Social Question

iwannamakemovies's avatar

How can I make this story more interesting?

Asked by iwannamakemovies (233 points ) March 20th, 2011

Okay, this is really the first episode of a web series called Discarded.
Discarded is a comedy about teens in a foster home.
Here’s what happens in the first episode:

A man and a woman are running from the cops, after robbing a bank and killing 7 people. They get captured. At the prison, they get one phone call and call home. Now we’re in a ghetto, messy, sh!thole, if you will. Ghetto granny picks up the phone. One of her character traits is laziness and she doesn’t want to deal with the situation. Granny hands the phone off to her grandson, Mason. Mason has a twin named Adam who is also in the room. He has dialog in this scene, but it’s not too important. Mason’s parents tell him to bail them out of prison. The bail out price is $4.2 million. They obviously can’t afford that. The twins and their granny discuss whether or not granny will take care of them. The conclusion of that scene is that the Granny can’t take care of them. They call a rich family friend and ask them to pay the bail. They say no. The next scene is the court trial of the parents. They officially go to jail for life. After that, the twins look for a foster home and decide on an upper-middle class one opened by a pedophile named Mr. Cox. The very last scene is the twins ringing the doorbell.

What can I do to make the plot more interesting?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

37 Answers

12Oaks's avatar

You said that this is supposed to be a comedy. Honestly, aside from maybe the pedophile being named Mr. Cox, there really is nothing funny about this plot. Also, foster kids don’t look for and choose a foster home, they get assigned by the state.

iwannamakemovies's avatar

Okay so they don’t look for a home.. they will get assigned

How can I make this a funny plot, while still having the same things happen? (the parents get arrested, the bail is too expensive, twins end up in a foster home)

12Oaks's avatar

OK, will be happy to give opinions. First, I’d make the crime a little less, shall we say, violent in nature. Killing 7 people in a bank robbery? Maybe they could do something inherantly silly, like stealing a box of condoms, but that makes it a “third strike,” (they have a habit of stealing condoms from drugstores) so life in prison without parole. I’d write out any other family members, like grandparents, and make the twins the last line in the family tree. And how about maybe not a pedophile being foster parents? Maybe have him just another quirky guy you see on TV, and have him do something, like, collect different nuts from around the world. make it an obscession. Go to nut collector conventions. Travel the world for nuts. Display them in special nut display cases. Make the guy who’s nuts actually collect nuts. Have his life goal to be for peanuts to have their name changed because, technically, they’re not nuts. He could even be the director of a non-for-profit called “Not Nuts For Peanuts” and have him run it like it’s a real non-for-profit, with charity drives, walks, and the such. Of course, nobody else is with him on this, so he becomes a foster parent so he’ll have supporters in his cause. A lot of comedy could come out of this premise. Could even retitle the show to be Shelled. A play on words, and the guy likes nuts that has shells, and the kids are also “Shelled” because they lost their fa,iliar surrounding, like a nut about to be eaten. They have to be Shelled first.

Take it or leave it, and good luck in your project.

JmacOroni's avatar

I don’t think this will be helpful, but, that basic storyline isn’t funny.You’re asking how to make a tragic string of events into a comedy…
In order to make this funny, it would have to include a lot of jokes in the script, because nothing about what is actually going on is funny.

iwannamakemovies's avatar

@12Oaks thanks so much for taking your time to craft that rather lengthy response. I really appreciate it. :)

WasCy's avatar

Read White Oleander first, and get some ideas from a very good book.

iwannamakemovies's avatar

Edit: The parents are accused of mass-raping orphans OR the parents are caught mass-raping the whole city of Boston.

In the court room, we have a bunch of extras. The judge says, “please rise if you’ve been raped by either Mr. or Mrs. Romano. The whole court rises. As a joke, Adam rises too, giggling. Mason plants him back down into his seat. “This is serious!”

The granny is pregnant and asks like Snookie.

Instead of a family friend it’s a rich gay uncle.

WasCy's avatar

Understand the difference between “comedy”, “black comedy”, “farce” and “satire”. I have no idea which of those you’re aiming at here, or something else. “Parody”, maybe.

iwannamakemovies's avatar

I’m aiming for black comedy and normal comedy
but definitely not parody
This episode in particular has more black comedy because of what is actually happening in it.

WasCy's avatar

I love comedy, black comedy, tragicomedy, wit, parody, satire, farce and even (in moderation) sophomoric bullshit. Tiny doses.

But the more I see of your plans for this, the more I see “bullshit”. I mean, “mass-raping the whole city of Boston”? Please. That’s simple nonsense.

