Genre: Holiday
Premise: An old miser of a man is visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve who place him on the path to finding happiness again.
About: Charles Dickens is the original author of A Christmas Carol, which he wrote as a novel in 1843. It has since been adapted into a movie nearly 50 times, starting all the way back in 1901. Today I’ll be reviewing the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol (titled “Scrooge” in the UK) as I believe it’s the best of all the adaptations. The writer of this adaptation, Noel Langley, may sound familiar. He adapted The Wizard of Oz as well.
Writer: Noel Langley (original author of book: Charles Dickens)
Details: 86 minute running time
mpw-30886

MERRRRRRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE

It’s time to open your presents, drink your eggnog and be told by your parents that you’re not doing enough in your life. It’s the Christmas way!

I’m always fascinated by movies that stand the test of time. Of everything out there, these are the films you need to study most. With 99% of movies forgotten within a month of viewing, the stuff that lasts obviously has some secret sauce in it, something you can extract to apply to your own screenplays.

A Christmas Carol has lasted for over 150 years. That means it’s lasted through two world wars, Billy The Kid, a trip to the moon, the Civil Rights movement, the invention of the internet, and even Justin Bieber. In a society so finicky, so obsessed with the next big thing, how is it that A Christmas Carol has stuck around?

You may say, “Oh, well, it’s a Christmas movie. Since Christmas comes around every year, it has an advantage.” Not true. Christmas movies are easily some of the worst movies ever made. They’re probably the hardest “genre” to get right. If anything, that’s working against the film.

I watched “Carol” again this year and it hit me the same way it did when I first saw it as a kid. The difference was, this time, I figured out HOW it was able to do this. I figured out its “secret sauce.” While the answer to its success may not surprise you, you will be surprised at just how simple it is.

For those who don’t know the story of A Christmas Carol, it follows the most selfish, nasty, heartless man on the planet, Ebenezer Scrooge. A Christmas hater, Scrooge finds himself being visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve, the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. It’s through this journey that Scrooge remembers the joys of life and how important it is to help and be good to others.

One of the most perplexing things about A Christmas Carol is that it flies in the face of everything we’re taught about a leading character. We are told that our hero must be likable, someone an audience can root for. Scrooge is probably the most unlikable person you’ll ever meet. When told that someone he knows might die, his response is, “Hurry up so we can decrease the surface population.”

I wouldn’t classify Scrooge as a hero. I wouldn’t even classify him as an anti-hero. Scrooge IS the villain of this story. And yet he’s our main character. Every screenwriting book and producer in Hollywood would tell you that that’s a surefire way to ruin a screenplay.

While many would use this as fodder for their belief that Hollywood is run by idiots, I’ve actually read far more scripts where an unlikable protag doomed a script than I have asshole heroes making a script better. So why does it work here?

My guess is that we move into the potential for change pretty quickly in A Christmas Carol. There are maybe seven scenes (some of them very short) before Scrooge is visited by his old partner, Jacob Marley, and he’s placed on the path towards change. Were we stuck with this guy for half a screenplay before he was taken on this journey, I’m sure we would’ve been less forgiving.

Scrooge

Another interesting aspect of A Christmas Carol is its structure – or, more specifically – how it lays out its structure for the audience. We’re told, within 15 minutes, that three ghosts are going to visit Ebenezer Scrooge, essentially giving us an outline for the film we’re about to watch.

Many writers assume that if you tell your audience what’s coming, the story will be predictable and boring. But actually, the opposite is true. By telling the audience what they can expect, you have a direct line into their expectations (since you’ve created them!), which means you can now play with them. You can zig where they expected you to zag. You can twist when they were sure you were going to turn. This approach gets great results since the reader is constantly trying to outguess the writer, and if you’re doing your job, you (the writer) are always winning.

But let’s get to the nitty-gritty. The “secret sauce” of A Christmas Carol and why it’s lasted as long as it has. Why generations of children grow up, just like their parents, falling in love with the film and its main character. Are you ready? Care to make any predictions?  Okay, here it is:

A Christmas Carol is a deep-set character exploration disguised as a film.

We have ghosts here. We have time travel. We have flashy larger-than-life characters. But this isn’t about that, is it? A Christmas Carol is about one man’s transformation from a cruel selfish person to a selfless happy one. Everything that happens in the movie is built around that transformation.

