By Writing Excuses | October 2, 2011 - 4:35 pm - Posted in Guest, Theory and Technique

Lou Anders, Hugo-winning editorial director from Pyr books, joins Mary, Dan, and Howard at Dragon*Con for a discussion of the Hollywood Formula. Lou shared this with Mary originally, and she used it to tighten up some of her work. It’s useful enough that we decided to invite Lou onto the ‘cast to share it with everybody else, too.

The formula centers around three characters – the protagonist, the antagonist, and the relationship character. Lou explains how these terms have, in this formula, different meanings than we might be accustomed to.

Among the things that we learn:  The Dark Knight has an antagonist none of us could guess, Die Hard and Stargate are third-act movies, and Howard is criminally ignorant of classic cinema.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Dervish House, by Ian McDonald, narrated by Jonathan Davis

Writing Prompt: Using the Hollywood Formula, come up with a protagonist, an antagonist, and a relationship character.

Credit Where Credit Is Due: Lou got the Hollywood Formula from Dan Decker.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 at 4:35 pm and is filed under Guest, Theory and Technique. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. October 2, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    During the discussion of Casablanca Dan’s microphone went dead. I caught the problem late, but we managed to find a good edit point, and we backed up and re-hashed some stuff. Props to Jordo for killing something like three minutes of dead air and troubleshooting!

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  2. October 2, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

    Brilliant podcast! Not only that but by breaking down the formula it made me re-think my own writing. When was the last time a podcast changed your writing paradigm?

    Posted by Rafael
  3. October 2, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

    I predict that this episode will rival Mary’s “writing as puppetry” episode for the number of “this blew my mind” reactions. But don’t let my prediction color your comments. It’s much more interesting to observe my velocity than my position.

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  4. October 2, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

    While I’ve heard a lot of this stuff before (I’m a big believer in studying screenplay theory to improve my story building) this podcast still put an amazing spin on several things and still managed to get me wondering about a few things.

    It also reminded me I need to give another read through to Vogler’s Writer’s Journey, which actually examines Campbell’s hero’s journey and how it can be applied to the screenplay, as that goes into a lot more detail on things than you guys had time to do in 20 minutes (and thank you for letting it run so much over, every bit of this podcast was worth it).

    Posted by Patrick Sullivan
  5. October 2, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    One of my favorite episodes so far. I love the ‘casts that make you reconsider your characters and your story in new ways. This one actually helped me peg down a problem I knew existed but couldn’t pinpoint.

    Always great to apply something you just learned and get immediate results.

    Posted by Devin Kamar
  6. October 2, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

    No, Howard, you’re right. I’m sitting here, genuinely astonished by how awesome that was.

    Posted by Eric Lake
  7. October 3, 2011 @ 4:47 am

    This is really cool but I’m not sure how to apply it to my own stories. The one big take-away that I got was to try to have the three climaxes happen as close to one another as possible. But from what Mary was saying about how applying this formula made her beta reader cry, I think there must be more to it than that. What am I missing?

    Posted by K. Bill Albrecht
  8. October 3, 2011 @ 6:27 am

    It is up there with the puppetry episode, Howard. I loved it, listened to it twice in a row, and took meticulous notes. These episodes where you delve into the structures of stories and storytelling are great.

    I have one question for you guys that have been bothering me for a while. Why is it that in your bio photos, Dan and Mary are smiling while Howard and Brandon aren’t? Okay, I think I know why Dan is. After all, he isn’t a serial killer… right?

    Posted by Talmage
  9. October 3, 2011 @ 7:06 am


    I believe you’re right. 😀

    Posted by Rafael
  10. October 3, 2011 @ 7:17 am

    For no particular reason:

    Brandon = Protagonist
    Howard = Antagonist
    Dan = Relationship Character
    Mary = Femme Fatale

    Posted by Tony
  11. October 3, 2011 @ 7:20 am


    Remind me which episode is “writing as puppetry”?

    Posted by Tony
  12. October 3, 2011 @ 7:48 am

    […] Tweet of the Day: Writing Excuses 6.18: Hollywood Formula […]

  13. October 3, 2011 @ 7:59 am

    @K. Bill – Making sure you have all three climaxes and putting them as close together as possible could easily cause that effect. When that is pulled off correctly, the three all augment and amplify each other, significantly increasing the emotional punch of each individually into a more powerful whole.

    Posted by Patrick Sullivan
  14. October 3, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    I both love and hate podcasts like this one. They make me see flaws in my story that I never even knew to look for. Sometimes they’re huge flaws. And while it’s frustrating to realize you’re going to have to make major changes to fix a problem, it’s also an awesome feeling when you figure out the solution and everything clicks into place. Thanks for this, and the many other fantastic podcasts that have given me a new way to look at what I’m writing!

    Posted by Melanie
  15. October 3, 2011 @ 9:28 am

    Great ‘cast and a very interesting formula. I agree with Bill Albrecht in wanting to hear the specific example of how Mary applied it. This also makes me realize just how awesome Brandon, Dan, Howard and Mary are for cramming so much information into a fifteen (or twenty) minute podcast every single week. Thanks guys – you spoil us!

    Overall, it seems like the Hollywood formula is all about making and then keeping promises to the reader (or cinema-goer).

    One question – how much importance do you give to any formula or structure? Do you adhere to it strictly in every case? Or do you write the story you want and then use the formula to improve where you can?

    Posted by George
  16. October 3, 2011 @ 9:40 am

    @Tony: I disagree with your assessment. I think it’s more like this —

    Dan: Protagonist
    Mary: Antagonist
    Howard: Relationship Character


    Posted by Howard Tayler
  17. October 3, 2011 @ 9:43 am

    @Talmage: There is no attempt to unify these photos in theme, background, or even in pose. Mary is by far the most photogenic of the bunch, though, so her photo goes on top. :-)

    (Brandon’s been making noises about getting new head-shots, and I know Dan just got some. Me, I’m sticking with this one because the photographer was John Scalzi, and that’s pretty cool all by itself.)

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  18. October 3, 2011 @ 10:02 am

    4 years of Film school struggling to keep a handle on writing craft and once again, someone I’ve never heard of (Lou Anders) says something and it just clicks.

    No one every equated story formulas to recipes before. *Bang head against wall* *Profanity* If I ever meet you in person Mary, I’ll buy some kind of a thank you gift.

    Another face palm moment. Thanks guys.

