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E.C. Henry

Would never throw things at this story analyst. We LOVE our story analyst.

Great job breaking "Slumdog Millionaire" into its working parts. Sometimes when you see a good movie that's hard to do, but you do it so well. You're just like a vintage bottle of wine, Billy. You're work gets better over time!

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA


Hello Billy,

I think what is so confusing for emerging writers to grasp is the idea that the 'the skeleton you hang your story on' statement MUST be accompanied by the idea of Plot representing the Muscles, and Character, the flesh and blood - for us to have a living, breathing, thriving story.

Structure (and it's skeleton euphemism) must be presented as following the creation of the story's Spine first.

Slumdog opens in Montreal this Friday.


I've just been reviewing the importance of structure in a series of posts over on my blog as well.

Slumdog Millionaire certainly answers the question 'what's at stake?' loud and clear.


You're right. You're so right.

But I still hate outlines with a fiery passion.

The Cinema Cynic

You're spot on...the structure of Slumdog was perfect. When the credits rolled, my first thought was what a great way to tell this story. Kind of makes you laugh in the faces of the so-called screenwriting gurus who say "Don't use flashbacks."

One error in your post - the best friend you refer to was actually his brother. Which makes the story (especially the ending) even more profound.


E.C. My head is getting bigger... BIGGER... look out!!!

Racicot: Totally agree. Be curious to hear your SLUMDOG viewing response.

Stephanie: Does it ever!

j: We all do!!! But alas, it must be done.

Cinema Cynic: I was heartened to read in the "Shooting Script of" book that Danny Boyle touts "the architecture" of the script.

And thanks for the correction.


the question i always have in these situations, which was partially answered by your last comment, is how much of the structure was determined by the script - and how much of it resulted in the shooting and post-production processes.

listening to the commentary track for 'the usual suspects,' it's clear that much of the structure of that film was created by the editor - even going so far as to write voice-overs to make sections connect.

as terry rossio says at wordplayer, you can never judge a screenplay by the film made from it.


I was always bothered by the chronological order of the questions and his life. Those coincidences spoiled story for me.

I am, however, mollified by your general reasoning about the structure. It is similar (atleast in my mind) to a who-done-it structure, with each suspected character having their own storyline as it relates to the victim, and the main plot of solving the murder for the victim be the connector of all these stories. Much like the gameshow was the connector for the protagonist's life.

I like the comment about the character caught between a rock and a hard place getting us rivetted.
I was thinking about how I would approach a story of my Jamaican childhood...


Christopher: Yup, there's always "enormous changes at the last minute." I do think for the large part, the structure of SLUMDOG -- if we trust the published screenplay -- was there on the page.

JamminGirl: It is very much like a whodunit! And even if it suggests an entirely different approach to you, SLUMDOG's structure evidently is inspirational, in terms of organizing autobiographical material...

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