Category Archives: How-to

The Wise Sloth Explains Foreplay

What is foreplay?

The dictionary defines foreplay,

“erotic stimulation preceding sexual intercourse.”

Wikipedia defines foreplay,

“a set of emotionally and physically intimate acts between two or more people meant to create sexual arousal and desire for sexual activity.”

Urban dictionary defines foreplay,

“touching/kissing/licking each other in a stimulating manner, in order to become ‘turned on’ before having actual sex.”

Basically, these definitions say foreplay is stuff that happens before sex, but they don’t say what to do, how to do it, or why. To answer those questions, you have to understand a little about how the human body works.

Humans are basically brains connected to a mobile stimulation detector. The reality you experience is the sum product of a bowl full of chemicals in your skull. If you change the chemical composition in your brain bowl by adding a new chemical like L.S.D., you’ll change how you experience reality.

Every time your body experiences sensory stimulation, it changes the chemicals in your brain, which changes how you feel and what you want to do. When you get hurt, your brain produces endorphins that try to numb you. When you’re scared, it secretes adrenaline that sends you into a fight-or-flight panic. When you’re touched softly, it releases cortisol, which makes you relax. When you have sex, it produces oxytocin, which makes you feel high.

The more sexual stimulation your body experiences, the more sexual chemicals your brain releases. You have an orgasm when your chemical composition reaches a tipping point.

If foreplay is getting ready for sex, and people are bowls of chemicals attached to stimulation detectors, then my definition of foreplay is, “stimulating a person’s senses to produce the brain chemicals most conducive to sexual pleasure leading to orgasm.”

How long should foreplay last?

Redundant studies have found it takes men 1-11 minutes of sexual sensory stimulation to prime their body chemistry enough to give them an erection and be able to orgasm. It takes 10-20 minutes of stimulation for women’s bodies to complete the hormonal changes necessary to relax/moisten their vagina and get them sex-drunk on oxytocin.

Everyone’s biology is a little different, but apparently 10-20 minutes is a good amount of time to fool around before penetration. The consequence of not putting in the time is, you won’t have as strong of an orgasm as possible. If both partners are fine with this, and they just want to have sex and get to a quick boom at the end, that’s fine.

The more time you spend stimulating each other’s senses and minds, the stronger your orgasms will be. There’s an art to delayed sexual gratification. It’s called edging and/or tantric sex. Having nuclear orgasms is ideal when you have time to prepare them, but it’s not always necessary or practical to put that much time and effort into foreplay.

If you’re a high achiever, then aim for 30-40 minutes tops, but also consider how much chafing and boredom can happen in that time. 15-30 minutes is a much safer time frame.

However, mental and emotional foreplay can last all day though. If you stimulate your partner’s brain with positive words, sounds, smells, tastes, images, and physical stimulation throughout the day, you’ll pump sexual chemicals into their brain. So their arousal level will be higher than zero when you first touch them.

What do you do?

During foreplay, you should stimulate your partner with sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Common sense can tell you how to do that. Wear nice underwear, light some scented candles, turn on some mood music, and brush your teeth. What you might be having trouble understanding is, what to do with your body? Here’s a list of options:

Ask your partner what they want you to do

Everyone is different. What worked best on your last partner might not work at all on your next. The most consistently successful lovers aren’t the best at reading minds. They’re the best at asking their partners what they want.

If neither of you know what you like, then experiment with different techniques, modalities and fetishes. Afterwards, talk about what you did and didn’t like about them. This will help you discover each others’ passions and create new ones together. That will keep your sex life burning bright, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t communicate.

Make out and dry hump for twenty minutes

If you have no idea what to do during foreplay, you’re overthinking it. You need to stimulate your partner’s skin so their brain will produce sexual chemicals and increase blood flow to their genitals. All you have to do to accomplish that, is make out and rub their genitals for a while. It may not be creative, but it’s intimate, and it gets the job done.

There’s no single right speed or intensity. The more you use your best technique, the more boring it will get. Alternate between being romantic and ravishing. All that matters is you’re in sync. So read your partner’s vibe, and go with the flow.

This advice applies to taking each other’s clothes off as well. How do you know if you should take your clothes off, or let them undress you? Should you undress them, or do you undress each other? Does one person go first, or do you do it together? Do you do it slowly or aggressively?

Do whatever the situation calls for. If you need help, then turn on some sexy music, and move your body with the tempo, like you’re dancing. If it’s slow music, go slowly. If it’s fast, be rougher. Don’t think. Just go with the flow and do what you feel.

Give your partner a full body erotic massage

The most effective way to prep your partner’s body for sex, is to give them a full body erotic massage. If you caress their entire body, you’ll stimulate all their nerve endings, and it’ll take at least twenty minutes. That covers everything you need to warm up their sexual engine to cruising speed.

You don’t have to be a massage expert to give a good sensual massage. Just use soft, flowing, rhythmic movements, and glide your hands all over their body. You don’t need to impress your partner’s mind with fancy techniques. You just need to stimulate all their nerve endings.

My one suggestion would be to not focus too much on stimulating their genitals. Brush by them every once and a while, but don’t focus on them. Waiting and teasing will result in delayed gratification. It’ll make your partner want you to get to the sex, and the more they think about it, the more their body will respond by producing those sexual chemicals and increasing blood flow to their genitals.

There are tons of books, sites and videos on the internet about the art of sensual, erotic, tantric massages. The more you teach yourself, the more confident you’ll feel when giving a massage. Then your partner will feel your confidence through your touch.

Particularly in women’s brain chemistry, safety equals sexy. When a man demonstrates he’s confident having sex with her, then her body will feel more comfortable having sex with him and send messages to her vagina to relax and get wet. If a man demonstrates insecurity and awkwardness leading up to sex, then her nerve endings report that to her brain, which may respond by chemically inducing feelings of insecurity in her, which can cause her body to shut down sexually to the point it won’t allow her vagina to get wet. So do your homework. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.

Caress each other

In foreplay, you need to stimulate your partner’s skin, but you don’t need a full body massage. You don’t even need to take your clothes off. Just reach your hand over, touch them, and move your hand around softly. You can caress them lightly, tracing your fingers up and down their body. Or you can hold and squeeze them. If you focus on impressing them with technical proficiency, then your touch is going to feel mechanical, impersonal, and self-indulgent. Your partner doesn’t want to be impressed by your technical skills. They want to feel needed. So touch them in a way that communicates desire.

If you want to spice things up a little more, you can caress them with something that feels good to the touch, like a feather tickler or rose. You can take this to the next level by caressing them with ice or drip melted wax on them. If that’s too intense or scary, find something that’s silky smooth. Then put it in the freezer or the microwave long enough to make it tantalizingly cool or warm.

Practice tantric sex

If/when you want to have foreplay that lasts a really long time, you can use tantric sex. There are lots of instructional books and websites. You should read, share and discuss them with your partner.

It’s ironic that so much has been said about tantric sex, because the point of it, is you don’t do anything. Just sit in the yab yum position, and nuzzle your partner for an insanely long time.

Buy a sex game

If you constantly worry that you’re doing foreplay wrong, then try not being in control. Instead, buy a sex game that tells you what to do by picking cards, spinning wheels or rolling dice. This way, you don’t have to make any decisions. You’ll both have fun. Plus you’ll be able to practice foreplay techniques and learn what your partner likes.

Watch a sexy and/or scary movie

Watching a movie about a person accomplishing a goal stimulates the same regions of your brain as experiencing real world success. In the same way, watching a sexy movie stimulates the sexual regions of your brain.

Since movies last longer than twenty minutes, you know your partner’s brain will have a lot of time to pump their veins full of sex hormones. If you caress each other and make out a little during the movie, you’ll accomplish everything you’re supposed to during foreplay. At that point you can jump straight into sex, or pick another technique from this list to do for a while. If you’re both already pretty warmed up, you don’t have to worry about foreplay lasting a whole twenty minutes.

It might seem counter-intuitive to watch a scary movie to get someone in the mood, but there’s a logical reason why it can help you get laid. When you experience fear, your body produces adrenaline, which heightens your senses and makes you feel the need to fight or flight. You get a big rush of motivation to do something to release the tension. Your brain’s reaction to fear, is to find safety and protection. If you hold your partner in your arms while they’re scared, their body chemistry will naturally respond to the fear by associating you with protection and comfort. That will make them feel good inside, and their body will want more of that positive feedback, which will make them want more of your touch.

This doesn’t always work, and it’s guaranteed to fail if you watch something gross and disturbing like “The Human Centipede.” For the best chances of success, pick a show that’s sexy and scary, like a slutty vampire flick.

Practice BDSM

If watching scary movies makes your brain produce adrenaline that can be rolled over into sexual excitation, then it stands to reason that you can accomplish the same affect by scaring your partner in real life.

There’s an art form to BDSM that takes years to master, and you shouldn’t attempt it without reading several instructional books, websites and watching videos. You can start by reading my blog, “Advice to men on sexual domination and submissiveness.” If you really want to jump into the world of BDSM, then make a profile on fetlife.com and talk to some real aficionados.

The idea behind BDSM, is that one person pretends to be domineering, and the other pretends to be submissive. The “Dom” tells the “Sub” to do things like, “Take off your clothes.” “Kneel.” “Touch yourself.” “Touch me.” etc. When the Sub does something they’re not supposed to, the Dom punishes them with light amounts of pain by spanking, whipping, pinning, pushing, choking, scratching, burning , etc.

The point isn’t to be cruel. It’s to build trust. You begin by caressing the part of their body where you’re going to inflict pain. Then you administer a very tiny amount, followed by caressing the same spot. You alternate stimulating emotions of fear and comfort, which opens Pandora’s box of sexual chemistry. Then, after the BDSM session is over, you engage in aftercare, which means you snuggle lovingly for as long as it takes to confirm the Sub is with a Dom who truly cares about them and isn’t just a selfish, sadistic jerk.

Oral sex

You don’t need to have oral sex every time you have foreplay, and you don’t need to bring your partner to climax every time you go down on them. When should you do it, and for how long? There’s no wrong answer. Just do whatever feels good.

Having said that, there are some guidelines to consider. First, oral sex is one of the fastest ways to stimulate blood flow to your partner’s genitals. So it might seem like a good place to start, but that’s like starting a car engine and then slamming the gas pedal to the floor. This would be effective when you know you don’t have a lot of time, and want to get to the sex quickly, but oral sex is most pleasurable when your sex organ is already throbbing with passion, particularly for women.

During the first 1-10 minutes of foreplay, a blowjob is a great way to rev up a man’s engine, and for women who enjoy giving head, it warms them up as well. Once a man is fired up, he’s not going to lose his momentum if you switch to something less stimulating.

For women, the best way to prime their body for orgasm, is to start your foreplay session soft and slow, then build up speed and intensity to a crescendo without ever losing momentum. If you start fast and heavy, then slow down and speed up, over and over again, then she’ll ride a wave of hormones towards orgasm, then lose it and have to build it back up again. The more times she has to start over, the more frustrated she’ll become until her body just gives up. So, you might not want to play your strongest hand first.

It’s typically not a good idea to fellate a man all the way to orgasm before sex, because he’ll need to take a break for at least five minutes before he can get hard again, if at all. With women, it depends on her mood. Sometimes she’d rather get her orgasm first, so she can sit back and enjoy sex without having to wonder if she’ll get an orgasm today. Other times, they prefer saving the orgasm until during or after sex, so it releases all the tension from foreplay and fucking at once. The best way to know which kind of orgasm she wants, is to ask. Though, guys wouldn’t have to, if girls would just tell men what they want.

For a basic foreplay session, try making out and caressing each other for 10-15 minutes, then go down on each other. You can do it one at a time, or in the 69 position. Sometimes foreplay should be about both people pleasing each other, but it’s also good to take turns making it all about your partner. When you’re having a worshiping session, go down on your partner and then proceed to the sex without expecting anything in return.

For more information on oral sex, read these two blogs:

How to go down on a girl

How to go down on a guy

Manual genital stimulation

Hand jobs and fingering follow slightly different rules. Penises usually aren’t overly sensitive when they’re flaccid. So it’s okay to begin foreplay by stroking his cock. It’s a fast and effective way to get him in the mood and stoke his desire for you.

Before a woman has been properly aroused for at least ten minutes, her vagina will probably be sensitive, dry and tight. So if the first thing you do in a foreplay session, is cram a bunch of fingers inside her, you’re going to hurt her and trigger her body’s defense mechanisms.

Fingering a woman after she’s been warmed up, is a good way to loosen her up a little bit more and make her body want deeper penetration. There are women out there with fingering fetishes, who enjoy getting finger banged for 5-10 minutes straight. Most often, when women are turned on and yearning for penetration, she’s hungry for cock. Fingering is just teasing, which is erotic, but only in small doses. If you’re a virgin and don’t know anything about vaginas, don’t finger bang them at all. You’ll probably do more damage than good.

When fingering a woman, start slow, and penetrate her deeper gradually. Don’t push in until she’s wet enough for your finger to slip in fluidly. Virgins who assume all women love big cocks, also assume the more fingers you can cram in a vagina, the better it will feel. There are some girls who like getting fisted, but 99 times out of 100, women would rather you just use one, or two fingers at most.

A vagina is a sex organ, and the best way to stimulate a sex organ, is to massage the part with the most nerve endings. On a woman, that’s the clit, which is outside the vagina. So you should be stimulating that with your tongue, a toy or your other hand, while you’re fingering her.

On the surface, the clitoris looks like a tiny nub, but it extends inside the woman’s body another inch or so, right above the roof of the vaginal canal. If you push up on the roof, you can stimulate the clitoris from the inside. This area is known as the G-spot. Every girl likes their clit internally massaged differently. Ask her, and experiment, but understand that less is usually more. The simplest way to hit the G-spot, is to stick your finger all the way in, press it against the roof, and draw it all the way out, slowly. This will guarantee you hit as much of it as possible. Just keep doing that rhythmically, and it will have a positive effect.

Self-stimulation

Instead of stimulating each other, you and your partner can watch each other stimulate yourselves. It may seem awkward and embarrassing at first glance, but that’s exactly why you should do it. You get to see a side of each other most people won’t. You get to share yourself laid bare, while simultaneously experience the rush of voyeurism.

