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Setups and Payoffs Add Fears and Hopes


setups and payoffs_j

“Setups and Payoffs Add Fear and Hope” by Joan Y. Edwards

I’ve read a number of books and taken courses about novel writing and screenwriting. They all mention the importance of set-ups and payoffs in novels and movies. So just what is a setup and how do you make it pay off? We know what it feels like when someone sets us up for defeat in real life. 

In the dictionary, a setup is when the author uses a symbol, an event, or a prop to signify something that’s about to happen in the main character’s life…a symbol of the past that may change in the future to give hope or cause defeat. Setups are significant to the main character’s current bad situation or responsible for helping them rise above the problem. 

Here’s something I learned from reading Chris Soth’s Million Dollar Screenwriting – The Mini Movie Method.  In your book or movie script, you want your characters to go from fear to hope…from hope to fear…from fear to hope, etc. When your character’s situation goes from fear to hope, the reader sighs with satisfaction. When the plot goes from hope to fear, the readers feel tension and are afraid for your main character. They relate to the emotions of the main character.

So the mention of things or showing them, are they symbols of past defeat? Hope for the future success? Will these situations be overcome? Will the main character defeat fear in the final hour of the story? How? Will these set-ups play a part in it? What will have to change before the main character defeats the enemy? Set it up.

Setups may scare us. Danger for the main character from the past, the present, or the future. Setups create or set up a mood, build up a desired emotion.

Payoffs ease your mind.  Payoffs may be payback time for the bad guy. Payoffs may be when the main character wins at something. A small success.  

Possible things to use as set-ups to add fear or hope to your story.

Prop
Place
Weather
Hopeless situation
Future event
Clothing
Sidekick
Relationship
C
ompetition
Warning

If a doll that Jane had in 5th grade isn’t significant for the story, don’t mention it. Everything and everyone mentioned in a story has to have significance to the story. If a character, prop, or event has no significance to your plot or character formation, cut it out.

In the movie, Better Off Dead, with John Cusack as Lane Meyer a teenage boy who’s devastated because his girlfriend dumps him.  The paperboy comes to collect the $2.00 for the subscription to the paper. However, Lane’s parents aren’t home and he doesn’t have any money. The paperboy creates a lot of havoc because he throws the paper and it breaks a window in the garage door. So if the truth was known, the paperboy might owe them more money than the two dollars. This is a set up for the paperboy to ride on his bike and follow the lead character everywhere saying, “I want my two dollars.” Without that one scene where they show that the main character doesn’t have the money, we wouldn’t understand the humor in “I want my two dollars. 

In Shawshank Redemption at the beginning they set up the Bible as being important to Andy. At the end we find out that one of the reasons, the Bible is so important to him is that it contains a hammer with which he digs his way out of prison. It sets up that the men in the prison are important to Andy and for that reason he goes out on a limb to play music for them over the P.A. system and doesn’t care what repercussions happen to him as a result. He gets them a library so they can learn. It’s so clever when the story tells about how he’s invented a character to doctor up the books for the head of the prison to make a bunch of money illegally. A fictional character…the big payoff at the end is that he uses that made up character for his identity when he escapes. Great setups and payoffs throughout this movie. 

Back to the Future with Michael J. Fox has many setups and payoffs. Marty McFly sees  how pathetic his father is and how Biff Tannen bullies his father. At the end of the movie, payoff is that going back to the past, changed the present condition of his family.  Biff is no longer able to bully, Marty’s father. Lane’s town is restoring the clock tower from the damage of the lightning strike in 1955. Aha, that’s the year the Doc Brown’s time machine gets stuck.  So many details from the present are shown in the past and vice versa. It’s fun and fascinating to watch…very satisfying to see the great payoffs.

I hope my explanation helps you understand how to use setups and payoffs to create and release tension in your stories. If not, I believe reading the resources listed below will help you get the idea embedded in your mind so that you can use it to make your story better by keeping your readers on the edge of their seats. I listed the resources beginning with the ones I found most useful. All of them were useful.

Look at your favorite book or movie, one you’ve read or watched many times. What are the significant setups and payoffs you remember from it? Things that scared you and things that eased your mind. Please share. 

