Discussion:
ON TOPIC: Need help with my screenplay
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MONDay
2003-09-27 22:02:54 UTC
Permalink
Hi All,

I have a dilemma in my screenplay. Actually, it's not a
dilemma, it's a matter of not knowing the correct terminology
to use in my screenplay.

I have a guy who owns a corporation, but I need him
to get fired by the rest of the board - much like in "Meet
Joe Black" when whatshisname brought up a certain
"article" in the "corporate charter" to get rid of William
Parish as he was deemed to be not of sound mind.

The thing is, my guy is of sound mind. I need him to
be fired under the grounds that his continuing presence as
head of the board - or even as an employee - could
jeopardise the company's position in the market.

I'm afraid that I cannot disclose the why. Sorry.

By any chance, would any of you know (or know
someone who would know) if there is such an "article"
in a "corporate charter" (or similar) that the rest of
the board could invoke for this to happen?

I need specifics for the dialogue.

Yes, I could make something up, and no-one would be
any the wiser, but I like to do things right if there is
an avenue to do so.

Thanks a million for your help.

MON.
"No, I'm not going to ask a $500 p/h US lawyer! :-)"
Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
2003-09-27 22:14:49 UTC
Permalink
Mon, there's an old saying, "Write what you know." It doesn't mean
you have to know when you start. It means you SHOULD do all the
research BEFORE you start so you don't paint yourself into a corner.

Now, you live in England. I have NO idea how corporate charters work
there. In this country, corporate charters vary from corporation to
corporation, and there are a gazillion ways your guy can be pushed out
by the BOD. Think up a way...! '-)

Caroline


On Sat, 27 Sep 2003 23:02:54 +0100, "MONDay"
Post by MONDay
Hi All,
I have a dilemma in my screenplay. Actually, it's not a
dilemma, it's a matter of not knowing the correct terminology
to use in my screenplay.
I have a guy who owns a corporation, but I need him
to get fired by the rest of the board - much like in "Meet
Joe Black" when whatshisname brought up a certain
"article" in the "corporate charter" to get rid of William
Parish as he was deemed to be not of sound mind.
The thing is, my guy is of sound mind. I need him to
be fired under the grounds that his continuing presence as
head of the board - or even as an employee - could
jeopardise the company's position in the market.
I'm afraid that I cannot disclose the why. Sorry.
By any chance, would any of you know (or know
someone who would know) if there is such an "article"
in a "corporate charter" (or similar) that the rest of
the board could invoke for this to happen?
I need specifics for the dialogue.
Yes, I could make something up, and no-one would be
any the wiser, but I like to do things right if there is
an avenue to do so.
Thanks a million for your help.
MON.
"No, I'm not going to ask a $500 p/h US lawyer! :-)"
MONDay
2003-09-27 22:22:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
Mon, there's an old saying, "Write what you know." It doesn't mean
you have to know when you start. It means you SHOULD do all the
research BEFORE you start so you don't paint yourself into a corner.
I agree, and perhaps I'm being a little too ambitious, but
I know what I need to do, it's just a matter of getting there. ;-)

Heck, I'm not going to write about what I know. I don't
know anything!
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
Now, you live in England. I have NO idea how corporate charters work
there. In this country, corporate charters vary from corporation to
corporation,
Aha - thanks, you've just answered my question.

I wasn't sure if they referred to a statutory document(s),
or whether they were governed entirely by the corporation.

In which case I'll just make up something fancy! :-)

Thanks C.
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
Think up a way...! '-)
Already done. Thanks again.

MON.
Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
2003-09-27 22:32:21 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 27 Sep 2003 23:22:09 +0100, "MONDay"
Post by MONDay
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
Now, you live in England. I have NO idea how corporate charters work
there. In this country, corporate charters vary from corporation to
corporation,
Aha - thanks, you've just answered my question.
I wasn't sure if they referred to a statutory document(s),
or whether they were governed entirely by the corporation.
In which case I'll just make up something fancy! :-)
Uh uh! You still need to do some research if you want to be accurate.
Corporate charters and the state and/or federal laws that govern them
differ from state to state, depending on which state the corporation
is licensed/chartered in. So you have to find out how things are done
wherever your story is set. You can find out a lot about these things
on the internet. Between google.com and dogpile.com, you should be an
authority in no time.

Caroline
MONDay
2003-09-27 22:43:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
On Sat, 27 Sep 2003 23:22:09 +0100, "MONDay"
Post by MONDay
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
Now, you live in England. I have NO idea how corporate charters work
there. In this country, corporate charters vary from corporation to
corporation,
Aha - thanks, you've just answered my question.
I wasn't sure if they referred to a statutory document(s),
or whether they were governed entirely by the corporation.
In which case I'll just make up something fancy! :-)
Uh uh!
"Uh uh!"? I'm still trying to create that sound in my head! :-)
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
You still need to do some research if you want to be accurate.
Don't worry yourself now C, I've got it sorted:

CORPORATE GUY #1
Yo, Jo Blo, we dun sacked yo ass motha.

MY GUY
You can't do that.

CORPORATE GUY #1
Ye man, you dun tripped the chitty chitty bang
bang in page six Blo. Big bad jingle comin down
at you.

See. Sorted.
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
Corporate charters and the state and/or federal laws that govern them
differ from state to state, depending on which state the corporation
is licensed/chartered in.
Exactly me dear, so like you said - who'll know ;-)

MON.
"Just kidding. I'll be a good boy."
David M. Geshwind
2003-09-28 00:56:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
On Sat, 27 Sep 2003 23:22:09 +0100, "MONDay"
Post by MONDay
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
Now, you live in England. I have NO idea how corporate charters work
there. In this country, corporate charters vary from corporation to
corporation,
Aha - thanks, you've just answered my question.
I wasn't sure if they referred to a statutory document(s),
or whether they were governed entirely by the corporation.
In which case I'll just make up something fancy! :-)
Uh uh!
"Uh uh!"? I'm still trying to create that sound in my head! :-)
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
You still need to do some research if you want to be accurate.
CORPORATE GUY #1
Yo, Jo Blo, we dun sacked yo ass motha.
MY GUY
You can't do that.
CORPORATE GUY #1
Ye man, you dun tripped the chitty chitty bang
bang in page six Blo. Big bad jingle comin down
at you.
See. Sorted.
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
Corporate charters and the state and/or federal laws that govern them
differ from state to state, depending on which state the corporation
is licensed/chartered in.
Exactly me dear, so like you said - who'll know ;-)
I know you're kidding, above but ...

While it doesn't have to be accurate, but it DOES have to sound plausible.

Who'll know? Every lawyer, stock broker, and corporate executive in the
audience.

And, if they catch you with one hole in the script, they'll assume the rest
is wrong also.

Happens to me all the time. I'm an engineer by (first) training. Whenever I
see some dumb science fiction story, no mater how outrageous the premise, I
still get pissed when they violate real "physics" or the "physics" of the
universe they've created.

Like in Star Wars, You have to suspend mountains of disbelief. But it still
bothered me that the space ships kep "whizzing" by for dramatic purposes.
Everyone knows -- or at least I know -- that you can't hear in a vacuum.
"In Space No One Can Hear You Scream" or hear anything else. Kubrik (sp)
did that right, at least. Silence and Strause.

So, when Darth Vader speeds by in his black single-seat custom turbo
fighter, and it makes a sound like a wounded see loin on crack, my belief
crashes to the ground.

So, your first instinct was correct. Make it SOUND right.


-- dmg

David M. Geshwind

Remove the FILTER to reply
MONDay
2003-09-28 01:06:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by David M. Geshwind
Post by Otto Mation (Caroline Freisen)
On Sat, 27 Sep 2003 23:22:09 +0100, "MONDay"
<snip>
Post by David M. Geshwind
I know you're kidding, above but ...
What ever gave you that idea? ;-)
Post by David M. Geshwind
While it doesn't have to be accurate, but it DOES have to sound plausible.
No, you are correct. I have to do it right - I'm quite anal in
that respect. Even if 95% of the audience wouldn't know,
I would.
Post by David M. Geshwind
Who'll know? Every lawyer, stock broker, and corporate executive in the
audience.
And, if they catch you with one hole in the script, they'll assume the rest
is wrong also.
True.
Post by David M. Geshwind
Happens to me all the time. I'm an engineer by (first) training. Whenever I
see some dumb science fiction story, no mater how outrageous the premise, I
still get pissed when they violate real "physics" or the "physics" of the
universe they've created.
Like in Star Wars, You have to suspend mountains of disbelief. But it still
bothered me that the space ships kep "whizzing" by for dramatic purposes.
Everyone knows -- or at least I know -- that you can't hear in a vacuum.
"In Space No One Can Hear You Scream" or hear anything else. Kubrik (sp)
did that right, at least. Silence and Strause.
So, when Darth Vader speeds by in his black single-seat custom turbo
fighter, and it makes a sound like a wounded see loin on crack, my belief
crashes to the ground.
I'm with you 100% - same as when cars screech on grass, or
they try and explain away a hole in the script with some CRAZY
science. Do you remember "Star Trek: The Voyage Home"? (Or
whatever it was called) - there was a scene when Spok was
explaining to Kirk how they could "recharge" the dilithium
crystals with radiation. Well, gee, why couldn't they have used
that "old trick" in the past 25 years whenever they needed
new dilithium crystals! And why was it not documented for
future use!

Bloody screenwriters. 'Think the own the place! :-)
Post by David M. Geshwind
So, your first instinct was correct. Make it SOUND right.
I'm sticking to it.

MON.
MC
2003-09-27 22:40:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
I have a guy who owns a corporation, but I need him
to get fired by the rest of the board - much like in "Meet
Joe Black" when whatshisname brought up a certain
"article" in the "corporate charter" to get rid of William
Parish as he was deemed to be not of sound mind.
The thing is, my guy is of sound mind. I need him to
be fired under the grounds that his continuing presence as
head of the board - or even as an employee - could
jeopardise the company's position in the market.
I'm afraid that I cannot disclose the why. Sorry.
By any chance, would any of you know (or know
someone who would know) if there is such an "article"
in a "corporate charter" (or similar) that the rest of
the board could invoke for this to happen?
I need specifics for the dialogue.
Yes, I could make something up, and no-one would be
any the wiser, but I like to do things right if there is
an avenue to do so.
Thanks a million for your help.
Is it a public company or a private company? If it's private and he owns
it, I don't think anyone else can do a thing about it. As the owner,
he's the majority shareholder and he outvotes everyone else.