    For those curious, this podcast’s discussion represents every single Film Class ever. Imagine discussions like this going on for an hour at a time every day.

    While thinking about Film Theory and writing again, you guys should do an episode on The Genre Cycle. It’s good stuff.

    Now I’m out of excuses and I’m going to go write. :)

    Posted by Bradford Y.
  19. October 3, 2011 @ 10:19 am

    First off, I think that being in the same room as Lou Anders would be intimidating. Dude knows his craft in and out.

    Also, this respirated at my cerebrum.

    Posted by Jared Garrett
  20. October 3, 2011 @ 10:26 am

    @Howard, Talmage:

    Howard, your headshot is perfect. Every time I see it, I imagine you saying “Luxury!”

    But are you certain you don’t have things mixed up? Because from the expression on his face, it really looks like Brandon was the one being photographed by Scalzi. Excuse me, “SCALZI!”

    Posted by George
  21. October 3, 2011 @ 10:31 am

    It’s okay, Howard. I haven’t seen Casablanca either.

    Posted by Raethe aka Silk
  22. October 3, 2011 @ 10:59 am

    Yes, this is another mind-blowing one. And, sigh, this was the year I had to miss both ArmadilloCon and FenCon. I was regretting not seeing Lou Anders even before I heard this (I use his quote from a previous WE about book covers being like the mating plumage of tropical birds all the time).

    I don’t suppose his lecture might make it to youtube, like Dan’s and Howard’s? (please please please please please ^_^)

    @Howard – so what is it that Dan wants that Mary is actively preventing, and what wise advice are you giving that he ignores?

    Posted by Laurie
  23. October 3, 2011 @ 11:04 am

    Wow! Great episode. I’ve been enjoying six seasons and this if definitely my favorite. And not because Lou totally schooled everyone. Because of the formula and all the excellent examples. It really made a lot of sence. Thank you again everyone for ask the work to bring us this excellent content.

    Posted by Luke Piper
  24. October 3, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

    @ Bill Albrecht and @George: Unfortunately, the ending that I was referring to is for my upcoming novel and explaining it would involve major spoilers.

    BUT I will say that I think that one reason short stories can deliver more of a sucker-punch emotionally is that, by their very brevity, those three items have to come close together.

  25. October 3, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

    I’m trying to figure the formula out for the first Back to the Future movie. It seems like Marty McFly has to be the protagonist, and if so the doc has to be the relationship character, because no one else is aware of what’s going on. But what is it that Marty wants? To get his parents back together?

    Posted by Fibonacci
  26. October 3, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

    This episode made me look at my novel in an entirely new way. Thanks for getting Mr. Anders to share this with us.

    Posted by Kim Mainord
  27. October 3, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

    @Fibonacci: Marty is the protagonist. He wants to get his parents back together, and he wants to be “cooler.” In both of these cases, the person working against him is George McFly, so George is the antagonist.

    I think Doc is the relationship character, yes.

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  28. October 3, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

    This is a much smoother idea, so much better than the notion of rising/falling action or rigid outlining. With this formula, things are still fluid, but there’s a general pathway to figuring things out.

    This formula doesn’t give us the answers, it gives us the tools to find the answers.

    Posted by Len Berry
  29. October 3, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

    A minor correction for Lou Anders, the Harlem Globetrotters have lost to the Washington Generals. They lost once on January 5, 1971 with a score of 100-99 against them, but the Generals were playing as The New Jersey Reds (it was a time when they tried to pretend that there were more teams so they’d change jerseys between games.

    Posted by Tim Lahey
  30. October 3, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

    I am kind of floored by this episode…who hasn’t seen Casablanca? 😛

    But this is definitely up there with the puppetry…Mary is adept at mind blowing. I especially like the discussion of the films that use the formula but alter it in some way; though I think sometimes this can be for better or worse.

    Posted by Rob Morgan
  31. October 3, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

    @Howard: “blew my mind” was exactly what I was thinking. Some of this was already familiar but there was just something about the way Lou owned it that made it really sink in. The mind-blowing for me was specifically linked to watching it all click on the Dark Knight example.
    I’m seriously thinking about watching Casa Blanca now—I noticed it was listed as Lou’s favorite movie on his website; hence the touchiness.

    @Tony: I got a hardy laugh out loud on your post.

    @Dan: You are super clever.

    @Lou: I want more. Also I loved how you quoted the Dark Knight like deep emotional poetry—awesome.

    @Fibonacci: The goal might be in the title

    Posted by Wes Harrs
  32. October 3, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    Howard and Fibonacci: George is the antogonist, but the relationship character is Biff.

    Posted by Dan Wells
  33. October 3, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    This was up there with the “edit your old crap” episodes as far as how informative and interesting it’s been. This spoke to me more than the puppetry episode, but Howard’s right that they’re in the same league.

    I’m trying to break down my current project into these 3 characters, and I can’t do much without combining people.

    This becomes even more interesting when, as was attempted in the podcast (albeit incorrectly, according to Lou), the setting becomes a character as well. The problem is that the world is a boring character, since it has no motivations. The sea is not good or evil – it just is.

    Posted by Duke
  34. October 3, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

    SF Tidbits for for 10/4/11…

    Interviews and ProfilesCharity’s Writing Journey interviews Janice Hardy. Writing Excuses interviews Lou Anders (podcast).Fantasy Book Critic (Mihir Wanchoo) interviews Philippa Ballantine.Wordplay Podcast interviews Andre Cremer.Fantasy Magazine (And…

    Posted by SF Signal
  35. October 3, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

    @Dan Wells: You’re right, and I actually figured Biff was the relationship character starting about two minutes after I posted.

    I’m having trouble articulating WHY, however. I guess that’s because for me “Back to the Future” never had a theme. Not until right now, when I’m thinking about it. “Make brave choices because they’ll lead to a better future” is all I’ve come up with.

    Now… how does Biff articulate that theme for us? Is that how we show that he’s the relationship character?

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  36. October 3, 2011 @ 11:15 pm

    I’m not convinced that Biff makes sense in that role, but this is probably because it’s been too long since I watched the movie.

    Posted by Fibonacci
  37. October 4, 2011 @ 12:11 am

    @Tony? Try 3-14 for puppetry. Links to the transcript and podcast over here:

    Posted by Mike Barker
  38. October 4, 2011 @ 1:29 am

    Gentlemen and Lady,

    You are terrific! Truly. I have been listening to all of your shows and I can’t get enough. The humor that is contained within the episodes, the wonderful insight and goodies within the writing craft you give are all superb. Writing Excuses wouldn’t be the same without you.