I can’t stress this enough. So many movies we watch these days are obsessed with the spectacle. And then, because the writer was told to do so by a screenwriting book, they half-heartedly add a few beats to their story about their hero changing. You can smell these scripts from a thousand miles away. The writers don’t WANT to transform their hero. They don’t care about developing the character or arcing them. They do it because they’re told to.

A Christmas Carol IS its character development. It IS its hero’s transformation. Each trip on this journey is Scrooge being forced to examine himself. This is why A Christmas Carol is as timeless as it is. Because spectacle always dies. A chase scene, as awesome as it might be, is a technical achievement at best. But seeing a person come to terms with who they are, and to then transform and change into a better person – by golly that hits us where it counts. Because WE want to change. WE want to become better people.

Ironically, this goes back to my earlier observation. None of this transformation – none of the very thing that makes this movie so timeless – is possible without starting off with an unlikable protagonist. If you had tried to give Scrooge a “save the cat” moment or offset his cruelty by giving him a mother he cares for at the hospital, the transformation wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying. This man has to start at -100 or the movie doesn’t work.

So where does this leave us with A Christmas Carol? What can we learn from it and apply to our own screenplays? Well, I always think that the unlikable protag approach is a gamble. It’s not that it can’t work, as we see here. But if you don’t get the character just right, the reader will hate them and not want to follow them. The best advice for those wanting to use an unlikable lead is “proceed with caution.”

The bigger takeaway here is to look for stories that are built around character transformations. As time has proven, these are the stories that resonate with audiences the most. And that doesn’t mean you should be writing tiny indie flicks about characters building sewage systems in third world countries. Far from it. Once again, A Christmas Carol has ghosts and time travel. It’s more about finding an idea that’s conducive to character change. Do that and you might be giving yourself the biggest Christmas gift of all – a great screenplay.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[x] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: At least one way to make an unlikable hero bearable is to start their transformation into a better person early in the story. If we see that our asshole protagonist is on a path to becoming good early on, we’ll be more tolerant of their faults.

  • Poe_Serling

    The ’51 version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim is the one I try to watch every year too. Sim’s performance is just outstanding.

    The film is playing on a continuous loop starting tonight on FXM.

  • http://vimeo.com/adamwparker Adam W. Parker

    “A Christmas Carol IS its character development. It IS its hero’s transformation.”

    That’s some good secret sauce right there.

  • NajlaAnn

    Merry Christmas to you and all!

  • Peace of Chaos

    OT, seems over the past few days a lot of people keep missing this.

    The entire 2014 Black List (credit: jaehkim)
    https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B98ZdIxoETG5UWNwOWZhV1N6Uk0&usp=drive_web

    New Year’s RESOLUTION. With 70 scripts, read at least one every week (or at least the Top 10).

    Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays…GO DUCKS!

  • Steffan

    In my recent WYSR I mentioned that I wrote/directed a short film. As it is a Christmas movie I thought it apropos to share it with you all today.

    It’s title is: Straight to the Top of the Naughty List.

    It’s a Xmas-noir-coming-of-age story.

    This is the first of the final cuts so there will be some minor/major changes. That being said it’s hidden on Youtube. The URL is such: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emZBmWj8-F0&feature=youtu.be​

    If you’d like to read the script from which this was shot I’ve included it here: https://www.sendspace.com/file/33ynnu

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

    • S_P_1

      Damn good job! Welcome to the club of writer / filmmaker.

      • Steffan

        Thanks, SP1! I hope your holidays have been restful.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Cool stuff.

      • Steffan

        Very much appreciated, MJ. Thanks!

  • ThomasBrownen

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  • Levres de Sang

    Thank you Carson for today’s fantastic article. And great to see a vintage flick under the SS spotlight… There’s so much here to absorb and I particularly liked: “By telling the audience what they can expect, you have a direct line into their expectations…”

    Here’s to 2015 being another vintage for ScriptShadow. Merry Christmas everyone!

    • davejc

      Hey Levres, I was going to read Let Us Touch The Sun over the Holidays(I’m way behind the curve but slowly catching up:) Anyhow the link was broken. Curious, did you request to have your script taken down?

      • Levres de Sang

        Hi Dave, No, I didn’t request that LET US TOUCH THE SUN be taken down so I’ve no idea why the link is broken?

