Amazing revelation today during the Dramatica Guided Tour Workshop: for the longest time, I’ve been explaining the Overall Story of The Shawshank Redemption as the story of an innocent man unjustly imprisoned. My reasoning was based on the idea that without Andy stuck in prison, there would be no conflict for everyone.
As we discussed the film in class it began to dawn on me that the Overall Story doesn’t end with Andy’s escape, as it should if his incarceration is the source of trouble for everyone. The story ends when the warden kills himself.
A Situation Overall Story calls for a problematic situation; something is stuck and it needs to be unstuck. Remove the warden (and ostensibly the Captain of the Guards) and you remove the conflict. That describes the External Situation everyone in the story is dealing with. Shawshank isn’t about Andy’s unjust imprisonment, it’s about a prison system run by a sadistic warden.
I’ll have to change that image in the upper left to feature the warden.
I can’t tell you how fortunate I am to be able to teach these classes. My understanding of story and narrative grows with each and every workshop. When it comes to Dramatica I care more about being accurate then I do about being right and this workshop today gave me another opportunity to grow.
Now if only there was some way to edit my YouTube analysis of The Shawshank Redemption to correct my mistake.