But, that said, I probably know less than you do -- so this is a case
where you probably want to work your contacts, and do a little phone
work -- ask around. Call a lawyer. Call your local chamber of commerce.
Contact the management organizations -- you'll come up with something
that fits.
MONDay
2003-09-27 23:05:40 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by MC
Is it a public company or a private company? If it's private and he owns
it, I don't think anyone else can do a thing about it. As the owner,
he's the majority shareholder and he outvotes everyone else.
Good point. I guess in "Meet Joe Black" it must have been
a PLC. It never even crossed my mind. Thanks.
Post by MC
But, that said, I probably know less than you do
Very doubtful.
Post by MC
-- so this is a case
where you probably want to work your contacts, and do a little phone
work -- ask around. Call a lawyer. Call your local chamber of commerce.
Contact the management organizations -- you'll come up with something
that fits.
Sound advice. I just thought there may be someone here
who does this as their "day job" - I know Geshwind's a
patent guy for example.

I'll see what the ship brings in from mws, then I'll go
trawling as you and Caroline quite rightly suggest.

MON.
Gene Harris
2003-09-27 23:21:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Hi All,
I have a dilemma in my screenplay. Actually, it's not a
dilemma, it's a matter of not knowing the correct terminology
to use in my screenplay.
I have a guy who owns a corporation, but I need him
to get fired by the rest of the board - much like in "Meet
Joe Black" when whatshisname brought up a certain
"article" in the "corporate charter" to get rid of William
Parish as he was deemed to be not of sound mind.
The thing is, my guy is of sound mind. I need him to
be fired under the grounds that his continuing presence as
head of the board - or even as an employee - could
jeopardise the company's position in the market.
<snip>

What you may be looking for is something in the corporate by-laws, rather
than the corporate charter. By-laws establish the rules for managing a
corporation, and usually go into quite a bit of detail.

I just did a google on "corporate by-laws" and it looks like there are lots
of corporations that have their by-laws posted on the internet. You could
probably wade through some of those and come up with a plausible reason for
your guy to get canned.

Gene
Robert Vervoordt
2003-09-27 23:57:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Post by MONDay
Hi All,
I have a dilemma in my screenplay. Actually, it's not a
dilemma, it's a matter of not knowing the correct terminology
to use in my screenplay.
I have a guy who owns a corporation, but I need him
to get fired by the rest of the board - much like in "Meet
Joe Black" when whatshisname brought up a certain
"article" in the "corporate charter" to get rid of William
Parish as he was deemed to be not of sound mind.
The thing is, my guy is of sound mind. I need him to
be fired under the grounds that his continuing presence as
head of the board - or even as an employee - could
jeopardise the company's position in the market.
<snip>
What you may be looking for is something in the corporate by-laws, rather
than the corporate charter. By-laws establish the rules for managing a
corporation, and usually go into quite a bit of detail.
I just did a google on "corporate by-laws" and it looks like there are lots
of corporations that have their by-laws posted on the internet. You could
probably wade through some of those and come up with a plausible reason for
your guy to get canned.
Gene
Good advice, as that's where the board action is based.

However, there is one other source, Soaps! They do this all the time.
My daughter has forced me to watch General Hospital more times than
I'll ever admit and that seems to be something that goes on regularly.
They have ways of obscuring the details while enhancing the menace and
conflict.

I never realised that there was such creativity at work there. ;-0



Robert Vervoordt, MFA
MONDay
2003-09-27 23:58:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Robert Vervoordt
Post by MONDay
Post by MONDay
Hi All,
I have a dilemma in my screenplay. Actually, it's not a
dilemma, it's a matter of not knowing the correct terminology
to use in my screenplay.
I have a guy who owns a corporation, but I need him
to get fired by the rest of the board - much like in "Meet
Joe Black" when whatshisname brought up a certain
"article" in the "corporate charter" to get rid of William
Parish as he was deemed to be not of sound mind.
The thing is, my guy is of sound mind. I need him to
be fired under the grounds that his continuing presence as
head of the board - or even as an employee - could
jeopardise the company's position in the market.
<snip>
What you may be looking for is something in the corporate by-laws, rather
than the corporate charter. By-laws establish the rules for managing a
corporation, and usually go into quite a bit of detail.
I just did a google on "corporate by-laws" and it looks like there are lots
of corporations that have their by-laws posted on the internet. You could
probably wade through some of those and come up with a plausible reason for
your guy to get canned.
Gene
Good advice, as that's where the board action is based.
However, there is one other source, Soaps! They do this all the time.
My daughter has forced me to watch General Hospital more times than
I'll ever admit and that seems to be something that goes on regularly.
They have ways of obscuring the details while enhancing the menace and
conflict.
Er, thanks Robert. ;-)
Post by Robert Vervoordt
I never realised that there was such creativity at work there. ;-0
Seriously though, you're probably right. But chances are that
they are based on right-sounding fairy dust rather than anything
concrete - actually, that's just what I'm looking for! :-D

MON.
MONDay
2003-09-27 23:53:35 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Gene Harris
What you may be looking for is something in the corporate by-laws, rather
than the corporate charter. By-laws establish the rules for managing a
corporation, and usually go into quite a bit of detail.
I just did a google on "corporate by-laws" and it looks like there are lots
of corporations that have their by-laws posted on the internet. You could
probably wade through some of those and come up with a plausible reason for
your guy to get canned.
Wow, thanks for doing the research Gene.

I appreciate it. I'll look into those by-laws.

MON.
David M. Geshwind
2003-09-28 00:19:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Hi All,
I have a guy who owns a corporation, but I need him
to get fired by the rest of the board
The thing is, my guy is of sound mind. I need him to
be fired under the grounds that his continuing presence as
head of the board - or even as an employee - could
jeopardise the company's position in the market.
I'm afraid that I cannot disclose the why. Sorry.
Well, if he has done something "nasty" and it was reported in the press,
there are sometimes "moral turpitude" clauses that could lead to dismissal.

Similarly, if he has dome something to otherwise "embarass" the company
they might be able to fire him.

And, if he has done something illegal (or even just been indicted),
especially if related to the company, like stock fraud, they can probably
fire him.
Post by MONDay
By any chance, would any of you know (or know
someone who would know) if there is such an "article"
in a "corporate charter" (or similar) that the rest of
the board could invoke for this to happen?
I don't know if it is necessary for there to be an "article" in the
"corporate charter". A majority of the board could probably fire someone
just at their whim. But, it probably depends on circumstances (contract
clauses, the corporate charter, local business laws, exactly what has been
done by him), etc.
Post by MONDay
I need specifics for the dialogue.
MON.
"No, I'm not going to ask a $500 p/h US lawyer! :-)"
Well I work with one (not quite $500/hour) but I'll ask and try to get you
specifics for the dialog[ue]. But, are you looking for US law or British
(we can't help you there, ask your solicitor).

-- dmg

PS: Anne has just walked in and asked what you mean by "owns" a
corporation. If it is publicly traded, then the board has much more power
and can probably fire him as President, even if he owns a low of stock.
But, if he owns the majority of stock, or if it is a privately held (by
him) corporation, then he can probably fire the board instead. There is
something called a shareholder derivitive action" to protect the rights of
the minority shareholders, but that is getting awfully complecated and
would require more details to explore fully.

If you want to post more details she can comment further.

By the way.
Now I owe Anne.
So you owe me.
(In addition to that warm beer.)

David M. Geshwind

Remove the FILTER to reply
MC
2003-09-28 00:46:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by David M. Geshwind
Well, if he has done something "nasty" and it was reported in the press,
there are sometimes "moral turpitude" clauses that could lead to dismissal.
Similarly, if he has dome something to otherwise "embarass" the company
they might be able to fire him.
He's the *owner* -- who can fire him?
David M. Geshwind
2003-09-28 01:25:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by MC
Post by David M. Geshwind
Well, if he has done something "nasty" and it was reported in the press,
there are sometimes "moral turpitude" clauses that could lead to dismissal.
Similarly, if he has dome something to otherwise "embarass" the company
they might be able to fire him.
He's the *owner* -- who can fire him?
Covered in my previous post.
Depends on what "owns" means.

[The following is clipped from my previous post]

PS: Anne has just walked in and asked what you mean by "owns" a
corporation. If it is publicly traded, then the board has much more power
and can probably fire him as President, even if he owns a lot of stock.
But, if he owns the majority of stock, or if it is a privately held (by
him) corporation, then he can probably fire the board instead. There is
something called a "shareholder derivitive action" to protect the rights of
the minority shareholders, but that is getting awfully complecated and
would require more details to explore fully.

If you want to post more details she can comment further.

-- dmg

David M. Geshwind

Remove the FILTER to reply
MONDay
2003-09-28 00:53:15 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by David M. Geshwind
Well, if he has done something "nasty" and it was reported in the press,
there are sometimes "moral turpitude" clauses that could lead to dismissal.
Good. Continue.
Post by David M. Geshwind
Similarly, if he has dome something to otherwise "embarass" the company
they might be able to fire him.
No so much embarrass the company. More like the company
would "lose face". The company is in the lime-light so to speak,
and the guy is always in the press with a good rep. But his past
is not so pretty...
Post by David M. Geshwind
And, if he has done something illegal (or even just been indicted),
especially if related to the company, like stock fraud, they can probably
fire him.
No, not illegal.
Post by David M. Geshwind
Well I work with one (not quite $500/hour) but I'll ask and try to get you
specifics for the dialog[ue].
Wow, thanks David - I owe you one.
Post by David M. Geshwind
But, are you looking for US law or British
(we can't help you there, ask your solicitor).
US.
Post by David M. Geshwind
PS: Anne has just walked in and asked what you mean by "owns" a
corporation.
Yes, MC picked up on this too, and it could be tricky.

Basically, he set up the company from scratch, and along the
line it has become a big multi-national corporation.
Post by David M. Geshwind
If it is publicly traded, then the board has much more power
and can probably fire him as President, even if he owns a low of stock.
But, if he owns the majority of stock, or if it is a privately held (by
him) corporation, then he can probably fire the board instead.
OK, he *has* to get fired (or, "let go" as it were) in the
script, so I'll amend the script to suit which is best. It won't be
a problem that the company's a PLC, providing I can justify
why it is - i.e., somewhere down the line perhaps there was
a tax / share benefit or whatever?