        Having said that, I made extensive edits following all the helpful comments I received during AOW. Just post your email in comments or drop me a line (paul scott at ekit dot com) and I’ll happily send you the updated version (although it might be a couple of days as I’m still dotting the “i”s here and there…!!)

        What’s the state of play with 50 HIGH ST.? I’d be fascinated to know how you emerged from our AOW because we certainly landed on a memorable one.

        • davejc

          Well I’ve been getting a lot of hits on my dropbox in the last couple weeks which in of itself doesn’t mean much, but for the fact that before that, nothing. Crickets. So i went back to that page and read the latest comments. Poe stated imagination and reality starting to blur in reference to LUTTS and I thought that’s right up my alley, well kind of, I’m more of a nihilist: i.e. objective reality doesn’t exist.

          I clicked on the script link and the file was gone. Then I clicked on 50 High St link and that file was gone too. I looked around the site for a bit and all other amateur scripts seem to be in tact, just mine and yours went AWOL. I don’t really mind since I didn’t want people reading that draft of 50HS anyway. But I was kind of curious as to what it all means.

          IRT 50HS, based the notes I received I restructured the story which turned out to be a much bigger job than I had imagined :( But I’m about 20 pages from being done and I’m very happy with the results.

          It was so hectic that weekend with all the comments, I didn’t have time to look at any of the other scripts. Anyway I’d be interested in reading your current draft of LET US TOUCH THE SUN when it’s ready. davejc1886 at yahoo

          • Levres de Sang

            Sent…!

          • davejc

            Ach! it didn’t arrive.

          • Levres de Sang

            Ah, that’s strange…? I sent it to davejc1886 at yahoo dot com. Maybe you can email me (paulscott at ekit dot com) and I’ll resend via the ‘Reply’ function.

          • davejc

            Found it :)

  • leitskev

    Merry Christmas to the Scriptshadow community. Thanks for a great year!

    I agree with Carson’s comments on A Christmas Carol. I looked into this myself a few months back with the original book, which is online free. I expected to find in the opening moments with Scrooge something that revealed a potential to change. Something the audience could sink it’s teeth into and WANT him to change. But there was nothing. He’s as bad as it gets.

    So here’s what I concluded. The challenge by the writer was to hold the audience long enough to where they began to see that Scrooge was not always a cold-hearted bastard. And the trick used was this: other cool stuff.

    Pretty soon in the story supernatural stuff begins to happen. And then there is the promise of the three ghosts which comes from Marley, the first entity to appear. Who doesn’t want to stick around to see what shows up after that?! Certainly the 19th Century English readers were willing to.

    The transformation of Scrooge is the story.

    But no one tunes into the promise of seeing an old man change. They tune in initially for the ghosts!

    And isn’t this the trick of sci fi or fantasy writing? The world building grabs us and makes us want to stick around, and eventually it’s the characters of the story that take over.

    A good detective mystery does the same. We have the opening question of the who-done-it, and while we come along for the ride to see who did, we become attached the journey of the character.

    Other cool stuff, it turns out, can be very useful.

    Again, thanks to everyone here for sharing all of their wisdom. I’ve learned a lot since last Christmas, great work.

    • Poe_Serling

      “So here’s what I concluded. The challenge by the writer was to hold the
      audience long enough to where they began to see that Scrooge was not
      always a cold-hearted bastard. And the trick used was this: other cool
      stuff.”

      Great observation.

      I always felt that the classic TV show The Twilight Zone was often the master of this sort of technique – some form of morality tale wrapped in the alluring cover of an eye-catching sci-fi/thriller/ horror/etc. premise.

      • leitskev

        The TZ was in many ways the pinnacle of writing, wasn’t it? Loved the TZ. An they did all that in shows that were, what, 22 minutes? Something like that.

        For me, the most lessons I learn are when my expectations were wrong. And A Christmas Carol was one of those times. When I went back recently, I really expected there would be some kind of Save the Cat moment in the opening with Scrooge in the office, something that hinted at potential humanity. There was absolutely none, and Carson is perfectly correct: if there was something like that it would water down the amazing transformation Scrooge undergoes.

        So I found myself wondering how does a story hold an audience’s interest when it does not show the potential for change in the hero? Why would anyone want to stick around and watch this schmuck? In the case of Scrooge, it seems to me it was the supernatural stuff. Though it’s also true that the incomparable writing of Dickens is worth sticking around for.