Your partner knows you feel vulnerable. That’s part of what makes masturbating in front of them so hot. It shows courage and trust. Plus, seeing you experience pleasure stimulates the same regions of their brain as when they experience pleasure. You’re basically mind fucking them, and they love it. Best of all, it shows them how you like to be pleasured.

If you liked this post, you’ll also like these:

Sex Positions and Techniques

Dating and Relationships

Philosophy of Sexuality


The Hollywood movie plot outline structure

Scroll to the bottom for an explanation of the movie plot template:]

Click here or on the image below to enlarge it in your browser.

There’s no single, right way to structure a movie plot. However, Hollywood executives have gotten addicted to certain format. So if you want to impress them, you’re best strategy is to give them what they want. Many successful script writers have reverse engineered the formula by breaking down existing movies, and a few of them have been gracious enough to share their findings. I’ve studied them all and have been frustrated by each of them. They all leave key bits of information out, which makes them feel like pieces of a treasure map. So I laid them all out, side by side and compared them. Then I studied popular movies to fill in the gaps. The result is the outline below. This outline isn’t meant to be followed 100%. This is just a baseline. As you fill in the key points, you can flesh out the spaces between them and even push the plot forward or backward a little bit.

I’ll explain a little bit about the outline. The A-story is the hero’s journey. This is the hero’s external quest to achieve the goal that’s most important to him, such as: saving the world, saving his home, getting rich, paying off a debt, escaping a dangerous place, getting back home, etc. The B-story is the love story.

A beat is a series of events that usually fit in one scene, that is one minute long, which equals one page of a screenplay. For every beat that’s longer than one minute, another beat must be equally shorter. The sequence of a beat goes like this: Set up a situation with a goal. Put a conflict between the hero (or lover in the B-story) and their goal. The hero reacts to the conflict and tries to overcome it. This produces an outcome. Typically, the hero meets a person. They have tense conversation or a fight, which the hero either succeeds or fails to overcome. If the hero succeeds, something good happens to him in the next beat. If he fails, something bad happens to him. If he wins in one of the major conflict beats, his success tends to be a false victory. He wins the battle, but it backfires and sets him back worse than he was before, which raises the stakes and lowers his hope of succeeding at his ultimate goal.

The beat chains on the right are suggestions for how you can fill in the blank beats between major conflicts and points of no return. You don’t have to follow them exactly, but a hero’s actions will only be believable and relatable if you show or state the hero’s goal, the conditions of achieving the goal, and his plan to fulfill the conditions. You also need to show or state his motivation. This means the stakes. If he succeeds, something good him will happen that’s important to him. If he fails, something bad will happen. In other words, either his wildest dream or worst nightmare will come true.

As the hero works towards fulfilling the conditions of his quest, he will constantly run into setbacks that will change the conditions of completing his goal. Then he’ll have to identify the new conditions, debate going forward and make a new plan. Each time he encounters a setback, the stakes get raised and his chances of success get lower until all hope is lost. The hero’s successes are rarely luck. They happen when the hero uses his signature strength. His failures are rarely luck as well. They happen when the hero uses his signature flaw. So the plot is driven more by the hero’s flaws than his strengths. If he was perfect, there would be no story to tell. The hero resolves his signature flaw through the course of the B-story. It’s only by accomplishing that goal, which he probably didn’t even know he had, can he accomplish his ultimate goal in the A-story.

There’s more to be said about movie plots than I can summarize in a single blog post. So I’m guilty of giving you pieces of the treasure map, just like the writers I complained about, but I’m working tirelessly to bring you the rest of the puzzle pieces. So stay tuned.


If you liked this post, you may like these:

Formula Plot Templates

Plot break downs

Tips on being a writer


Plot break down of “Avatar”

220px-avatar-teaser-poster

I created a detailed break down of the plot to the movie, “Avatar,” which I chose for two reasons. First, it’s the highest grossing movie of all time after, and if you want to understand best-sellers, why start anywhere else?

Second, the script is admirably tight. James Cameron does such a good job of introducing and recalling variables that the script almost reads like a computer program if you look at it with the right eyes, which I’m going to give you. I made a list of every character, object, location and piece of background information that appears in the movie. Then I broke down every beat into four stages:

  1. A character (usually Jake) is introduced to a situation. I call this character, the “beat protagonist.”
  2. The beat protagonist encounters a character who presents a conflict or an opportunity that will hurt or hinder the beat agent’s attempt to achieve their immediate or long-term goals. I call this character, the “beat agent.”
  3. The beat protagonist and beat agent respond to each other using a specific set of signature character traits and skills that belong to their character.
  4. One of the characters will either win or lose the encounter, resulting in a closing situation that will affect the direction of the story. Usually, if Jake wins, something good happens to him, unless he wins by using one of his flaws. Anytime he uses a flaw, he loses in the end. If the beat agent wins for any reason, something bad happens to Jake.

When describing these events of each beat, I wrote the characters, objects, locations and background information in capital letters to highlight the variables and show how the whole movie is strung together by recycling the same variables that were strategically introduced earlier in the movie.

I’ve only posted the first twenty beats on this post page, but you can find the fully completed break down in Word document form by following the link below. In the Word document, you can use the “find and replace” function to change the variables to whatever you want to rewrite your own version of Avatar. Then you can go through, beat by beat, and tweak your story. I believe this exercise will teach you more about plot structure than you will learn in a semester of most writing classes. I’ve also included an external link to the original script so you can follow along.

Word document of the Avatar break down

PDF document of the Avatar break down

Original Avatar Script at IMSDB

I’ve also included a list describing every beat, what Act it’s in, and what beat chain it’s in. The list includes all 101 beats, but the detailed breakdown doesn’t include the last Act, because it’s just the denouement, and after working on this project for over 100 hours, I never want to hear the word Avatar again, much less break down another one of its beats.

In the beat list, some beats have an asterisk next to them. This is to indicate that the beat could be considered two beats. This happens when there’s a short exchange between two distinct characters that precedes or follows a different and more significant exchange between two other characters. For example, in beat 4, Jake wakes up on a spacecraft by a floating nurse, which takes a few seconds and nothing significant really happens. Then he lands and receives a briefing from a sergeant aboard their landing vessel. The first exchange just introduced the second. Technically, they’re two beats, but the movie could exist without the first one. Don’t take my asterisks as gospel though. I might just be wrong.

With or without the double beats, each Act is consistently between 10-12 beats long. They each end with Jake either accomplishing or failing a major goal that results in him receiving a positive or negative prize that significantly affects the direction of the plot. Using this formula, there are 10 Acts in the movie, though you could combine them into 5 major Acts that each contain 2 minor Acts if you want to look at it that way.

Each Act has 2-3 “beat chains,” which are distinct story lines that are spliced together. They typically last 3-5 beats before switching to the next concurrent storyline. The beat chains are separated with spaces.

ACT/BEAT/BEAT CHAIN LIST

Act 1: Introduce the hero, and give him an opportunity to accomplish his ultimate goal in life.

1: Introduce the hero and state his goal

2: Metaphor for the whole movie

3: Jake recieves an opportunity to make his dream come true

*4: Jake arrives on Pandora

5: Introduce Quaritch and learn about the dangers of Pandora

6: Jake meets the Avatar team

7: Jake meets Grace

8: Grace tries to get Jake kicked off the Avatar team

*9: Jake trains how to use his Avatar body

*10: Jake gets a military assigment from Quaritch

Act 2: The hero accomplishes the first major goal/assignment necessary to achieving his final goal.

*11: Avatar team travels to the derelict Na’vi school in the jungle

*12: Jake is split up from his team running from a giant Thanator

13: Jake prepares to battle the creatures of the night

14: Jake fights the creatures of the night and is saved by Neytiri

15: Neytiri tries to take Jake to safety, but Jake is arrested by Tsu’tey

16: Jake is put on trial at Hometree

17: Jake eats dinner with Neytiri

*18: Jake returns to his human body and debriefs with the Avatar team

19: Jake debriefs with the military team

20: Jake and Grace tell eachother things they didn’t know about the Na’vi

Act 3: The hero trains in a physical skill.

21: Jake trains how to use a direhorse

*22: Jake gives military intel on the Na’vi to Quaritch

23: Grace moves the Avatar program to Site 26

24: Avatar team travels to Site 26

25: Avatar team sets up their equipment at Site 26

26: Neytiri teaches Jake about Banshees

27: Jake records a vlog at Site 26

28: Neytiri trains Jake in Na’vi language and bow

29: Norm trains Jake in Na’vi language

30: Neytiri trains Jake in tree hopping

31: Moat lets Grace and Norm into Hometree

Act 4: The hero trains in a mental skill.

32: Neytiri trains Jake in tracking and naturism

33: Grace teaches Jake about naturism

34: Jake demonstrates mastery of the skills Neytiri has been teaching him

35: Jake demonstrates mastery of naturism in human form

36: Tsu’tey leads Jake and other Na’vi trainees into the Floating Mountains

37: Jake tames his Banshee

38: Neytiri trains Jake how to ride his Banshee

39: Grace teaches Jake about the Leonopteryx and the Well of Souls

40: Neytiri teaches Jake about the Leonopteryx

41: Jake expertly kills a Sturmbeest with a bow while flying on his Banshee

42: Jake celebrates at a Sturmbeest feast at Hometree with the Na’vi

43: Jake and Tsu’tey start to bond, but Neytiri chooses to dance with Jake over Tsu’tey

44: Jake gives an eloquent speech about Naturism

Act 5: The hero accomplishes a major goal, which is undone by the antagonist.

45: Jake and Grace report to Selfridge, who says they’re out of time for diplomacy

46: Quaritch gives Jake one last chance for diplomacy

47: Jake enters his Avatar pod to go take the final test to become a Na’vi member

48: Jake prepares for his final test at Hometree

49: Jake takes Na’vi mescaline and trips out

50: Jake and Neytiri have sex

51: RDA attacks the Na’vi’s trees with Dozers to incite retalitation to justify war

52: Jake disables a Dozer

53: Tsu’tey challenges Jake to a duel for what the humans did to the Na’vi’s trees

54: Trudy flies Quaritch to Site 26

55: Jake and Tsu’tey duel

56: Quartich arrests the Avatar team causing Jake to lose his duel with Tsu’tey

Act 6: The hero regains lost ground.

57: Jake and Grace unsuccessfully beg Quaritch and Selfridge to call off the attack on Hometree

58: Quartich tells Selfridge that the Na’vi took the bait and wiped out their Dozer fleet

59: Quartich convinces Selfridge to attack Hometree

60: Trudy warns Jake and Grace that Quaritch is going to attack Hometree

61: Grace and Jake convince Selfridge to give them one more chance at diplomacy

62: Grace and Jake try to warn the Na’vi that Hometree is about to be attacked

63: Hometree is attacked

64: Trudy breaks the Avatar team out of jail

65: The Avatar team travels out of the RDA compound

66: The Avatar team gets to Trudy’s gunship

67: Quartich fires at Trudy’s gunship, hitting Grace.

Act 7: The hero gains ground.

68: The Avatar team attaches the link module at Site 26 to Trudy’s gunship to move it

69: The Avatar team travels to a new location with the link module

70: The Na’vi are regrouping at the Well of Souls

71: The Avatar team sets up the link module near the Well of Souls

72: Jake retrieves his Banshee

73: Jake tames the Leonopteryx

74: Jake uses the Leonopteryx to reunite with the Na’vi

75: The Na’vi prepare to try to save Grace

*76: The Na’vi fail to save Grace, and Jake urges the Na’vi to recurit more help

77: Jake enlists the help of the Na’vi Horse Clan

Act 8: The hero and antagonist prepare for their final showdown, and the antagonist wins the first round.

78: Quaritch urges all RDA Personell to fight the Na’vi

79: Selfridge tries and fails to stop Quaritch’s war path

80: Max warns the Avatar team Quartich is going to attack the Well of Souls

81: Jake trains the Na’vi how to fight the humans

82: Jake prays to Ewa for help

83: The Na’vi and the humans make final preparations for battle

84: Human mech warriors battle Na’vi Horse Clan (Humans win)

*85: Jake and Na’vi Banshee Clan attack Human Gunships. Norm and Tsu’tey get knocked out of the battle (Humans win)

Act 9: The hero and his allies rally and win the final showdown.