    I am writing this to let you know that this episode is fantastic – probably my favorite so far. Lou does a great job of describing the formula and I just think the whole show was great. Thank you all for being what I listen to day in and day out. I load my iPod by the season. Well done.


    Posted by Levi
  39. October 4, 2011 @ 1:30 am

    To me, The Hollywood Formula was the best episode of Writing Excuses (never mind the technical problems). I listened to it five times in a row, have adjusted my most recent work according to the Lou’s formula and improved my novel tremendously. Thank you ever so much for your great podcast and please, please, get Lou Anders back on the show!!! Herzliche Grüße aus Deutschland.

    Posted by Barbara
  40. October 4, 2011 @ 4:48 am

    @Howard: I think Biff is the relationship character because he articulates (through his actions) the theme of the movie (no pun intended) “Don’t need money, don’t need fame, don’t need a credit card to ride this train…that’s the power of love.”

    Posted by Rob Morgan
  41. October 4, 2011 @ 6:40 am

    When I saw the topic, I thought John Scalzi would be the guest. He definitely writes things in 3 acts:

    Lou put his finger on something I get from films that I might not get from books…

    Posted by tam
  42. October 4, 2011 @ 10:19 am

    @Howard Tayler I agree that Back to The Future doesn’t really have a theme from the point of view of Marty as the Protagonist. The closest I can think of for the RC is Doc because they have a conversation at the beginning of the movie about…stuff I can’t remember, but has to do with pursuing goals and they have a conversation at the end of the movie that recapulates it with Marty asking about the space/time continuum and Doc going, “What the hell…”

    I consider Marty to be the Relationship character and George the Protagonist because Marty has no character arc in the movie at all. He behaves at the end exactly the way he does at the beginning and even though he does have a goal of getting back to the future, it’s kind of incidental and straight forward. Marty’s struggle is Man vs environment. He didn’t have to learn anything or do anything different to accomplish that goal.

    Back to The Future’s Antagonist is actually Lorraine, Marty’s Future Mom. Lorraine’s goal of wanting Marty in a way that makes him curse Oedipus is diametrically opposed to Marty’s Goal of wanting his parents together in the future AND against George’s goal of wanting Lorraine.

    Posted by Bradford Y.
  43. October 4, 2011 @ 11:43 am

    This is a great podcast. Lots of good insights about story clarity. A fab technique to use to express a theme, as well as a way to show character change.

    At the same time, Anders’ Decker model, and the discussion in the podcast, seems to perpetuate a myth. The myth is that the most powerful stories require that a character change. They require relationship characters, as defined: mentors who expresses the theme.

    The idea that there’s only one species of story that’s the most fit for the selective pressure of the American consumer fiction environment, or even the popular fiction environment, flies in the face of reality.

    None of Lee Child’s books really do this. There’s very little that’s themey in them. And Reacher does not change in any significant way in most of these books. And yet they’re very powerful for what they do. And make a lot of money. There are a great number of mysteries that don’t do this–feature no character change or mentors helping the protagonist to change. They please large audiences and make a lot of money. Larry Correia’s MONSTER HUNTER action comedies, as far as I can tell, don’t have anything like this. And yet they thrive in today’s commercial market.

    I absolutely love Anders’ insistence of a CONCRETE goal to make the protagonist happy. Incredibly clarifying. I love the clarity he brought to THE DARK KNIGHT. I think the idea of the relationship character, when a story calls for that, and the expression and reconciliation of theme are great techniques.

    But I don’t see evidence that this is THE model of story telling best-suited to the selective pressures of modern audiences. There are a lot of species of story “structures” that thrive with today’s audiences.

    Ultimately, I think the most helpful insights Anders shares for writers is to (1) make sure we understand the concrete thing the protagonist wants, (2) the person who will be throwing obstacles in the path, and (3) if it’s a story that features change, to think about including a relationship character who will express theme etc.

    BTW, I think Anders’ observation that having the protagonist victory and theme reconciliation close together makes sense for stories that feature character change as the KEY to the protagonist achieving his or her goal. It makes sense because readers want to be in suspense. And if the one main and final obstacle holding the hero back is his theme issue, his belief, then it seems that suspense would be drawn out most when that final obstacle is only removed at the climax.

    Posted by John Brown
  44. October 4, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

    @ Dan, Howard, & Fibonacci:

    I find it hard to believe that Biff is the relationship character. It feels forced.

    Marty’s stated objective is to get back home, to not be wiped out of existence. To do that Marty has to fix the whole mom and dad screwup he caused by getting hit in front of Mom’s house and making her like him. He needs her to fall in love with McFly. That’s the concrete goal.

    Marty is, in many ways, his own antagonist. Further complicating this, the character who changes is McFly, not Marty. Marty is expressing the theme of standing up, of not cowering, etc.

    If you look to the beginning of the film there’s another objective–have a happy family. The McFly’s are all losers. The thing Marty wants is for his dad to stand up to Biff. To be a man.

    Kind of like Batman wanting Harvey Dent to become something. So it’s like the DARK KNIGHT as Lou read that movie. But I don’t remember any scene where Biff gives McFly the key. It’s Marty who gives it to McFly when they’re setting up the fake save–“No, Biff, you get your damn hands off of her.”

    I think this shows that a successful formula often doesn’t fit all stories–some holes fit round pegs, and some fit square ones. I think we make a mistake when we try to impose readings on stories just to fit the formula.

    Posted by John Brown
  45. October 4, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

    Thanks everyone for the positive comments. @Fibonacci:, Dan, Howard: regarding BACK TO THE FUTURE, I respectfully disagree.. With the caveat that I haven’t seen the film in over a decade and a half, I’d say you could make a case for George McFly as the main. What does he want? The girl. Who is trying to stop him? Biff the antagonist. Who is the relationship character? The one trying to teach him to be more assertive? The one who has literally BEEN THERE BEFORE. Marty! and what is the resolution with both antagonist and relationship character, when he punches Biff! That’s the punch that changes everything and it’s not delivered by Marty–he’s been shoved away and is offscreen for it.. It’s George!

    Now, you could argue “split main” with a second triangle of Marty, Biff, Doc. In which case Marty is trying to alter time, and the reconciliation is when Doc–who believes in the sanctity of time–peeks at the letter and wears a bullet proof vest!

