I know this is going to draw in more women than men, but this is such a very brilliant example of what I want to show you about writing. There are (major) spoilers to the movie ahead, so please proceed at your own caution.
Now, when I went into the theaters with my friend to see the movie “Magic Mike” I’ll admit that I was very skeptical. Oh, I thought, this will be another movie made to look pretty to draw people in but very poor in plot, dynamics, and other essential keys to a good story line. This has happened to a lot of movies, which I will not name, for fear of trampling on toes.
But why mention it here? It was a good movie, so what? What does that have to do with novel writing?
I’ll tell you.
Script writing for movies may be different in many ways, but there are a lot of essential similarities such as Plot, Character, Development, Setting, Conflict, etc. Now, I could go on and on about everything that this movie has to offer, but I think I’ll hit a few key points.
1. Characters in the Beginning
For our purposes I’m going to focus on three; Mike, Adam, and Joanna.
We are presented with a character who is a 19 year old guy, with a strong attitude, heavy temper, and a very no-go personality for hard work. Needless to say, this has landed him on friendly couch of his sister, Joanna. His story begins downtrodden, without a goal, and without a job. The only thing going for him is a very kind sister who loves her little bro.
Joanna is that tough big sister a lot of guys would love (or not love) to have. She is single, a hard worker, and doesn’t fool around. She doesn’t party all the time, and she’s played it safe since she went down that teen road a long time ago. Her brother is her only family, it seems, and she’s very close and committed to taking care of him.
Mike has a lot of story to him, since he’s our main character, the big guy, and well ‘Magic’ Mike. This guy has come down a long road trying to get his own custom business funded and going. What he does? He loves taking long strolls on the beach-to collect materials that wash up and build beautiful furniture and other pieces out of it. The only problem is, he needs the boost from the bank to start his business–and that means he needs good credit. Unfortunately, being a stripper is a lot of under-the-table pay. No credit-no bank help. He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, but he always leans on the stripping when he’s in trouble and loses himself in the alcohol.
2. The Plot/The Conflict/The Action
In a nutshell, what happens from here is Mike meets dear 19 year old Adam at work as a construction worker (Mike is multi-talented, yes!) and when ‘The Kid’ loses his job on the first day and his car breaks down for good, Mike gives him a ride. This leads to clubbing and Adam having to pay him back for the favor. What happens next begins a whirlwind of events. Adam needs to cover for a stripper that can’t go on stage, scores attention, and begins his job as a stripper.
Along the way Joanna stumbles upon a box of rather odd clothing and finds her brother shaving with her razor in the bathroom! And then she is in on his new job.
She meets mike, and seems slightly interested, but hateful of him at the same time, or at least indifferent. She doesn’t want to waste her time and get her heart broken on a guy like this. She does stay and watch his performance however.
In time, our three characters become friends, we find out Joanna has tattoo’s from a long-time past, Adam gets in trouble with drugs, Joanna and Mike get into a fight–and Adam gets kicked out too! She can’t handle this lifestyle anymore.
3. Characters in the End
In the end, Adam is given Mikes stripper position when he leaves on his last performance night before Dallas and the boys move to Miami for bigger business. Adam is doing something that he loves now, getting paid for it, lots of girls, and can’t complain! He’s living the life.
Joanna and Mike
Mike decides last minute to leave the show to go find Joanna. She is staying put, and he’s going to stay put with her. She gives him the courage to finally leave the stripping behind and reach for his goals and a better life that he has dreamed for–with her now in the picture. There is a lot of promise for these two.
We all know that every good novel should have a good ending in some form. At first, I was quite displeased with the ending of the movie, but as I ruminated over it, I discovered that it was quite brilliant.
Adam is a 19 year old boy, remember? Mike was once in his shoes, and ‘lived the life’ but has now pulled himself out of it for what he really wanted to do.
We can assume two things:
1. This ending was very positive in that Adam finally found a place he could fit in and succeed.
2. This ending leaves us hoping for more, and anxious. It is still positive, Adam is happy. But, what trials await him? He hasn’t made much change; he still has a temper, still dabbles in dangerous things; still focuses on 19 year old fantasies. Will he follow a similar path as Mike and learn his lesson? Or is he really going to rock the stripper light? Now, this may not be everyone’s idea of a ‘good job’ but to Adam, it’s perfect. And to the other boys it’s perfect.
Phew, this sounded so much like a movie review! But I want you all to realize the connections it had to novel making.
When we say, develop a basic idea and run with it, ‘Magic’ happens. The general idea for this movie could have been;
A teenager without much hope of success befriends a man who teaches him the rules of his trade and helps him find a place for success.
This could have been the beginning.
And you’ve seen/read the end.
You can do this too.
(That goes for any type of novel!)
What are you waiting for?