86: Ewa attacks the humans with Banshees and Bull Hammerheads

88: Max leads a revolt within the RDA compound

89: Jake attacks Valkryie Gunship

90: Quaritch goes Berzerker

91: Humans begin retreating despite orders to hold the line

92: Quartich closes in on the Well of Souls

93: Jake unsuccessfully attacks the Dragon Gunship

94: Trudy sacrifices herself to take out the Dragon Gunship

95: Max attacks the RDA control room

*96: Neytiri and Jake kill Quaritch

Act 10: Denouement

97: Neytiri saves Jake’s life and sees his human form for the first time

98: Tsu’tey passes leadership of the Na’vi to Jake, and Jake mercy-kills Tsu’tey

99: The Na’vi and Avatar team kick RDA off Pandora

100: Jake makes a denouement vlog

101: The Na’vi transfer Jake’s soul from his human body to his Avatar body

 

CHARACTERS

CHARACTER: JAKE

PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 1: FIND A CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR/PROTECT THE WEAK FROM THE STRONG

PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 2: BE MORE THAN A MAN CAN BE

PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3: WALK

PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 4: FLY

PROTAGONIST PREVIOUS CAREER: MARINE

PROTAGONIST CURRRENT CAREER: DISABLED VETERAN

PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS: INOPERABLE LEGS

PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

PROTAGONIST FLAW: OBEDIENCE

PROTAGONIST RESOURCE: WHEEL CHAIR

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE: SARCASM AND HUMOR

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE: NEVER GIVE UP

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

PROTAGONIST CURSE: RECIEVES NO SYMPATHY FROM UNIVERSE

PROTAGONIST SKILL: ACT LIKE A MARINE

SKILL: NA’VI LANGUAGE

HUMAN RESPONSE: REFUSAL OF THE CALL

RESOURCE: WHEELCHAIR

RESOURCE: AVATAR BODY

CHARACTER: BAR BULLY

(Metaphor for RDA)

CHARACTER: BARTENDER

CHARACTER: TWO RDA CORP AGENTS

CHARACTER: SPACESHIP NURSE

CHARACTER: FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT

CHARACTER: DOZER

CHARACTER: MECH SUIT WARRIOR

CHARACTER: QUARITCH

CHARACTER GOAL 1: MAINTAIN AN EFFECTIVE FIGHTING FORCE AGAINST PANDORA

CHARACTER GOAL 2: HELP HUMANS SURVIVE PANDORA

SKILL: BUREAUCRATIC RANK

SKILL: MECH PILOT

CHARACTER: NORM

SKILL: LANGUAGE SKILLS

TRAIT: JEALOUSY

TRAIT: INSECURITY

CHARACTER: MAX

CHARACTER SKILL: TECH SAVY

CHARACTER: GRACE

TRAIT: SMOKING HABIT

TRAIT: HIGH EXPECTATIONS

TRAIT: DEDICATION TO SCIENCE

SKILL: KNOWLEDGE OF NA’VI

SKILL: NA’VI GREETING

GOAL 1: PACIFISM

CHARACTER: SELFRIDGE

FLAW: BUREAUCRATIC INEPTITUDE

FLAW: GREED

FLAW: DISRESPECT FOR NATURE

FLAW: PHYSICALLY WEAK

GOAL 1: MONEY

GOAL 2: MINE UNOBTANIUM

GOAL 3: HAVE A MILITARY ASSET ON THE AVATAR PROGRAM

SKILL: BUREAUCRATIC RANK

SKILL: GOLF

CHARACTER: TRUDY

RESPONSE: TOUGH GIRL

CHARACTER: MILITARY ESCORT

CHARACTER: FOREST BANSHEE

CHARACTER: BULL HAMMERHEAD

CHARACTER: GIANT THANATOR

CHARACTER: NEYTIRI

SKILL: KNOWLEDGE OF PANDORA

SKILL: BOW

SKILL: RIDE DIRE HORSE

SKILL: USE ANTENNA/SHAHAYLA

SKILL: RIDE MOUNTAIN BANSHEE

SKILL: NATURISM

SKILL: SUMMON BANSHEE CALL

SKILL: TREE HOPPING

SKILL: RIDE MOUNTAIN BANSHEE

NA’VI FLAW 1: RACISM

RESOURCE: BOW

CHARACTER: THE GREAT TREE

RESOURCE: WOODSPRITE

RESOURCE: ROOT TENDRILS

RESOURCE: WILLOW TENDRILS

CHARACTER: PACK OF VIPERWOLVES

CHARACTER: TSUTEY

FLAW: RACISM

FLAW: JEALOUSY

CHARACTER: EYTUKAN

CHARACTER: EWA

CHARACTER: MO’AT

CHARACTER: MOUNTAIN BANSHEE

CHARACTER: FAN LIZARD

CHARACTER: HEXAPEDE

CHARACTER: GROUP OF CHILDREN NA’VI

CHARACTER: GROUP OF TEENAGE NA’VI

CHARACTER: GROUP OF HUNTER NA’VI

CHARACTER: GROUP OF WOMEN NA’VI

CHARACTER: GROUP OF ELDER NA’VI

CHARACTER: GROUP OF RANDOM NA’VI

CHARACTER: JAKE’S BANSHEE

CHARACTER: LEONOPTERYX

CHARACTER: STURMBEEST

CHARACTER: DEAD NA’VI LADY

CHARACTER: TREE OF VOICES

SKILL: HEAR PRAYERS

SKILL: ANSWER PRAYERS

CHARACTER: DOZER PILOT

FLAW: OBEDIENCE

CHARACTER: GROUP OF FOOT SOLDIERS

CHARACTER: RANDOM FOOT SOLDIER

CHARACTER: WAINFLEET

CHARACTER: PRISON GUARD #1

CHARACTER: PRISON GUARD #2

CHARACTER: NA’VI ANCESTOR SPIRITS

CHARACTER: GROUP OF HORSE CLAN WARRIORS

CHARACTER: GROUP OF BANSHEE CLAN WARRIORS

CHARACTER: GROUP OF RDA PERSONELL

CHARACTER: GROUP OF MECH SUIT WARRIORS

CHARACTER: VALKYRIE PILOT

CHARACTER: GROUP OF SCIENTISTS

CHARACTER: VALKRYIE GUNSHIP 1

CHARACTER: VALKRYIE GUNSHIP 2

LOCATIONS

LOCATION: PROTAGONIST DREAM

LOCATION: STREETS OF PROTAGONIST HOME TOWN

LOCATION: INSIDE PROTAGONIST HOME

LOCATION: PROTAGONIST NIGHT LIFE SPOT (CONFLICT AGENT 1 & 2)

LOCATION: ALLEY BEHIND PROTAGONIST NIGHT LIFE SPOT

LOCATION: PANDORA FLIGHT LINE

LOCATION: BRIEFING ROOM

LOCATION: AVATAR LAB

LOCATION: AVATAR CONTROL ROOM

LOCATION: RDA CONTROL ROOM

LOCATION: AVATAR TRAINING COMPOUND

LOCATION: MILITARY HANGAR

LOCATION: THE SKIES OF PANDORA

LOCATION: GUNSHIP

LOCATION: JUNGLE LANDING ZONE

LOCATION: NA’VI SCHOOL

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 2

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 3

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 4

LOCATION: HOMETREE

LOCATION: RDA CAFETERIA

LOCATION: HOMETREE/THIRD LEVEL

LOCATION: HOMETREE/COMMONS

LOCATION: HOMETREE/RIVERBANK

LOCATION: RDA OPS CENTER

LOCATION: RAIN FOREST

LOCATION: TRUDY’S GUNSHIP

LOCATION: SITE 26/LINK MODULE

LOCATION: SITE 26/SLEEPING MODULE

LOCATION: HOMETREE/BANSHEE EYRIE

LOCATION: RANDOM FOREST

LOCATION: MOUNTAIN TRAL

LOCATION: BANSHEE ROOKERY

LOCATION: THE WELL OF SOULS

LOCATION: HOMETREE/LOWEST LEVEL

LOCATION: WILLOW GROVE

LOCATION: SELFRIDGE’S OFFICE

LOCATION: DRAGON GUNSHIP/COCKPIT

LOCATION: DRAGON GUNSHIP/ROOF

LOCATION: RDA COMPOUND CORRIDOR

LOCATION: RDA COMPOUND PRISON

LOCATION: RDA COMPOUND AIRFIELD

LOCATION: FOREST CLEARING

LOCATION: WELL OF SOULS

LOCATION: RUINS OF HOMETREE

LOCATION: CLAN GATHERING

LOCATION: NA’VI BATTLE CAMP

BACKGROUND INFO

BACKGROUND INFO: STORY UNIVERSE’S PRIMARY FLAW: THE RICH CONTROL THE WORLD AND EXPLOIT THE POOR MERCILESSLY IN THEIR INSATIABLE PURSUIT OF PROFITS

BACKGROUND INFO: PANDORA EXISTS (a place where PROTAGONIST can achieve his ultimate goals)

BACKGROUND INFO: THE UNIVERSE CAN FULFILL PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3 for enough money, which PROTAGONIST doesn’t have

BACKGROUND INFO: JAKE IS A TWIN, AND HIS TWIN IS DEAD

BACKGROUND INFO: RDA CORP HAS AN AVATAR PROGRAM ON PANDORA

BACKGROUND INFO: AVATARS REQUIRE MATCHING DNA TO FUNCTION

BACKGROUND INFO: THERE ARE NO HEROES ON PANDORA, ONLY MERCENARIES

BACKGROUND INFO: THERE IS NO SPECIAL TREATMENT ON PANDORA

BACKGROUND INFO: THE AIR ON PANDORA WILL KNOCK YOU OUT AND THEN KILL YOU

BACKGROUND INFO: EVERYTHING ON PANDORA WANTS TO KILL YOU

BACKGROUND INFO: NOT EVERYONE WILL SURVIVE 6 YEARS ON PANDORA

BACKGROUND INFO: AVATARS ARE EXPENSIVE

BACKGROUND INFO: THE AVATAR PROGRAM BUILT A SCHOOL TO TEACH NA’VI ENGLISH

BACKGROUND INFO: THE AVATAR PROGRAM’S SCHOOL ENDED IN DISASTER

BACKGROUND INFO: HUMANS ARE ON PANDORA TO MINE UNOBTANIUM

BACKGROUND INFO: EWA is TEAM NA’VI’s deity.

BACKGROUND INFO: NEYTIRI’S SISTER was killed by RDA.

BACKGROUND INFO: MIND-MELT BOND IS CALLED “SHAHAYLU”

BACKGROUND INFO: UNOBTAINIUM IS A SUPERCONDUCTOR THAT CAN MAKE THINGS FLOAT

BACKGROUND INFO: MOUNTAIN BANSHEE’S ATTACK IF YOU LOOK IN THEIR EYES. p.60

BACKGROUND INFO: DIRE HORSES DON’T ESTABLISH PERMANENT/MONOGOMOUS SHAHAYLU with NA’VI.

BACKGROUND INFO: MOUNTAIN BANSHEES ESTABLISH PERMANENT, MONOGOMOUS SHAHAYLU WITH NA’VI.

BACKGROUND INFO: TO BECOME TARONU/HUNTER YOU MUST CHOOSE YOUR OWN BANSHEE AND IT MUST CHOOSE YOU.

BACKGROUND INFO: TARONU/HUNTERS GET THEIR BANSHEE WHEN THEY ARE READY.

BACKGROUND INFO: SYLWANIN was killed at TEAM NA’VI school for burning a DOZER.

BACKGROUND INFO: LEONOPTERYX CAN DESTROY GUNSHIPS p.75

BACKGROUND INFO: THE WELL OF SOULS IS TEAM NA’VI’S MOST SACRED PLACE p.76

BACKGROUND INFO: NEYTIRI’S ANCESTOR TAMED A LEONOPTERYX.

BACKGROUND INFO: ONLY 5 LEONOPTERYX HAVE EVER CHOSEN A NA’VI.

BACKGROUND INFO: EVERY NAVI KNOWS THAT NEYTIRI’S ANCESTOR BROUGHT THE CLANS TOGETHER IN A TIME OF GREAT SORROW.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: NEYTIRI IS BETROTHED TO TSU’TEY

BACKGROUND INFO: RDA WILL ATTACK THE WELL OF SOULS

BACKGROUND INFO: THE FINAL TEST OF BECOMING A NA’VI MAN IS “THE DREAM HUNT”

BACKGROUND INFO: THE TREE OF VOICES CAN HEAR AND ANSWER PRAYERS

BACKGROUND INFO: THE TREES ON PANDORA SHARE A NEURAL NETWORK

BACKGROUND INFO: NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT WORKS WORST AT THE WELL OF SOULS

BACKGROUND INFO: TSU’TEY IS SECOND IN LINE TO BE LEADER OF TEAM NA’VI

BACKGROUND INFO: EWA CAN USE THE GREAT TREE TO MOVE SOULS INTO NEW BODIES

BACKGROUND INFO: JAKE IS THE NEW LEONOPTYRX RIDER/CLAN UNIFIER

BACKGROUND INFO: TEAM NA’VI IS MASSING FOR AN ATTACK

BACKGROUND INFO: QUARITCH HAS THE POWER TO DECLARE MARTIAL LAW

BACKGROUND INFO: EWA DOESN’T TAKE SIDES, ONLY PROTECTS THE BALANCE OF LIFE

RESOURCES

TEAM AVATAR RESOURCES

AVATAR POD

JAKE’S AVATAR

NORM’S AVATAR

GRACE’S AVATAR

COFFEE

BURRITOS

VLOGGING STATION

VLOG

RANDOM SCIENCE EQUIPMENT

AIRLOCK

TEAM MILITARY RESOURCES

RDA COMPOUND

AIRLOCK

RDA COMPOUND/CONTROL ROOM

RDA COMPOUND/SELFRIDGE’S OFFICE

RDA COMPOUND/RDA AVATAR LAB

RDA COMPOUND/AVATAR TRAINING GROUND

RDA COMPOUND/CAFETERIA

RDA COMPOUND/PRISON

RDA COMPOUND/CORRIDOR

RDA COMPOUND/AIRFIELD

RDA COMPOUND/BRIEFING ROOM

MILITARY RESOURCE: DOZER

WEAPON: BLADES

CAMERA

VIDEO PHONE

MILITARY RESOURCE: MECH SUIT

MILITARY RESOURCE: GUNSHIP

FLYING

RADIO

MISSLES

NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT

MILITARY RESOURCE: HEAVY MACHINE GUN

MILITARY RESOURCE: WOODEN SPEAR

VIDEO OF JAKE BASHING THE DOZER

DRAGON GUNSHIP

VALKYRIE GUNSHIP

MISSLES

GAS

HAND GUN

BULLETS

PRISON

KEY CARD

BIOSUITS

GAS MASK

COMPUTER

VIDEO

RADIO

SURVEILANCE CAMERA

ALARM BUTTON

EMERGENCY DOOR

TRAUMA BAG

MORPHINE

PALLETS OF EXPLOSIVES

TEAM NAVI RESOURCES

NA’VI FLAW: RACISM

NA’VI IDEOLOGY: NATURISM

NA’VI PRIME PEROGATIVE: HARMONY WITH NATURE

NA’VI RESOURSE: KNIFE

NA’VI RESOURCE: BOW

NA’VI RESOURCE: FIGHTING STAFF

NA’VI RESOURCE: DIREHORSE

NA’VI RESOURCE: BOLO

NA’VI RESOURCE: BEETLE FOOD

NA’VI RESOURCE: HAMMOCK

NA’VI RESOURCE: ANTENNA

NA’VI RESOURCE: NA’VI LANGUAGE

NA’VI RESOURCE: KAVA

NA’VI CUSTOM: THE DREAM WALK

NA’VI CUSTOM: NA’VI CAN PICK A MATE AFTER SURVIVING THE DREAM WALK

NA’VI CUSTOM: TEAM NA’VI’S SPIRITUAL LEADER IS CALLED A TSAHIK

NA’VI CUSTOM: DUEL CHALLENGE

NA’VI RESOURCE: SPIRIT ANIMAL

NA’VI SKILL: INVOKE CUSTOM

NA’VI SKILL: SHAHAYLU

NA’VI SKILL: TREE HOPPING

NA’VI SKILL: TRACKING

NA’VI SKILL: NA’VI GREETING

NA’VI SKILL: RIDE BANSHEE

NA’VI SKILL: DEATH RITES

NA’VI SKILL: DREAM WALK RITES

NA’VI SKILL: GROUP PRAYER CHANT

NA’VI SKILL: SOUL TRANSFER

NA’VI SKILL: SOUL TRANSFER RITE

NA’VI SKILL: WAR CRY

GROUP OF HORSE CLAN WARRIORS

GROUP OF BANSHEE CLAN WARRIORS

TEAM PANDORA RESOURCES

POISON AIR

GRAVITY

WIND

UNOBTAINIUM

BANSHEE

DIRE HORSE

NA’VI

FLOATING MOUNTAINS

GIANT TREES

FORESTS

RIVERS

NEURAL NETWORK

MAGNETIC ROCK

LEONOPTEREYX

BEAT 1 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 1-2

SUMMARY:

PROLOGUE

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

Relate key information to the audience

 BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Introduce most important variables about the protagonist and background information.

