) I am just not sure this is something an application should do for me. Hence the “sceptical” above, rather than “I am totally opposed to”. :)

Cheers,
-Sascha

P. S. As for the University stuff, perhaps I should have put a smiley behind it. It’s just that us former literature majors like to sit on the high horse from time to time, too. :D

Edith says:

I totally agree with George here:
My opinion has always been that archetypes and standard plot structures are tools in a storyteller's toolbox. If they're all you use, then either you'll perfect them or (more likely) you'll be an incredibly limited storyteller.

No matter what, though, being aware of what tools are readily available is a good idea.


(My emphasis.)

My scepticism above means as much as: Will such applications really help you becoming aware of the tools? Or will they produce cookie-cutter outlines?

But as I said – scepticism. Not holy crusade. :D -.rb

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AndreasvanHaren
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Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:51 am Post

I believe that it's a good thing to know about structures in creative writing. I love to write music as well and did a lot of study about all kind of musical structures of the classical composers. Doesn't most of their music sound very original and very different? Doesn't Mozart sound totally different from Chopin? And still they use the same basic structures in their sonata's, their rondo's etc. I'm convinced that this works the same in writing. Knowing the structures that has been used a lot in the past by others, doesn't mean that your writing will be the same as that of other writers before you, it all depends how you fill in this structure.

André

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Jaysen
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Fri Oct 10, 2008 12:34 pm Post

But there is a difference between the detailed definitions or specifications represented by the labels in each form of "art" (I know I am re-starting a potential flame war here but hear me out). A "sonata" is DEFINED as having a very specific structure and the art is expressed through the way a composer works within that definition. Unless you are dealing with a specific form of writing like a "haiku" it is very difficult to make this analogy. Is a "poem" so distinctly defined that it must have a specific meter, rhythm, and phrase length?

I think for you music <=> literature comparison to hold you would need to look at genre. Rock to fiction, punk to sci-fi, etc. Suddenly the formalized methods seem as ridiculous in music as thy do in writing.

That said I think there is value to understanding WHY something worked in the past. Understanding a "save the cat" concept provides the historical context that I can use to know why my stuff sucks in the opinions of the masses. Just like listening to Dylan (which I really dislike) explains why my attempts to reach that genre are absolute failures. Why? Because I don't like using the structures.

Basically this comes right down the the old flame war. Why are you writing? Art or bread? If you need to eat you should really keep those structures handy. If you are like me and never expect your stuff to see the light of day them you can pretend they don't exist.

Or I could be completely wrong.
Jaysen

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Fri Oct 10, 2008 1:18 pm Post

I've already been called fundamentalist on another thread for daring to suggest that software like Contour/TotallyWrite and STC does nothing for you as a writer. It is pandering to the idea that your structure problems will be solved by programming and 'plot points'. By all means read all the structure books* you want (I've read enough of them myself that they form a blur) but at the end of the day you've got to sit down and write your own story.

My advice, for what it's worth (and that aint much), is to read works of fiction if you want to write fiction, and to read screenplays if you want to write screenplays. There isn't a better way to understand story.

*You can read three different approaches to structure that reference the same blockbuster film and all are able to retrofit the story into their own paradigm. :?

PS the nice thing about Scrivener is that you can apply any off-the-shelf structure in it without buying the software.
The person who says it can't be done should not interrupt the person doing it.