The challenge for screenplay writers trying to balance the fictitious part, read drama, with the realistic part, read credibility, of their story is as old as the movie business. The ideal ratio between drama and credibility escapes the grasp of even the most versatile of story tellers. If the drama quotient of the screenplay is comparatively too high vis-à-vis the reality that the characters inhabit, then it is hard to convince the viewers to invest in the drama unfolding. And conversely, if the reality quotient is too dominant, then the viewer feels no compelling reason to replay the drudgery that he is already living out there. The viewer is not here to watch a documentary, but fiction, a figment of someone’s imagination but still rooted in his everyday reality.
On a closer look at some of the most memorable stories that have entertained us over the years, it is apparent that drama and credibility seem to operate at a much more organic and intrinsic way, than we care to imagine. It is not a mathematically driven ratio but a very mysteriously put up structure, driven more by chaos, than design.
Every movie takes off with a set of credible characters and events to establish a foundation for the viewers to connect to the basic premise at play. But as the story navigates this journey along some carefully planted grand strokes and some unplanned minor embellishes, a mishmash of possibilities place the story on tenterhooks, and thereby the viewer.
The characters constantly juggling with each other’s aspirations and their motives, the test is to slowly move towards a climax, with increasing drama as in a fable. At the same time, reduce the realistic quotient of the plot a wee bit to let the drama make some unpredictable stops and turns, even if the situations seem bereft of the reality that we live in. Maybe, very few breathing individuals out there, might take the risks that the protagonists in the movie are descending into. All this is still perfectly acceptable since ultimately everyone watching this movie want to go beyond anything that ordinary life offers.
So for the drama to increase in tempo, does the credibility of the story take a backseat ? And vice versa ?
If so, can this ratio benefit from a scientific approach, by analyzing successful story lines of movies till date in the form of a graphical representation ?