 BEAT 1 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: FLYOVER OF FOREST CANOPY IN JAKE’S DREAM. (Jake wants to fly.)

Also shown is LOCATION: JAKE’S HOUSE (JAKE lives in poverty.)

ALSO shown is LOCATION: CITY STREET (The masses on Earth live in poverty.)

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKES is having a dream.

JAKE states BACKGROUND INFORMATION 1

JAKE states BACKGROUND INFORMATION 2

JAKE states BACKGROUND INFORMATION 3

JAKE states PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 1

JAKE states PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 2

JAKE states PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3

JAKE states PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 4

PROTAGONIST TAKES ACTION TO ACHIEVE THE CURRENT BEAT GOAL:

JAKE dreams he can be and do more since society won’t give him the chance.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

The economy is oppressive and merciless. JAKE can’t afford a cup of coffee on his disability checks.

RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE wakes up. His eyes open in the same way as the final image of the movie when JAKE wakes up as a Na’vi.

BEAT 2 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 3-4

SUMMARY:

JAKE attempts to achieve PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 1

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to find a cause worth fighting for.

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

BAR BULLY wants to oppress the weak.

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Introduce PROTAGONIST’S GOALS and conflict resolution abilities by using the beat conflict as microcosm of the story conflict

BEAT 2 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: POOL HALL

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is drinking trying to impress BEAT 1 EXTRAS

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION:

JAKE is doing something that resembles PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE QUEST GOAL 2 despite PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 1. But JAKE knows his he’s only achieving PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 2 superficially. So he looks around LOCATION: POOL HALL for a more meaningful opportunity to accomplish his goal.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

JAKE sees BAR BULLY standing at the bar.

BEAT AGENT’S ACTION:

BAR BULLY accomplishes GOAL 1 by hitting a woman. This provides JAKE an opportunity to be a hero and fight above his weight class.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO BEAT AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE on BAR BULLY. JAKE attacks BAR BULLY.

THE UNIVERSE’S COUNTERACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

BAR BULLY fights back.

THE PROTAGONIST’S COUNTERACTION TO THE UNIVERSE’S ACTION:

JAKE uses CHARACTER TRAIT: NEVER GIVE UP.

THE VICTOR/OUTCOME OF THE CONFLICT:

JAKE wins the fight, but BARTENDER throws JAKE out POOL HALL into BACK ALLEY and then throws JAKE’S WHEELCHAIR on him.

FINAL IMAGE:

JAKE is laying on the ground, defeated for winning.

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 1: SARCASM AND HUMOR

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

He laughs to himself to show he is never daunted in the face of overwhelming odds or seeming defeat.

HOW THE OUTCOME OF THE ENCOUNTER AFFECTS THE PROTAGONIST’S ABILITY TO COMPLETE ANY QUEST GOAL:

JAKE is found in the BACK ALLEY by RDA AGENTS who were looking for him.

RDA gives JAKE an opportunity to achieve his goals

 BEAT 3 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 4-5

SUMMARY:

JAKE receives and accepts a job offer on PANDORA.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to defy the world

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

TWO RDA AGENTS want to recruit JAKE for the Avatar program.

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

A tragic and unexpected opportunity provides the CATALYST moves JAKE out of stasis and into unknown territory

BEAT 3 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

ALLEY BEHIND POOL HALL

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is lying on the ground

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE THE CURRENT BEAT GOAL:

JAKE continues laying on the ground as he has nowhere else to go really. This is his life.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

TWO RDA CORP. AGENTS fulfill their 3 goals:

GOAL 1: FIND JAKE SULLY

GOAL 2: DELIVER INFORMATION TO JAKE

GOAL 3: CONVINCE JAKE TO JOIN RDA CORP ON PANDORA

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: JAKE IS A TWIN, AND HIS TWIN IS DEAD

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: RDA CORP HAS AN AVATAR PROGRAM ON PANDORA

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: AVATARS REQUIRE MATCHING DNA TO FUNCTION

 PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 1: FIND A CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR

ALLIGNS WITH

RDA AGENTS’ GOAL 3: CONVINCE JAKE TO JOIN RDA CORP ON PANDORA

RDA AGENTS gives JAKE a sales pitch he can’t refuse

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE accepts the offer

RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE leaves Earth

BEAT 4 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 5-9

SUMMARY: REACH PANDORA

JAKE arrives on PANDORA and receives a quick safety briefing.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to get to Pandora

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT wants to get the new arrivals off the plane safely

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Moves JAKE towards predestined opportunities and conflicts

Introduce necessary variables related to new environment

BEAT 4 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: SPACESHIP

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE wakes up from deep sleep.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE 3: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

Via narration, JAKE gives the audience BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THERE ARE NO HEROES ON PANDORA, ONLY MERCENARIES

Via a transport ship, JAKE arrives at PANDORA FLIGHT LINE where he’s briefed by FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT GOAL 1: GIVE ROOKIES INFO ON PANDORA

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE 3: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT provides BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THERE IS NO SPECIAL TREATMENT ON PANDORA

FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT provides BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THE AIR ON PANDORA WILL KNOCK YOU OUT AND THEN KILL YOU

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

Nobody gives JAKE any special treatment

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE is last off the transport ship

JAKE sees a DOZER with arrows in its tires, foreshadowing TEAM NA’VI

JAKE sees a MECH SUIT foreshadowing he’ll have to fight one

 BEAT 5 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 10

SUMMARY:

JAKE introduced to the dangers of PANDORA by QUARITCH’S safety briefing.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to attend a safety briefing with QUARITCH

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

QUARITCH wants to warn the new recruits how dangerous Pandora is.

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Introduce new sources of conflict and new background information

 BEAT 5 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: BRIEFING ROOM late.

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE enters the room.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE 3: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

QUARITCH gives a safety briefing to newcomers.

QUARITCH GOAL 1: MAINTAIN AN EFFECTIVE FIGHTING FORCE AGAINST PANDORA

QUARITCH GOAL 2: HELP HUMANS SURVIVE PANDORA ALLIGNS WITH PROTAGONIST GOAL 4: COMPLETE 6 YEAR CONTRACT ON PANDORA

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

QUARITCH uses BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THERE IS NO SPECIAL TREATMENT ON PANDORA

QUARITCH gives Jake BACKGROUND INFORMATION: EVERYTHING ON PANDORA WANTS TO KILL YOU

QUARITCH gives Jake BACKGROUND INFORMATION: NOT EVERYONE WILL SURVIVE 6 YEARS ON PANDORA

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE. He’s bored with routine safety briefings

RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE is one step closer to completing QUEST CHAIN 2

BEGIN QUEST CHAIN 3

QUARITCH eyes JAKE sternly

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

QUARITCH knows JAKE exists, setting up the beat when QUARITCH assigns JAKE QUEST CHAIN 3.

 

BEAT 6 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 11-14

SUMMARY: INPROCESS INTO AVATAR PROGRAM WITH TEAM MEMBERS

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to inprocess into the Avatar program

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

NORM wants to help JAKE inprocess

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Introduce Jake’s primary allies and set up to introduce QUEST CHAIN 3: INFILTRATE TH NA’VI

 BEAT 6 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: AVATAR LAB,

Jake meets MAX

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE enters AVATAR LAB led by NORM, who is explaining how the Avatar program works

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE 3: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

Jake uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 1: SARCASM AND HUMOR

Jake uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:  

Jake asks NORM and MAX for help understanding science, but they are distracted.

NORM gives JAKE BACKGROUND INFORMATION: AVATARS ARE EXPENSIVE

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE is pretty much on his own and is unprepared to win Grace’s favor in the next beat:

 

BEAT 7 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 13-14

SUMMARY:

JAKE inprocesses into TEAM AVATAR and meets GRACE.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to be accepted onto the Avatar team despite being unqualified

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

GRACE wants JAKE off the Avatar team because he’s unqualified

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

INTRODUCE JAKE’S CONFLICT WITH GRACE

SET UP GRACE’S CONFLICT WITH SELFRIDGE

BEAT 7 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: AVATAR CONTROL ROOM

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE enters AVATAR CONTROL ROOM with NORM and MAX

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE 3: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

JAKE meets GRACE emerging from AVATAR POD

GRACE demonstrates TRAIT 1: SMOKING HABIT

GRACE demonstrates TRAIT 2: HIGH EXPECTATIONS

 GRACE’S GOAL 1: PACIFISM VS PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

GRACE tests NORM and JAKE’S expertise. NORM passes. JAKE fails.

NORM uses SKILL 1: LANGUAGE SKILLS

MAX uses SKILL 1: TECH SAVY

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 1: SARCASM AND HUMOR

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

GRACE leaves to tell SELFRIDGE to take JAKE off the Avatar team

 RESULTING SITUATION:

Grace storming out of AVATAR CONTROL ROOM

 

BEAT 8 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 15-17

SUMMARY:

GRACE tries to get SELFIRDGE to take JAKE off TEAM AVATAR.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

GRACE wants SELFRIDGE to take JAKE off the Avatar team

 BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

SELFRIDGE wants GRACE to keep JAKE on the Avatar team

 BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

INTRODUCE ANTAGONIST

INTRODUCE MAJOR SOURCE OF CONFLICTS

INTRODUCE BACKGROUND INFO

 BEAT 8 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: RDA CONTROL ROOM

OPENING SITUATION:

SELFRIDGE is playing mini golf and makes it known he doesn’t care about what’s going on around him, demonstrating CHARACTER 11 TRAIT 1: BEUROCRATIC INEPTITUDE

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

GRACE storms into RDA CONTROL ROOM

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

SELFRIDGE lectures GRACE revealing important variables:

SELFRIDGE GOAL 1: MONEY

SELFRIDGE GOAL 2: MINE UNOBTANIUM

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THE AVATAR PROGRAM BUILT A SCHOOL TO TEACH NA’VI ENGLISH

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THE AVATAR PROGRAM’S SCHOOL ENDED IN DISASTER

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: HUMANS ARE ON PANDORA TO MINE UNOBTANIUM

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

GRACE protests

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

SELFRIDGE reveals SELFRIDGE GOAL 3: HAVE A MILITARY ASSET ON THE AVATAR PROGRAM

SELFRIDGE uses SKILL 1: BEAUROCRATIC RANK and rejects GRACE’S demand.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

GRACE leaves defeated

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE’S membership on the Avatar team is permanently secured

SELFRIDGE announces a new quest chain for JAKE: FIND DIPOLOMATIC SOLUTION TO CONFLICT WITH NA’VI

 

BEAT 9 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 17-20

SUMMARY: JAKE TRAINS HOW TO USE HIS AVATAR

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to train how to use his AVATAR BODY

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

GRACE wants JAKE to take it slow

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE trains how to use PROTAGONIST RESOURCE: AVATAR BODY

JAKE achieves PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3: WALK

JAKE completes QUEST CHAIN 2: INPROCESS INTO PANDORA

BEAT 9 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

AVATAR CONTROL ROOM

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE enters his AVATAR POD with GRACE’S assistance

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE THE CURRENT BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:  

GRACE uses TRAIT 2: HIGH EXPECTATIONS

GRACE uses BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THERE IS NO SPECIAL TREATMENT ON PANDORA

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S OPENING ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 1: SARCASM AND HUMOR

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

GRACE connects JAKE to his Avatar even though she doesn’t want to.

 THE PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO THE UNIVERSE’S ACTION:

JAKE wakes up in his Avatar body at LOCATION: AVATAR TRAINING COMPOUND

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

JAKE achieves PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3: WALK

JAKE partially achieves PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 2: BE MORE THAN A MAN CAN BE

NORM and MAX try to stop JAKE but are unable

JAKE runs through the training course and demonstrates proficiency using his Avatar body

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE wins a little favor in GRACE’S eyes

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE is ready to journey into Pandora’s jungle

 

BEAT 10 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 23-25

SUMMARY:

JAKE completes his military inprocessing.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to follow orders to meet QUARITCH

 BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

QUARITCH wants JAKE to give him intel on TEAM NA’VI

 BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE completes QUEST CHAIN 2: INPROCESSING INTO PANDORA

JAKE accepts QUEST CHAIN 3: INFILTRATE TEAM NA’VI

 BEAT 10 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: MILITARY HANGAR

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is walking and talking to TRUDY

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

TRUDY gives JAKE QUEST GOAL 3.2.1: DOOR GUNNER AND MILITARY ESCORT FOR AVATAR TEAM. JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE and accepts the quest.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

QUARITCH offers JAKE QUEST GOAL 3.2: GATHER MILITARY INTEL ON NA’VI.

In return, he will fulfill PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3: WALK at the end of his 6 year tour on Pandora.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE and says, “Hell yeah.”

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE accepts a military mission that conflicts with his Avatar mission and PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 1: FIND A CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR (PROTECT THE WEAK FROM THE STRONG)

 

BEAT 11 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 26-30

SUMMARY: JAKE ESCORTS AVATAR TEAM TO NA’VI SCHOOL IN THE JUNGLE

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to escort GRACE and NORM to TEAM NA’VI SCHOOL

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

GRACE doesn’t want MILITARY ESCORT to come with them.