PS: It would take a writer of immense talent to make effective use of comedy in the topic of ‘mass-raping orphans’. I don’t doubt that in the hands of a master, there could be some kind of wry, cringing chuckle somewhere at the margin of a horror show even such as that. If you want to read “funny tragedy” from a first person perspective, then read Augusten Burroughs’ memoirs and short stories based on his life. His life was a horror show, and he somehow found the comedy in that – especially since he seems to have more or less recovered from it (maybe). It’s doubtful that someone else writing from outside his life, no matter what the writer’s talent, could have made the topic at all humorous.

iwannamakemovies's avatar

Thanks for that. They won’t rape orphans. But what’s a funny crime they could commit that’d get them a life-sentence?

WasCy's avatar

Think of what you’re asking. There are no such things as “funny crimes” that will earn a life sentence as punishment. That just doesn’t make sense. That’s absurd. (Which is not to say that authors can’t also do “absurd” pretty well, when that’s the aim.) If you had some kind of thought that any kind of rape is “funny”, then I have serious reservations about whether you can even tell the difference between “crime” and “humor”. Maybe you could do a parody on Crime and Punishment and call it, oh, I don’t know, how about Crime and Chuckles?

And there can certainly be some funny possibilities in and around the court experience and even prison. I’m reminded of a line from Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities where pretrial publicity has been whipped up before trial against a rich defendant in a “celebrity hit-and-run” auto accident. The prosecuting attorney admonishes the judge that a decision he’s going to make “ill behooves the court”. The judge snaps back with a stern and not-funny, “Kindly behoove me no ill behooves…” which turns into a pretty funny line in a scene that later devolves into a riot. Hit-and-run accidents, courtroom trials and riots aren’t in and of themselves funny, but there can be humor around them.

Seriously, you need to do some reading to get a handle on how to do “funny”. Then observe life and see the funny asides to its daily tragedies and crises.

iwannamakemovies's avatar

@WasCy I can do funny, but this one situation is hard. And I agree that the setting does not always define the genre. The phone call between Mason and his father would be a lot like “Llamas with Hats” on Youtube (if you haven’t seen it yet, search it). The whole scene with the phone call and conversation with granny is planned out and will be funny. I just don’t know what the crime should be. The court room will have an old judge with a very (I don’t know how to describe it) senile personality. Adam makes cheesy jokes and is immature when joking. Mason is slightly more serious. The Granny herself is ghetto, and her character is rather funny. I also just want to include that I read that most comedy comes out of bad situations or involves a flaw. It’s laughing at the bad.

aprilsimnel's avatar

If you want a tip on how to see crime well done comedically, I’m gonna ask you to watch a couple of British films, both probably very old by your reckoning, but I insist you find copies, watch them carefully and learn. They were both directed by the same guy, Charles Crichton, 30+ years apart: The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and A Fish Called Wanda (1988).

Brits seem to excel at the black comedy thing. And the Coen Brothers in America do too. Get a film called Raising Arizona.

Jewel heists, murder, the horrible deaths of animals, and baby-snatching. Have fun!

comicalmayhem's avatar

Ideas for crimes:

Ironic Crime – The mother is accused of raping the father while the father is accused of raping the mother.

Pedophile Crime – They’re looking at stuff on the computer and have some suspicious searches. They’re not gonna be in prison for life, but they’ll be labeled predators and won’t be able to keep their children.

Or just don’t specify the crime.

iwannamakemovies's avatar

The first scene will be them getting caught in the act

comicalmayhem's avatar

Rewrite the outline so it doesnt have to be

iwannamakemovies's avatar

It’s less interesting with one less scene

comicalmayhem's avatar

doesnt hae to be

wundayatta's avatar

You can’t make it more interesting. That’s because you are approaching it upside down. You have a couple of hollow characters and you’re just throwing random plot elements at them. You know, it might work for a sitcom, but I doubt it. The American Public doesn’t give a shit about character or anything which has the smallest bit of wit or wisdom, but I don’t think even they would go for what you’ve got.

I would suggest you spend some time with your characters, and learn who they are as people, not as cardboard cutouts. What do they do during the day? Who are their friends? How do they do in school? How did they relate to their parents. And so on. Maybe if you spent some time in their bodies, you would have a decent sense of what make them funny.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@wundayatta This is the plot outline.. not the script. These aren’t hollow characters, there’s actually full descriptions that I’ll later put into character questionairres using questions from thescriptlab.com. We already wrote an episode with the fully developed characters that’ll probably become our second episode (was gonna be our pilot), but then we decided we needed to make one of those characters the main character and rewrite it all.

iwannamakemovies's avatar

But I do agree that the parents are currently hollow and so is the cop and the judge

wundayatta's avatar

If you know your characters, they the plot is easy. Just let them do what they do. If you have to focus on plot, the pardon me, but I am really skeptical that you know your characters no matter how many character questionnaires you have filled out. The characters need to be in your blood, not tobacco curing in the sun. If you have to ask other people for plot tips, well, what can I say. Maybe you’ll make a standard sitcom… produced by committee. You might as well just go with a treatment, and worry about anything else later.

