Thursday, July 23, 2020

Okay, So Where Are We? (Oh, and By the Way, I Sold a New Book)

Okay, guys, I’m not supposed to announce this yes, but yes, as I’m sure many of you have guessed, I sold a new book! We haven’t settled on a title yet, but my pitch was entitled “Believe, Care, Invest: How to Get Anyone to Fall in Love With Your Hero in Ten Pages or Less”. We haven’t sealed the deal yet, but it looks like it’ll be coming from Penguin Random House sooner rather than later after I turn it in!

As soon as we had an offer, I started panicking and posting movie BCI pieces everyday, not as a first draft of the book, but as data gathering. Now that we’re halfway through the alphabet let’s go ahead and figure out what we’ve got so far:

  • Why the hero might be hard to identify with: I didn’t have this when we did the BCI novel pieces, but I think it’s essential, and might be a main organizing principle of the book.
  • Believe: One of the things I’m learning is that the things that make a character believable are the same things that make them hard to like (such as the sordidness of Jake Gittes’s P. I. business.)
  • Care: I’m getting a better sense of this.
  • Invest: I’m inclined to stick with the BCI language because I’ve already used it in my first book, but I have wondered if I should stick with this word. Part of the problem with my title is that “Believe, Care, Invest” sounds like a book about investing! I kind of prefer “root for” now, but I’m not sure.
That brings us to James’s Five E’s. I sort of included these just as a joke because we had just discussed them on the podcast, but I do think James is really onto something with most of these. I won’t break down every example in the book according to these, but I think I will talk about four of them frequently.
  • Eat: It is wild how common this is and how much it does seem to add to each of these movies. A huge part of Believability.
  • Exercise: This was already on the checklist and it’s clearly a big part of Invest.
  • Economic Activity: This is also clearly very important, sometimes for Believe, Care, and Invest.
  • Enjoy: This is clearly another big contributor to Believability. It goes far towards making a character, especially if they’re in a bad situation, feel like a complete human.
  • Emulate: If you go through those 20 pieces, you’ll see that I found this in more than a few movies, but I’ve never been convinced it plays a big role in Believe, Care, or Invest.
And the final two categories I’ve been considering so far: 
  • Rise above: I think that my contribution to the the Five E’s turns out to be essential. I think I’ve discovered almost every character eventually rises above their economic situation (walks off their job) at some point, but when they do so (sooner or later) is a big part of what defines them. There’s probably some big theory still to be gleaned from digging into that data. 
  •  High five a black guy: I think I’ll stop including these in these blog posts, and certainly won’t focus on this in the book. It’s a funny phrase, and a good way to skewer some movies (like Blue Velvet!), but it’s not an issue in many movies.

But that brings me to another issue that I’ve begun to feel I should be examining in each movie. In my first book, I point out that a moment of humanity sometimes involves compassion, and I’ve begun to wonder if BCI discounts compassion too much.  Let’s discuss that next time...


Friday said...

This has been a staggering amount of content. (I'm struggling to catch up!) And now a new book as well!? Congrats on the sale.

Would commit be a good alternative for invest? Then you could change believe to captivate and -- voila! -- you've now got three Cs to go along with James' litany of Es.

Jessica said...

Wait, I've got a better one: connect.

Connect, care, and commit.

Connect has less religious undertones and, in my humble opinion, covers all of the same cogs and wickles. Remember Ben Stein's boring teacher in Ferris Bueller? In real life, a teacher like that would cause the students (audience) to completely disconnect with the subject matter. Ironically, within the context of the movie, Steins' character does the opposite. We connect with the world because of his uniquely presented familiarity. I certainly don't believe Ferris' world to be real. But I connect with it on a visceral level.

Makes it the same number of syllables as the original too. I'm trying too hard to either sell this one or see what level your hated of alliteration will reach, lol. Will James back me up, I wonder?

Anonymous said...

I think "connect" and "believe" are not overlapping enough to be interchangable in this context.
And "believe" itself is common enough in secular contexts that I don't feel any religious undertones either. Although, if Matt were to use James' "Moment of Grace" or similar wording, I would be more concerned.

"Connect, Care and Commit" or "Believe, Care and Commit" would both sound like self-help books.

Friday said...

I’ve actually got a solution to the self-help problem too:

Title it The Three Cs of Story.
(Follow up to the Secrets of Story)

Now say the titles back to make and you could possibly contrive a word avalanche. ;)

Fun and games aside, though, I’m seriously excited for this book.

Matt Bird said...

Okay, I LOVE Connect, Care, Commit. I may fight for that. Who cares if it doesn't match the last book?

One suggestion I've heard: Just drop the title, slim down the title, and call it "How to Make Anyone Fall in Love With Your Hero"

Of course, there's also some pressure to give it a more sequel-rific title, such as "The Secrets of Character", but I'm not sure about that.

How about "The Three C's: The Five E's!"

Or just: "Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV" (No one will get that joke in a couple of days)

Carlie said...

Congrats on the new book!! I'm making my way through Secrets of Story now and loving it. I also newly discovered your podcast with James Kennedy, and I'm obsessed. One of the most entertaining, insightful, and helpful podcasts I've heard about screenwriting and storytelling. My only complaint is how infrequent they are! The world desperately needs more of you two right now! Haha :)

Friday said...

I’m not sure I get that joke now, Matt!

One final one and I’ll give up. How’s this for sequelrific?

“The “C”-crets of Story”

Badoom hiss...

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the new book! I like “The Secrets of Character” the most. And I’m a fan of believe care and invest. In the context of story characters, it’s easy to understand what they mean.

Robert K S said...

Why do you continue to ignore James's last two E's?

Matt Bird said...

Well, I started this series before he's proffered them, but more importantly, as you heard in that podcast, I just found them less compelling than the first five.

Robert K S said...

My comment was more rhetorical, expressing displeasure at the slight. #TeamJames

James Kennedy said...

I support the trending of this hashtag, Robert!

Matt, I had pretty much brought you around on the other 2 Es in that episode of the podcast! In any case, those additional 2 Es may or may not be valid, but instead of deciding that they are invalid tout court, why not take the empirical approach and test them out on future movies anyway? If it turns out that they don't apply, you get the opportunity to notch one of your few victories over me. And if they do apply, why, there's more content for you! It's a win-win!

I give and I give and I give . . .

Matt Bird said...

#TeamMattWillNeverBeOnTwitter. Well, Evaluate was already kind of on the checklist, so I'm not revisiting those questions. As for Explain, I'm still resistant. It can be good. Maybe I should look for it in the next ones I do.

What do you think of Connect, Care, Commit, James?

James Kennedy said...

"Connect, Care, and Commit" works well when I stop to think about it, but when quickly scanning over it, it just blurs together for me in a way that "Believe, Care, and Invest" doesn't.