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Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

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Joan’s Elder Care Guide published by 4RV Publishing

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2017 Joan Y. Edwards

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Resources in the order I found them useful. The most useful is at the beginning.

  1. Copyblogger. “Open Loops:” https://www.copyblogger.com/open-loops-2/ Use the Movie Up
  2. Save the Cat. “Examples of Great Set-ups and How They Pay Off:” http://www.savethecat.com/tools/examples-of-great-set-ups-and-how-they-pay-off
  3. Writer with Tools. “Setups and Payoffs: What are they?” http://writeswithtools.com/2015/04/13/setups-and-payoffs-what-are-they/
  4. Copyblogger.The Blockbuster Secret to Seducing Your Audience:” https://www.copyblogger.com/open-loops/
  5. The 15 Minute Movie Method. “Setups and Payoffs:” http://15minutemoviemethod.com/setups-and-payoffs
  6. Elizabeth Amy Hajek. Elenatintil Blog. “Fast Writing: Tracking Set-ups and Pay-offs:” http://elenatintil.blogspot.com/2017/06/writing-set-ups-and-pay-offs.html
  7. Actionromanceintrigue. “Screenwriting setups and payoffs are best as cause and effect:” https://actionromanceintrigue.com/screenwriting-setups-payoffs-cause-and-effect/
  8. Back to the Future wiki. “Setup and Payoff:” http://backtothefuture.wikia.com/wiki/Setup_and_payoff
  9. LinkedIn Learning. video. Writing: The Craft of Story. “Story check (Setups, payoffs, and the clues in between):” https://www.linkedin.com/learning/writing-the-craft-of-story/story-check-setups-payoffs-and-the-clues-in-between
  10. Reddit. “What are some of your favorite setups and payoffs?” https://www.reddit.com/r/Screenwriting/comments/2nrz71/what_are_some_of_your_favorite_setups_and_payoffs/
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You Are Resourceful


You Are Resourceful Copyright 2016 Joan Y. Edwards“You Are Resourceful” by Joan Y. Edwards

Today is Day 29 of “Say Good Things February.”

Say Good Things February-Copyright 2016 Joan Y. Edwards

 

 

 

 

Are you resourceful? My answer to you is:

Yes, you are resourceful. You turn challenges into advantages. You ask questions. You look for answers in many places. You learn from the experiences of others. You are creative. You gather useful information. You organize information. You share information with others. You plan your daily activities. You choose actions that solve problems.

Repeat these affirmations using I instead of you.

Yes, I am resourceful. You turn challenges into advantages. I ask questions. I look for answers in many places. I learn from the experiences of others. I am creative. I gather useful information. I organize information. I share information with others. I plan my daily activities. I choose actions that solve problems.

Here are website or blog links to help you be more resourceful:

  1. Bill Murphy, Jr. “7 Things Really Resourceful People Do:” http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/7-things-really-resourceful-people-do.html/
  2. Brian in Life Lessons. “Mastering the Art of Being Resourceful:” http://mynextbuck.com/mastering-the-art-of-being-resourceful/
  3. Jason Shen. “How to Be Relentlessly Resourceful: http://www.jasonshen.com/2012/how-to-be-relentlessly-resourceful
  4. Your Dictionary. “Resourceful:” http://www.yourdictionary.com/resourceful#2OtTR3xdVh77bkF3.99

Your Dictionary.com states that resourceful is the ability to overcome problems or to make do with what is available to create a solution. During life there are many challenges that require you to find a different way of doing things because the old way doesn’t work any more, or the tool or appliance doesn’t work at all. Resourceful people are the ones who come up with Plan B, Plan C, Plan D. Plan EF and G.

They way the former generations did things successfully may not work in the present day. Sometimes the present day has a better, more efficient way of doing it. Sometimes, both the former generation and the present generation are clueless, which leads for opportunities for the resourceful ones to invent a new and better way to solve problems.