    Posted by Lou Anders
  46. October 4, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

    Another interesting film, in terms of playing with the formula, is Michael Douglas’ FALLING DOWN. It’s interesting in that the lead is NOT the protagonist.

    Posted by Lou Anders
  47. October 4, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

    Holy cow! This has to be one of the best episodes you guys (and now gal) have done!

    My compliments to the discussion. It truly made me think about my own writing, and I think changing and adding just a few sentences made the book I just finished even better.

    Thanks for all the hard work that goes into this show!

    Posted by Trick Brown
  48. October 4, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

    like the screenplay to the movie, a transcript for the podcast…

    Posted by Mike Barker
  49. October 4, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

    @John Brown – I don’t see why a changing protagonist is required for this system of story building to work. The struggle can be to not change (the formerly violent person who swore pacifism struggling with that in the face of horrible odds, for example) and their trials and tribulations could fit within this context, with the relationship character supporting them in their desire to remain unchanged, while the antagonist is the one creating the pressure to do what they don’t want to (violence in my example).

    Posted by Patrick Sullivan
  50. October 5, 2011 @ 6:36 am

    Sorry to repeat all that’s been said before, but this was the best episode ever. Took loads of notes

    We’ve all heard/read about the three act structure, but Lou really makes it compelling and brings it back to the characters and their motivations. Brilliant.

    Must share with my writing group.

    Food for thought.

    Posted by chella
  51. October 5, 2011 @ 8:08 am

    You just blew my mind.

    Posted by Tony
  52. October 5, 2011 @ 9:00 am

    Where do other elements come in?

    Love interest? Subplots? Etc.

    Do they have corresponding page placements as in a 120 page screenplay? Do they have there own low points, inciting incidents, etc.?

    Posted by Tony
  53. October 5, 2011 @ 9:01 am


    Do they have THEIR own low points, inciting incidents, etc.?

    Posted by Tony
  54. October 5, 2011 @ 9:27 am

    @ Patrick Sullivan,

    Such a story is still about character change. We’re in suspense that he will or won’t change the whole time, just as we are about McFly. So I see your point, these stories don’t have to show change, but at the same time they make character change the central question of the story.

    As Anders explained it, this model is built around the issue of character change–the relationship character expresses the theme, which the protagonist rejects. Then the protagonist changes, accepts the mentoring advice, and reconciles with the relationship character. Or he doesn’t. With Thelma and Louise, like your story above, they fail to reconcile, and it ends in tragedy. But the core was still about this change.

    At least, that’s how I’m understanding it as presented in the podcast.

    Posted by John Brown
  55. October 5, 2011 @ 9:59 am

    I haven’t seen Casa Blanca either.

    Posted by Scott M. Roberts
  56. October 5, 2011 @ 10:10 am

    It sucks that Dan’s Mic went dead. I missed hearing more out of writing’s David Hasselhoff.

    Posted by Duke
  57. October 5, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    So Lou Anders (*google alert*), are you saying all Pyr books follow this formula? If not, what are some good examples of books that do?

    Posted by tam
  58. October 5, 2011 @ 11:59 am

    The question is how do you classify stories with multiple protagonists who are on equal footing with regards to being the star?

    Posted by Klimpaloon
  59. October 5, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

    The idea that is so mind blowing for me is that the antogonist isn’t the same thing as the villain, or even a negative force. I think, in some of my favorite movies, the antagonist even wins, if I’ve got this right.

    For example, in the old screwball comedy, Bringing Up Baby, Cary Grant wants his orderly dull life, and Katherine Hepburn, as the wacky lady who upsets everything, looks like she’s the antagonist who prevents that. But, of course, he changes and embraces the antagonist (in this case, literally ^_^). Of course, it could be that Cary Grant doesn’t know that he really wants more excitement, Katherine Hepburn is the relationship character who tries to teach him, and the antagonist is whatever forces keep Cary Grant in his old ways. Or it could be all of this at the same time. ^_^

    @John Brown – yes, there are stories where the main character doesn’t change and has no arc. Sherlock Holmes and other detective stories are pretty good examples. I’ve alway thought that it’s the other characters who have the arc, those directly connected to the crime, for example. I’m always happier when someone comes out of these with a better life, the crime solved and order restored. Or, at the very least, a character has closure.

    But I’ve also seen some things (movies more than books) where the plot felt very awkward, and I found out later that a piece was added to fill in that part of the formula, and I personally wished they’d just left it out. Of course, that’s not necessarily because the formula was wrong, it’s that it was used poorly.

    Posted by Laurie
  60. October 5, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

    Just listened to this. Awesome. Even more awesome that there’s a Back to the Future debate in the comments. I’ll chip in my 2 cents.

    Marty does change. He used to think his parents were boring losers who never had problems like his, goes back, and learns differently. By the end of the movie, he respects them and understands them. But I think Lou Ander’s breakdown with George as protag works best.

    I guess the takeaway from that is to make sure antagonists, relationship characters, etc. all have convincing, concrete motivations as well.

    Posted by MKHutchins
  61. October 5, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

    @Patrick Sullivan — you embrace a static protagonist at your peril, though you do see it particularly in the mystery/thriller genre (Get Carter, most pre-Craig James Bond films). Many pre-Batman Begins superhero films employ an unchanging lead and allow the relationship character to undergo growth instead. Best example: Buckaroo Banzai. “New Jersey” is the character who changes. But this works best when dealing with archetypes (super hero, private dick, gangster) and the danger is that you descend into stereotype or pastiche.

    Posted by Lou Anders
  62. October 5, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

    Just for the sake of beeing geeky, from 1953 until 1995the Washington Generals won six games against the Harlem Globetrotters, the last (as one of your other listeners noted) being in 1971 playing under the name of the New Jersey Reds (one of several pseudonyms the team used). The Generals identity was retired in 1995 but the same orginization (basically) went on to play the Globetrotters under the name New York Nationals, although the Generals name has been used again for special occassions. As you were discussing Hollywood forumulas, I guess that justifies dealing loosely with history.

    Posted by Alex Washoe
  63. October 5, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

    @tam – I haven’t even though about this in relation to Pyr books. It’s a teaching tool I’ve used at writers workshops. I’d say it would be interesting to read Andrew P Mayer’s The Falling Machine in light of this formula though.
    @klimpaloon- you can have a split main–two protagonists acting as each other’s relationship character. Also see Star Trwk Wrath of Khan for an interesting hand-off of the relationship character role.
    @Laurie- I’ve not seen the film but it sounds like the relationship character and protagonist are the same. “Forces” can’t be the antagonist. Weak.
    @MKHutchins–you can build triangles off your triangles. Also, see LA Confidential for a three protagonist film!