I don't know enough about this to comment - hence my original
post. :-)
Post by David M. Geshwind
There is
something called a shareholder derivitive action" to protect the rights of
the minority shareholders, but that is getting awfully complecated and
would require more details to explore fully.
Let's not go down that route! :-)
Post by David M. Geshwind
If you want to post more details she can comment further.
There you go. :-)
Post by David M. Geshwind
By the way.
Now I owe Anne.
So you owe me.
I do.
Post by David M. Geshwind
(In addition to that warm beer.)
Haven't you had that beer yet? The tide must have turned.
Oh, wait, are you East or West coast?! ;-)

Thanks DMG, (and Anne, of course)

MON.
David M. Geshwind
2003-09-28 01:25:30 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
No so much embarrass the company. More like the company
would "lose face".
Sounds like a distinction without a difference.
Post by MONDay
The company is in the lime-light so to speak,
and the guy is always in the press with a good rep. But his past
is not so pretty...
Well, is it something they would have asked him about, and he would have
hidden?

That is, sometimes they can't get you for what you did, but they CAN get
you for lying about it to hide it. Immigration does that sometimes. Being a
Nazi was not necessarily enough to prevent getting US citizenship. But,
later, if they prove you were, and you lied about it, they can revoke your
citizenship for lying on the application.

Similarly, they could not get Al Capone for being a gangster. But they got
him for lying about the money he made being one (income tax evasion).

An what about Nixon. It was the cover-up that snagged him

And, Marth Stewart; she probably would have gotten a slap on the writs if
she fessed up.

And, Leona Halmsly ...

So ... did he deny this past dead when setting up the company, or taking a
loan ...
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
PS: Anne has just walked in and asked what you mean by "owns" a
corporation.
Yes, MC picked up on this too, and it could be tricky.
Yeh. I noticed that (and other things) after I posted. I always feel like
an idiot replying to the head of a thread and then finding I am just
repeating what others have posted hours earlier. I guess I'll just have to
log on every 10 minutes from now on. ;->/
Post by MONDay
Basically, he set up the company from scratch, and along the
line it has become a big multi-national corporation.
Well, there you have it.
As a would-be entpreneur it is my nightmare.
He sets up the company.
Then he has to finance expansion.
That means selling stock to a private VC group (looses at least some
control).
Or, that means going public (can mean losing control also).
So long as he still owns 49% of the stock or less, I think it's entirely
plausible for the board to be able to oust him at their (dis)pleasure.
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
If it is publicly traded, then the board has much more power
and can probably fire him as President, even if he owns a low of stock.
But, if he owns the majority of stock, or if it is a privately held (by
him) corporation, then he can probably fire the board instead.
OK, he *has* to get fired (or, "let go" as it were) in the
script, so I'll amend the script to suit which is best. It won't be
a problem that the company's a PLC, providing I can justify
why it is - i.e., somewhere down the line perhaps there was
a tax / share benefit or whatever?
Again. How about just needing financing?
Post by MONDay
Haven't you had that beer yet? The tide must have turned.
Oh, wait, are you East or West coast?! ;-)
East. But, maybe it got diluted on the way. It's a big ocean.
Post by MONDay
Thanks DMG, (and Anne, of course)
MON.
Anytime.

-- dmg (& aca)
MONDay
2003-09-28 01:38:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by David M. Geshwind
Post by MONDay
No so much embarrass the company. More like the company
would "lose face".
Sounds like a distinction without a difference.
Yes, I noticed that right after pressing the send button.
Post by David M. Geshwind
Post by MONDay
The company is in the lime-light so to speak,
and the guy is always in the press with a good rep. But his past
is not so pretty...
Well, is it something they would have asked him about, and he would have
hidden?
<snip>
So ... did he deny this past dead when setting up the company, or taking a
Post by David M. Geshwind
loan ...
Sort of. No-one knew his past. He fabricated a past
that the media et all would approve.
Post by David M. Geshwind
Yeh. I noticed that (and other things) after I posted. I always feel like
an idiot replying to the head of a thread and then finding I am just
repeating what others have posted hours earlier. I guess I'll just have to
log on every 10 minutes from now on. ;->/
Me too. But I just feel like an idiot anyway.
Post by David M. Geshwind
Well, there you have it.
As a would-be entpreneur it is my nightmare.
He sets up the company.
Then he has to finance expansion.
That means selling stock to a private VC group (looses at least some
control).
Or, that means going public (can mean losing control also).
So long as he still owns 49% of the stock or less, I think it's entirely
plausible for the board to be able to oust him at their (dis)pleasure.
Agreed.

Now all I need is some legal mumbo jumbo to
sack his sorry arse. ;-)

Incidentally, (Anne) is there a "good" number of members for a
board? I had 12 in mind for this multi-national.
Post by David M. Geshwind
East. But, maybe it got diluted on the way. It's a big ocean.
Damn, I sent it West. Hold on, here comes another...

:-)

MON.
David M. Geshwind
2003-09-28 04:01:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
So long as he still owns 49% of the stock or less, I think it's entirely
plausible for the board to be able to oust him at their (dis)pleasure.
Agreed.
Now all I need is some legal mumbo jumbo to
sack his sorry arse. ;-)
Anne suggests:

INERIM CHAIRMAN
The board, by majority decision, has determined that
your prior actions, should they come to light, would be,
at best, embarassing, or could even bring this company
to ruin.
Consequently, we have no choice but to terminate
your employment, and dismiss you from the board, effective
immediately.

[ALTERNATE TO PARAGRAPH 2]

Consequently, the board is prepared to accept your
resignation, in order to save you the humiliation of being
terminated.
Post by MONDay
Incidentally, (Anne) is there a "good" number of members for a
board? I had 12 in mind for this multi-national.
David suggests:

12 is nice.

It is evenly divisible by 2, 3, 4 and 6.

If you hold them hostage, you could threaten to kill one every hour and run
the clock all the way around.

If you bring in donuts and coffee, you usually get a discount when you buy
a dozen at Dunkin' Donuts.

There are 12 inches in a ruler, if you want someone to be in charge.

There are 12 inches in a foot, if you want to give someone the boot (your
situation here).

But, usually these things are determined by how many comfortable chairs you
can fit around the conference table.

However, in all honesty, there are usually an odd number of board members
to prevent tie votes.

So you might go with lucky 13, including the guy about to get fired.

-- dmg

David M. Geshwind

Remove the FILTER to reply
MONDay
2003-09-28 08:52:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
So long as he still owns 49% of the stock or less, I think it's
entirely
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
plausible for the board to be able to oust him at their (dis)pleasure.
Agreed.
Now all I need is some legal mumbo jumbo to
sack his sorry arse. ;-)
INERIM CHAIRMAN
The board, by majority decision, has determined that
your prior actions, should they come to light, would be,
at best, embarassing, or could even bring this company
to ruin.
Consequently, we have no choice but to terminate
your employment, and dismiss you from the board, effective
immediately.
[ALTERNATE TO PARAGRAPH 2]
Consequently, the board is prepared to accept your
resignation, in order to save you the humiliation of being
terminated.
Excellent. Thanks.
Post by MONDay
Post by MONDay
Incidentally, (Anne) is there a "good" number of members for a
board? I had 12 in mind for this multi-national.
12 is nice.
It is evenly divisible by 2, 3, 4 and 6.
If you hold them hostage, you could threaten to kill one every hour and run
the clock all the way around.
You're a funny guy, Chandler.
Post by MONDay
However, in all honesty, there are usually an odd number of board members
to prevent tie votes.
So you might go with lucky 13, including the guy about to get fired.
Yes, I meant 12, excluding him.

13 was always the magic number.

Thanks again for your help. Both of you.

I appreciate it.

MON.
Nooz
2003-09-29 22:42:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
No so much embarrass the company. More like the company
would "lose face". The company is in the lime-light so to speak,
and the guy is always in the press with a good rep. But his past
is not so pretty...
Let's see if it adds up...
He used to be a gigolo right? With a dragon on his kimono?
Called Richard Gere yet?

--Nooz
MONDay
2003-09-29 22:56:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Nooz
Post by MONDay
No so much embarrass the company. More like the company
would "lose face". The company is in the lime-light so to speak,
and the guy is always in the press with a good rep. But his past
is not so pretty...
Let's see if it adds up...
He used to be a gigolo right? With a dragon on his kimono?
Called Richard Gere yet?
*L* - I AM Richard Gere, haven't you worked that
out yet Nooz?

RG.
Er, I mean MON.
"shh, don't tell anyone"
Asbestos Jeff
2003-09-28 03:05:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
By any chance, would any of you know (or know
someone who would know) if there is such an "article"
in a "corporate charter" (or similar) that the rest of
the board could invoke for this to happen?
You're thinking like a European. All that matters here is ownership of
property. The board has no power apart from that granted to it by the
shareholders. If he's the sole owner, they couldn't possibly oust him.
(BTW, the terms you're looking for are "bylaws" and "articles of
incorporation.)

Could you have other owners?

More likely, the corporation's taken a loan from a bank, giving the
bank the right to force the corporation to follow its orders if the
corporation's actions put the loan's security in jeopardy.

It's the bank, not the board.
MONDay
2003-09-28 08:47:38 UTC
Permalink
Post by Asbestos Jeff
You're thinking like a European.
Funny, I am an European! :-)
Post by Asbestos Jeff
All that matters here is ownership of
property. The board has no power apart from that granted to it by the
shareholders. If he's the sole owner, they couldn't possibly oust him.
(BTW, the terms you're looking for are "bylaws" and "articles of
incorporation.)
Could you have other owners?
More likely, the corporation's taken a loan from a bank, giving the
bank the right to force the corporation to follow its orders if the
corporation's actions put the loan's security in jeopardy.
It's the bank, not the board.
Cool. Thanks for the info.

MON.
Alan Brooks
2003-09-29 02:56:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Asbestos Jeff
Post by MONDay
By any chance, would any of you know (or know
someone who would know) if there is such an "article"
in a "corporate charter" (or similar) that the rest of
the board could invoke for this to happen?
You're thinking like a European. All that matters here is ownership of
property. The board has no power apart from that granted to it by the
shareholders. If he's the sole owner, they couldn't possibly oust him.
(BTW, the terms you're looking for are "bylaws" and "articles of
incorporation.)
Could you have other owners?
More likely, the corporation's taken a loan from a bank, giving the
bank the right to force the corporation to follow its orders if the
corporation's actions put the loan's security in jeopardy.
It's the bank, not the board.
Or more typically, it's a buch of investors, one of whom may be a bank.
More likely it's an investment fund, or an investment division of a large
corporation, like GE Capital. When you start a company with investment
bankers or venture capitalists, they're generally happy to let you be CEO of
"your" firm as long as they can supply a CFO and perhaps somebody else who
"complements your skillset" (e.g. makes up for your lack of business
acumen).

