I conclude our theoretical foray into the craft of screenwriting with an overwhelming question. Unlike the women in the rooms that come and go, we will take the risk and ask:
What is the point?
Theoretically speaking, why are we going through all of this effort? Every author, from Homer to J.K. Rowling has always had exactly the same goal in mind from the minute she first knew she wanted to put words on pages. Resonance.
Resonance is the name we give to the phenomenon that describes a work of art’s ability to make wormholes between minds. We don’t speak of the connection between author and audience in the same mystical terminology modern semiotics reserves for the connection between signifier and signified but everything we have built so far has lead us to the inescapable conclusion that they are, in fact, subject to the same terminology.
Words stand in the same relation to objects as authors stand to audiences.
I will save my discussion of the actual process of refabrication for part three. For now we will content ourselves with knowing that the audience wants what we want. The audience wants our stories to resonate.
You have done your job as a writer if the audience finishes your work and feels inspired to live in harmony with the theme of your script. Since there can be “negative” themes, I should qualify that last by adding that you can be inspired to reject a theme as well. You can decide not to follow the example set by the protagonist as easily as you can decide to follow it.
You want your audience to leave your story with their sense of self, swelled.
You could inspire them to be patriotic, or kind, or better fathers, or better sons. You can leave them wanting to fulfill their dream, or oppose oppression. They can walk out of the theatre with the distinct urge to challenge their biggest fears, or advocate for the fears of others.
There are an infinite number of ways that an audience member’s sense of self may swell, but there is only one cause for the inflammation. Your words. When you write something resonant, a piece of you (the signifier) radiates (becomes the signified) in others.
This is the point of writing and there is no other point of writing.
End of Part One