Not all of them are benedies, of course – I’ve only been thinking this way for four years, and I’ve only had the terms benedy and maledy for two – but many of them are built to tell you a movie-like story in just one short scene.
An example? “A father for Christmas,” a story I’d love to see as a Christmastime movie-of-the-week. You can swap in anyone you want for Willie in the script, but that encounter at the bus-stop can be the chorus for the whole film, with the story of the father told as back-story, side-story and front-story – projections of the future.
There are whole swaths of stories that could be sliced off to form serial franchises. The Traindancing stories are written with that in mind, and the entire back-story of The Naso Diaries has never been explored.
Individual stories present franchise opportunities, too, especially of the streaming telenovela kind I talked about the other day.
So consider “A peek inside the head of a Headliner.” I summarized it before like this:
A down-on-his-luck gambler turns a grungy job driving a cab into a career as a headliner in a Las Vegas casino comedy club – with a shot as his own sitcom.
That’s “Rocky” in Vegas with jokes, a sweet 90-minute benedy, and I would love it on Netflix just like that, the story the Headliner tells to Willie rendered as a movie.
But the Headliner’s story is a story of stories, and each one of those events, and many he implies or omits entirely, are also interesting.
So a 1,500 word story could become a 90-minute movie – or a season-long telenovela – or a five-season telenovela arc.
As before, I hate repetition. The way to make this work is not to sell the same thrill over and over again but to sell the character’s transition through time. Each stage of his progression is interesting, and each can be propitiously mined for stories.
Let’s say an hour of television is 5,000 words. That seems kind of sad, but film trades in many currencies, not just words. I could easily dream up 60 hour-long episodes from the little bit of story the Headliner told Willie, and maybe 60 more after he gets to Hollywood. Call it 100 hours of TV, more or less, 500,000 words.
I don’t even like “Rocky” stories, generally, but I like the idea of pulling a hundred “Rocky” stories out of one broke gambler. And it’s Vegas, baby…
I could name others from my catalog, and perhaps I will on other days. What I think is more interesting is this: Every story is #MyKindOfBenedy if I dig for it.