man's feet dangling above a window outside a building

Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

by Jack Finney

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Regarding "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket," what are ways I can write a movie script about it?

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The first most important point about recasting a short story as a movie script is that you must be able to visualize it as though through the frame of the camera lens. This is because movies are visual. The second most important point is that action, motivation, conflict and conflict resolution must move in a waving line, like sea waves (which are never identical), not in a straight line. This is because life and reality move in sea-wave fashion themselves.

One very good model for movie script writing is Michael Hague's Six Stage Plot Structure that incorporates 5 Turning Points (wave motions) in 6 Stages through 3 Acts. According to this model, the protagonist is shown living an authentic life as normal until a turning point occurs at which they are challenged or invited or forced to choose to go down a path in life never before contemplated in order to attain some objective. Hague identifies five possible objectives that include stopping a disaster from happening and winning something of great value.

This short story certainly fits this model as to the Stage I opening with things going along as normal. It also fits as to story goal of attaining an objective. This analysis gets you through the first few steps of recasting this story as a movie script. Your other steps in recasting this are to analyze the story according to Hauge's model and to make appropriate matches between the story and the Six Stage Model.

Interoffice Memo, the top sheet was headed, ... then he glanced at a creased yellow sheet, covered with his own handwriting, beside the typewriter. "Hot in here," he muttered to himself. Then, from the short hallway at his back, he heard the muffled clang of wire coat hangers....

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