This typically happens with computer geeks. You get some guy who builds an
amazing product, eWidget. Said expert clearly has a great eye for widgets
and good market timing, but doesn't know anything about finance or personnel
management. The investment bankers see in the initial meetings that Joe
Geek is going to mire himself in technical management all the time because
that's where his interests lie. So they tell him, sure, we'll give you
$80,000,000 and we'll own 60% of your company, and you have to let us supply
the CFO and the COO. You'll be a "techical" CEO and your operating
portfolio with be product development and corporate strategy. We'll take
care of finance and day-to-day ops.

This leaves Joe Geek running his company for as long as the profits are
better than market level. As soon as the easy money stops pouring in, the
investment bankers are VERY likely to step in, removing JG from his position
and putting the CFO in charge. CFO, of course, understands the finances of
this business better than JG ever did, and he could give two very short
hoots about the actual eWidgets. CFO trims personal, cuts the support desk,
and starts looking for either somebody to buy them out or (if they have a
hunk of cash laid up) other businesses they can buy so they can diversify
OUT of the area they're pigeon-holed into because the "technical" CEO and
founder was so specialized. See the history of Apple and hundreds of little
software firms for more details.

Alan Brooks
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Schmuck with an Underwood

-- It's like Motorla meets Palm, but with profits!
nmstevens
2003-09-28 04:13:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Hi All,
I have a dilemma in my screenplay. Actually, it's not a
dilemma, it's a matter of not knowing the correct terminology
to use in my screenplay.
I have a guy who owns a corporation, but I need him
to get fired by the rest of the board - much like in "Meet
Joe Black" when whatshisname brought up a certain
"article" in the "corporate charter" to get rid of William
Parish as he was deemed to be not of sound mind.
The thing is, my guy is of sound mind. I need him to
be fired under the grounds that his continuing presence as
head of the board - or even as an employee - could
jeopardise the company's position in the market.
I'm afraid that I cannot disclose the why. Sorry.
By any chance, would any of you know (or know
someone who would know) if there is such an "article"
in a "corporate charter" (or similar) that the rest of
the board could invoke for this to happen?
I need specifics for the dialogue.
Yes, I could make something up, and no-one would be
any the wiser, but I like to do things right if there is
an avenue to do so.
Thanks a million for your help.
MON.
"No, I'm not going to ask a $500 p/h US lawyer! :-)"
Well, what exactly do you mean by "owns the corporation?"

I mean, I happen to be incorporated -- and the corporation in question
is jointly owned by my wife and me. Neither one of us can fire the
other or deprive the other of ownership in the corporation. That's
just the way it is -- it's how the corporation was drawn up -- short,
I suppose of the dissolution of assets in a divorce, neither one of us
can "fire" the other.

If it's a private corporation the "ownership" is determined by who
owns the stock in the corporation. If by "owns the corporation" you
mean that your guy owns more than fifty percent of the stock, ain't
nobody on the face of the earth in a position to fire him. They just
can't. It doesn't even matter what the rules of the corporation are --
because the rules of the corporation regarding things like fitness to
run the corporation are decided by the corporation -- and are matters
of majority vote. So he can simply overrule any vote taken against him
- and just change the rules.

If it's a publically owned corporation, then, at least in the US, it's
governed by FTC rules -- I assume there's an equivalent organization
in GB -- which govern, to some extent -- the way in which they can
conduct business, because they are trading stock to the public. And,
inevitably, major public stockholders become members of the board of
directors.

But depending on how the stock is traded, your guy could still hold
back, or own himself sufficient stock to have a controlling interest
in the company -- and thus, might still be invulnerable to being voted
out.

You see -- there are two different issues here. You can be a stock
holder -- an owner in the company, and have a lot to do with the
running of the company, or nothing at all. Conversely, one might have
a little stock, or none at all, and be hired by the board to run the
company. (I'm not exactly sure of what the various terms of
distinction are -- I believe the CEO -- Chief Executive Officer, is
the majority stockholder, while the COO -- Chief Operating Officer -
is the guy who runs the company -- but I could be wrong about that).

Now generally, somebody who is hired to do that is given a lot of
stock options -- the opportunity to buy stock in the company at
special rates -- so that such people, over time, tend to become
stockholders -- but rarely do they become major stockholders on the
level of the chief stockholders in the company.

These guys are not bound by the terms of the corporate charter -- they
are bound by the specific terms of their contracts. Now, those
contracts may have all sorts of terms -- that they cannot reveal
corporate secrets to competitors -- that they cannot go to work for a
competitor with a certain number of years after leaving the
corporation, that they cannot engage in any behavior likely to bring
harm, embarrassment, or scorn upon the corporation. As it is a
contract, they can pretty much put in any kind of term they want (I
suppose there are certain terms that are simply illegal -- like one
binding you to lifetime servitude, or excluding someone based upon
race or something like that -- but most terms are not) And if he signs
the contract and then violates the terms of the contract -- tough
luck. He's screwed.

NMS
MONDay
2003-09-28 09:09:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by nmstevens
Post by MONDay
Hi All,
<snip>
Post by nmstevens
Well, what exactly do you mean by "owns the corporation?"
Yes, that was unclear. I apologise.

What I mean was that he'd set-up the business, and over
the years it grew into a multi-national corporation.

Somewhere along the line, he (as you and DMG suggested)
borrowed some cash from somewhere, and a board was
formed. The specifics there are not important.

Now, having conversed with DMG and his partner Anne,
I believe the only way he can be ousted is if it is a publicly
owned company, (possible) or as you mentioned, if he less than
the majority or equal share in the company, so 49%. (Again,
possible)
Post by nmstevens
If it's a private corporation the "ownership" is determined by who
owns the stock in the corporation. If by "owns the corporation" you
mean that your guy owns more than fifty percent of the stock, ain't
nobody on the face of the earth in a position to fire him. They just
can't. It doesn't even matter what the rules of the corporation are --
because the rules of the corporation regarding things like fitness to
run the corporation are decided by the corporation -- and are matters
of majority vote. So he can simply overrule any vote taken against him
- and just change the rules.
Yes. Therefore I'm either going to have to make him a 49%-er,
or it's going to have to be a publicly owned company.

I'm still researching to see if there is an advantage in either
for the script.
Post by nmstevens
If it's a publically owned corporation, then, at least in the US, it's
governed by FTC rules -- I assume there's an equivalent organization
in GB -- which govern, to some extent -- the way in which they can
conduct business, because they are trading stock to the public. And,
inevitably, major public stockholders become members of the board of
directors.
I'll have to check into this. I'm way out of my depth.
Post by nmstevens
But depending on how the stock is traded, your guy could still hold
back, or own himself sufficient stock to have a controlling interest
in the company -- and thus, might still be invulnerable to being voted
out.
No matter how it's done, what the backstory has to be to reach
there, he *has* to be ousted in the script. Period.

I just need to make it plausible.

Thanks for the detailed response Neal.

Luckily, I haven't started writing this part yet as I'm still researching
these scenes, (see Caroline, I'm a good boy :-) so I'm keeping
the possibilities open.

Thanks again,

MON.
Seruhndipuhtee
2003-09-28 15:08:26 UTC
Permalink
well, there seems to be numerous posts about the legalities and charters and
so forth ... but isn't the basic question one of storytelling and NOT
corporate law?! YOU NEED him to be fired ... so basically you are saying, as
the writer, you are manufacturing a contrivance for your character to meet
YOUR needs. no matter how good the research is, the realism of the dialogue
... there is your real dilemma. you are artificially making your character
do, and have things done to him, to serve your story instead of the other
way around. whatever the big reveal is (the 'i cannot disclose why'), i'd be
asking is this the right scene ... how else can you show your character in
action instead of reacting to being fired? if your screenplay is so
dependent on this one event, this writer's 'plot device', is that a danger
far and above the realism of the actual scene?
Post by MONDay
Hi All,
I have a dilemma in my screenplay. Actually, it's not a
dilemma, it's a matter of not knowing the correct terminology
to use in my screenplay.
I have a guy who owns a corporation, but I need him
to get fired by the rest of the board - much like in "Meet
Joe Black" when whatshisname brought up a certain
"article" in the "corporate charter" to get rid of William
Parish as he was deemed to be not of sound mind.
The thing is, my guy is of sound mind. I need him to
be fired under the grounds that his continuing presence as
head of the board - or even as an employee - could
jeopardise the company's position in the market.
I'm afraid that I cannot disclose the why. Sorry.
By any chance, would any of you know (or know
someone who would know) if there is such an "article"
in a "corporate charter" (or similar) that the rest of
the board could invoke for this to happen?
I need specifics for the dialogue.
Yes, I could make something up, and no-one would be
any the wiser, but I like to do things right if there is
an avenue to do so.
Thanks a million for your help.
MON.
"No, I'm not going to ask a $500 p/h US lawyer! :-)"
MONDay
2003-09-28 23:55:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
well, there seems to be numerous posts about the legalities and charters and
so forth ... but isn't the basic question one of storytelling and NOT
corporate law?!
Yes, that's why I posed the question - so that the story
is plausible because of the realism I hope to inject.
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
YOU NEED him to be fired ... so basically you are saying, as
the writer, you are manufacturing a contrivance for your character to meet
YOUR needs.
Er, yes. Isn't that what writers do?
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
no matter how good the research is, the realism of the dialogue
... there is your real dilemma.
Forgive my stupidity, but what is the dilemma exactly?
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
you are artificially making your character
do, and have things done to him, to serve your story instead of the other
way around.
Eh? It's not a true story. The whole story is artificial, so
yes, of course I am putting him down that path. He certainly
isn't going to go down any path on his own.
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
whatever the big reveal is (the 'i cannot disclose why'), i'd be
asking is this the right scene ...
For what?
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
how else can you show your character in
action instead of reacting to being fired?
While the above sentence is generally good advice,
I find it humorous that you are commenting on
a scene in my script which you have no knowledge
of - apart from what I've stated here - in a
screenplay which you have not read, in a story
in which you have no concept.