For example, in the 1960s inflation set in. Married couples in former generations were able to make it with one person making the money. However, in the 1960s, this plan didn’t work any more. Both husband and wife had to work to keep their families afloat. The 1960s couples had never witnessed successful marriages where the husband and wife both worked outside the home. In other words, they were in over their heads through circumstances never visualized before they happened. They were not predictable, therefore, they put people in shock. To be successful, these 1960s couples had to have resourcefulness and the ability to change their beliefs and especially their expectations and choose different actions.  I think that’s why divorces became so prevalent during that time. They weren’t able to figure out how to change, were unwilling to change, weren’t able to adjust, or a combination of thes and other factors.  They lost hope.

Marriages and relationships that work out have a strong basis of love and respect. They also have a strong belief in the success of their relationship. One person can’t always carry the torch for both people. It the relationship is one sided, it may flounder.

Resourceful people don’t say “It’s not working and it’s a hopeless situation.” They look for ways to do it that may never have been done before. Resourceful people give themselves and others a spirit of hopefuless. I believe that this is a gift from God.

Thank you to all of the people in my life who have given me reasons to believe in myself even when it looked like I was at the end of my rope, the last stop for my train, the end of the road. I am thankful to God that he continuously puts people and circumstances in my life to give me hope for better days to come. I pray that God gives you peace, joy, and especially HOPE. Without hope, we wither and shrivel up into nothingness. I pray that God gives you all the resources you need every day and that you realize their worth and put them into action  and continue singing your song with enthusiasm and an abundance of HOPE.

To share your thoughts with me, click here and scroll down.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2016 Joan Y. Edwards
www.joanyedwards.com (Gospel-related puzzles and skits)

Here are links all of the posts in my “Say Good Things February” series.

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Put Universal Conflict, Theme, and Emotions in Your Story


“Put Universal Conflict, Theme, and Emotions in Your Story” by Joan Y. Edwards

Editors ask: What is the universal theme of your story? information book? article? poem?

What do you answer? Are you clueless? Perhaps I can help.

I went to the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop in Oceanside, Oregon from July 12-16, 2010. I was sharing a poem I wrote. The editor wanted to know what was my poem’s universal theme. What I had thought was a universal theme was really not universal. It was regional or subjective. Therefore, I did research to find out more about the subject of universal theme.

But first you have to know what your conflict is. To gain more readership, make your conflict one of the universal conflicts listed below.
What does the main character want that he cannot get or have?
Conflicts:
Conflict adds excitement and suspense to the story.
What disturbed him beyond belief? What is the cause of distress for the main character?
What disrupts the business as usual of the main character?
What happens that the main character may try to ignore but cannot? He has to deal with this problem, internally and externally.

The internal conflict comes when the main character has to choose between two solutions to the problem: one moral, one immoral; one against his family rules; one against club’s rules; one that might hurt his friend, one that might hurt himself; one that might win the trust of his friends, one that would make him untrustworthy, one that makes him a liar, one that makes him tell the truth; mixed emotions add the tension to the story and make people want to read it to find out what the main character decided to do and what the consequences were for his actions….did it bring him closer to the goal, or bring him to his last breath.

Universal Conflicts
In a story you have one of the following universal conflicts played out:
Archetypes
Man against Man
Man against Self
Man against Nature
Man against Society
Man against Family
Man against the Universe
Man against Machines
Man against Institutions
Man against God
Man against Time
Man against Destiny

Never fear: Your story will probably fit into one of the universal conflicts listed above.

Goals Main Characters Struggle for, Search for, Need, Want
Acceptance, Admiration, Ambition, Approval, Attention, Authority, Awareness, Beauty. Belief, Belonging, Choices, Commitment, Community, Compassion, Cooperation, Courage, Dedication, Dream, Education, Equality, Experience, Faith, Family, Friendship, Godly love, Good, Gratitude, Heroes /Heroic Figures and Actions, Honesty, Honor, Hope, Human Relationships, Humor, Identity, Independence, Individuality, Innocence, Justice, Laughter, Law and Order, Live forever, Love, Loyalty, Marriage, Money, Morality,
Nature, Nonviolence, Passion, Peace, Perseverance, Possibilities, Power, Principles, Rebirth, Redemption, Religion, Respect, Responsibility, Romance, Sex, Spiritual enlightenment, Success, Taxes, Time, Trust, Truth, Understanding.