        And maybe there was one other trick to play. Maybe Scrooge was so nasty that audiences originally stick around hoping to see that he gets the karma he deserves. I don’t know, we need someone with a better knowledge of literature to chip in!

        • gazrow

          “Maybe Scrooge was so nasty that audiences originally stick around hoping to see that he gets the karma he deserves.”

          It’s years since I’ve seen it but from memory I think I stuck around to see what happened to “Tiny Tim” as much as anything.

          • leitskev

            I would have thought that too! But when I went and looked at the book by Dickens, there is no Tiny Tim early in the story. He doesn’t come until the ghost of Christmas Present takes us away. All we have at the beginning is Scrooge in the office with his nephew.

        • Poe_Serling

          Just stumbled upon this… Rod Serling once did his own unique take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

          It was a 1964 TV-movie called Carol for Another Christmas.

          “Three ghosts teach an industrialist the importance of international peacekeeping.”

          The film starred Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, Ben Gazzara, Robert Shaw, Eva Marie Saint, and others. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

          • leitskev

            wow, big names. I wonder how it came out.

            Found it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzbLIWPdtNI

          • leitskev

            notes

            – First supernatural hint: about 3 min
            – feels like Communist propaganda from the era, or at the tail end of it.
            – differs from Scrooge in that right from the outset there are attempts to make him a little sympathetic. It opens with him nostalgically listening to Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, a song from the past. Then we see him looking at war medals under the picture of a young man. At the end of the opening scene we find out the young man is dead.

            far as I got

          • Poe_Serling

            Yeah, I just watched the first ten minutes… it seems to have all the familiar elements of a Serling cautionary tale.

            I’ll probably check out the rest of the film later today.

          • Poe_Serling

            I just watched the first ten minutes… It seems to have all the classic elements of a Serling cautionary tale.

          • leitskev

            Just went back to Dickens. It begins with this:

            — Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. —

            This is revealing about Dickens’ technique. Those are his opening words. He wants to create some intrigue about Marley. This pretty much announces we will see Marley again even though he is dead. There’s the hook right there.

            Dickens also shows Scrooge’s coldness in a more personal way in how he treats his clerk. So it’s not just some intellectual argument about world policy. Yes, in the Serling version Grudge has taken actions to cause a man to be fired, but we have not met the man so it’s less effective.

            Compare to It’s a Wonderful Life, which though sappy and contrived, is very effective because every scene is personal, we witness the relationships between the characters.

    • Malibo Jackk

      “And then there is the promise of the three ghosts which comes from
      Marley, the first entity to appear. Who doesn’t want to stick around to
      see what shows up after that?! Certainly the 19th Century English
      readers were willing to.”

      Necessity is the mother of invention.
      Not a Dickens expert — but many of his works were first serialized in The Strand.
      Not sure if ACC was one of them, but it could have inspired him to let the reader
      know that there were more good things to come.

      • leitskev

        One thing I would be curious about in A Christmas Carol is where the first installment ended. It would make sense if it ended right after Marley’s visit, thus whetting the audience’s appetite for the three ghosts to come.

        • Malibo Jackk

          32 pages.
          (in the Pickwick Papers edition. You would have to find it online. Or work it out from sample pages of the first page and typical words per page.)

          • leitskev

            Wow! I had no idea.

          • leitskev

            I looked it up on Wiki. The book was immediately a popular hit and won universal acclaim from critics. But Dickens felt screwed by the publisher on his last book, so he published this one on his own, and it didn’t make as much money that way…not enough to cover his debts. This poor bastard was in debt from the moment he was born!

          • Malibo Jackk

            I saw the blurb on Wiki about it being immediately popular and wondered about it.
            (I’ve been in the process of trying to get some DVDs on his life
            to see just what happened [I’ve read about the problems he had with the cover.]. What’s also interesting were the times and his childhood — which motivated him to write the kind of stories he did.) .

          • leitskev

            DVDs? I would think most stuff in available on youtube. His books are mostly available in kindle.

          • Malibo Jackk

            Time management problems.
            (Have trouble reading books while jogging on the treadmill.)

          • leitskev

            Ah, audio books. I just did a youtube search and a bunch came up.

  • ripleyy

    I agree that the idea of a selfish character can go so wrong, but I think we should get more selfish characters as long as the reward is highly satisfying.