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE moves into the unknown where he can find what he doesn’t know he’s missing

BEAT 11 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: THE SKIES OF PANDORA

OPENING SITUATION:

TRUDY is piloting JAKE, GRACE NORM and MILITARY ESCORT in MILITARY RESOURCE: GUN SHIP

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE sees a FOREST BANSHEE flying around

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

JAKE tracks the FOREST BANSHEE with MILITARY RESOURCE: HEAVY MACHINE GUN

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

TRUDY lands her GUN SHIP at LOCATION: JUNGLE LANDING ZONE. GRACE refuses to allow MILITARY ESCORT to accompany them into the dangerous jungle.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE doesn’t protest despite PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

JAKE, GRACE and NORM walk into the jungle without incident.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

They are setting themselves up for trouble.

 

BEAT 12 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 31-34

SUMMARY:

JAKE, GRACE AND NORM retrieve SCIENCE EQUIPMENT from NA’VI SCHOOL.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to escort NORM and GRACE in and out of Pandora’s jungle safely

ANTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

GIANT THANATOR wants to eat JAKE

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Provide information on TEAM NA’VI

Move JAKE closer to TEAM NA’VI

 BEAT 12 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: NA’VI SCHOOL

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE, GRACE and NORM enter the school.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

He pays attention to his surroundings and asks questions

JAKE asks GRACE questions about the school, but she is not forthcoming with answers.

GRACE relays BACKGROUND INFORMATION: HUMANS HAVE NOTHING TEAM NA’VI WANT

They leave LOCATION: NA’VI SCHOOL and enter LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE, where JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA and goofs around.

JAKE is attacked by BULL HAMMERHEAD and then GIANT THANATOR.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

GIANT THANATOR attacks JAKE

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE runs.

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

GIANT THANATOR chases JAKE.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE escapes but gets lost in the jungle

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE fails to complete the beat goal, but this is a false failure, as it will bring him into contact with TEAM NA’VI.

 

BEAT 13 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 35-36

SUMMARY: JAKE tries to survive alone in Pandora’s jungle.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to survive the night

ANTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

NEYTIRI wants to kill JAKE

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE makes contact with CHARACTER 16: NEYTIRI

 BEAT 13 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 2

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is walking cautiously through the jungle.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE.

He makes MILITARY RESOURCE: WOODEN SPEAR

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA and makes a bunch of noise and doesn’t pay attention to what’s around him.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

JAKE doesn’t see NEYTIRI because she is using SKILL 1: KNOWLEDGE OF PANDORA

NEYTIRI is about to kill JAKE, but THE GREAT TREE uses RESOURCE 1: WOODSPRITE to pacify NEYTIRI

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE is blessed by THE GREAT TREE. So NEYTIRI follows and watches over him.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE is one step closer to making contact with TEAM NA’VI.

 

BEAT 14 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 37-43

SUMMARY:

NEYTIRI saves JAKE

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to survive the night.

 BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

PACK OF VIPERWOLVES want to eat JAKE

 BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE makes contact with TEAM NA’VI.

 BEAT 14 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 3

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE being hunted by PACK OF VIPERWOLVES

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

He turns MILITARY RESOURCE: WOODEN SPEAR into a torch

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

PACK OF VIPERWOLVES attacks JAKE.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE fights back but loses.

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

NEYTIRI saves JAKE using SKILL 1: KNOWLEDGE OF PANDORA and NA’VI RESOURCE: BOW

 THE PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO THE UNIVERSE’S ACTION:

JAKE tries to thank NEYTIRI, but she uses SKILL 2: NATURISM

NEYTIRI tries to teach JAKE killing predators is bad if it’s not necessary.

NEYTIRI uses NA’VI FLAW 1: RACISM and tells JAKE he’s like a baby.

JAKE pleads for her to help him, but she refuses until THE GREAT TREE uses RESOURCE 1: WOODSPRITES to bless JAKE again.

RESULTING SITUATION:

NEYTIRI agrees to help JAKE and leads him to safety.

EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE has earned an opportunity to infiltrate TEAM NA’VI.

  

BEAT 15 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 43-45

SUMMARY:

JAKE is taken captive by TSU’TEY.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to follow NEYTIRI to safety

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

TSU’TEY wants to kill JAKE

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE gets closer to TEAM NA’VI but experiences backlash

JAKE meets a recurring source of conflict in TEAM NA’VI community

 BEAT 15 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 4

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE and NEYTIRI are running through entertaining background.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE tries to get to know NEYTIRI by asking her questions.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

TSUTEY shows up riding NA’VI RESOURCE: DIREHORSE

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

TSUTEY uses NA’VI RESOURCE: BOLO to catch JAKE.

TSUTEY tries to use NA’VI FLAW: RACISM and NA’VI RESOURCE: BOW to kill JAKE.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA. He’s helpless.

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

NEYTIRI intercedes and saves JAKE’S life, but TSUTEY hauls JAKE to HOMETREE for judgment.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE is officially a helpless captive.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

JAKE enters TEAM NA’VI’s home, a huge step closer to infiltrating them.

This is his first chance to gather military intelligence on TEAM NA’VI.

  

BEAT 16 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 45-48

SUMMARY: Jake joins TEAM NA’VI

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to not get killed by TEAM NA’VI

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

EYTUKAN wants to kill JAKE

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE survives the night and succeeds at infiltrating TEAM NA’VI

New Na’vi characters are introduced

BEAT 16 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: HOMETREE

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is dragged to the center of a circle of Na’vi.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE is docile.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

EYTUKAN uses NA’VI FLAW 1: RACISM and says JAKE should have been killed already instead of brought to their home.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE tries to be friendly. It doesn’t work.

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

NEYTIRI tells the mob that THE GREAT TREE told her to save JAKE in BEAT 13.

MO’AT shows up to speak on behalf of EWA. MO’AT questions JAKE.

 THE PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO THE UNIVERSE’S ACTION:

JAKE tells MO’AT he’s a warrior and he wants to learn from them. MO’AT decides they could learn from JAKE Too.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

MO’AT orders NEYTIRI to train JAKE in the ways of TEAM NA’VI.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE begins a new TRAIN IN THE WAYS OF TEAM NA’VI.

BEAT 17 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 48-50

SUMMARY:

Jake learns to eat with TEAM NA’VI.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to impress NEYTIRI by eating BEETLE FOOD

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

NEYTIRI wants to test JAKE by feeding him BEETLE FOOD

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Establish JAKE and NEYTIRI’S personal and training relationship.

 BEAT 17 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

TREE HOME

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE and NEYTIRI are sitting down for dinner.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE eats dinner with NEYTIRI

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

NEYTIRI wants JAKE to eat NA’VI RESOURCE: BEETLE FOOD

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

NEYTIRI encourages JAKE to BEETLE FOOD.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE eats BEETLE FOOD enthusiastically and compliments them.

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

MO’AT and EYTUKAN comment that NEYTIRI will kill JAKE

 THE PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO THE UNIVERSE’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE survives his first lesson.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE is one step closer to completing his training.

 

BEAT 18 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 50

SUMMARY: JAKE debriefs with the Avatar team

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to debrief with the Avatar team.

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

NORM and GRACE don’t appreciate JAKE’S victory

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

The Avatar team accepts JAKE’S role as their new ambassador to TEAM NA’VI.

BEAT 18 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

HOMETREE, He wakes up in JAKE wakes up in AVATAR CONTROL ROOM.

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE falls asleep next to NEYTIRI in NA’VI RESOURCE 6: HAMMOCK.

NEW LOCATION:

AVATAR CONTROL ROOM

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is laying in his AVATAR POD.

GRACE is slapping JAKE in the face, telling him to wake up.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION:

JAKE greets GRACE.

NEW LOCATION:

RDA CAFETERIA

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is sitting at a cafeteria table with NORM, GRACE and MAX.

JAKE tells his audience about his night and its implications for their mission.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

NORM is jealous. GRACE is credulous. MAX is impressed.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 1: SARCASM AND HUMOR

RESULTING SITUATION:

GRACE and NORM accept the situation.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE progresses one step closer to quest goal.

BEAT 19 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 51-52

SUMMARY: JAKE debriefs with the military team

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to report his progress to QUARITCH

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

QUARITCH wants intel on HOMETREE

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Progress military plot line

 BEAT 19 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

RDA CONTROL ROOM

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is in a meeting with QUARITCH and SELFRIDGE.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE tells QUARITCH about his night and becoming TEAM NA’VI ambassador

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

SELFRIDGE is at the meeting.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

SELFRIDGE says HOMETREE is the next UNOBTANIUM mining site.

SELFRIDGE uses GOAL 2: MINE UNOBTANIUM

SELFRIDGE says bad press from killing NA’VI is better than bad shareholder reports.

SELFRIDGE uses GOAL 1: MONEY

SELFRIDGE gives JAKE new mission: CONVINCE NA’VI TO RELOCATE in 3 months.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE accepts the mission.

RESULTING SITUATION:

The meeting ends.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE has conflicting missions.

 

BEAT 20 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 53

SUMMARY: JAKE identifies NA’VI in photos to GRACE, which brings up the topic of NEYTIRI’S sister, who GRACE informs JAKE, is dead.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to give GRACE inside information about TEAM NA’VI.

ANTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

NORM resents JAKE’S success

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE gives GRACE intel on Na’vi, and GRACE trains JAKE by giving him info that prepares him.

JAKE learns NEYTIRI’s sister was killed by humans.

 BEAT 20 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

AVATAR LAB

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is sitting at a computer terminal with GRACE, NORM and MAX.

GRACE is showing JAKE pictures of TEAM NA’VI on the terminal.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE identifies TSU’TEY, NEYTIRI, EYTUKAN and MO’AT in photographs for GRACE. GRACE explains the cultural significance of the positions each person holds in NA’VI society.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

NORM and GRACE

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

NORM resents JAKE’S success and ignorance. He gives JAKE BACKGROUND INFORMATION: EWA is TEAM NA’VI’s deity.

GRACE tells JAKE BACKGROUND INFORMATION: RDA killed NEYTIRI’S sister

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

Sadness

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

GRACE puts JAKE into his Avatar body.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE goes into his avatar body.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

The stakes of JAKES’s missions are escalated.

Click here to download the Word document of the rest of the break down.

If you liked this break down, you may also like these break downs:

Formula Plot Templates

Plot break downs

Tips on being a writer


Excerpts from my upcoming book about film script plot templates

I’m currently working on a book that explains the standard film script plot structure used in all those Hollywood movies that seem to have the same plot. I’ve still got a few months of work to do before it’s finished because the formula contains a surprising amount of detail and a lot of subtle variations. Plus I’m also busy creating an autistically detailed break down of the plot to Avatar.

While I’ve been working on these projects I’ve had a couple of people E-mail me through my About page asking for advice on story plotting, which reminded me there are a lot of people looking for this information right now. So I’m going to go ahead and share a few useful excerpts from the book:

THE 7 MOST COMMON ACT STRUCTURES FOUND IN HOLLYWOOD MOVIES

  • 1. The hero accepts the quest. 2. The hero trains to fulfill the final condition. 3. The hero attempts to fulfill the final condition and fails. 4. The hero fulfills the final condition. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero fails to fulfill the goal that would yield the incentive, resulting in creating a new condition. 2. The hero identifies the new condition of obtaining the incentive. 3. The hero acquires a resource he needs to fulfill the final condition. 4. The hero fulfills the condition. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero identifies the incentive and its three successively dependent conditions. 2. The hero completes the first condition. 3. The hero completes the second condition. 4. The hero completes the final condition. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero accepts the quest. 2. The hero attempts to complete the final condition and fails, creating a new condition. 3. The hero attempts to complete the new condition and fails, creating a new condition. 4. The hero completes the final condition. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero accepts the quest. 2. The hero gathers a team. 3. The team accomplishes the first condition of obtaining the incentive. 3. The team plans and prepares to fulfill the final condition. 4. The team succeeds at neutralizing the final condition. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero survives an apocalypse that creates a deficiency in his need. 2. The hero creates a plan to survive. 3. The hero fulfills the first condition of survival. 4. The hero fulfills the final condition of survival. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero accepts a job that will fulfill his highest need and in-processes into the new job. 2. The hero trains at his new job. 3. The hero applies his training on his assigned task and fails. 4. The hero applies what he learned from failing to the task and completes it. 5. Denouement.

DETAILED SAMPLE SCRIPT TEMPLATE

Act 1

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 7

Suggested beats: 1-3, 7-10

The A-story in Act 1 introduces the hero, his ultimate external goal, a problem that stands between him and his goal. He attempts to achieve his goal but either fails at the end of the Act or accepts an opportunity to progress towards his goal. Either way, he crosses a threshold he can’t return from.

B-story

Suggested number of beats: 3-4

Suggested beats: 4-7

The B-story in Act 1 introduces the hero’s ultimate internal-oriented goal, conditions and the stakes. You can foreshadow future conditions and complications in Act 1 or wait to introduce them in Act 2.

C-story

Suggested number of beats: 1

Suggested beats: 7-8

The C-story in Act 1 introduces the hero’s third goal, stakes and possibly foreshadow its conditions and complications. Since crossing the threshold in Beat 10 creates the problem, he won’t be able to create a plan until Act 2.

Any additional storylines should also be introduced in Act 1. The C-story can impact the hero’s quest when it’s introduced, but it doesn’t have to.

Act 2

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 7

Suggested beats: 11-13, 17-20

Act 2 reboots the hero’s problem solving steps in the A-storyline, because after crossing the threshold in Beat 10, there is a new problem standing between him and his ultimate goal. So he must have experiences that walk him through the process of defining the problem, the conditions of success and the stakes. Then he must create a plan and enact it. He will complete the plan in Beat 20, but he will learn in Beat 21 that his success has backfired, creating a new condition he will spend Act 3 attempting to fulfill.

B-story

Suggested number of beats: 3-5

Suggested beats: 14-19

When the B-story is appears in Act 2, it will collide with the A-storyline, usually because the hero uses one of his signature flaws to solve a problem. The B-story will conflict with the A-story. In Act 2, the hero can either be aware or unaware of the fact that completing the B-storyline goal is a condition of completing his A-storyline goal, but it usually creates more tension if the character is aware of the fact.

The B-storyline goal, condition/s, stakes and primary obstacle must be stated by the end of Act 2.

If the condition of the A-story and B-story goal require the hero to complete the same task, such as in “Avatar,” where Jake Sully must infiltrate the Na’vi in order to fulfill his commitment to both his military boss and his scientific/humanitarian boss, then the hero can spend Act 2 on one quest in which every beat is technically both A and B-story.