    Posted by Lou Anders
  64. October 5, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

    Kudos! I started listening in April, got caught up last month, and this is now my favorite WE podcast. I’ve listened to this episode 3 times in these 3 days.

    Let me see if I’ve groked it? Consider the ever-inspiring Joss Whedon’s Dr Horrible (SPOILER ALERT):

    Protagonist: Dr. Horrible
    What does he want: rule the world by getting into the Evil League of Evil
    Antagonist: Penny (!)
    Relationship/dynamic character: Bad Horse’s chorus (!!)
    Theme: Kill someone to be a villian (they sing it twice)

    I have to watch it again: I don’t recall a reconciliation with the chorus (maybe they’re at the party) or the chorus stand in for The Thoroughbred of Sin, and the reconciliation is when Dr Horrible takes his seat at the table with the ELE.

    Have I got it?

    Posted by DennisDDuquette
  65. October 5, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

    I really think I got it. The reason Brand New Day is so emotionally powerful (intense “ah hah” and “oh no” together) is that this is most of the reconciliation. The protagonist is, at this moment, ready to heed the relationship character’s advice.

    Posted by DennisDDuquette
  66. October 6, 2011 @ 7:47 am

    I forgot to include the Fateful Decision: “A Man’s Gotta Do…”

    He and Penny had their “audible connection” and Dr H. considered leaving the Wonderflonium, but decides to continue pursuing membership in the ELE.

    Posted by DennisDDuquette
  67. October 6, 2011 @ 8:21 am

    @ Lou Anders : Is there any video or more information on the Hollywood Formula? I was really intrigued by this and I feel that I could really learn more. Is there any video or another place that I can listen to more of your discussion on this topic?

    Posted by Bryan Pope
  68. October 6, 2011 @ 8:39 am

    I’m not sure that we should be applying screen writing techniques to novels at all. The mediums are not similar, and I’m resistant to efforts to treat them that way. While both are related to oral storytelling, screen plays find their strength in visual presentation and dialog; while novels are vastly stronger in presenting inner life and narrative.

    I can see the techniques described as being useful for short stories and novellas, where the number of characters are restricted– but where do Game-of-Thrones style novels fit in?

    Note that most of the examples used here have been NOT writing, but movies. I allow that the process may be effective for other writers, I’m afraid to say that I remain skeptical.

    (Which almost certainly means I’ll be trying it out. 😀 )

    Posted by Scott M. Roberts
  69. October 6, 2011 @ 11:37 am

    At the very least, if someone uses the formula in a book it will probably make it easier to end up on the big screen.

    Take Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for example.

    Harry, the protagonist, wants to figure out who the Heir of Slytherin is so people will stop thinking that he’s attacking everybody. Tom Riddle is the antagonist who makes Harry and later Hagrd out to be the Heir. Dumbledore is the relationship character through whom the theme of loyalty is presented and later reconciled via Fawkes. The fateful decision was when Harry decided to disregard Dobby’s warning to stay home. The low point was when Ginny is taken to the Chamber.

    Posted by Klimpaloon
  70. October 6, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

    @Klimpaloon I don’t think that helps the case any. Books are books, after all.

    Still, I’m going to disagree with Scott. The formula helps books immensely, because it helps you simplify things in YOUR head while you write. Yes, books have far larger casts than films do. That makes these sorts of tools even MORE important.

    Also, consider what Mary said about recipes, only take it one layer of meaning further removed from the story: You have a recipe for making a good protag/antag/theme arc, and this recipe provides helpful elements concerning pacing, and useful examples in easy-to-consume cinema. Now you want to write a series of novels with multiple arcs, climaxes, and themes, and with a cast of hundreds of characters.

    You’re going to use this recipe over and over, varying it here and there. If this is a recipe for Sicilian pizza, your series of novels might be an Italian restaurant. Your possession of a pizza recipe does not require you to open a Dominos franchise.

    Coming back to a single novel, the Hollywood formula lets you better execute on the main arc for the central protagonist. As Mary pointed out, she used the formula’s requirement that the resolutions occur as close together as possible to improve her novel, and increase its emotional impact on readers.

    Be skeptical, but take yourself at your word and try it out. I’ll be surprised if this tool doesn’t prove extremely useful to you as a novelist.

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  71. October 6, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

    this episode has been the most helpful to me, an animator as far as writing for animation goes. of course, it seemed more focused on screenplay and movies than books. that is probably it. I listened to it twice in a row to make sure I got what was going on, and will likely listen to it several more times in the very near future.
    now I have questions I can ask as I study movies!
    -who is the protagonist?
    -what is their goal?
    -who is the antagonist?
    -what are they doing to stop the protagonist?
    -who is the relationship character?
    -what is the theme they are conveying?
    -when do they come full circle with said theme?

    Thank You!

    Posted by thethatcher
  72. October 6, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

    @Bryan — Try Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder for a book about screenwriting. Not exactly the same as Lou’s, but I think you’ll see similarities.

    Posted by Mike Barker
  73. October 6, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

    […] made something to use for a potential book this week. The prompt […]

  74. October 6, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

    Chipping in with everyone else, loved this podcast. I think it’s a great way to distill (or even just brainstorm) your story to its core elements and then you can expand from there. A good tool for those of still learning the craft.

    @John Brown:
    I think this is only one type of approach to creating stories, and may or may not be applicable depending on what you’re trying to do. I think where it’s most useful is not in terms of what today’s audiences go for, but for those of us still learning to write and creating the stories FOR those audiences. It provides an easy framework to help focus our stories as we build them. Once we become better at it, we can branch out into some of the other structures as you mentioned.

    Absolutely this approach can be applied to novels, or any other stories, I think. Movies are just easy examples to cite that most everyone is familiar with, and it’s obviously worked and become a staple in Hollywood for years now, but I don’t think that means these tricks are unique to screenwriting. As for the application for large fantasy series ala Game of Thrones, these are not usually told as a single story. You have several characters and plotlines going all at once, as Howard alluded to, but each one is its own story to which you can apply the formula, then tie them all up at the end (typically).