Meego's avatar

Comedy…ok, I didn’t think discarded, foster home, murder, pedophile went in the comedy aisle. What am I missing? Am I missing a sense of humour here or what?

iwannamakemovies's avatar

@Meego
Pedophile: The irony in a pedophile owning a foster home. Plus his character is creepy.
Foster Home: The setting doesn’t always define the genre.
Discarded: The title of the show…
Murder: In the context you’ve read, it is no longer existent, but later in the series, one of the characters get murdered numerous times and he re-spawns.

iwannamakemovies's avatar

Here’s the new outline:
A man and a woman are running from the cops, after committing a large-scale idiotic crime. They get captured. At the prison, they get one phone call and call home. Now we’re in a ghetto, messy, shithole, if you will. Ghetto, pregnant, snookie granny picks up the phone. One of her character traits is laziness and she doesn’t want to deal with the situation. Granny hands the phone off to her grandson, Mason. Mason has a twin named Adam who is also in the room. He has dialog in this scene, but it’s not too important. Mason’s parents tell him to bail them out of prison. The bailout price is $4.2 million. They obviously can’t afford that. The twins and their granny discuss whether or not granny will take care of them. The conclusion of that scene is that the Granny can’t take care of them. They call a rich family friend and ask them to pay the bail. They have too many financial complications, so they have to say no. The next scene is the court trial of the parents. They officially go to jail for life. The state assigns the twins to an upper-middle class foster home opened by a pedophile named Mr. Cox. The very last scene is the twins ringing the doorbell.

Meego's avatar

Ok so it’s like a spoof…I think I get now? But I don’t have the answer anyway

Afos22's avatar

If I were you, I would use a less serious crime than ‘rape’ as it is not really a topic that a lot of people find humor in. Instead maybe, sexual assault? or The whole city was ‘groped’. But, most people would advise you to stray away from the topic of rape.

WasCy's avatar

It would help if you had a grasp of the barest of realities about the criminal justice system.

You don’t “go to prison” after an arrest. You’re held (assuming that you are) “in detention”. A municipal jail, county lockup or a federal detention center, not “prison” prior to trial.

If “Granny” is so damn lazy, then why does she answer the telephone? When I’m feeling lazy, I certainly don’t.

What fool would expect a child to come up with the cash bond for a multi-million dollar bail? (You do understand, don’t you, that you don’t bail out of jail with $4.2 in cash? Didn’t think so.)

“The next scene” is a court trial. Any idea how long a span there is between an arrest and a court trial for a major case? And a $4 million bail has “major” in 2” headlines written all over it. A year or more. Nothing happens to this family in the “year or so” after arrest, with the parents in jail? “Just waiting for the next scene…”

Who lives “ghetto” and has “rich family friends”? Is that part of your reality?

And if they’re rich, why do “financial complications” prevent them from helping?

@wundayatta gave you good advice, if you’d listen to it. Consider and imagine some real or at least realistic or, even this for starters, human characters. What you’re writing is suitable product (barely) for a seven-year-old on a sugar high after having watched Saturday morning cartoons all morning, with no sleep the night before.

Turn off the television and do some actual reading. Seriously. Or humorously. I don’t care any more; this is a waste of my time. I just don’t want to see it produced as described, because it will lower our national IQ to a dangerous level if that ever happens. There’s a funny story in there somewhere, but I’m too depressed to write it.

BarnacleBill's avatar

It’s not a funny story line. Write about what you know. This sounds like something made up from watching stuff on TV.

What about making a series about trying to make movies?

iwannamakemovies's avatar

Edits:
Not rape, not murder, but an unspecified (so far) idiotic crime.
No family friend. In the scene at the ghetto home, Adam believes he sees a contest for $4.2 million dollars. Mason says “No way, that’s too convenient!” or something like that. “That paper’s from 10 years ago!” Later in the scene: “Oh hey! They twin towers collapsed! Did you hear about this?”
The price will be lowered to something expensive, but not expensive enough for court to be one year later.
The idiotic crime will be bad enough for them to get arrested for life, considering their previous records (this will require some research)
How does bail work? Does it put them on parole instead of putting them in jail?

iwannamakemovies's avatar

And I know my characters unlike you. That’s why it’s hard for you to picture this as a comedy.

BarnacleBill's avatar

It sounds sophomoric.

iwannamakemovies's avatar

How can I get the parents arrested and get the twins into a foster home, while being a comedy, and not be sophomoric?

comicalmayhem's avatar

u need to explain your ideas more thoroughly so its not their fault, but you also need to edit the plot and the backgrounds if you want this to be a comedy. and as that other guy said, dont rely on other people for advice or it won’t be as original of a show.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther