The Notebook

The Notebook
Ronnie Tharp-Garber
Genres: Romance/Drama
Script-O-Meter: 9
Script Analysis from the Point of View of the Script Writer

 

The Hero is a young man narrator/storyteller. We start with old age. He tells a story from a notebook to an elderly woman. She has dementia. We get No Reveal as to their relationship.

We take a Time Jump to a young man who knows immediately what girl he wants: Rich, vivacious, carefree with many friends. The young man is poor, with one good friend.
The good friend is the Point-of-view character/ Ally. How would two unlikely characters from two different echelons of society get together? The Point-of-view character acts as a go-between the Hero and his great love. “The gaze” in Romance genre is all-powerful, even if it’s just from one of the characters. We know from the very beginning that the Hero is pursuing his Desire/Goal for this young woman he could not possibly consummate a relationship with.

Another Time Jump – Back to the present. Dealing with dementia, old age, dying, taking medication. The Hero reads the beautiful and poignant love story to a female patient with dementia. This is great writing because we, the audience are being respectfully set up for what we know, deep down, is the tragic reality of life: The female dementia patient is indeed, the young, vibrant, effervescent girl in the love story.
By returning to the youthful characters and juxtaposing them with the characters in old age- and interspersing this gap by showing the offspring, the audience is powerfully moved and the story achieves multiple layers that intertwine, to not only transcend the Romance/Drama beats, but line up the dual Narrative Drives of the story.

The offspring can no longer communicate with their mother, for she does not know them anymore. To have one’s mother look at you as if you are a friendly visitor is a Self-Revelation moment for the offspring. The writer has achieved depth to the story line by interspersing the generations.

The Hero has lost his young love ostensibly because of class differences. But the writer has gone deeper with this young woman, and we get to see her inner struggle with certain psychological flaws. She also struggles with moral flaws: Her relationship with her mother and father has impacted her moral decisions regarding her one true love.

In the Romance genre, the choice between love or honor is a no brainer. Love conquers all! Until death do us part. The Double Reversal that writers imbue the two Main Characters with at the end of the story, when mixed with elements of Drama: Intimate relationships, a moral message that explodes at the Climax/Battle scene- The Double Reversal involves each Hero realizing in their Self-Revelation scene that they really are not who they thought they were in their youth: Their dreams of what they thought they needed in life are tempered by the realities of time and aging.
Both the Drama and Romance elements intersect in this story, which transcends the predictable beats because of the honesty of the character development – We see two very vulnerable humans in their youth and in their old age.

In her state of dementia, the female Hero does not get a true Self-Revelation, or Double Reversal. The power here is that the audience gets her Self-Revelation.

A brilliant way for a writer to avoid the predictable soap opera sentimentality with Romance/Drama is to show with unabashed honesty the characters with defined flaws. We might disagree with their moral decisions, but we empathize with characters who make mistakes and then have to face the reality of loss. This is the sign of great writing.

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