Forces Opposing Main Character, Keep Him from Reaching His Goal, Struggle Against, Has to Triumph Over, Doesn’t Want, Opposite of Goal, Perils of, What the Main Character Doesn’t want:
Accusation, Alienation, Ambition, Authority, Beliefs, Betrayal, Blame, Challenge, church, Coming of Age, Competition, Corruption, Country, County, Court, Crime, Death, Deception, Despair, Destruction, Disallusionment of adulthood, Disapproval, Distrust, Envy, Etiquette, Evil, Faith, Family, Fate, Fear, Forbidden, Freedom, Future, Government, Greed, Grief, Guilt, Handicap, Hatred, Hospital, Initiation, Injustice, Institutions, Jail, Jealousy, Justice, Lack of compassion, Lies, Loss, Materialism, Nation, Nature, Nature as dangerous, Oppression, Past, Power, Persecution, Poverty, Prejudice, Pride, Prison, Problems, Punishment, Rebelling, Rejection, Religion, Responsibility, Revenge, Rules, Sacrifice, Schools, Self-Doubt, Shame, Society, Taxes, Time, Town, Tragedy, Vengeance, Village, Vulnerability, War.

After you finish writing your story or when you’ve finished your outline, what has your main character learned from his conflict? What did the main character learn in his battle against one of the conflicts listed above? This is the theme. Make it a universal theme shared by all mankind, so that all of mankind will want to read your book.

The Universal Theme
The universal theme is the story’s (author’s) view about life and how people behave. It is the statement the story makes about society, human nature, or the human condition that the author wants to convey to readers. It’s an observation about life that can apply to any and everyone representing the conflicts, dreams, hopes, and fears across cultures and continents, and from generation to generation. It could be the moral to the story, a teaching, or an observation. It transcends race, gender, sexual preference, and creed. Some examples are love, peace, friendship, and other concepts about life.

Universal themes exist because people worldwide go through the common human experiences of being born, experiencing anguish and joy, and dying come from emotions and that touch and can apply to any and all cultures, genders, ages, sexual preference, creeds, geography, historical periods, and genres.

The universal theme is the story’s (author’s) view about life and how people behave in a particular situation. It is a statement the story makes about society, human nature, or the human condition through the author’s words and characters. The theme is universal when it transcends race, gender, sexual preference, creed. cultures, continents, and generations representing the conflicts, dreams, hopes, and fears such as: love, peace, friendship, and other concepts about life that can apply to any and everyone.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Conflict of Nature against death
You do not have to worry about dying and death. It’s a natural thing.

Law and Order Television Series by Dick Wolf
Conflict of Good over Evil – Dick Wolf presents both sides of the issues
Even with the latest technology and evidence, police and district attorneys do not always win their cases against evil.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Love against society, family, death
Love can be so passionate that one would prefer death to living without the loved one.

Here are links I went to find information about universal themes:
http://www.orangeusd.k12.ca.us/yorba/literary_elements.htm
http://www.life123.com/parenting/education/children-reading/12-most-common-themes-in-literature.shtml
http://www.dcmp.org/guides/9467.pdf

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081022125536AAzRGHD
http://www.episcopalacademy.org/FileBank/Eax_FileBank_FileName_9697_K051J82.pdf
http://www.authorstream.com/Presentation/tccampa-65525-literary-themes-literature-education-ppt-powerpoint/
www.joyet.biz/downloads/Genres_vs_Themes.ppt

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_you_conclude_the_sentence_that_begins_’Universal_themes_in_literature_exist_because_people_worldwide’&alreadyAsked=1&rtitle=Universal_themes_in_literature_exist_because_people_worldwide

Universal Emotions

Emotions Are Universal.

Put emotions in your story. It makes your characters come alive. One way to make your story have universal appeal is to add the tension of opposing emotions. We all feel mixed emotions every day. Should we do this? We shouldn’t do that. It’s smart to do this. How could I be so stupid? How could he be so naive? What’s the wisest choice? What are my choices? Do I get a choice? When a character has two or three choices and none of them are very good, it’s tension time for reading and living, and it makes the reader want to turn the page.