    Here’s my prompt:

    Posted by Jeff Whitaker
  75. October 7, 2011 @ 8:30 am

    […] a fantastic new episode of the Writing Excuses podcast available that features Lou Anders (the Hugo award-winning editorial director of Pyr Books) talking […]

  76. October 7, 2011 @ 8:35 am

    @ Mike. Thanks for that. 😀

    Posted by Bryan Pope
  77. October 7, 2011 @ 10:03 am

    Robert McKee’s Story was the textbook I was assigned for screenwriting in college….but it is the driest read on the planet.

    Posted by Bradford Y.
  78. October 7, 2011 @ 11:02 am

    @Howard Tayler:

    Mostly, I’m concerned about writers who take formulas (ANY formula) too much to heart, and try to apply it to all stories ever.

    Because it relies on embodied protag/antag/relationship characters, there are instances where the Hollywood Formula fails to develop potent stories– for example, milieu or event stories, where conflict is borne not of character interaction but external, impersonal force. (Grapes of Wrath; The Giver; The Divine Comedy; My Side of the Mountain)

    Posted by Scott M. Roberts
  79. October 7, 2011 @ 11:40 am

    Just wondering: How does Slice of Life fit into this?

    Doesn’t Slice of Life often break most of the rules about story in the first place?

    @Scott Most of the time I take formulas, try them then rip out their heart and play with them. Formulas do have the risk of being, well, predictable and formulaic, but even there is comfort in a sonnet or villanelle. Or knowing that cake is sweet. What the ingredients exactly will be, you don’t always know.

    What at least the American population wants in a story is the same kind of thing as the man you don’t remember the name of but recognize. Familiar, should know it, yet strange and it bugs you for weeks until you remember what the name is, yet hits you with OMG, why didn’t I remember (come up with that.) And a tad resentful if someone remembers that person’s name before you and goes and spoils it.

    Artists shouldn’t act as robots in the first place… questioning is a good idea and experimentation makes our bread and butter.

    Posted by Rachel Udin
  80. October 7, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

    […] episode of Writing Excuses is a gem. Lou Anders, from Pyr joins the regular crew to talk about the Hollywood formula, which centers around three main characters and their relationships. Lou says the formula is a […]

  81. October 7, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

    @Scott Roberts: If that’s your concern, that’s probably what you should have originally expressed. What you said was “I’m not sure that we should be applying screen writing techniques to novels at all,” and that’s what several of us set out to refute. We SHOULD be applying these techniques.

    What you’re expressing NOW is irrefutable: “I’m concerned about writers who take formulas (ANY formula) too much to heart, and try to apply it to all stories ever.”

    That concern crops up any time we talk about formulas, and it’s valid. It is not, however, an invalidation of formulas, or the practice of applying a formula for one genre or medium to the act of creating art in another.

    Posted by Howard Tayler
  82. October 7, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

    Whenever people complain about formula my thought these days is “violate them if you want, but make sure you understand the formula first.”

    It’s sort of like grammar, with a good reason you can violate grammar rules and make it work, but you better know the rule you are breaking and why if you want the effect you create to match what you want.

    Understanding why a formula is doing something lets you violate it to create a different experience for the reader than the one these formulas engender by default, but if it is not the one you are shooting for, you’re screwed.

    Posted by Patrick Sullivan
  83. October 8, 2011 @ 11:06 am

    It’s interesting to think about formula. Now that the Hollywood Formula has been explained I can see it in so many movies, and in books.

    One eludes me though. I’m thinking of the often filmed, never really captured, Dracula. What are people’s thoughts about how the formula applies?

    I can’t decide who is the protagonist, antagonist, and relationship character. That could be because the book is a series of first-person narratives.

    That might be why, despite all the attempts, a great movie has never been made of it.

    Posted by Matthew Mayer
  84. October 8, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

    DennisDDuquette: I would suggest that the fateful decision in Dr. Horrible comes much later. Spoiler alert:

    Horrible is torn about being, well, Horrible for most of the show (even if he doesn’t realize it) and he isn’t really asked to -sacrifice- something for his goal until the Evil League of Evil demands that he kill someone to gain admittance. You can see him make the fateful decision in “Brand New Day” when he commits to killing Hammer.

    Posted by Raethe aka Silk
  85. October 8, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

    Addendum to my last comment: I’d also suggest that leaving the fateful decision for this long works because really, that’s what the show is about.

    Posted by Raethe aka Silk
  86. October 9, 2011 @ 3:33 am

    Dammit, I can’t resolve a concrete desire for my protagonist in my current project. That, or my protagonist is the character I thought was my antagonist and my relationship character is relating to the wrong person.

    Either way, it probably explains why my first lot of beta feedback was that the whole thing feels emotionally very flat. Thanks, guys – brilliant cast :)

    Posted by Rik Davnall
  87. October 9, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

    Writing Excuses Gang –

    This podcast has become one of my favorite. It’s rich with information and allows for motivation in creating one’s own story that follows the formula. Thank you for that. Great cast.

    Posted by Levi
  88. October 9, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

    […] Lou Ander’s talk about the Hollywood formula on Writing Excuses 6.18 I find myself looking for it in every story I read; every show I […]

  89. October 9, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

    The analysis of The Dark Knight is pretty eye opening. I’ve heard some of this formula before, especially with the 3 acts and their proportions, but I don’t think I understood the protagonist/antagonist relationship very well until that analysis.

    If nothing else, it is worth looking at your story to see if you have the three characters and they work in the way described. If something is not working, the problem may be that you either don’t have these characters, or they aren’t pulling the weight they ought to.

    Posted by saluk
  90. October 10, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

    This is wonderful, but I’m still not entirely convinced that the ‘relationship’ character is essential for every story. I just don’t see how most of these examples would be any different if you took the relationship character out.

    Posted by Mark Cotterill
  91. October 12, 2011 @ 7:30 am

    […] myself 1001 Screenwriting Tips or How To Write Your Novel, Dummy, but because the good folks at Writing Excuses did a show on “The Hollywood Formula” and I was quite pleased to learn, hey, I was […]

  92. October 12, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

    I must agree that I have found this episode to be the most informative of the entire podcast. If I could compress a paradigm shift into 19 minutes, I could do no better than Lou Anders’ presentation of the Hollywood formula. I listened to the episode for the first time today, and three more times since the first. It also represents the best writing advice for new writers I have ever had from a single source, and this is someone who has taken creative writing classes in college, read numerous books on the craft, and listened to Writing Excuses and other writing podcasts for years.

