Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The importance of foreshadowing in writing.

One of the most important things about writing is your ability to keep your audience interested in your story. It's crucial that what you're writing makes sense and that your storylines and your characters are easy to follow.

No matter what happens in your stories, the actions and decisions of your characters always have to be at least somewhat predictable. It's never okay to write something that comes out of nowhere and doesn't make any sense at all.

The reason that I'm writing about this is that last week I managed to watch Disney's animation 'Frozen' with my friend. This was a movie that had been very successful at the box office and had also gotten pretty good reviews.

When it came to the quality of the film, I more or less enjoyed watching it during its first 60 minutes. I managed to appreciate the characters and the humor, even though the story in 'Frozen' wasn't necessarily that original.

Unfortunately, that all changed when it came to the last third of the film. This was when it became obvious that the storylines wouldn't come together, so one of the characters in the film had to be completely rewritten.

Naturally, I'm talking about the scene in which it was revealed that Hans, Anna's fiancee, turned out to be the big villain. This was a turn of events that pretty much no one could have seen coming and that made no sense at all.

Reaching up to that moment, nothing in the story had suggested that Hans could be the antagonist. We already had a real, genuine villain in Duke of Weselton, who wanted to capture and kill our 'Frozen' princess Elsa.

Yet, in one single scene the writers did a full one-eighty and changed his character completely. Hans went from being a loyal and loving fiancee to a murderous and power hungry opportunist who only cared about himself. 

Not surprisingly, it was almost impossible to enjoy the film after this turn of events. There was no foreshadowing or any kind of hint in the story that could have made this reveal even remotely plausible or acceptable.

This mistake that we saw managed to break pretty much all the basic rules of screenwriting. It was pretty incredible to see a huge company like Disney pull off a cheap stunt like this and undermine its audience the way they did.

In the end, this all goes to show that just because you have nearly unlimited resources at your disposal, it doesn't mean that your story is going to work. It still takes a lot of good judgement and good decision making before things come together.

At least in the case of 'Frozen', the writers didn't manage to fix their story so that it could work from start to finish. They screwed up and perhaps even thought that it wouldn't matter that much whether they did their jobs well or not.

Unfortunately for them, even though the film was a success, the fact remains that the characters in 'Frozen' didn't make enough sense. They were inconsistent, poorly motivated and at least in the case of Hans, completely implausible.

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