C-story

Suggested number of beats: 1

Suggested beats: 15-17

In Act 2, the C-story reveals how crossing the threshold in Beat 10 created a problem with a condition the hero must fulfill in order to complete the C-storyline. The hero can also create a plan and enact it, but he shouldn’t fulfill the goal until the latter half of Act 5.

Act 3

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 7

Suggested beats: 20-27

Act 3 begins with the hero finding out his success at the end of Act 2 didn’t fulfill the condition/s of his ultimate goal. Instead, it resulted in a worst-case setback in the A-storyline, B-storyline or both. Now the hero must create a new plan to meet the new condition of the new complication. It’s usually the most dramatic if the hero fails every step of the way, forcing him to adapt and try again until he fails completely at the end of Act 3. However, if it makes sense for the story, he can win a few rounds.

The hero’s false victory at the end of Act 2 can create a worst-case setback in the hero’s quest to accomplish his A-story goal without affecting the B-story in any other way than, it would be futile or impossible to complete the A-storyline goal without fulfilling the condition of his B-storyline goal first. If this is the case, you can devote all 7 beats in Act 3 to the A-story.

B-story

Suggested number of beats: 0-7

Suggested beats: 21-27 or 24-27

The hero’s false victory at the end of Act 2 can create a worst-case setback in the hero’s quest to accomplish his B-story goal without affecting the A-story in any other way other than the hero can’t fulfill the major condition of his A-storyline goal without fulfilling the condition of his B-storyline goal. If this is the case, you can devote all 7 beats in Act 3 to the B-story.

You can devote some of the beats in Act 3 to the A-story and the B-story, but at the end of Act 3, the hero will can fail to complete at least whichever quest takes up the most beats in Act 3. You can also have the A and B story collide in a way that causes him to fail one or both of his quests.

C-story (0-1 Beats)

Suggested number of beats: 2

Suggested beats: 2-23, 29

The hero will continue enacting his C-storyline plan in Act 3 and fail. This storyline still doesn’t have to be impacted by, or have an impact on, the A or B storylines.

Act 3 Finale

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 0-3

Suggested beats: 28-30 or 28, 30

If the hero failure at the end of Act 3, the repercussions of his failure will put him in a worst-case scenario. All of his options will be eliminated, and he is tempted to give up. However, he restates the stakes of failure and decides he must press on.

If Act 4 is the last 3 beats of Act 3, the hero will make his final attempt to meet one of his storyline’s major conditions under the most dire circumstances.

B-story (1-3 Beats)

Suggested number of beats: 0-3

Suggested beats: 28-30 or 29

The hero uses a lesson he’s learned in the B-storyline to solve the A-storyline obstacle in front of him. Since the B-storyline is an internal conflict, completing the B-story quest means he fixes an internal flaw, creating a new virtue inside him. He then applies that virtue to the problem in front of him and overcomes it.

C-story

Suggested number of beats: 0-1

Suggested beats: 29-30

The C-story doesn’t need to appear in Act 4 since there’s so little time to cram it in. However, you can have the hero apply a lesson he’s learned or resource he’s gained in the C-story quest to fulfill the condition of the A or B storyline.

Act 4

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 5-7

Suggested beats: 31-37

If the major condition of the B-storyline was resolved in Act 4, then all 7 Beats in Act 5 will be A-storyline. In the last beat of Act 5 the hero will fulfill the major condition of the A-storyline, neutralizing the antagonistic force that has a conflict of interest with him achieving his ultimate goal.

B-story

Suggested number of beats: 0-2

Suggested beats: 31, 34-36

If the major B-storyline condition hasn’t been met yet, then the hero can use a lesson or resource gained from the B storyline to fix his internal flaw and turn it into a new virtue when he is “dug in” halfway through Act 5.

C-story

Suggested number of beats: 0-2

Suggested beats: 31-32, 38

The hero will attempt to solve the C-story one last time. The audience can see the hero succeed or find out in Act 6 that his actions fulfilled the condition of completing the C-story quest. The effects of completing the C-story quest can impact the hero’s ability to complete his A-story goal or not.

Act 5

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 1

Suggested beat: 38

The hero gets the A-story prize.

B-story

Suggested number of beats: 1

Suggested beat: 39

The hero gets the B-story prize.

C-story

Suggested number of beats: 1

Suggested beat: 40

The hero gets the C-story prize.

THE 12 STEPS OF A HERO ACCOMPLISHING A GOAL:

Once you’ve defined your hero’s need, the rest of the plotting process is just stating the steps he takes to get from Point A to Point B. In order for his thoughts and actions to appear human, you must show the following 12 events in this order:

  1. State the hero’s need.

In order for a hero’s actions to be logical, they must be done in pursuit of obtaining an incentive that will satisfy an unfulfilled need. So the first step is to state or illustrate the hero’s need.

  1. State the stakes of completing/failing to fulfill the need.

If a hero has a goal but no reason to accomplish the goal, then his actions will only be half-logical. The more clearly the audience understands the hero’s motive, the more reason they have to care if he accomplishes his goal. The less they understand his motive, the more distracted they’ll be trying to figure out why the hero is doing anything. The more poignant the hero’s motive, the more poignant the story will be to the audience. The less poignant the hero’s motive, the less reason the audience will have to finish watching or reading the hero’s story.

The reason the hero wants to accomplish his goal is because there are stakes at risk. If he succeeds, something good will happen. If he fails, something bad will happen. Since there are foreseeable good and bad consequences, the hero could literally write down the cost/benefit analysis of trying to accomplish his goal and come to the logical conclusion that he must take action. It could be patronizing to the audience to have the hero spell out his motives so explicitly, but the audience does need to know the consequences of both success and failure to fully understand the hero’s behavior.

When brainstorming the stakes in your story, bear in mind that the stakes will define the hero’s character. Whether the author intends it or not, the fact that the hero cares about the stakes, says something about his internal character. If you use the most exciting stakes you can brainstorm, it will make the hero seem like an exciting person. The more you personalize the stakes to the hero, the more depth the hero’s character, and his relationship to the story, will have.

  1. State the condition of fulfilling the need.

The fact that the hero has an unfulfilled need, implies that he must do something to satisfy it. If he didn’t have to do anything, then that would imply it’s already satisfied, unimportant or absurd.

The thing the hero must do to get the incentive is the condition (aka, goal). One condition/goal can have multiple conditions. The hero can learn all the conditions at the beginning of the story or along the way. If/when the hero doesn’t know his goal’s conditions, his immediate goal can be to learn them.

  1. State the hero’s decision to fulfill the conditions.

If the audience doesn’t witness the hero consciously decide to engage in his quest, then his behavior will appear random. When the hero chooses to commit to accomplishing a goal, he takes ownership of his quest. Plus, when he states what he’s about to do and why, the audience can follow the story.

  1. State the hero’s plan to achieve his ultimate goal.

After the hero has stated his goal and the condition to complete it, but before he takes action, he must decide what action to take. He must have a plan. The more clearly the plan is stated, the easier it is to follow the story.

Children’s stories state the hero’s plan almost every step of the way so children don’t get confused, but adults find this patronizing . They can easily follow the plot if the hero’s plans are implied.

The hero should state his plan for his major goals, but the audience doesn’t always have to know what the hero intends to do before he does it, especially when he’s completing minor goals. If the plan isn’t stated, as long as his behavior is within his character, the audience will accept the hero’s unexplained behavior as natural.

  1. The hero enacts his plan to meet the condition.

Once the hero knows what he wants to do, the next step is to do it. If he does anything between the time he formulates his plan and acts on it, he’s wandering around aimlessly. He might have an interesting adventure, but the story won’t move forward until he gets back to his plan, and a tightly written story is always moving forward.

  1. The hero encounters an obstacle or complication.

Technically, it would make a logical, coherent story if the hero decides to do something, does it and succeeds. Psychologically, though, that’s not very interesting. An enthralling story needs tension, and tension comes from the fear the hero won’t succeed.

So, the hero must encounter something at odds with him achieving his goal. Since a hero is measured by the quality of his opponents, the hero should encounter poignant ones that are tailored to reflect and draw out his character.

Whatever stands between the hero and his goal must have a logical reason to be there. Surprises are great, but the less relevant they are to the story, the more absurd your story will be.

The obstacle must have a conflict of interest with the hero achieving his goal. If the problem is a person, they will have a reason why they would benefit from the hero failing and lose something they value if the hero succeeds.

If the obstacle is inanimate, then its existence is the worst-case scenario God or the universe could put in front of the hero to prevent him from achieving his goal.  It helps to imagine that “God” is the antagonist, and God has a conflict of interest with the hero achieving his goal. So God keeps putting worst-case scenario obstacles and complications in the hero’s path.

  1. The hero reacts and adapts to the obstacle or complication

The obstacle will require the hero to perform an action to neutralize it. The hero can use one of his signature moves and neutralize minor opponents directly and immediately, but his major goals will need more eloquent problems and solutions.

  1. The hero fulfills the condition of the need.

Ultimately, the hero will either succeed or fail to fulfill the condition/s of his ultimate need. The only question is how many conditional steps he has to accomplish along the way.

  1. The hero attains the incentive.

The act of the hero accomplishing his goal is the catalyst of a cause/effect reaction that manifests the incentive that will satisfy his need. In other words, he gets the prize.

  1. The repercussion

The premise of the whole story is that something good would happen if the hero satisfies his need, and something bad would happen if he didn’t. Whenever a hero accomplishes a minor goal, the repercussions of that accomplishment will determine what he does next. In the second to last scene of the movie, the audience sees the repercussions of the hero fulfilling his ultimate need.

  1. The sunset

After the hero fulfills his need and experiences the repercussions, the story still begs the question, what does the future hold for the hero? What’s the hero’s next goal? The beginning of each beat is the sunset of the previous beat, and the last scene is the final sunset of the story.

Technically, a story doesn’t have to include steps 10-12 at the end of the story, but the whole story has been a stick and carrot leading up to this point. The author practically promised it, and the audience will be insulted and let down if they don’t get what they expected. You’re really not being clever by ending a story abruptly.

THE 9 PARTS OF A BEAT

My definition of a “beat” is, everything that happens between the time the hero enacts a plan to achieve an immediate goal and fails or succeeds to accomplish it.

Beats tend to be 1-3 minutes long and last 1-5 scenes, though most beats are only 1 scene long. This way, each scene opens to a new action sequence and ends with the hero succeeding or failing to accomplish a goal.

Every beat follows the same 9 steps, which are listed below:

  1. Opening image:

Each beat begins with the hero approaching a problem he needs to solve in order to accomplish a goal that will help him achieve his ultimate goal. This establishes where the camera will start rolling. So it needs to include the location and what the protagonist is doing when the director shouts, “Action.” Describe how the hero arrives or is found at the scene. The most common opening image is the hero walking through a door into a room where needs to do something.

  1. Hero’s opening action:

Once the hero’s presence is established on the scene, he needs to do what he came there to do. He already has a goal and a plan in mind. This is the first thing he does to engage the environment in pursuit of his goal.

  1. Opponent with a conflict of interest or opportunity:

There is always something standing between the hero and his immediate goal. It’s usually a person who has a conflict of interest with the hero. However, the “opponent” can be an ally of the hero, and the opponent’s ultimate goals can align with the hero’s. There still needs to be a source of conflict standing between them. In those cases, the conflict is the hero doesn’t want to the opportunity.

  1. Hero’s response:

After the hero encounters his opponent, he must logically react to it. The hero can only act in his character. The only way the audience can know the hero’s character is by watching him demonstrate his values and skills, of which he has 5-10 he reuses in every beat.

  1. Opponent’s response:

After the hero responds to the conflict in character, the opponent will counteract the hero’s action. Their action is usually a worst-case scenario that minimizes the hero’s chance of success. If the opponent has been seen before, they will use responses that were introduced in their first one or two appearances.

  1. Hero’s escalated response:

After the hero is hit with the opponent’s response, he will counteract the opponent’s move. This move will be more dramatic than his first response.

  1. Opponent’s escalated response:

The opponent will get at least one more chance to counter the hero. If the hero is destined to lose the conflict, this will be the deciding blow that neutralizes the hero and prevents him from achieving his goal. If the hero is destined to win the conflict, he would get another chance to respond with action after the opponent’s turn is over.

The beat can go on longer by having the hero respond again, and the opponent can respond again after that. In an action movie where the hero is physically fighting an enemy, the tit-for-tat can go on for five minutes in a single beat. Most conflicts are conversations where two people parse words briefly and then reap the consequences.

  1. Final outcome:

The final outcome is whether or not the hero won or lost the conflict.

  1. Hero’s closing image:

The closing image is what the camera sees right before the director shouts, “Cut.” This shows the immediate aftermath of the encounter and either implies or states how the outcome affects the hero’s progress towards his ultimate goal. If the hero wins, he may be doing a victory dance. If the hero loses, he may be laying in a gutter bleeding.

If you would like to see the current rough draft, you can download it by clicking here. As long as you give attribution credit, I don’t care if you steal it because I’m publishing it under creative common license.

Below are links to my earlier work on story plotting:

Formula plot templates:

Choose your own adventure story templates

 


Tips on conversation: Part 1

conversation_by_louis_moeller2c_undated2c_oil_on_canvas_-_new_britain_museum_of_american_art_-_dsc093461

 

Talking isn’t a competition. It’s an opportunity.

Humans have a tendency to approach conversations like a competition where the winner is whoever proves themselves the coolest, smartest, most successful, or most charming. But life isn’t a competition for social status. It’s nice when people like you, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. Nor are you under any obligation to like or impress anyone else. Think about it. How many times as someone completely changed your life after you impressed them in a conversation? Unless you’re married, probably never.

Trying to impress everybody is futile, because you’re completely incompatible with at least half of the people you meet. So you were never going to be friends anyway, and most of the people you do get to know will be gone from your life in a few years, rendering their opinion of you meaningless eventually.

There are more enjoyable and useful kinds of conversations  you can have than dick waving competitions. Use conversation as an opportunity to learn, have fun and connect with others. That’s what they’re for.

Nobody is out to judge you.

Nobody who cares about you will judge you, and nobody else cares enough about you to judge you. Ultimately, you’re just another face in the crowd who isn’t going to be around in a few years. Everyone is obsessed with themselves. When they talk to you, they’re only paying half attention to what you’re saying. The rest of their mind is busy thinking about their own needs and insecurities.

