Roadtrip movies. The fastest way to “hack” story-telling and become a great writer fast.
How does writing in the road-trip genre make story-telling easier? It’s drop-dead-simple plot structure gives you unlimited creative freedom by easing the burden of re-inventing plot.
Road-trip movies are popular amongst young filmmakers and with good reason. Frankly, they are one of the easiest forms of cinema to write. The reason behind this is their intrinsic narrative drive.
Under the pretense that the greatest achievement in a story-tellers career is the rapt attention of an audience, it is imperative to construct the plot of our stories so that every act, every scene, every arc and every line of dialogue pushes the plot forward.
The next time you watch a film, focus on the parts that are exciting and engaging and compare them to the parts that bore you.
This force that keeps you either in rapt suspense or pulls you out of the film is called narrative drive.
You’ll find that the boring parts of the film have weak narrative drive. They don’t seem to push the plot forward fast enough if at all.
What is the structure of a road-trip movie at it’s core?
Take a character, give them a destination and a strong reason to want to reach it as well as obstacles in their way.
This is what makes the road-trip movie such a great tool! As long as every scene either helps or hinders your character from reaching his or her goal, every scene has intrinsic narrative drive which the audience can easily follow.
By relieving yourself from the burden of devising an original plot structure and explaining it to the audience you are left with immense creative freedom within your story.
note: Original plot structure is not the same as original plot. Structure is the order and “rhthym” of the plot points. Plot is the points themselves as they fit into the structure.
The road-trip is a very broad term that applies to more than just Little Miss Sunshine. Your “road-trip” doesn’t have to be cross country. It can be across town or even from room to room. It can be comedy or horror or science fiction. 28 days later is, at it’s core, a road-trip movie; along with Apocalypse Now, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Saw II and III. In each of these a character has a destination, a strong reason to reach it and objects that hinder their path; weather their goal is around the world or from one part of an abandoned warehouse to the other.
The road-trip’s simplicity, however, is its double-edged sword and why we see so many bad road-trip movies coming out of the indie film world. If you fail to assign a unique plot with unique characters and a unique concept to the underlying structure, your film will be doomed to the cliché.
But if you’re starting to get into writing and want a sure-fire way to create a simple and effective story, you should definitely consider writing it in the form of the road-trip.