    If we know upfront this is a story about a selfish person, the audience is going to stick around. I also think producers are taking the audience far too seriously – people are mature enough to root for a selfish character as long as we know they change.

    If they don’t change, yes, we will feel cheated but people will often find something else to latch onto – maybe it’s their charisma or another part of their personality.

    Also, Merry Christmas everyone. :) What a great year for Scriptshadow

  • S_P_1

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

    I want to end the year by saying thanks to all the writers who submitted to AOW and to all the AF winners!

    My favorite amateur scripts of 2014.

    1)Marlowe
    2)Barabbas
    3)The Devils Hammer
    4)THE TRAGIC LIFE OF DEXTER STRANGE
    5)Cipher
    6)Broken
    7)The Procurist
    8)DARK MATTER
    9)THE HARVESTER
    10)Cartella

    Good luck to ALL for 2015!

    • Poe_Serling

      A solid list. The projects that I remember reading and enjoying from it:

      Marlowe, The Devil’s Hammer, and The Harvester.

      A few other memorable 2014 SS amateur scripts for me:

      >>Black Autumn – A WikiLeaks-type website reveals classified footage of a Marine unit’s horrific encounter with a vampire in the wilds of 1971 Vietnam.

      >>No Guts, No Glory – When an experimental steroid turns a team of supreme athletes into super-zombies, mankind’s only hope of avoiding a zombie apocalypse is a ragtag group of fat campers.

      >>Hellscape – When a teenage Scout troop becomes lost in the Utah desert, they
      experience terrifying hallucinations that point to a supernatural stalker.

      • gazrow

        Hey Poe –

        Thanks for the shout out for NO GUTS NO GLORY.
        I’m currently rewriting it and hope to have a new and improved version very soon. :)

        Merry Christmas to you and all the Scriptshadow faithful.

      • ericjeske

        Thanks Poe! You’ve been a great champion of Devil’s and have my deepest appreciation. Happiest of New Years!!

    • Altius

      Appreciate the nod to Barabbas! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year :)

  • CharlesDickens

    “… Decrease the SURPLUS population….”

  • Howie428

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

    I wrote my own adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” and had a lot of fun doing it. My version is called “A Halloween Carol” and flips the ghosts and the humans.

    To do that I looked at the book and movies of A Christmas Carol in quite a bit of detail. Structurally it is an interesting challenge to adapt. It really only has five sequences. Setup, Past, Present, Future, Wrap Up.

    If you do a straight adaptation that doesn’t drag I’d say you get perhaps 60 pages worth of material. The challenge becomes to figure out how you’re going to add material and how to avoid what you add sucking. The recent animated version threw in a couple of extended chase scenes that looked okay but didn’t feel needed for the story. “Scrooged” builds up the romance side of it.

    For us it feels natural to add material in after Marley’s visit and before Christmas Past begins, because we usually have story between the inciting incident and the first act turn. The Past section of the book is the longest, so it makes sense to break it into two sequences, say childhood followed by romance. Also the wrap up of the book doesn’t do the thing where the character change is retested, so that’s another thing to look at.

    An interesting aspect of the character change in this story is that Scrooge appears ready to change quite early. When he meets Christmas Future he is already saying that he has learnt his lesson, but the lesson goes on anyway.

    Another key point about A Christmas Carol is to realize that by our standards it blends genres in ways that readers never accept in our work. It has scenes of romance, comedy, drama, sentimentality, melodrama, and a big slab of horror. Indeed, I’d say it’s a better horror story than just about anything that gets called horror today.

  • Paul Clarke

    Merry Christmas everyone.

    Fingers crossed for big things in 2015

  • Malibo Jackk

    The cool thing about A Christmas Carol is that it appears to have been inspired by
    .one of Dickens’ short stories. In it, a man visits a cemetery the night of Christmas eve and encounters ghosts. (Ghost stories were popular in olde days.)

    Merry Christmas to all.
    (Unless you’ve been bad.)

    • klmn

      Yeah, I’m bad.

      I’m Nationwide.

    • leitskev

      Cool, I didn’t know that. I don’t know what Dickens was drinking, but I’d like some. Unbelievable mind and writer.

  • fragglewriter

    I think this movie stood the test of time due to the imagination of the writer and how can relate the story to its audience. I think if you have a relatable factor, then the story become believable. Besides his wealth, Scrooge was just a man who put work before anything else and at his old age, he only had his wealth. The relatable factor is that it can happen to anyone.