In fact, strangers are more likely to want to give you the benefit of the doubt, because we all want to believe we live in a good world, full of good people. When you meet someone new, don’t you hope they turn out to be nice and enjoyable? When you introduce yourself to someone, they’re most likely crossing their fingers, thinking, “Please, let this person be one of the good guys.” They don’t want you to impress them. They mostly just want you to not make their life harder.

It’s true, there are people out there who will judge you, but those people usually judge everyone. Habitually judging others is dysfunctional behavior that has more of a negative impact on the perpetrator’s life than the victims’. That kind of behavior fits the definition of a mental disorder. It’s not a sign of evil. It’s a condition that requires treatment. So when a judge-aholic looks down on you, don’t take it any more personally or seriously than you would someone with an eating disorder judging the size of your meal.

Nobody sees the real you. 

If society’s dress code required everyone to wear masks all the time, we would all be more confident. Hiding our faces makes us feel safer, because nobody can see the real “us.” The more anonymous we feel, the more permission we give ourselves to act as bold in real life as we would on an internet message board. This is ironic, because nobody will ever see anyone for who they really are. Everyone has a completely unique universe in their mind that only sound can escape. Trying to understand who a person is by talking to them, is like an astronomer trying to study the night sky using an ear horn.

Our internal universes are so unique and inaccessible, it’s impossible for us to accurately imagine what reality is like from anyone else’s perspective. Since we can’t see people for who they are, we fill in the blanks with patterns from our own universe. So no matter what you do or say, when anyone looks at you, they mostly see themselves. The way they treat you usually has more to do with how they treat themselves, than how you deserve to be treated. So take advantage of your anonymity to act outside your comfort zone, and don’t worry about what people say to a mirror.

The scarier talking to people is, the more you should seek help.

Talking to people isn’t war. Nobody wants your worst-case fears to come true. They don’t even want to think about it. They just want to feel good. Even if conversations do go bad, in the long run it doesn’t matter. Stressing out about failing in conversations is an irrational fear. That’s the definition of a “phobia,” specifically, social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety exists only in your mind. You can turn it off like a light by thinking about anything else. If that doesn’t work, read some books on coping with social anxiety disorder and insecurity. If that doesn’t work, go see a mental health professional. Relief will only come as quickly as you pursue it.

The more you look at things from other people’s point of view, the less lost you’ll be. 

I learned some of the advice in this list from books, but I picked most of it up from watching people and trying to imagine life from their point of view. It’s easy, fun and enlightening. The more you understand where people are coming from, the better you can communicate with them. The less you understand them, the more lost you’ll be. If you don’t make a conscious decision to habitually look at conversations from other people’s point of view, you’ll always be lost.

Relax. We’re all apes here.

Some of my advice may seem contradictory, pessimistic or arrogant, but there’s a logical, impartial explanation for all of this. For example, I say people are unique, unknowable universes, but you can figure them out by watching them. I say people deserve love, but we’re all obsessed with ourselves. I say people are lost, ignorant and selfish, which raises the question, why don’t I live alone in the woods if everyone is so intolerably dumber than me?

Relax. I never said I was better than anyone else. The truth is, we’re all basically apes. We’re really clever apes, but our thought processes and motives are primitive enough to be predictable.

Apes are going to ape. That’s no reason to hate them. We may be goofy creatures, but we’re also cosmic miracles. The fact that we exist at all is reason enough to love us.

No matter how much better anyone thinks they are than anyone else, we’re all apes at the end of the day. There’s no reason to feel superior or inferior to anyone else. Nor is there any reason to stress over winning the approval of other apes. If someone ever throws shit at you, take it as personally as you would an ape throwing shit at you. If someone treats you divinely, cherish it. In the meantime, relax.

People would rather hear what they have to say than what you have to say.

When people talk to you, it’s like you’re standing behind an opaque mirror, and they’re talking to a reflection of themselves superimposed over a hazy outline of you. They’ve been talking to themselves their entire life, because they’re all they know of the universe. Being the only thing in their universe, their lives revolve around themselves, and they’re the most important thing in their universe.

People want to talk about what’s most important to them, which means anyone without social anxiety disorder probably wants to talk about themselves. Usually, they don’t even want to have a two-way conversation. They just want to talk about themselves and have you listen, smile, nod and compliment them.

The more you talk about yourself, the less they’re going to feel like they’re getting out of the conversation. After a few minutes they’re going to lose interest and spend the rest of the conversation impatiently waiting for their turn to talk or for the conversation to be over. Impressing people in conversation requires almost no talking at all. The only thing you have to do is find out what aspect of their life they want to talk about and ask them about it. The harder you try to blow their mind with what you have to say, the more likely you’ll convince them you’re an arrogant bore.

Flattery will get you everywhere.

People may be unique and unknowable universes, but making them feel good is simple. Just make them feel good about themselves. Give them the approval they so desperately yearn for. Flatter them.

Look at their wardrobe and how they present themselves. Find whatever they put the most thought and energy into and compliment it. Part of them doesn’t even care if you’re sincere or smooth about it. They just want positive reinforcement.

It looks desperate if you constantly praise people, but they won’t hate you for it. More likely, they’ll feel bad for you that you feel the need to impress your equals. However, you can stealthily give them subtle positive reinforcement by smiling, looking them in the eye, laughing and agreeing with them.

This doesn’t mean you should act like a Stepford Wife. If you’re talking to a violent racist, you shouldn’t be laughing and agreeing with what they say. But as a general rule, if you want people to approve of you, then approve of them. They wish you would.

Your name is the sweetest sound you can hear in any language.

Everyone is existentially lost in an incomprehensible universe waiting to die an unexplainable death. We don’t even know if we really exist or if this is just a simulation in a dream. Even living in a city, surrounded by people, you can feel utterly meaningless if nobody ever says your name.

Hearing someone say your name verifies your existence, and connects you to society. It makes you feel popular, important, and worth knowing. When you hear your name, for that moment, the attention is on you. You’re the belle of the ball. We all want to feel that, and we rarely do.

Saying someone’s name is more than just existential flattery. It’s the difference between a stranger and an acquaintance. The more you hear someone say your name, the more a part of their life you’ll be. To build a long lasting relationship with someone, you have to say their name.

Don’t constantly tell people your life story.

Very few people really want to know your life story. It bores everyone else. It also eliminates your mystery and anonymity. The less people know about you, the more they have to fill in the blanks with speculation. We tend to assume people are more perfect than they are. The less we know about them, the more we build them up. This is why teenage girls get so obsessed with boy bands. Since she’ll never meet the boy in person to find out what he’s really like, she falls in love with a mental construction of her ideal boyfriend. To far lesser degrees, everyone you know has done the same thing to you. The more they know about you, the more they see you as a regular, flawed person.

I’m not saying you should strive to be fake or aloof. You should have at least one confidant who knows your entire life story and all your secrets, and you should share your stories freely with the people you want to build life bonds with. But in casual conversation with acquaintances and strangers, you have more to lose than you have to gain by constantly spilling all your beans and cramming them down people’s throats.

Don’t constantly tell people your traumas, dramas and dark secrets. 

Nobody wants to hear about the best vacation you ever took. They really don’t want to hear about the worst things that have happened, are happening, or might happen in your life. All they want, is to feel good.

Hearing your horrible stories will force them to visualize unpleasant things. Then they’ll feel sad for you and guilty that they can’t save you. Then they’ll feel anxious as they try to come up with a solution to your problem. Then they’ll feel frustrated when you don’t take their advice. Then they’ll feel afraid you’re going to ask them for something. When the conversation is over, they’ll feel relief that you’re not battering their psyche like an emotional tornado. After they leave your company, they’ll continue feeling bad. If this happens enough times, they’ll avoid you.

Nobody wants to feel your pain. They want to feel your joy. If you can’t make people laugh, the least you could do is not go out of your way to burden them with your problems. If you need to talk about your problems, you should talk to a therapist.

Don’t constantly bitch about anything. 

Your life might be great, but there’s something else wrong in the world that pisses you off, like your government, immigrants, your lover, your boss, the opposite sex, young people, etc. Nobody wants to hear about it. Nobody cares that you’re upset. They care about making it through the day as happily as possible.

When you bitch about anything, you put a rain cloud over your audience’s head. You may be right about what you’re saying, and it may be important, but depressing the people you hang out with isn’t going to fix the world’s problems. It’s just going to earn you a reputation as an emotionally draining whiner.

Nobody wants to hear you brag.

You can impress people by bragging for a few minutes. The longer you try after that, the more it’ll have the opposite effect. You’d think people’s admiration of you would be proportional to how awesome of a life you’ve lived. But the more amazing your life is than theirs, the more your success highlights the shortcomings in their life. That makes them feel unfulfilled, which makes them feel guilty. Then they resent you for rubbing it in. Then they dismiss their emotional pain by blaming you and labeling you an arrogant brat who thinks life is a dick waving competition and always hogs the conversation telling your life story that nobody wanted to hear in the first place.

If you do have some really great stories that are genuinely interesting, wait until the most poignant time to share them, preferably when someone asks. Your stories will be far more impressive and digestible if you save them. Then people will be amazed you lived a more interesting life than they thought. Then they’ll fill in the rest of the blanks in your life with more positive speculation.

Don’t one-up people’s stories.

It’s painful enough to hear someone deliver a monologue about how much better they are than you. It’s even worse when they try to trump all of your stories. This is the fastest way to convince people you’re not worth talking to.

Be vigilant not to constantly auto-contradict people.

Having anything you say shot down is annoying. Yet many people’s default manner of speaking is to contradict everything anyone says. They believe they’re being smart by finding exceptions and holes in other people’s statements, but their efforts accomplish nothing. They don’t learn, teach or stand for anything, and it shows. Even if you’re right, your audience probably wouldn’t listen. The only thing they’re going to learn is that you’re impossible to talk to.

Don’t play the devil’s advocate.

Some people don’t realize they’re stuck on auto-contradict. Others make it a point to say things they don’t even believe because they’re on a mission to poke holes in people’s conversation. If you call them out on it, they may say they want to help stupid people correct their ignorance, which may be true, but their deeper motivations are sadism, self-centeredness and insecurity.

If your audience really is ignorant, then taunting them is like belittling a child because he hasn’t gone to college yet. Even if they’re too stupid to see what a misguided fraud you are, your actions still prove you’re a bad person in the greater scheme of life.

If your audience is smarter than you think, which they probably are, they’ll see through your shallow game. Even if they don’t, they’re going to remember how you made them feel. If you didn’t make them feel good, they’re not going to try to be a positive force in your life.

Don’t gossip or bitch about other people behind their backs.

It’s common knowledge that anyone who gossips to you, will also gossip about you. Every time you gossip, you’re convincing your audience you’re not trustworthy. And, obviously, you can only talk about other people so many times before it gets back to one of them. On the other hand, if you never do wrong by people, then that’s what people are going to say about you, and respect is going to come back to you.

Constantly bringing up negative information doesn’t help you or your audience achieve happiness. Sure, gossiping is a guilty pleasure, but it pales in comparison to the good feeling you get from talking about the positives in life. There are enough that focusing on the negative is like going to a rose garden and looking for dog shit to sniff.

 If you liked this post, you may like these:

Tips on conversation: Part 2

Advice on relationships

Advice on living


Tips on conversation: Part 2

Conversation

Talking about touchy subjects ends in absurdity often, violence sometimes and cohesion rarely.

There’s an old saying, “Never talk about politics or religion.” This is because nobody has the exact same beliefs, and we tend to defend our beliefs more than we question them. We behave this way partly because we’re cognitive misers and party because we’ve been indoctrinated not to question certain topics. Either way, talking about those topics is more likely to end in conflict than cohesion. However, people are more likely to avoid conflict than jump at the chance to escalate it. So you’ll probably spend the whole conversation dancing around taboos, trying not to offend each other.

The whole exercise was probably futile to begin with, because most people only have a vague idea what they believe. So the deeper you dig, the more excuses and flimsy justifications you’re likely to find than useful or interesting knowledge.

Disagree respectfully.

By some people’s definition, an enemy is anyone who disagrees with them. Yet, everyone disagrees with everyone on something. If you perceive disagreements as battle lines, you’ll have to go war with everyone, and the only thing that would accomplish is making enemies out of all your potential allies and friends.

The chances of you changing anyone’s mind about anything are slim. The odds fall to zero the moment you speak disrespectfully towards them, but the more polite you are, the more kindly they’ll have to view you and your ideology.

Even if you can’t convert them on the spot, you may plant a seed that will germinate later. Regardless, you can still win their respect by treating them with respect and presenting your arguments professionally.

The only person who wins an argument is the one who learns something.

Since you’re unlikely to change people’s minds about anything, and it usually doesn’t really matter whether or not you do, the only thing you stand to gain by arguing is learning something yourself. And since arguments usually happen when both people are half right, the fact that you’re arguing in the first place, probably means you need to learn something. Fighting the other person is the worst way to accomplish that goal.

Accepting responsibility for your actions will get you out of trouble better than making excuses.  

The topic of hundreds, if not thousands, of conversations you’ll have throughout your life will be about how you did something wrong. People tend to instinctively defend themselves when criticized, which is one of the worst things a person can do to themselves. When people say to your face, that you did something wrong, they’re almost always at least half right. Their criticism is like a gift from God, because it warns you what’s wrong with you and tells you what you need to fix, before you suffer any real consequences. Getting defensive and/or fighting the people who try to hold you accountable is like fighting a doctor who is trying to remove the knife you stabbed yourself with.

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who make excuses and those who don’t need to. The more excuses you make, the less people will take you seriously. If you want to impress people, then listen to them, and admit when you’re wrong. You might think weaseling out of accountability lets you save face, but it really just makes you look like a weasel. If you accept responsibility for your actions, admit when you’re wrong and fix your flaws, the people you once disappointed will come to look up to you.

 Take advice. 

You can learn how to fix your flaws before they get you in trouble. You probably ask people for advice all the time. The more you bitch about your problems, the more advice people are going to give you whether you want it or not, because that’s the only way they can unburden themselves of the problems you’re dumping on them. People’s advice is rarely 100% true, but it’s also rarely 100% useless. You have nothing to gain by rejecting advice and everything to gain from embracing it.

Don’t give much advice.

