Searching for a New Form

Searching for a New Form

John Fraim


Trying to come up with a novel about freedom. Reading and reviewing all my ideas on symbolism of scripts and the screenplay theories I’ve read and outlined. Have come up with a mixture of the four top screenplay structure people in Hollywood. Read and outlined all of them.

Much of my screenplay structure is based on my first book on symbolism called Symbolism of Place: The Hidden Context of Communication (1993). I was working full time when I wrote it and wrote it at night and over the weekends. I had little time to devote to marketing it but it was passed around to a few publishers I respected. One was the publisher at Prometheus Books and the other was the legendary editor of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Jonathan Galassi. I got rejections from both but the rejection letters were incredible and I’ve kept them to this day. They encouraged me to pursue other publishers. I didn’t have the time, though, with full time work and the manuscript remained unpublished until 2001 when we published it on our site.

As some might know, I followed Symbolism of Place with Symbolism of Popular Culture (1996) that was published in part to our symbolism site. In 2001, right after 9/11 I started writing Battle a manuscript that would become Battle of Symbols: Global Dynamics of Advertising, Entertainment & Media (2003) It was published by the world’s largest Jungian publisher (Daimon Verlag in Zurich) in 2003. In 2003, I spent an enlightening weekend in Toronto with my friend Eric McLuhan, son on the famous media scholar Marshall McLuhan. We had communicated via phone and email for a long time and both looked forward to meeting each other.

One afternoon, I visited the respected McLuhan scholar Donald Theale at his farm maybe half an hour from Toronto. He was a charming man for such a brilliant media scholar. He passed away not long after my visit.

I wrote a manuscript with the talk of this trip in mind. It was titled Media Nations (2004) and applied Marshall McLuhan’s media theory to nations of the world based on whether their major forms of communication were hot or cool. Hot was a one-way, broadcast, authoritarian and represented one of the major symbols today. Cool was interactive, community based. It represented the other grand symbol today. The same division between hot and cool media exists today in the just a little different form of hot and cool its evolved into today. There will be a new Media Nations for today. The same symbols as before, but simply redressed up in the “clothing of the day” as Jung once said of symbols.

Many written projects after the above. A number of novels. Including three screenplays and starting a screenwriting group in the California desert. In 2014 – 15 I had a regular column in Script Magazine, the world’s largest screenwriting magazine, titled “Script Symbology.” In 2016, I founded Midnight Oil Studios, the multi-media website you’re reading this on. Since this time, I’ve published over 300 blogs, photos, music and videos on this site. I publish regularly to direct email lists I’ve accumulated. I try to market my site via search engines hardly at all. A huge amount of unpublished content on the site.

As I was saying, I try so hard to summon forth a story right now and it is impossible. As I’ve said above, I’ve re-reread all my notes and outlines on creating story structure. All from the best Hollywood writers. Yet all having different structures or story points (beats) in their screenplay structure. I’ve just put their four great theories of structure into one document.

What remains, it seems to me, is laying my ideas about symbolism over the structures from leading story structuralists today. Not necessarily the greatest screenwriters. Rather, the leading people who owned the three-step structure, the five step, fifteen step and so on brands of the story-telling market. This was that growing cottage industry of “How To” write a winning screenplay books. Unfortunately, I was to learn the hard way, that more is not really better for the individual or society. Although a lot disagree with this assessment today. Once more had value and it came at you in gentle blasts now and then.

It just confuses all the more. Less is much better than more today. It is a view of life I’ve arrived at. I suppose a number of others have arrived at this position also.

As I say above, trying to come up with a novel about freedom.

But it seems I need to create this new structure that combines my ideas about symbols and symbolism with leading screenplay theory today. The year of the pandemic. 2020.

My writing has come as a close friend since my first long writing project in the third grade.

Over years as an athlete as well as musician and photographer, filmmaker and writer. My life and writings came to be very inspired by my major mentors in John Coltrane, Joseph Conrad, Carl Jung and Marshall McLuhan. There were few who influenced my life perspective more than these people.

It seems I need to put my overlay from my symbolism works above and ideas and current thoughts on symbolism to the current structure document I have developed. Developing this structure is more important than coming up with my story.

The structure was developed originally in Symbolism of Place and suggested that a story was the drama of both content and context. Screenplays focused on the content of the story. Set designers focused on the context of the story desired by the screenwriter and the directory.

My ideas on symbolism argue a dramatic movement of context in stories has a symbolic correspondence with story the content (dialogue, characters, action, things, events) of the screenplay. Of course a story doesn’t have to use the power of symbolism and context in its story structure.

I think modern story forms need to consider the movement of symbols in the creating story structure. I think I need to create this document before going on with the story.

But then, creating this document might really be the story?

We search for something.

Yet the search might be this something.

(Click on the Reborn link to get the next episode in the above)

(All photos by John Fraim)


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