All people experience emotions. Putting believable emotions into your story will help it reach more readers.

Here are Paul Ekman’s Big Six Emotions
Anger
Disgust
Fear
Happiness
Sadness
Surprise

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emotions
Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions Robert Plutchik used the above six emotions and added two others below:
Acceptance
Anticipation

Ekman’s Eleven Other Basic Emotions
Amusement
Contempt
Contentment
Embarrassment
Excitement
Guilt
Pride in achievement
Relief
Satisfaction
Sensory pleasure
Shame

The Sedona Method by Hale Dwoskin gives nine emotions
Nine Emotions
Acceptance
Anger
Apathy
Courageousness
Fear
Grief
Lust
Peace
Pride

Nine States of Emotional Empowerment by Swati Chopra
http://www.lifepositive.com/Mind/Emotions/Nine_states_of_Emotional_empowerment92004.asp

Swati Chopra from New Delhi, India says the nine rasas are:
Distress (hunger, discomfort)
Happiness
Satisfaction

Love
Compassion
Awe
Peace
Laughter
Valour
Fear
Disgust
Anger

Here are websites with information about emotions:

http://library.thinkquest.org/25500/index2.htm Great gives text descriptions of body when feeling 6 basic emotions
http://www.clipartguide.com/_search_terms/feelings.html Great! Pictures matched with emotions
http://www.feelingfacescards.com/
http://www.face-and-emotion.com/dataface/emotion/expression.jsp
http://www.eqi.org/fw.htm
http://www.eqi.org/cnfs.htm
http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emotions

I hope you enjoyed my blog post. I hope I enlightened you, rather than confused you. Please let me know if I helped you make your writing appeal to more people, to make it more universally appealing. Capture this universal appeal and you’ll capture an editor’s heart!

If you haven’t subscribed to my blog, I would be honored if you would. The sixth person to subscribe to my blog after May 12, 2010 from the left hand column where it says, “Sign Me Up Here,” will receive a free paperback copy of my book, Flip Flap Floodle, a little duck who never gives up on his song. Don’t give up on your writing. Never Give Up on winning and resolving conflicts that come your way.

You are a published author in your mind, before you get that way on paper.  You can do it. Yes, you can.

Please write a comment below. Click on comment and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

COMMENT

Never Give Up
Live with Enthusiasm
Celebrate Each Step You Take

Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2010-2016 Joan Y. Edwards

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Griping


Griping by Joan Y. Edwards

James was stuck in the mood of critics. Nothing was right. Nothing was good. Nothing could get him out of this mood.  He griped to the left. He griped to the right. He griped so much he wanted to fight.  He griped in a crowd, he griped all alone. He even griped in the no-griping zone. He griped at the cats. He griped at the dogs. He griped at the alligators with the giant jaws.

At last his griping days were over. He was in the grave with daisies  growing over. When people visited his grave, they griped,  too.  Griping spread out among the people in the town. They set aside a griping corner – the best place to gripe in town. Everyone was allowed 15 minutes to gripe each day and then they had to be on their way.

“Get over it,” said the mayor.

“Get on with your life,” said the commissioner of new business.

“Forgive those who hurt you,” said the minister.

“Look at the bright side,” said the children.

“Be thankf ul for what you’ve got,” said the old woman.

“You can still reach your goals,” said the old man.

“Just ask God for help,” said the minister.

The people in the town took heed of this advice. They prayed to the left and prayed to the right.  Their prayers filled them with hope and love so they didn’t want to fight. They prayed in a crowd, they prayed all alone. They even prayed silently in the no-praying zone. They prayed for the babies. They prayed for the teens. They prayed for the people who were older than jeans.

When at last the townspeople’s days were over. They were in their graves with daisies growing over.  When people visited these townspeople’s graves. They were thankful. Their hearts filled with hope and love.  Before long they had added another corner in their town. It was a thankful corner.  When people went to the thankful corner first, they found they didn’t need to go to the griping corner at all. What a great day it was for the town. They decided to set aside 6:00 p.m. as a special hour each day to celebrate their thankfulness.  It grew to be the largest and the most successful town in the world.

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