So I got to my local coffee shop today as usual but for some reason, the place was packed. Standing room only except for the outside tables and chairs.
Screenwriting structure was all around me… I’m sitting there sipping my coffee and a guy in a white pickup truck motors past looking at the gigantic vacant lot next to the coffee shop. He slowly rolls down his window and shakes his head — pulls the truck over to the shoulder.
He exits the truck and ventures onto the lot and starts picking up trash… At first I thought he was going after aluminum cans because I see that a lot these days but nope… Trash.
So far we have the introduction of the Protagonist, his Ordinary World, and the Inciting Incident…
So this guy keeps picking up trash but at some point, he’s carrying so much trash that he can no longer pick up anymore trash. He must make a decision and you can clearly see him weighing his call to action dilemma. I was even wondering myself what he would do. I thought why not amble on over the to truck — drop the trash into the bed — continue picking up trash.
Instead, he decides to drop all the trash on the ground — runs about three-hundred feet away to a flying “paper or plastic” plastic bag — snatches it in mid-air — runs back to the trash on the ground that has now started to blow all over the place and piece by piece, manages to pick each of the items back up — stuffing them into his bag.
His surge into the New World… LOL.
Not the way I would have done it… Now he’s randomly running around this vacant lot, searching and finding even more trash. After about five or six minutes, unbeknownst to our Protagonist, his plastic bag splits and the trash inside begins to tumble out — falling back to the ground as he searches for even more garbage to pick up.
I’m thinkin’ this guy’s fatal flaw is that he doesn’t really pay too much attention to detail since he’s not seen that his plastic bag is almost empty but with a thrust of a piece of cardboard, cardboard and hand emerge through the bottom of the plastic bag, revealing to our Protagonist that the bag is not only destroyed but empty as well.
He spins around to see all kinds of trash littered around the vacant lot… Some of it blowing around — some of it caught on shrubbery, blowing in the wind.
Our Mid Point. The Central Question is now clear… Will our Protagonist achieve his goal of cleaning up the vacant lot? Has he learned anything? What will he do next?
I switched to my Pepsi in anticipation of how he would now combat these seemingly insurmountable obstacles that lay before him and I’ll be damn if he didn’t stand there for just under a minute — lift the brim of his ball cap up, pushing the cap back on his head, rest both hands on his hips while he pondered what to do next.
Hope versus Fear = Tension = Uncertainty! Will he wake up and smell the coffee now?
I can clearly see the following as plain as day on his face…
- Lack of Confidence
- Lack of Faith
Aha! He runs to his truck, pulls what appears to be canvas duffle bag with a zipper on top through the window. He drops the bag onto the hood of his truck, unzips it — snatches out what appears to be clothes and even a pair of sneakers and tosses them into the cab.
No more doubt… No more lack of confidence. No more inadequacy. No more lack of faith.
He crosses to the farthest section of the lot and in a very organized fashion seems to break the lot down into long columns — walking down each column, picking up trash and stuffing it into the bag.
A couple of times, he starts to chase after a piece of trash that gets away from him but STOPS — knowing that if he continues surveying his columns, he will eventually get to all the trash… And sure enough, he does exactly that.
A smile on his face now, he struts back to his truck, dumps the trash from the bag into the bed — tosses the bag back into the cab — spins around and heads toward the coffee shop and enters.
He emerges two minutes later with a cup’a Joe to go and as he makes his way back toward his truck, a gust of wind blows at least a quarter of that trash in the bed of his truck up into the air.
Walking away from me now, I can see him observe the flying trash…
Will he go ahead and pick it up once more?
Nope. He didn’t even seem to think twice about it. Apparently, he’d had enough and got into his truck — sped away.
I guess this was a tragedy.