As the writer, I believe that my character has to
be fired. It is my decision. That's what I do - make
decisions and write them down.
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
if your screenplay is so dependent on this one event,
this writer's 'plot device', is that a danger
far and above the realism of the actual scene?
The screenplay is not entirely dependant on this
one scene. I never said it was. But it would add
to the already mounting conflict in a positive way
in my screenplay.

Thank you for your comments.

MON.
David M. Geshwind
2003-09-29 00:09:12 UTC
Permalink
MON:

Yeh, I had a short story teacher like that once.

She insisted that what I did (plan and outline a plot) was no only
unnecessary, but harmful in writing fiction.

She claimed that the correct way was to let your characters tell you where
to take the story.

Then, when you are done, throw away the draft (without even looking) and
start again. Repeat a couple of more times.

I always thought that "listening to your characters" rather than inventing
a story, was the refuge of "writers" who had no imagination.

But then this teacher had an MFA in writing. She was qualified to teach,
having learned from professors qualified to teach. I'm not sure, however,
if any of them have been published.


-- dmg

David M. Geshwind

Remove the FILTER to reply
Post by MONDay
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
well, there seems to be numerous posts about the legalities and
charters
Post by MONDay
and
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
so forth ... but isn't the basic question one of storytelling and NOT
corporate law?!
Yes, that's why I posed the question - so that the story
is plausible because of the realism I hope to inject.
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
YOU NEED him to be fired ... so basically you are saying, as
the writer, you are manufacturing a contrivance for your character to meet
YOUR needs.
Er, yes. Isn't that what writers do?
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
no matter how good the research is, the realism of the dialogue
... there is your real dilemma.
Forgive my stupidity, but what is the dilemma exactly?
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
you are artificially making your character
do, and have things done to him, to serve your story instead of the other
way around.
Eh? It's not a true story. The whole story is artificial, so
yes, of course I am putting him down that path. He certainly
isn't going to go down any path on his own.
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
whatever the big reveal is (the 'i cannot disclose why'), i'd be
asking is this the right scene ...
For what?
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
how else can you show your character in
action instead of reacting to being fired?
While the above sentence is generally good advice,
I find it humorous that you are commenting on
a scene in my script which you have no knowledge
of - apart from what I've stated here - in a
screenplay which you have not read, in a story
in which you have no concept.
As the writer, I believe that my character has to
be fired. It is my decision. That's what I do - make
decisions and write them down.
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
if your screenplay is so dependent on this one event,
this writer's 'plot device', is that a danger
far and above the realism of the actual scene?
The screenplay is not entirely dependant on this
one scene. I never said it was. But it would add
to the already mounting conflict in a positive way
in my screenplay.
Thank you for your comments.
MON.
Jeff Newman
2003-09-29 00:18:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by David M. Geshwind
I always thought that "listening to your characters" rather than inventing
a story, was the refuge of "writers" who had no imagination.
I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I think both are desirable --
and compatible.

Jeff Newman
David M. Geshwind
2003-09-29 00:42:50 UTC
Permalink
Jeff:

You took that quote out of context and gave the wrong impression about what
I was saying.

A more complete excerpt of my prior post [EMPHASIS added]:

"She insisted that what I did (plan and outline a plot) was
no[t] only UNNECESSARY, but HARMFUL in writing fiction.

She claimed that the correct way was to let your
characters tell you where to take the story.

I always thought that "listening to your characters"
RATHER THAN INVENTING a story, was the refuge
of "writers" who had no imagination."

I never said "listening to your characters" was not useful for some
writiers, at times. I was objecting to the position taken by my teacher
that PLANNING and PLOTTING are WRONG. It may have been wrong for her. But,
I think she just wasn't very good at it.

-- dmg

David M. Geshwind

Remove the FILTER to reply
Post by Jeff Newman
Post by David M. Geshwind
I always thought that "listening to your characters" rather than inventing
a story, was the refuge of "writers" who had no imagination.
I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I think both are desirable --
and compatible.
Jeff Newman
Jeff Newman
2003-09-29 01:01:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by David M. Geshwind
You took that quote out of context and gave the wrong impression about what
I was saying.
Not intentionally. I thought your first point was clearly stated, and I agree
for an instructor to say that outlining is wrong is silly -- bad advice. Some
writers outline thoroughly, some outline sketchily, some don't outline at all.
Good and bad work can be created with all three approaches; it's a matter of
what suits the individual ... what works best for the particular writer.

So we're in agreement there.

It seemed to me your second point was a reaction to your first point, so that's
why I quoted only that point/paragraph.

Based on your response, you seem to be saying that an instructor who says that
"listening to your characters" is *all* you have to do, is wrong. That
listening to your characters is all very well and good, but there's more to
creating a story than that.

And that, I agree with. I think, even in context, in the original post you
just weren't expressing yourself well in that one paragraph ... you weren't
accurately or clearly saying what you really meant.

And I don't mean that in a critical way -- you weren't writing an essay, you
were writing a newsgroup post. In e-mails and newsgroup posts, we often write
quickly and sometimes clarity isn't achieved -- happens to all of us.

Jeff Newman
MONDay
2003-09-29 01:06:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by David M. Geshwind
She claimed that the correct way was to let your characters tell you where
to take the story.
I always thought that "listening to your characters" rather than inventing
a story, was the refuge of "writers" who had no imagination.
To David's teacher:

Surely "listening to your characters" is an impossible thing to
do?! Unless you are basing your characters on real people for events
that actually happened, your characters only exist because of what
you type. They are nothing more than a creation of your own imagination,
hence "listening to your characters" actually means "listen to yourself".

It is the writer who dictates what actions the characters do or do not
take. It is us who names them, shames them, then brings them back
from the brink.

No one else.

Although the characters can and must gel within the story by the
personality boundaries we have created for them, it is the writer
that steers them, chooses their situations and draws their fate.

Yes, we should know how our characters react to certain situations,
but that's not the same as "listening" to them. We write the stories.

We do this. Us, the writer. No one else.

We create the characters, we are their masters, no the other way around.

MON.
"stick a stamp on it, and post it in my name"
Seruhndipuhtee
2003-09-29 01:18:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
She claimed that the correct way was to let your characters tell you where
to take the story.
I always thought that "listening to your characters" rather than inventing
a story, was the refuge of "writers" who had no imagination.
Surely "listening to your characters" is an impossible thing to
do?! Unless you are basing your characters on real people for events
that actually happened, your characters only exist because of what
you type. They are nothing more than a creation of your own imagination,
hence "listening to your characters" actually means "listen to yourself".
no, listening to your characters means knowing your characters back to front
and working out what the character would do, how the character would act, or
not act ... not what you want them to do. listening to the character means
you know that character and write from their perspective, with their
emotions and eyes and all the well-rounded aspects you have given them. they
have their own voice, their own foibles, their own strengths ... know them,
listen to them, be guided by them, be respectful of them.

how many times do you sit and watch a movie where you say "oh, he would
never do that" - nearly every dumb, hollow, US, action blockbuster ... why?
because they are plot driven drivel where character is an afterthought. the
writer's wouldn't know (or care) who their characters are. write good stuff
my friend ... and when it wends its way downunder i'll even go and see it!
Post by MONDay
We create the characters, we are their masters, no the other way around.
yes, you create them ... then they should live and breathe and be an entity
in their own right ... and yes, they become your master - they should say to
you "fuck off, i wouldn't do that!" and you should pay heed ... for they are
right.
MONDay
2003-09-29 01:36:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by David M. Geshwind
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
She claimed that the correct way was to let your characters tell you
where
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
to take the story.
I always thought that "listening to your characters" rather than
inventing
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
a story, was the refuge of "writers" who had no imagination.
Surely "listening to your characters" is an impossible thing to
do?! Unless you are basing your characters on real people for events
that actually happened, your characters only exist because of what
you type. They are nothing more than a creation of your own imagination,
hence "listening to your characters" actually means "listen to yourself".
no, listening to your characters means knowing your characters back to front
and working out what the character would do, how the character would act, or
not act ... not what you want them to do.
No it doesn't, the term there is emphasising, and I have always
suggested that we, as writers do that.
Post by David M. Geshwind
listening to the character means
you know that character and write from their perspective, with their
emotions and eyes and all the well-rounded aspects you have given them. they
have their own voice, their own foibles, their own strengths ... know them,
listen to them, be guided by them, be respectful of them.
Of course. Did you read my posts?
Post by David M. Geshwind
Post by MONDay
We create the characters, we are their masters, no the other way around.
yes, you create them ... then they should live and breathe and be an entity
in their own right ... and yes, they become your master - they should say to
you "fuck off, i wouldn't do that!" and you should pay heed ... for they are
right.
And then the characters will write the story for you?

MON.
nmstevens
2003-09-30 17:21:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by David M. Geshwind
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
She claimed that the correct way was to let your characters tell you
where
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
to take the story.
I always thought that "listening to your characters" rather than
inventing
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
a story, was the refuge of "writers" who had no imagination.
Surely "listening to your characters" is an impossible thing to
do?! Unless you are basing your characters on real people for events
that actually happened, your characters only exist because of what
you type. They are nothing more than a creation of your own imagination,
hence "listening to your characters" actually means "listen to yourself".
no, listening to your characters means knowing your characters back to front
and working out what the character would do, how the character would act, or
not act ... not what you want them to do. listening to the character means
you know that character and write from their perspective, with their
emotions and eyes and all the well-rounded aspects you have given them. they
have their own voice, their own foibles, their own strengths ... know them,
listen to them, be guided by them, be respectful of them.
how many times do you sit and watch a movie where you say "oh, he would
never do that" - nearly every dumb, hollow, US, action blockbuster ... why?
because they are plot driven drivel where character is an afterthought. the
writer's wouldn't know (or care) who their characters are. write good stuff
my friend ... and when it wends its way downunder i'll even go and see it!
Post by MONDay
We create the characters, we are their masters, no the other way around.
yes, you create them ... then they should live and breathe and be an entity
in their own right ... and yes, they become your master - they should say to
you "fuck off, i wouldn't do that!" and you should pay heed ... for they are
right.
I don't necessarily buy into this "listen to your characters" business
either, honestly, because it presumes that you have these two
divisible entities -- first, character, and then, "story" -- and that
first you sit down and create these things, known as "characters" as
you indicate "front to back" and that then, when you have completely,
totally, and thoroughly, "created" them, so that they are totally
complete "people" somehow, then you start searching around for a nice
little, oh, I don't "storyish" kind of thing - sort of like an
appropriate maze for the rat that you've just bred to run around in.

