J.M. Emerson. Shakespeare for Screenwriters: Timeless Writing Tips from the Master of Drama. Studio City, CA.: Michael Wiese Productions, 2013.
Hamlet exhibited many emotions that resulted in much drama Hamlet had inner conflicts, denoted by a scene where his father’s ghost visits hi to ponder the truthfulness of what the ghost stated. Audiences find inner suffering compelling. Many good writers have created characters who grow emotionally during these conflicts.
“Romeo and Juliet” used foretelling well. The audience has a clue as to what will happen. Good storytelling want the audience to hope the foretelling can be avoided. There needs to be a compelling twist.
MacBeth was obsessive which makes for an interesting character to watch. MacBeth is intense and unique. The downward spiral and punishment is appealing to audiences.
Othello shows strong emotions. The loss Othello feels resonates with audiences.
“King Lear” is a timeless story of love and suffering within families. The play has a major reversal at midpoint. There is a cathartic end.
“A Midnight’s Summer Dream” shows the ripple effect from accidents. A coincidence that advances the plot occurs.
“The Taming of the Shrew” is a story of sex and power, which make for two strong plots. There is much friction and conflict among the characters.
“Henry V” presents a flawed hero. He encounters new challenges facing adversaries and finds success.
“Julius Caesar” presents a historical figure with a “classic hero” of strength and wisdom. The enemies are defeated.
“Richard III” uses the “show don’t tell” device of presenting a character with a goal. There is plenty of action that builds to a climax.
“The Winter’s Tale” is character driven with strong roles. The audiences sees and appreciates the evolving of their personalties.
“Antony and Cleopatra” uses a strong setting. The setting drives the characters, their conflicts, and the story. The setting allows the characters to evolve.
“Much Ado About Nothing” uses comedy. Witty exchanges and insults lead to love. Shakespeare has an idiot fool in all his plays. Audiences like seeing a character humiliated.
Shylock is a typical anti-antagonist who receives sympathy. Betrayal is a theme in “The Merchant of Venice”. The characters receive their reckonings in the climax.
Shakespeare used a broken hero in psychological dilemmas overcoming their obstacles as underdogs whose weaknesses expose them who do the rights things that fail. A good villain is essential and the villain must be better than the hero, making the hero appear likely to lose. A good love story involves attraction to forbidden fruit and where the love is deserved.
All but two of Shakespeare’s works are known to have been stolen from previous plays. He offered is own innovate spin on old stories. This is what Hollywood does.
Shakespeare broke Aristotle’s rules of tragedy by refusing to limit to one overriding theme presented by typical characters.