    Wednesday is date night for Mrs. Benjamin and I, and we tried our mastery of the formula against several well known movies. How about just a sample:

    Superman (1978)
    Protagonist: Superman
    What does he want?: To use his powers to save lives.
    Antagonist: Jor-El
    How does he obstruct the protagonists’ goal: His advice in the form of, “You are forbidden to interfere in human history.
    Decision Point: When Superman seeks out the truth behind his alien ancestry
    Relationship Character: Jonathan Kent
    Theme Conversation: In the cornfield before Jonathan dies, he tells his son that he always suspected he was meant for something great
    Climax against the antagonist/Full circle with theme: Superman flies into the sky after Lois Lane dies, and is confronted with the spectral images of Jor-El and Jonathan Kent, who replay their advice to the protagonist. Superman resolves his conflict with Jor-El by literally changing history by altering time.


    Posted by Benjamin
  93. October 13, 2011 @ 11:11 am

    […] on the ever-wonderful Writing Excuses podcast, Lou Anders guest-starred to talk about the Hollywood Formula (which he, in turn, learned from Dan Decker). However twisted and secretive its origins, this […]

  94. October 13, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    […] Listen to the following podcast: “Writing Excuses 6.18: The Hollywood Formula“ […]

  95. October 15, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

    This is one of those episodes I listened to several times and took copious notes on. Great cast thanks guys! This along with Dan’s 7 Point Story Structure is helping my outline my novels so much faster and better now!

    Posted by DanDanTheArtMan
  96. October 15, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

    […] write your rough draft novel, including an episode of the podcast Writing Excuses that talks about Hollywood Formula, as well as the podcast I Should Be Writing and past episodes of the Nanowrimo Podcast. I also talk […]

  97. October 17, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

    First things first: awesome podcast, my favorite so far. My first thought after listening to it was to try to figure out how the formula applies to Back to the Future, my all time favorite movie. At first I couldn’t figure it out and when I read the comments I saw many interesting ideas that got me thinking further.

    Now I think I understand it and the formula works *perfectly*.

    – Protagonist: Marty, of course, the movie is obviously Marty’s story, no need to complicate things.
    – Marty’s goal: Change history (change it back so that he gets born and change it so that Doc lives)
    – Fateful decision: The conversation with Strickland. It happens at precisely the timing predicted by the formula. Strickland tries to warn Marty that Doc is dangerous and that he should stay away from him. If Marty had agreed he wouldn’t have traveled back in time and there would have been no movie. But also Marty says “History is gonna change” symbolically committing to his goal even though he cannot know how prophetic his words are.

    – Antagonist: George McFly, he’s the one who is diametrically opposed to Marty. Marty will get in a fight rather than let people think he’s chicken, George is a coward. Unless Marty can convince George to stand up to Biff, he won’t succeed and he will disappear. Biff is just an obstacle not the antagonist.

    – Relationship character: Doc, of course.
    – Articulation of the theme: Doc has said “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything” we don’t see the conversation directly but we learn that in Jennifer and Marty’s talk. And at this point Marty doesn’t really believe it, he thinks maybe his father is right and maybe it’s best to give up on his music and avoid disappointments.
    – Additionally, it has already been mentioned in previous comments that Marty and Doc disagree about whether one should know in advance about future events and that is also resolved at the end.

    Resolution: Marty uses Doc’s words of wisdom to convince his dad to stand up to Biff putting history back on its tracks. Doc changes his mind about knowing the future and that saves him. At the end, George ceases to be an antagonist, he’s become a self-confident published science-fiction novelist and he is the one that revisits the theme at the end instead of Doc. Marty also has been changed, he has overcome his doubts. The movie is really about the power of self-confidence.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it and I feel the formula is really the structure of the movie. I’ve watched this movie dozens and dozens of times and now I understand it on a whole new level and that feels kind of amazing. :)

    Posted by Codexus
  98. October 18, 2011 @ 11:52 pm

    Nice analysis Codexus! Nothing more to say…

    Posted by saluk
  99. October 20, 2011 @ 11:36 am

    Best Episode EVER.

    Have him back ASAP.

    The man was teaching SO MUCH that we can hear the rest of you learning.

    Great choice for a guest. More of this please.

    Posted by Jon Rohr
  100. October 23, 2011 @ 12:00 am

    A really compelling episode. The content from Lou Anders was excellent.

    Posted by Reece
  101. October 24, 2011 @ 10:57 am

    I’d really like to hear the hour presentation he gives as well …

  102. October 31, 2011 @ 12:19 am

    […] on some podcast listening today and caught an episode of Writing Excuses that totally excited me. Episode 68 was an interview with Lou Anders who gave his take on “the Hollywood formula” to […]

  103. November 7, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

    […] But today I had a revelation. I was on the elliptical machine at my gym, which is where I have a good many of my revelations, listening to an episode of Writing Excuse I’ve been skipping for weeks because the title sounded lame: “Hollywood Formula.” […]

  104. November 9, 2011 @ 8:54 am

    […] seriously, a friend recently pointed me to this webpage.  If you scroll down just a bit to the audio section of that post, you can listen to 20 minutes of […]

  105. November 11, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

    […] another from Lou Anders that he offered on a Writing Excuses podcast that presents another way to sum up what you’re looking for with character and problem […]

  106. November 13, 2011 @ 10:12 am

    Loved this pdocast – makes me want to give the lessons taught as an Ignite speech.

    Question: So I get Harvey Keitel as the antagonist in Thelma and Louise. Surprising yet inevitable, that one.

    But in T&L, who is the relationship character? Is it T for L and vice versa? Since we’re in some ways treating the women as a single protagonist, could they also be their own relationship character?

    Posted by Arne Jamtgaard
  107. November 17, 2011 @ 10:12 am

    […] recent episode; however I highly recommend listening to the episode form October 2, 2011 titled Hollywood Formula. If you’re like me you’ll be surprised to find out that in most stories the antagonist is not […]

  108. November 29, 2011 @ 6:05 am

    […] Anders to talk about what he (and Dan Decker, whom Lou gratefully swiped the idea from) calls “The Hollywood Formula.” It’s a pattern which successful films tend to either follow or quite successfully play […]

  109. November 29, 2011 @ 10:07 am

    Hi Arne,
    I believe that Thelma is the protagonist and Louise is the relationship character. After all, Louis has already been three (“You know how I feel about Texas”) whereas Thelma goes from passive (needing husband’s permission) to aggressive (robbing banks and taking charge). She’s the one who undergoes growth and change. However, my mentor believes it is a “split main” with both of them as co-protagonists, serving as each other’s relationship character.