I don't know what it means to conceive of a character "front to back"
separate from the story that gives that character life.

What would it mean to conceive say, of Scarlett O'Hara "front to back"
outside of the events of "Gone With the Wind" -- they are
fundamentally one in the same thing. The girl who begins that story is
not the woman who ends it. The story of the "character" -- Scarlett
O'Hara cannot be parsed out of the "story" of "Gone With the Wind" --
the two are one in the same.

A character who is not acting appropriately in the context of a story
is not simply an example of someone acting inappropriately "for the
character" -- it is bad story-telling.

In one sense it is true that one should "listen to one's character" --
but that's really just another way of saying that one ought to listen
to the thesis of one's story - because ultimately they are the same
thing. The need of the character drives the story. But that cannot
strictly be something that is inside a character. That is something
that exists between a character and the world. If the world provides
what the character needs -- no story. The nature of the world -- which
also has to be shaped by the writer -- has to be such as to do deny
the central character whatever it is that he needs. That way the
character must seek it, and in seeking it, he is tested - and that
test reveals the nature of the character, and thus reveals a
fundamental larger thesis about the nature of human beings -- a person
needing this critical thing -- honor, love, redemption -- and tested
thus, by the circumstances of the world -- will be forced to do this,
to do that, will act thus, will be compelled to this critical
decision, will do it, will not, will succeed, will fail, will win
honor, or not, will win redemption, or not, will gain love -- or
realize that there are more important things than love - or whatever.

But I simply do not see how you can sort "character" and "story" one
from the other. The two, I firmly believe, in any work of drama, are
inextricably linked. If you think about one, you are inevitably
thinking about the other.

Or should be.

NMS
MONDay
2003-09-30 18:46:41 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by nmstevens
But I simply do not see how you can sort "character" and "story" one
from the other. The two, I firmly believe, in any work of drama, are
inextricably linked. If you think about one, you are inevitably
thinking about the other.
Or should be.
Indeed. Well put. I'd like to add that a character does absolutely
nothing unless we have already provided the right situation to
provoke a reaction - and that can include placing another character
in the scene to provoke that reaction.

Ultimately, we already know the beginning, the middle and the
end of the story - at least to some degree - its our job to
guide our characters through the story using situations which
will work well for a character's "personality".

Yes, that is "knowing" our characters - empathising with them - but
that's not the same as "them" "writing" the story for us, we just
know (or should know) how a character is going to react to
a situation so that we can write the correct situation to
project them to the next scene.

Well, at least that's what makes sense in my head. :-)

MON.
trawsars
2003-10-01 09:04:09 UTC
Permalink
There are numerous accounts of writers talking about how the
characters they created "spoke" to them and pulled the story in
unexpected, but ultimately "right", directions. Case in point, J.
Michael Straczynski's written commentary on the Babylon 5 3rd season
episode "Interludes and Examinations" (for which SPOILERS are
contained herein).

In this ep, Kosh (the mysterious super-powerful benevolent alien)
dies, shockingly and heroically, after bringing the Vorlons (the
mysterious super-powerful not-entirely-benevolent alien race) into
open war against the Shadows (the mysterious super-powerful
entirely-malevolent alien race) who then assassinated him. And the way
JMS described it was as if Kosh actually spoke to him and said, I have
to do this thing, I know what the consequences will be to me but I
still have to do it, and you know it, so write it dammit.

Certainly it may have occurred to JMS in such an epiphanous manner as
he describes. But how he came to write such a story may also be
described thusly: He realized that the character would become
superfluous from that point in the story onwards, and saw an
opportunity to dispose of that character in a dramatically satisfying
manner.

I think, if a writer comes upon solutions to story problems in such
an, um, *poetic* manner :), it's more a reflection of how devoted that
writer is to his/her story and how "into" the story he/she was, rather
than any badge of that writer's skill.

(BTW, thanks to all, especially MON, for this great on-topic thread!
:)
Post by MONDay
<snip>
Post by nmstevens
But I simply do not see how you can sort "character" and "story" one
from the other. The two, I firmly believe, in any work of drama, are
inextricably linked. If you think about one, you are inevitably
thinking about the other.
Or should be.
Indeed. Well put. I'd like to add that a character does absolutely
nothing unless we have already provided the right situation to
provoke a reaction - and that can include placing another character
in the scene to provoke that reaction.
Ultimately, we already know the beginning, the middle and the
end of the story - at least to some degree - its our job to
guide our characters through the story using situations which
will work well for a character's "personality".
Yes, that is "knowing" our characters - empathising with them - but
that's not the same as "them" "writing" the story for us, we just
know (or should know) how a character is going to react to
a situation so that we can write the correct situation to
project them to the next scene.
Well, at least that's what makes sense in my head. :-)
MON.
MONDay
2003-10-01 11:50:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by trawsars
(BTW, thanks to all, especially MON, for this great on-topic thread!
:)
That's you lot of on topic threads for this year. :-)

BTW, trawsars, are you Welsh per chance? Cymro?

MON.
MONDay
2003-10-01 11:51:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Post by trawsars
(BTW, thanks to all, especially MON, for this great on-topic thread!
:)
That's you lot of on topic threads for this year. :-)
_________^___ (your)

MON.
"goddamned crazy fingers!"
trawsars
2003-10-01 18:01:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Post by trawsars
(BTW, thanks to all, especially MON, for this great on-topic thread!
:)
That's you lot of on topic threads for this year. :-)
BTW, trawsars, are you Welsh per chance? Cymro?
Yippee, finally fooled someone! Most people get right away that
"trawsars" is an anagram of STAR WARS. ;)
MONDay
2003-10-02 00:24:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by trawsars
Post by MONDay
Post by trawsars
(BTW, thanks to all, especially MON, for this great on-topic thread!
:)
That's you lot of on topic threads for this year. :-)
BTW, trawsars, are you Welsh per chance? Cymro?
Yippee, finally fooled someone! Most people get right away that
"trawsars" is an anagram of STAR WARS. ;)
Oh yeah, right away. :-)

MON.
"that would have been my second choice ;-)"
MC
2003-10-02 00:28:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Post by trawsars
Yippee, finally fooled someone! Most people get right away that
"trawsars" is an anagram of STAR WARS. ;)
Oh yeah, right away. :-)
I didn't.

I thought it was an anagram for one of the following:

raw stars
war stars
arts wars
rats wars
tsar wars
MONDay
2003-10-02 01:36:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by MC
Post by MONDay
Post by trawsars
Yippee, finally fooled someone! Most people get right away that
"trawsars" is an anagram of STAR WARS. ;)
Oh yeah, right away. :-)
I didn't.
Me neither.
Post by MC
raw stars
war stars
arts wars
rats wars
tsar wars
arss wart

MON.

David M. Geshwind
2003-10-01 15:03:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by trawsars
There are numerous accounts of writers talking about how the
characters they created "spoke" to them
Case in point, J. Michael Straczynski's written commentary
In this ep, Kosh (the mysterious super-powerful benevolent alien)
dies, shockingly and heroically,
JMS described it was as if Kosh actually spoke to him and said
That's fine when writing about a "super-powerful benevolent alien" who has
telepathy in his bag of super-tricks.

But I write about human beings. They have no such powers.


-- dmg

"it's supposed to be funny"
Ron
2003-09-29 01:50:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
She claimed that the correct way was to let your characters tell you where
to take the story.
I always thought that "listening to your characters" rather than inventing
a story, was the refuge of "writers" who had no imagination.
Surely "listening to your characters" is an impossible thing to
do?! Unless you are basing your characters on real people for events
that actually happened, your characters only exist because of what
you type. They are nothing more than a creation of your own imagination,
hence "listening to your characters" actually means "listen to yourself".
This was a creative writing/fiction teacher, right?

Well, literary fiction these days is pretty plotless. Sad, but true.
This might be why nobody reads, I don't know. Short fiction, especially,
where reputations are made, are completely dominated by the plotless
story of self-realization. (Michael Chabon had a great quote about this,
but I can't find it right now.)

In this way, such writing has almost nothing to do with writing for the
screen, where even in the most plotless narrative film, a lot of stuff
happens.
MONDay
2003-09-29 01:55:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Ron
In this way, such writing has almost nothing to do with writing for the
screen, where even in the most plotless narrative film, a lot of stuff
happens.
Aha, that would explain it.

MON.
David M. Geshwind
2003-09-29 02:46:30 UTC
Permalink
Ron:

Yes it was a "creative writing/fiction" calss NOT a screenwriting class.

And, I agree that a requirement for screenwriting is that stuff happens.

But I disagree (not with you, but with the literati) that for it to be
"literature" NOTHING can happen. That it has to be all about character and
nothing but character.

That is why (in another thread) I suspect Stephen King is dissed. "How can
it be good writing if stuff happens?"

I have nothing against character studies. But they are no more good stories
than are "shoot 'em ups" with cardboard characters. A story worth listening
to / reading / seeing should have both plot and character.

I will repeat here also, without meaning any disrespect or cruelty, that
"letting your characters write the story" is a technique used/taught by
(possibly intelligent or talented) people who happen to not have much
imagination, but who want to (teach how to) write.

Writers with imaginations construct a coherent universe, complete with
situations events and characters, IN THEIR IMAGINATIONS -- automatically --
without consciously thinking about it. Not without effort, but without
having to cosciously parse it into little pieces.

Writers without that particular well-developed skill use "techniques" like
"what would your character do" in order to spark their low-wattage
imaginations. If they could imagine what should come next, they would not
have to ask their character to do their "thinking" for them.

I would analogize it to playing the piano. Good players pay attention to
the metronome, in order to play well. Great players pay attention to
themselves in order to play with feeling.

I may not have the skill to write without a metronome, but I have the
arrogance to.

That way, I'll either be bad or great at it.

Just being good isn't good enough.