Everybody needs advice, but people rarely take it, even when they ask for it. Trying to give someone advice, or expecting them to take it, almost always ends in nothing but frustration for the giver. You’re more likely to burn a bridge than save a life. I’m not saying you should never give people advice. I’m just saying, be aware that you’re playing with fire. If you start to see smoke coming out of the other person’s ears, stop.

Ask for advice. 

People like to give advice, as long as you listen to them and take what they say to heart. It’s flattering and creates a meaningful connection between the confidant and confessor. Plus, it just feels good to help people.

This is convenient, because you need advice. You’re so lost, you don’t even know how lost you are. Everyone around you is a treasure chest of information waiting to be opened. Not asking for advice is leaving money on the table.

Don’t let people constantly dump their problems on you. 

You should try to help whoever you can, because all life is equally valuable. So it’s as good to help others as it is to help yourself. This also means it’s important for you to make the most of your own life, and it’s a waste of your invaluable time and energy to coddle people who just want to bitch about everything with no intention of changing anything.

It doesn’t even help the person with the “apocalypse of the week,” because it enables their parasitic behavior. As long as they have a willing host, they’ll stay an emotionally crippled parasite forever, guaranteeing their trivial problems will always be your emergencies.

People tend to mimic your emotional tone.

Humans learn about the world by mimicking others. Even as adults, we’ll stand up if everyone in the room stands up. It’s almost impossible to frown in a room full of laughing people, and it’s just as hard to laugh in a room full of crying faces.

Behavior is contagious. This doesn’t mean you always act like the last person you spoke too, but you will get swept up in their emotion. For example, if you meet someone who is crying, you’re going to react with sadness. If you someone screams at you, you’re going to want to scream back. When someone shows you kindness and love, you’re probably going to be nice to them.

If you want people to like you and be nice to you, then approach them with happiness and friendship. If you want someone to listen to you, don’t scream at them. If you don’t want people to be stressed out and anxious around you, don’t act like everything is always hopeless.

Everyone uses and reacts to emotional tones differently.

As children, we tend to assume everyone is more or less exactly like us. We reason that if we’re all human, then we must all express emotions the same, but we’re all unique snowflakes when it comes to that. For instance, you’d think you could judge how mad a person is by how loud they raise their voice, but some people shout when they’re not mad, while other people perceive any outburst over a whisper to be apocalyptic.

It’s harder than you’d think to accurately assess people’s emotional state or intentions. So it’s a generally good idea to stay on guard not to let yourself get swept up by people’s emotions. Hear them out while wearing a dumb leopard expression on your face. If there really is an emergency, getting swept up in their hysteria won’t help you fix it. On the same token, don’t shout at people or react to minor inconveniences with excessive emotion. Even if you’re calm in your head, you’re freaking everyone out.

Don’t interrupt.

You’d think it goes without saying not to interrupt people when they’re talking, but it happens every day, because the point of being rude is you don’t think about how your actions affect other people.

Look at conversations from the other person’s point of view. They’re in it for what they can get out of it. They probably feel insecure and want to prove their worth. They’re just hoping someone validates their existence by saying their name and complimenting them. No matter how you look at it, they just want to have an experience that makes them happy.

When you interrupt someone, you may as well stop the whole conversation, point to the person you just interrupted and declare whatever they’re saying isn’t important because they’re not important. Then carry on the conversation.

Nobody deserves to be made to feel unimportant. It’s unjust and will probably make an enemy out of the person you cut down. Plus, observers are more likely to view you as rude, than as the savior of the conversation.

You don’t have to lie to kick it.

Lying to make yourself look better never works in the long run. Eventually people will see what you’re doing and lose respect for you. If they do believe all your outlandish stories, they’ll resent you for making them feel inferior or just for talking about yourself all the time.

People don’t stay friends with the people who impress them the most. They stay friends with the people they’re most comfortable around and don’t have to compete with. If you believe you need to constantly impress your friends, the problem is either in your head, or you need new friends.

Cops, blood, sex and drugs.

If you’re ever in a group that’s either struggling to keep a conversation going, or the topic is boring, ask if anybody has any good stories about themselves or a friend involving cops, blood, sex and/or drugs. You’d be surprised how many stories everyone has involving those topics. They’re as fun to tell as they are to hear. Plus, it creates a meaningful connection with people when they share mildly taboo information about themselves. However, the more formal the social gathering, the more inappropriate it would be to raise these topics.

Always have a few jokes up your sleeve.

Jokes are always enjoyable, but it’s rare to hear one person tell more than five jokes in a single conversation. Anyone can memorize five jokes to have ready. You don’t need to tell a joke in every conversation, and you certainly shouldn’t tell the same five jokes every time you talk. Tell a joke if someone asks, if it’s relevant to the current topic or to bridge a silent gap in conversation. People will like you for it, and your conversation will be more fun.

You are what you talk about.

If all you ever talk about is children’s cartoons, then that’s what your mind will consist of. If all you ever talk about is how angry you are about injustice, you’ll live in a bitterly unjust universe. If all you ever talk about is pop culture, your life will amount to a television commercial. If you spend your whole life bitching about other people, then you fit the definition of a bitch.

If you always speak nicely to people, you’ll feel nice, and you’ll have nice memories to look back on. If you ask everyone for advice, your mind will fill up with superpowers. If you meet people from all over the world and listen to their stories, you internal universe will become as colorful as a Holi festival.

Mind your karma ghosts.

The emotional impact of how you treat people lasts long after you’re gone. If someone walks away from you happy, they’ll probably be nicer to the next person they meet. If someone walks away from you angry, they’ll probably be meaner to the next person they meet. The bigger an impact you have on people, the longer they carry the ghosts of your actions with them. The memory of a single conversation with you could pop up in their mind periodically for the rest of their life, bringing those old feelings back to the surface, like a ghost from the past haunting them.

Your actions have ripple effects that extend across time and space. Every time you make someone feel good, you make the world better. Every time you make someone feel bad, you make the world worse.

Mind your appearance.

The cleaner and more professional you look, the more professionally people will assume they should interact with you. The more sexually attractive you are, the more people will try to woo you and overlook your flaws.

The sloppier you dress, the less seriously people will take you. The more you dress like a stereotypical violent criminal, the more people will be afraid of you. The blander you dress, the less you’ll excite people.

The weirder you look, the more likely people are to reject or dismiss you, which can be a blessing or a curse, because the more you look like the person you’re talking to, the more likely they’ll accept you… and hold you accountable to the cultural standards and values of people who dress like you. In other words, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, but if you don’t want to be held to Roman standards, don’t dress like a Roman, but don’t be surprised when the Romans don’t accept you.

Surround yourself with people who enjoy talking about the same things as you. 

Conversation is an opportunity to learn, have fun and build connections. If you’re constantly bored by the conversations you have with the people in your life, then you probably need to surround yourself with new people who want to talk about the same things as you. Life is too short, and the potential for joy is too great, to spend time with people you don’t find interesting.

Cutting people out of your life doesn’t mean you think you’re better than them. There’s no such thing as “the best people.” There’s just the best people for you. The people you’ll enjoy talking to the most tend to be the ones who share most of your interests as strongly as you.

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Wisdom is asking the most important questions, and it’s a moral imperative.

Knowledge is having the right answer to a question. Wisdom is figuring out the right answer to the right question. The more you know, the wiser you can become, but until you use a piece of knowledge in a question, it’s just inert information in a data set waiting to be queried. You have to ask yourself questions and use the knowledge in your brain as the variables in the equations in order for your knowledge to serve a purpose.

The more important the question, the more valuable it, and the knowledge required to answer it, becomes, but tallying the sum total of your knowledge is futile. The only thing that really matters is you came up with the best answer to the best question to have the most positive affect on your life. If you’re doing that, then you’re moving forward in life and shouldn’t have time to rest on your laurels anyway.

You can appear wise if you happen to know the right answer to a lot of random questions, but if the question is unimportant, then the only people who would praise you for mastering futility are fools. That’s not the definition of genius. That’s the definition of insanity.

Nobody will ever ask you all the most important questions in life. You’re the only one who can do that for you. If you don’t make a habit out of asking yourself, “What is the most important question I can ask?” then you’re a ship lost at sea, not because you can’t sail, but because you don’t.

Wise people appear to be two steps ahead of everyone else because they’ve already asked themselves the most important questions before they came up, and they’re focused and driven because it doesn’t take external motivation to do what’s most important to you. Far from needing a push, you’ll make excuses to justify doing what’s really most important to you. It takes motivation to act against your beliefs. That’s why there are so many backsliding religious people. Religion is hard to do because it requires a lot of cognitive dissonance to believe in something that fails the test of truth.

Since thinkers have already taken it upon themselves to thoroughly question what’s logically most important in life, they’re more likely to be working towards a logical end goal. People who don’t make a habit of asking themselves, “What’s most important in life?” are unlikely to be toiling towards or defending a logical goal. That’s ultimately how you measure the difference between wisdom and foolishness: by the value of the end goal. You can accomplish everything you set out to by being clever as a fox, but if your goals are unimportant, then you’re just the world’s sharpest fool.

So ask yourself, “What’s the most important question I can ask?” Think about that for the rest of your life. While you’re doing it, bear in mind, the only way to answer a question is to ask more questions, and the more skilled you are at asking questions, the better answers you can deduce. So initially, the most important question you can ask yourself is, “How do you ask a question?” Like most questions, there are a lot of answers, and some are more useful than others. If you need a place to start, I wrote a guide which offers one perspective, and there are thousands more  on Amazon.

As you question your way to enlightenment, you’d be wise to question your answers. Our brains trip us up with schemas, biases, logical fallacies, and all sorts of other reasons to be irrational. To make enlightenment more difficult, many of life’s questions have multiple right answers. Some questions have answers that can’t be proven, but have to be asked anyway. And the most important question you can ask right now may not be the same as anyone else. Plus, no matter how much we learn about life, our understanding will always be at least 99.9% incomplete.

We’re all on lost on our own seemingly futile journey customized to our own life, but we’re also all in the same boat. We’re studying the same data set and sharing the stakes. So a lot of our goals/questions will line up. Sometimes corroborating your answers with someone else is proof you’re on the right track. Other times it’s a sign we’re all making the same mistake.

One thing most of us can agree on is, if a lion is charging at you, then the most important question you can ask yourself is, “How do I not get eaten by this lion?” because if you die, then you’re out of the game. So to the extent that life is valuable, it’s important for you to ask yourself, “Am I about to die?” If the answer is “yes,” then the next most important question you can ask is, “How can I prevent that?” If the answer to the first question was “no,” then the next question you need to ask is, “Are other people about to die, and if so, how can I prevent that without getting myself killed in the process?”

You may be a murderous psychopath who views other humans as soulless piles of atoms, or you may be a sociopath who measures the value of others by how you can use them to get what you want. You may be a religious zealot who measures the value of other people by how many of your favorite prophet’s rules they break, or you may be an abused, broken child in an adult’s body, who hates the world for everything it’s done to you. No matter what you think of anyone else, the bigger picture is that we’re all in this together. It takes a collaborative effort to advance humanity. The more people die, the fewer allies we have to accomplish mankind’s long-term goals. We can’t survive, let alone colonize new planets with utopian village theme parks if we don’t work together, but first we have to save each other.

We all need to survive, and right now the sky is looming with apocalyptic threats so obvious you can’t take your eyes off them. The answer to the question, “Is something coming to kill us?” is “Yes.”

I’ll save you some time decoding the matrix of cluster fucks that are strangling the world. The lynchpin of the world’s problems is poverty. Understand that and everything else will fall into perspective. Fix it, and all its satellite problems will fall away.

But what happens after we fix all the world’s problems and establish utopian settlements on Mars? What’s the next most important question we should ask ourselves then? We’ll see when we get there, but one question we should be prepared to ask is, “What’s the greatest threat to the perfect world?”

It would be logical to prepare ahead of time for an asteroid or futuristic Hitler, but the root of all evil is ignorance. If you build a perfect city and fill it with fools, the first thing they’d do is tear it all down with sincerely good intentions. We’ll never live in anything resembling utopia until everyone is wise. That doesn’t mean we all agree on the same answers, just that we’re all talented, self-driven question-askers who are asking ourselves the most important questions.

Before we become wise enough to live in utopia though, we have become wise enough to create it. Plus, if we all became as genius as possible, we wouldn’t even need to solve half the world’s problems, because we’d be smart enough to not do those stupid things in the first place. This means, the most important thing we can do to create and protect utopia is to learn new things and ask new questions today. The better learning resources we have, the faster and further we can improve ourselves.

This means it’s of paramount importance everyone do something to improve education. There are some free online schools, that could use donations, but every nation in the world should be putting money in a single fund to create one online school with the budget of a small country. If your politician isn’t talking about something like that, you should tell them to start or replace them with someone who does.

With or without the perfect education tool, it’s still up to the individual to decide to teach themselves by any means necessary. It’s a moral imperative everyone asks themselves every day, “What’s the most important thing I can teach myself today?” because you won’t grow until you do, and when you don’t grow, the world doesn’t either. The less you grow, the more the world is full of idiots.

scumbag us

It’s worth speculating what would you do if you became an uberman and all the world’s problems were solved. What’s the most important question you can ask when there’s no threat to distract you… or when death is unavoidable? You’re here, and you’re going to die eventually. There’s more to life than just surviving and preparing. If you only live for tomorrow, you put off living indefinitely. There’s value in the moment, and there’s value to who you are independent from what you can do for society.

Whoever you become is who you have to live with. Who you are is how you experience reality right now, and for the rest of the fleeting moments in your life regardless of anything going on anywhere outside your skin. There’s no point training to be the perfect problem solver, student, worker, artist, citizen or parent if you’re not becoming the perfect you. I could be wrong, but sooner or later, the most important question you can ask yourself may be, “How do I become more me?”

What do you do after that? Well, if you can be your favorite you in the present moment, then afterwards, you’ll have the perfect past to look back on.

Everything I’ve said up to this point may feel more like a guilt trip than an inspirational speech. Nobody can just jump up, become an ubermensch and build an intergalactic empire, but I’m not begging or demanding you to carry a burden. I’m pointing out what an opportunity life is. Every question you ask is a step forward, and the more steps you take, the farther you get. Climbing that mountain yields at least three rewards: the experience of the journey, getting to see above the clouds and being able to say you did it. That’s life, and it doesn’t happen on accident.`

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