Tag: Screenwriting

Squid Game

In his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hwang Dong-hyuk, creator of the Netflix series Squid Game, clarified an inaccurate story circulating in the media about how he came to write and eventually acquire funding for the series:

“… there seems to be this common misunderstanding emerging that I wasn’t doing anything else and just focusing on Squid Game for about 10 years, and this made us a blockbuster success somehow. But that wasn’t really the case. In 2009, when it didn’t work out for me to get the necessary investment for the initial feature film piece I was envisioning, I put Squid Game aside. And I went on to create three other movies, and all of those were successful. So, I mean, it’s not like I didn’t do anything else in between and then had this sudden blockbuster success. It’s kind of been misconceived that way in some places, so I just wanted to clarify that a bit.”

This made me think of three things:

First, it’s interesting how the media can create false narratives by omitting information, whether intentional or not.

Second, this post by Cal Newport on Galileo. The timescale for Galileo’s scientific accomplishments was longer than we assumed from the history books, and that’s okay.

Third, believe in your work.

Storytelling in Professional Wrestling

Backlash 2000. The Rock is outnumbered. The WWF championship is on the line. Vince McMahon, once an ally now an enemy, attacked The Rock from behind and with the referee, Vince’s son Shane, and the WWF champion, Triple H, swarms The Rock with kicks and punches. Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock’s backup, is nowhere to be seen.

Triple H hits The Rock with his finisher, the Pedigree, and pins him for the final three count. One. Two. The Rock kicks out. Two more of Vince’s lackeys, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco, run to the ring wearing referee shirts and join in the beating. Triple H hauls The Rock up to his feet for one more pedigree. Vince struts around the ring promising the crowd one last three count.

Glass shatters.

The crowd explodes as Stone Cold marches down to the ring with a chair, smacks everyone on the head with it and leaves The Rock to finish Triple H with a People’s Elbow and win back the WWF championship.

Twenty one years later I think I realise what made that match great. Not only was Triple H a great heel and The Rock and Stone Cold two of the best, if not the best, faces in the company’s history, but the very structure of the match itself led to its cathartic finale. Enter Freytag’s Pyramid.

Although Freytag’s model may be outdated today I think it’s still useful in its simplicity. The rising action of the match, to the best of my memory, is when The Rock gains the advantage and, among other things, hits his finisher on both Triple H and Shane through one of the commentary tables at ringside. The complication is when Vince and his lackeys attack The Rock to turn the tide of the match and both the climax and reversal is when Stone Cold returns to smash the bad guys and allow The Rock to defeat his enemy.

Simple superb storytelling.

Believe in Yourself

Two weeks ago The Booker Prize announced that An Island, the second novel by South African author Karen Jennings, has been longlisted for this year’s prize. If you knew nothing about the history of the book’s publication you might think there’s nothing remarkable at all about Jennings’ nomination. But you’d be wrong.

After Jennings finished the book in 2017 many publishers rejected it for years. According to The Guardian her publisher Holland House struggled to find anyone willing to review or endorse the book and when it was finally published only 500 copies were printed (in part due to the size of the press). “The only real response that I have been able to pin down,” said Jennings on her rejections, “was that it would not make any money.” Sound familiar?

Jennings’ story reminds me of William Goldman’s immortal advice, first conceived within the context of the film industry but always applicable to anyone that risks rejection for opportunity: NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING. Goldman understood that a rejection, at best, is a guess. A bet if you will. I feel more and more that rejection is a necessary rite of passage for any serious author.

At one time Cormac McCarthy advised scientists at the Sante Fe Institute on ways they could improve their writing. One piece of advice he gave, quoting Rudyard Kipling, was “Trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.”

As silly as it sounds – believe in yourself.

Nobody knows anything.