-- dmg


David M. Geshwind

Remove the FILTER to reply
Post by Ron
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
She claimed that the correct way was to let your characters tell you where
to take the story.
I always thought that "listening to your characters" rather than inventing
a story, was the refuge of "writers" who had no imagination.
Surely "listening to your characters" is an impossible thing to
do?! Unless you are basing your characters on real people for events
that actually happened, your characters only exist because of what
you type. They are nothing more than a creation of your own
imagination,
Post by Ron
Post by MONDay
hence "listening to your characters" actually means "listen to yourself".
This was a creative writing/fiction teacher, right?
Well, literary fiction these days is pretty plotless. Sad, but true.
This might be why nobody reads, I don't know. Short fiction, especially,
where reputations are made, are completely dominated by the plotless
story of self-realization. (Michael Chabon had a great quote about this,
but I can't find it right now.)
In this way, such writing has almost nothing to do with writing for the
screen, where even in the most plotless narrative film, a lot of stuff
happens.
Ron
2003-09-29 04:46:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by David M. Geshwind
Yes it was a "creative writing/fiction" calss NOT a screenwriting class.
And, I agree that a requirement for screenwriting is that stuff happens.
But I disagree (not with you, but with the literati) that for it to be
"literature" NOTHING can happen. That it has to be all about character and
nothing but character.
That is why (in another thread) I suspect Stephen King is dissed. "How can
it be good writing if stuff happens?"
Well, careful. I didn't say "literature." I said "literary fiction."
That's what most writers living in academia write, and what most of them
teach. Literary fiction is practically it's own genre these days, and
while it occasionally produces gems, it's often more about the language
than the story.

And I actually agree with you, although, honestly, King was written his
share of absolute total crap. Possibly more than his share. But he's
also written some really great stuff, which probably doesn't get the
respect it deserves because he's writing in a genre of ill repute.

-Ron
David M. Geshwind
2003-09-29 02:46:28 UTC
Permalink
Couldn't have said it better myself (without failing the course).

-- dmg
Post by MONDay
Post by David M. Geshwind
She claimed that the correct way was to let your characters tell you where
to take the story.
I always thought that "listening to your characters" rather than inventing
a story, was the refuge of "writers" who had no imagination.
Surely "listening to your characters" is an impossible thing to
do?!
<BIG SNIP>
Post by MONDay
We do this. Us, the writer. No one else.
We create the characters, we are their masters, no the other way around.
MON.
"stick a stamp on it, and post it in my name"
Jeff Newman
2003-09-29 00:45:22 UTC
Permalink
MONDay wrote, in reaction to Seruhndipuhtee and the plot occurance of having
Post by MONDay
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
you are artificially making your character
do, and have things done to him, to serve your story instead of the other
way around.
Eh? It's not a true story. The whole story is artificial, so
yes, of course I am putting him down that path. He certainly
isn't going to go down any path on his own.
Well, assuming we pretend the character is real, then he *is* going to go down
some paths on his own -- willingly -- and he *isn't* going to go down others
willingly.

So the question is: is it legit to manipulate events so as to force a
character onto a path that they would not choose to go?

Sure. If the entire screenplay consisted of events like that, that wouldn't be
good. But a few such events: fine. Happens all the time in good scripts.
Find ways to force characters into situations that they normally wouldn't have
selected, in order to create suspense and/or to create sympathy and/or to
reveal character and/or to promote character growth.

In the hit movie (and Academy Award winner) "Kramer vs. Kramer," the lead
character also loses his job. He doesn't quit. Now, it happens due to his
neglect of the job, and his stress and distraction, so it's not
out-of-the-blue. But the point is: he's acted upon, and then reacts. And it's
a path he wouldn't have chosen (he didn't quit).

Luke didn't know he and his uncle were buying robots sought after by the
Empire. He didn't cause his aunt and uncle to be killed.

It's due to those things -- where he is acted upon -- that leads him to a path
he wouldn't otherwise have chosen.

Hamlet didn't cause his father's death, or cause his father's ghost to appear
to him and tell him about the murder and charge him with avenging it.

Neo didn't ask to be "The One."

Marty didn't ask or try to go 30 years into the past.

In real life and in reel life, things sometimes happen to people, and they
react. While we think that characters should be purely active (pro-active, if
you will), in many movies (some genres more than others), the main character is
re-active and pro-active in roughly equal proportions. They initiate some
actions, but many actions that they take are really a reaction to something
that someone else did to them, or to some event.

The second half of "Titanic" features Rose and Jack (and others) reacting to
the fact the ship hit an iceberg.

To put pressure on your character ... to reveal character, and prompt character
change ... it's fine to have a few events happen *to* the character -- if they
are credible.

As long as the events are credible and contribute to the story, and as long as
most of the events are initiated by the primary characters, and the main
character initiates many events ... then a few events like this -- not
initiated by the main character -- are no problem.

The main thing: don't treat your characters like puppets or chess pieces.
That is, don't have them do things they really wouldn't do, just for the sake
of the story. But as MONDay points out ... having a character react to and
cope with being fired doesn't mean you are forcing a character to act in ways
that he or she wouldn't do.

Jeff Newman
Seruhndipuhtee
2003-09-29 01:03:11 UTC
Permalink
don't look guys but you're actually discussing screenwriting instead of
corporate law - what a revelation!
Post by Jeff Newman
MONDay wrote, in reaction to Seruhndipuhtee and the plot occurance of having
Post by MONDay
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
you are artificially making your character
do, and have things done to him, to serve your story instead of the other
way around.
Eh? It's not a true story. The whole story is artificial, so
yes, of course I am putting him down that path. He certainly
isn't going to go down any path on his own.
Well, assuming we pretend the character is real, then he *is* going to go down
some paths on his own -- willingly -- and he *isn't* going to go down others
willingly.
So the question is: is it legit to manipulate events so as to force a
character onto a path that they would not choose to go?
Sure. If the entire screenplay consisted of events like that, that wouldn't be
good. But a few such events: fine. Happens all the time in good scripts.
Find ways to force characters into situations that they normally wouldn't have
selected, in order to create suspense and/or to create sympathy and/or to
reveal character and/or to promote character growth.
In the hit movie (and Academy Award winner) "Kramer vs. Kramer," the lead
character also loses his job. He doesn't quit. Now, it happens due to his
neglect of the job, and his stress and distraction, so it's not
out-of-the-blue. But the point is: he's acted upon, and then reacts. And it's
a path he wouldn't have chosen (he didn't quit).
Luke didn't know he and his uncle were buying robots sought after by the
Empire. He didn't cause his aunt and uncle to be killed.
It's due to those things -- where he is acted upon -- that leads him to a path
he wouldn't otherwise have chosen.
Hamlet didn't cause his father's death, or cause his father's ghost to appear
to him and tell him about the murder and charge him with avenging it.
Neo didn't ask to be "The One."
Marty didn't ask or try to go 30 years into the past.
In real life and in reel life, things sometimes happen to people, and they
react. While we think that characters should be purely active
(pro-active, if
Post by Jeff Newman
you will), in many movies (some genres more than others), the main character is
re-active and pro-active in roughly equal proportions. They initiate some
actions, but many actions that they take are really a reaction to something
that someone else did to them, or to some event.
The second half of "Titanic" features Rose and Jack (and others) reacting to
the fact the ship hit an iceberg.
To put pressure on your character ... to reveal character, and prompt character
change ... it's fine to have a few events happen *to* the character -- if they
are credible.
As long as the events are credible and contribute to the story, and as long as
most of the events are initiated by the primary characters, and the main
character initiates many events ... then a few events like this -- not
initiated by the main character -- are no problem.
The main thing: don't treat your characters like puppets or chess pieces.
That is, don't have them do things they really wouldn't do, just for the sake
of the story. But as MONDay points out ... having a character react to and
cope with being fired doesn't mean you are forcing a character to act in ways
that he or she wouldn't do.
Jeff Newman
MONDay
2003-09-29 01:19:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
don't look guys but you're actually discussing screenwriting instead of
corporate law - what a revelation!
We always were - my post only occurred because of
my *screenplay* question.

MON.
MONDay
2003-09-29 01:22:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jeff Newman
MONDay wrote, in reaction to Seruhndipuhtee and the plot occurance of having
Post by MONDay
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
you are artificially making your character
do, and have things done to him, to serve your story instead of the other
way around.
Eh? It's not a true story. The whole story is artificial, so
yes, of course I am putting him down that path. He certainly
isn't going to go down any path on his own.
Well, assuming we pretend the character is real, then he *is* going to go down
some paths on his own -- willingly -- and he *isn't* going to go down others
willingly.
Knowing how your character is going to respond to a situation
is perfectly correct, however that is not to say that the character
"chooses" to go down a path, that is simply empathising with the
character so that you can choose the right situation to place him
into.
Post by Jeff Newman
So the question is: is it legit to manipulate events so as to force a
character onto a path that they would not choose to go?
We decide the path that we want the character to go down before
choosing the situation. For example, if BOB has a fear of
water, but we want him to get into a little boat, we write a situation
where BOB *has* to get into that boat.

If we don't want BOB to go in the boat, we change the situation.

Our characters only ever react to situations.
Post by Jeff Newman
Sure. If the entire screenplay consisted of events like that, that wouldn't be
good. But a few such events: fine. Happens all the time in good scripts.
Find ways to force characters into situations that they normally wouldn't have
selected, in order to create suspense and/or to create sympathy and/or to
reveal character and/or to promote character growth.
But the character will only ever be in *any* situation because of
what the writer puts down on paper.
Post by Jeff Newman
In the hit movie (and Academy Award winner) "Kramer vs. Kramer," the lead
character also loses his job. He doesn't quit. Now, it happens due to his
neglect of the job, and his stress and distraction, so it's not
out-of-the-blue. But the point is: he's acted upon, and then reacts. And it's
a path he wouldn't have chosen (he didn't quit).
Sure, the character was written into a situation for that to
happen. It didn't happen all by himself.
Post by Jeff Newman
Luke didn't know he and his uncle were buying robots sought after by the
Empire. He didn't cause his aunt and uncle to be killed.
Ditto.
Post by Jeff Newman
It's due to those things -- where he is acted upon -- that leads him to a path
he wouldn't otherwise have chosen.
Sure. Written by us.
Post by Jeff Newman
Hamlet didn't cause his father's death, or cause his father's ghost to appear
to him and tell him about the murder and charge him with avenging it.
Neo didn't ask to be "The One."
Marty didn't ask or try to go 30 years into the past.
In real life and in reel life, things sometimes happen to people, and they
react. While we think that characters should be purely active
(pro-active, if
Post by Jeff Newman
you will), in many movies (some genres more than others), the main character is
re-active and pro-active in roughly equal proportions. They initiate some
actions, but many actions that they take are really a reaction to something
that someone else did to them, or to some event.
The second half of "Titanic" features Rose and Jack (and others) reacting to
the fact the ship hit an iceberg.
To put pressure on your character ... to reveal character, and prompt character
change ... it's fine to have a few events happen *to* the character -- if they
are credible.
As long as the events are credible and contribute to the story, and as long as
most of the events are initiated by the primary characters, and the main
character initiates many events ... then a few events like this -- not
initiated by the main character -- are no problem.
I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "a few events like this".