    Posted by Lou Anders
  110. November 30, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

    […] Glaze Over Syndrome. As an antidote, here’s a link to a recent podcast at Writing Excuses on The Hollywood Formula for fiction and script writers. You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, and you’ll be annoyed […]

  111. December 1, 2011 @ 6:02 am

    […] while Nathan doesn’t make mention of it, Lou Anders mentions in his Hollywood Formula episode on Writing Excuses  that movies typically include a big twist at around the halfway mark, an event or (more commonly) […]

  112. December 4, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    […] reference, I refer you to Story Structure Demystified by Larry Brooks, the Writing Excuses podcast episode on the Hollywood Formula, and this lecture by Dan Wells on Story […]

  113. December 21, 2011 @ 1:58 am

    […] As I explained in my post before last, I’m practicing the writing of an outline using the Hollywood Formula as a template. In order to get a feel for how the Hollywood Formula plays out, I decided to divide […]

    Posted by » The DIY Writer
  114. January 1, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

    […] that draft a few days before Christmas and know I have a much better product. I credit that to the Hollywood Formula podcast on Writing Excuses and Ted Dekker’s advice to create a few significantly emotional scenes ranging from lowest of […]

  115. January 10, 2012 @ 10:57 am

    […] their October 2nd, 2011 episode, the Writing Excuses crew talked to Lou Anders about the Hollywood Formula.  Give it a listen, it’s only 20 minutes long (though that’s now 70 total minutes of […]

  116. January 20, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    […] further than the truth than you would think. A prime example is one that I heard on the podcast Writing Excuses. The link will take you to the specific episode in which Lou Anders, the Hugo-winning editorial […]

  117. January 31, 2012 @ 5:08 am

    […] Seven: Complete Outline of Witness in the Dark using Hollywood Formula from Writing Excuses and the book How To Write And Sell A Christian Novel by Gilbert Morris. This is another big one […]

  118. February 13, 2012 @ 12:01 am

    […] people want to do at meets ups and when should we have them? Listened to and discussed the “Writing Excuses: The Hollywood Formula” […]

  119. March 10, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

    […] This is an interesting podcast from Writing Excuses with Lou Anders explaining what he calls the Hollywood Formula. If you get this right your story will have impact and pluck the emotional cords of your readers. It is a very interesting set-up using a triad of characters designed to work together for greater emotional draw. You can find the podcast here — Hollywood Formula Podcast […]

  120. April 25, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

    […] myself 1001 Screenwriting Tips or How To Write Your Novel, Dummy, but because the good folks at Writing Excuses did a show on “The Hollywood Formula” and I was quite pleased to learn, hey, I was […]

  121. May 4, 2012 @ 12:04 am

    […] while Nathan doesn’t make mention of it, Lou Anders mentions in his Hollywood Formula episode on Writing Excuses  that movies typically include a big twist at around the halfway mark, an event or (more commonly) […]

  122. June 4, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

    […] while back on the Writing Excuses podcast, they discussed something called “The Hollywood Formula.” Basically, it means that […]

  123. June 9, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    Re-listened to this ep yesterday and the more I try working through this formula the more I realise what it is I hate about Hollywood movies.

    If you use this formula aren’t you just going to churn out the same kind of unoriginal and ‘formulaic’ dross that Hollywood produces?

    Posted by Mark Cotterill
  124. June 26, 2012 @ 12:56 am

    […] hörde på en podcast som heter Writing Excuses: länk till programmet om formeln här. Det är manusförfattaren Lou Anders som berättar om vad han lärt sig om dramatiskt berättande […]

  125. September 30, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

    […] This topic was thoroughly discussed on another podcast: Writing Excuses Episode 6.18: Hollywood Formula. […]

  126. October 6, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

    […] the link to their podcast, it’s definitely worth the […]

  127. October 9, 2012 @ 12:04 am

    […] your book, I recommend listening to a quick, fifteen minute podcast by the Parsec Award Winning Writing Excuses: 6.18 “Hollywood Formula.” That podcast showed me how to create a great ending to Act Two, and then from there it should be […]

  128. November 23, 2012 @ 10:29 am

    I loved this episode — it helped me clarify my thinking about some parts of the novel I’m trying to write now. Unfortunately, the formula kind of leaves me scratching my head. Lou tells us that we’re supposed to give our protagonist a concrete, achievable goal. What if the goal is concrete, but unachievable? Or, at least unachievable in the first book?

    Posted by Willow
  129. December 31, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

    […] podcast has given me a lot of good stuff to think about.  If you get the chance, listen to the Hollywood Formula episode.  It’s hilarious when you start seeing the formula in every movie you […]

  130. January 23, 2013 @ 11:33 am

    […] actions that directly oppose what Batman wants. If you don’t believe me check out this episode of Writing Excuses guest starring the editing god himself, Lou Anders. He explains it in such wonderful detail and […]

  131. January 23, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

    […] highly recommend “The Four Principles of Puppetry with Mary Robinette Kowal” and “Hollywood Formula” […]

  132. January 28, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

    […] structure lately, especially movie story structure.  Most movies follow the same structure, the Hollywood Formula.  I won’t go much into it, but this formula makes just about any movie amazing.  If […]

  133. February 4, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

    […] back to the relationship character. (Thank you Lou Anders for this concept. Go to his interview on Writing Excuses for a great explanation of the protagonist, antagonist and relationship […]

  134. February 28, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

    […] to keep their stories tight, emotional, and, obviously, formulaic.  Though I have directed you to the podcast that first taught me this formula, I doubt many of you have listened to it, so I shall describe the formula again here.  I did not […]

  135. March 7, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

    […] the movie, we discussed the hollywood storytelling forumla (based on this Writing Excuses podcast), how it applied to The Dark Knight, and drank even more wine. All in all, it was an excellent way […]

  136. May 29, 2013 @ 11:00 am

    […] and I think I have an answer as to why. To explain, you’ll need to understand a bit about the Hollywood Formula of writing. (Listen to that podcast, authors, it is […]

  137. February 15, 2014 @ 12:31 am

    […] conflicts and using them to resolve each other, all in one scene. Lou Anders calls this the Hollywood Formula. This is exactly what I described with The Matrix.  I think of it like strings for different […]

  138. March 5, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

    […] 6.18: Hollywood Formula […]

  139. March 15, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

    […] The Hollywood formula (see another great treatment of the formula on Writing Excuses) […]