A Different Take on Manuscript Analysis

Ciao, amici! When my turn rolls around to post at Story Empire, I almost always tell you how I do something or how the industry does it: dialogue, media kits, story bibles, basic plots… I usually revert back to professor-mode and “instruct” you on the terminology and my and/or the writing community’s methodologies.

Today, I’m going to do something a little different. I hope you’ll bear with me.

At my day job, we’ve adopted the following terms into our corporate culture:

  • Yeah, yeah, yeah.
  • “Whoops.” followed by “Whoopsie.”
  • Yes, sir, I am.
  • “What happens if…” followed by “I don’t know.”
  • I’m going to need you to get all the way off my back about that.
  • (Fill in the blank) is/are tight.
  • “Why?” followed by “Because.” followed by “Okay, then.”
  • Wow, wow, wow.
    and probably everyone’s favorite
  • “How…?” followed by “Super easy. Barely an inconvenience.”

If you’re laughing right now, you know where I’m going with this. If you aren’t even smiling, you haven’t found the Pitch Meeting channel on YouTube.

Screen Rant’s Ryan George plays two characters in these videos. One of the characters is a movie studio executive, the other is a script writer pitching a movie. In addition to the above catch phrases, there are cute background things (like the typewriter/desktop/laptop on the desk changing to signify the year the “pitch” would have been made) that elevate the humor factor. But that’s not why I (and all the writers at my day job) really love these.

We love them because they show glaring plot and character arc flaws.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You don’t write scripts and you certainly don’t have an audience as large as the Star Wars franchise’s or the MCU’s that will scrutinize every syllable you write. Doesn’t matter. I have a challenge for you.

Watch a few of them.

If you don’t have long, I suggest Star Wars episodes I through VIII. If you have more time, watch the full MCU offering in chronological order. I watched a few one Saturday, then I got hooked and watched a pitch meeting for every title I’d ever seen (there are over 100 on there now, if that gives you an estimate of how long I was online).

I probably smiled on the first, maybe chuckled once on the second. Then I was addicted.

Why am I recommending you take time away from writing to watch hours of video?

Because Ryan George understands plot and character. That he can teach you about solid writing while making you laugh is the chocolate covering the coffee bean.

The people at my company have adopted his catch phrases because it’s fun to say them. But we’ve also begun self-editing using his critical eye. When a character does something odd, we can all hear the writer and executive saying:

Why would he do that?
So the story could happen.
Oh, okay.

We all know “to advance the story” is not a good reason for an Amish housewife to don fishnet stockings and ride a motorcycle through the cornstalks. We have to have a reason—a good reason—for every action our characters take.

When our plot jumps somewhere peculiar with no transition or logic, we hear Ryan George saying:

Now his superpowers are gone.
That’s a great twist. So how is he going to rescue the president?
Super easy. Barely an inconvenience.
Oh, really?
He’s going to use his superpowers.

But I thought they were gone. How did he get them back?
By getting them back.
What?
He didn’t have them, but then he needed them, so he had them.
Okay, then.

Maybe we don’t have errors that glaring in our works, but if blockbuster movies make these mistakes, maybe we have to be a little more realistic about our own work. We might very well have some doozies, too. And if we can read our work with Ryan George’s eyes (and his catch phrases), we just might find some of our issues before we publish our stories… and our readers find them for us.

The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars movie. If you had asked me before I watched its pitch meeting, I would have said it was brilliant, nearly flawless.

I won’t say it’s ruined for me now, but I do see the storytelling in a different light.

I’m in the middle of writing a series right now where I’m channeling my inner Ryan George as I outline and revise, and I have to tell you, I believe this is the strongest I’ve ever written.

I hope you rise to my challenge. At the very least, I hope you watch a few of these (Watching Pitch Meetings is tight.) so we can talk about them in the comments. I’d love to know what you think.

Staci Troilo Bio

42 thoughts on “A Different Take on Manuscript Analysis

  1. Pingback: Friday Finds – Staci Troilo

  2. I’m another one who’d never heard of these videos before today. Thanks so much for the introduction, Staci. I love being taught new skills and if those valuable writing tools are delivered with humor so much the better. I’m off to take a look. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is fricking hysterical! I’m going to have to watch more of these. They’re hilarious, but they’re also instructive. And the guy (Ryan George?) playing both sides has awesome delivery.
    Great post delivered with fun while teaching writers to be vigilant for contrivances easily overlooked!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Omg that Star Wars one is hilarious! Seth MacFarlane in Family Guy does similar bits like this (let’s all fly up off the planet in the direct path of the empire’s blockade, because there’s NO other way off the plant into space…….)
    I was embarrassed when my beta reader pointed out a plot convenience in my book that I’d read, re-read and re-read and never even saw it. But when she pointed it out, I was all, “argh!”
    So, yes, very relevant to us writerly Types 🤗
    Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

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