Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Fish

Most comedic writers are familiar with the fish out of water structure. Our protagonist is flung out of his fish bowl into a strange world without any fishes. Most books on writing state that the audience can relate to the protagonist's world view or it can be different. He's the average joe in a world of wackos, he's weird in a world of normal people.

We can all name examples from both categories. Some films just smack of this structure. There is no elegance in the design, just a factory made product that isn't original or creative. That's the danger in this structure. Allow the structure to drive the design and it will fail, taking your plot development in the wrong direction.

At the same time, it could be the smartest structure for the subtle comedy. Look at the TV show "Extras." Ricky Gervais is the fish, but in a complex world where he is the average joe and the wacko. At times, we relate with this smart guy in a business of airheads, or we laugh at his putziness around suave and cultured celebrities.

He is both kinds of fishes, much like the characters of Larry David or Fraiser Crane.

If you're going to write a fish out of water scenerio (unless it's a comedic sketch), make sure to give your characters this kind of wiggle room. Then you regain the control of your plot development, and your protagonist is the hero and butt of our joke.

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