All events are written, no matter how small, by the writer. The
character only *reacts* to situations that *we* write.
Post by Jeff Newman
The main thing: don't treat your characters like puppets or chess pieces.
That is, don't have them do things they really wouldn't do, just for the sake
of the story. But as MONDay points out ... having a character react to and
cope with being fired doesn't mean you are forcing a character to act in ways
that he or she wouldn't do.
Exactly.

MON.
Seruhndipuhtee
2003-09-29 01:10:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
Eh? It's not a true story. The whole story is artificial, so
yes, of course I am putting him down that path. He certainly
isn't going to go down any path on his own.
say what?????????????! so, in the world you have created for this character,
HE knows it is artificial does he? he knows there is an audience and there
is a writer and that he is the mere puppet?

yes, the story is artificial - but the world you have created for your
character and the character himself has its own inherent logic (one hopes) -
conflict, drama, action, character, everything has to be true to that world
and that character without the fingerprints of "God" (aka the writer) all
over the page. the character's action should come from his own perspective,
flaws, beliefs, frame of reference that you have created, NOT imposed
artificially because you need to get your puppet to the next scene. it is
bad writing! and yes, people are quoting numerous examples ... of, bad
writing!

having said that, if all you need is for him to be fired, then it is so ...
why does there need to be the big set piece boardroom scene?
MONDay
2003-09-29 01:33:24 UTC
Permalink
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
Post by MONDay
Eh? It's not a true story. The whole story is artificial, so
yes, of course I am putting him down that path. He certainly
isn't going to go down any path on his own.
say what?????????????! so, in the world you have created for this character,
HE knows it is artificial does he? he knows there is an audience and there
is a writer and that he is the mere puppet?
No, try reading the post again.

What I said was that it is the writer that sits in front of
a blank screen, comes up with the story, creates the
characters and writes. No one else.

It is the writer who places the character into situation -
whether it be in a grocery store, or being strung upside
down on an aeroplane - the character certainly isn't
going to get there on his own.

From another post of mine:

"Knowing how your character is going to respond to a situation
is perfectly correct, however that is not to say that the character
"chooses" to go down a path, that is simply empathising with the
character so that you can choose the right situation to place him
into."
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
yes, the story is artificial
You are now contradicting yourself. Are you saying that
the story *is* now artificial, but the characters are real?
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
- but the world you have created for your
character and the character himself has its own inherent logic (one hopes) -
conflict, drama, action, character, everything has to be true to that world
and that character without the fingerprints of "God" (aka the writer) all
over the page. the character's action should come from his own
perspective,
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
flaws, beliefs, frame of reference that you have created,
Er, yes. But it is the writer that puts the character there -
unless you have some mystical way of writing which you'd
like to share, of course.
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
NOT imposed
artificially because you need to get your puppet to the next scene. it is
bad writing!
What tangent are you going down now? I never
once suggested that. Read my post(s) again.
Post by Seruhndipuhtee
and yes, people are quoting numerous examples ... of, bad
writing!
having said that, if all you need is for him to be fired, then it is so ...
why does there need to be the big set piece boardroom scene?
I'm sorry, I didn't realise there was a boardroom quota
in screenplays. Would a dingy kitchen in a one-bed apartment
do? - My point being, you have no point to your question.

MON.
Nooz
2003-09-29 23:16:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
No, try reading the post again.
Jeez MON - could you stop acting like the group is flaming you?

The last 15 posts or so have tried to say this to you:
"If you created a universe in your script where the characters only have
random 'acts of Writer' happen to them to which they merely react, your
script may be a little too passive and/or feel contrived, so be careful
to create a balance and have the characters initiate believable actions
themselves to reveal who they are and to advance the story."

Call it locus of control issues, call it 'listening to your characters'
or whatever. I think it's good advice.

Your response has been more or less:
"I don't understand because I'm the writer and I write the story and I
control all of it so what's this crap about 'listening to characters' and
by the way you don't know what else is in my script so fuck off."

Whenever someone doesn't honey-coat their advice to you or you have
trouble understanding it, you seem to lose your patience.

If you don't see my point, try reading my post again.

--Nooz
MONDay
2003-09-29 23:55:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Nooz
Post by MONDay
No, try reading the post again.
Jeez MON - could you stop acting like the group is flaming you?
Er, OK?
Post by Nooz
"I don't understand because I'm the writer and I write the story and I
control all of it so what's this crap about 'listening to characters' and
by the way you don't know what else is in my script so fuck off."
I'm flattered that you have taken an interest in
looking after my karma.

To clarify, from a post of mine:

"Knowing how your character is going to respond to a situation
is perfectly correct, however that is not to say that the character
"chooses" to go down a path, that is simply empathising with the
character so that you can choose the right situation to place him
into."

If I came across as telling "the group" to "fuck off" then I
apologise. That was not my intention. I may have been a
little strong when replying to Seruhndipuhtee, but that was just an
intellectual debate between two people with differing
opinions. I certainly did not or would not tell anyone
to "fuck off". Perhaps, when reading between the lines,
you misread something.

I was basically saying that characters only do what you tell
them to do. That is not suggesting that your characters will
be "woody". It is up to the writer to create the story, mood,
characters and situation. That's all.

If you don't know where your story is going - at least in
some vague way - you could not continue. The
characters aren't going to "tell you" what happens next -
you already know. You know how they are going to react
to certain scenarios because you empathise with them,
but that's wholly different from suggesting that the characters
"tell you" what happens next. That is impossible.

Try it. Write BOB on a page and listen to what he
has to say about your story.
Post by Nooz
Whenever someone doesn't honey-coat their advice to you or you have
trouble understanding it, you seem to lose your patience.
If I have trouble understanding *anything*, I will pose a question
to clarify the matter for my own piece of mind. That is
only natural.

With regard to your latter comment however, may I remind you
that I am only human, and as such am susceptible to the same
weaknesses as others - including sometimes becoming impatient.

I try to offer a balanced position when replying, but no doubt
my humanity will sometimes appear in my posts.
Post by Nooz
However, If you don't see my point, try reading my post again.
Sometimes, others react in a sarcastic manner to provoke
those human instincts.

MON.
Alan Brooks
2003-09-29 02:28:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by MONDay
I have a guy who owns a corporation, but I need him
to get fired by the rest of the board - much like in "Meet
Joe Black" when whatshisname brought up a certain
"article" in the "corporate charter" to get rid of William
Parish as he was deemed to be not of sound mind.
The thing is, my guy is of sound mind. I need him to
be fired under the grounds that his continuing presence as
head of the board - or even as an employee - could
jeopardise the company's position in the market.
I'm afraid that I cannot disclose the why. Sorry.
By any chance, would any of you know (or know
someone who would know) if there is such an "article"
in a "corporate charter" (or similar) that the rest of
the board could invoke for this to happen?
I need specifics for the dialogue.
Yes, I could make something up, and no-one would be
any the wiser, but I like to do things right if there is
an avenue to do so.
Argggggg.... some of the worst dialogue I've ever read were alleged
"business" conversations clearly written by people who had never spent a day
at a regular 9-to-5 job. Zoetrope scripts are rife with this sort of wildly
unrealistic office-chatter that's blind to how white-collor working stiffs
actually behave toward each other.

To keep this real you have to understand something about how boards of
directors work. They're not really like what you've seen in The Hudsucker
Proxy. Power shifts are subtle, and major power shifts as you're trying to
portray are tough to show dramatically. In reality they rarely happen in a
board meeting, but usually in a private meeting between, say, a president
and his CFO (the CFO backed by the merchant bankers who helped said
president bankroll the operation), as the president is handed his golden
parachute and given some gentle instructions as to how to work the rip-cord
he realizes that his formerly friendly banker pals have decided the
bean-counter should run things...

One way to dramatize it is to let the situation dawn on the
about-to-be-ousted member. Think about his personality. If he's actually
very smart and very tough, he would suddenly sense that his portforlio of
responsibilities was being shifted out from under him. Although it's not
very realistic you *could* have this realization come upon him over the
course of a single, short board meeting.

Say, he comes into the meeting with three major initiatives, only to learn
that one of them has already been moved forward without him. There could be
some apologies, and a bit of discomfort, quickly glossed over. Or, if he's
more of a Type A sort, perhaps he's pissed off, but willing to forgive and
move on. Then he finds the second initiative taken from him, and it dawns
on him what's being done... he turns to the only person with the clout to
pull this off, and sees the answer in his eyes...

Another trick that gets played (though not, typically, on the president) is
to water down the voting power of the shares some member holds, so they
still hold the financial shares, but don't have any voting rights.
Employees (but not usually board-level officers) typically have this screw
applied along with a stiff, long-term novacaine drip, so they don't know
what's been done. Then, one day, a buy-out is offered and they find the
don't have the votes to prevent it. Or vice-versa, the
employee/board-member might find they have voting rights, but no financial
clout. This is *very* common; "Gee, I thought my 5000 shares were worth
about $250 each, but it turns out they're worth about $1.30 each. Wonder
how my Class A shares with full voting rights became Class C shares with
1/100 of a vote each???"

To crib a bit of Hemingway, it happens two ways; first very slowly, and then
very suddenly.

Alan Brooks
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Schmuck with an Underwood

-- Been there, done that. Strangled a CFO with the t-shirt.
MONDay
2003-09-29 21:10:23 UTC
Permalink
Hi Alan,
<snip> In reality they rarely happen in a
board meeting, but usually in a private meeting between, say, a president
and his CFO (the CFO backed by the merchant bankers who helped said
president bankroll the operation), as the president is handed his golden
parachute and given some gentle instructions as to how to work the rip-cord
he realizes that his formerly friendly banker pals have decided the
bean-counter should run things...
Ahh, right. Thanks - that actually makes a lot more sense,
and I can foresee how I can work more drama into that
situation.
To crib a bit of Hemingway, it happens two ways; first very slowly, and then
very suddenly.
Indeed! :-)
-- Been there, done that. Strangled a CFO with the t-shirt.
Really??

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it.

MON.
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