    • Midnight Luck

      If all I’m left with is all my wealth at the end of my life,
      my Scrooge story would look very different.

      Can I borrow $5?

      • fragglewriter

        Better than the end of my life: a worn out iMAC with a 2014 version of CELTX, with no internet connection. Oh wait, that my life now LOL

        • Midnight Luck

          Oof, rough.

          my three visiting ghosts won’t have much to say. It’ll probably be a short.
          By the end, all I will have learned is that…
          Well, im an idiot, and money actually is really important, and I should’ve been a Scrooge instead.

          Maybe it can be a body swaping tale instead.
          “A Christmas Transference”

  • Mhocommenter

    Inside joke / post to Carson:

    — Chicago dog: Meh. Don’t see what’s the big deal.

    — Chicago popcorn, cheddar caramel. DA BOMB.

    — Chicago sports. Never lived there to feel the vibe but the city’s beyond eclectic.

    — Chicago deep dish. [Hell Yeah. Another big notch on the belt but worth it.]

    — Chicago Bears uniform on a hot chick. SCHWING~! Double Schwing~!

    — Chicago comedy SNL Da Bears~! [ CPR heart attack but survives, more BBQ ribs! ]

    — Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler… [ fill in the _______ blanks.]

    ** Merry X’mas & hopefully a much more productive prosperous new year in 2015!

    — I plan to sell a spec script or two this coming year. :-)

    • klmn

      Yeah, me three.

  • Mallet

    Love the idea of reviewing classic films that have stood the test of time, Carson.
    I’d love to see your analysis of Casablanca. That film is often considered to have the best script of all time, and it’s certainly one of my favourites.

  • klmn

    Carson has said he doesn’t watch black and white movies, but now he reviews this? Strange.

    Oh well, here’s some Tiny Tim to fill your dreams this Christmas night…

  • Bifferspice

    nice article. :) lovely film, perfect story. i always prefer the 1970 albert finney musical version, but there’s several good versions of this, as it’s such a great story.

    merry christmas everyone, and thanks for running a great site, Carson.

  • andyjaxfl

    Happy Holidays to everyone and don’t forget to do some writing over the long weekend!

  • Logline_Villain

    Merry Christmas to the entire SS community!

  • kenglo

    MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE here at Scriptshadow! Here’s looking forward to a bright and wonderful future in 2015!!! Everybody ROCK!!

  • Randy Williams

    Thanks to Carson for continuing to write articles during the Holidays!
    Some of us have our addictions… besides spiced eggnog.

    • klmn

      Another Christmas comes and he still hasn’t reviewed the Star Wars Holiday Special.

      Will he do it for New Years?

      • Poe_Serling

        Here’s a little something from the same time period:

  • Michael

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Raise a glass of eggnog and cheers to Scriptshadow, the gift that gives all year long.

  • klmn
  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    Hey. Merry Christmas everyone.

    I think 2015 is going to be an awesome year for some of us. And not just in screenwriting, as we are much more than the words we put down on paper.

    Just put in the hard work. Be kind to others, even to those who appear to not deserve it. Be appreciative to those around you. We are all in this together.

    Have a great rest of Christmas (for those who are reading this today).

    And a great New Year.

  • Midnight Luck

    Merry SS Christmas to ALL! and to ALL a great Script!
    Cheers everyone, thanks for some years and years of great discussion!
    And BIG thanks to you Carson for everything you do!

  • Midnight Luck

    Darko.

  • Howie428

    I forgot to mention in my other post that another thing to note about Scrooge is that he’s an example of a passive protagonist. He is taken along for the ride and there isn’t a sense that anything he does will change that at all. Only in the wrap up does he become active. So when you adapt A Christmas Carol you also tend to look for ways to make him more active. However, in many ways his passiveness helps, because it allows you to focus on the character story that Carson mentions.

    If you want to get really wonky you can take the view that Scrooge is the antagonist and that A Christmas Carol is an example of a story with an unseen protagonist. The protagonist is whatever power is making this happen. Some people would call that God and others might say that we the audience have that role in the story. Another story with an unseen protagonist might be Charlie’s Angels, if you take the view that Charlie is the one driving the story.

  • shewrites

    Thanks for a brilliant revue, Carson, and for giving us another great year at SS.
    To add my two cents, I think that one of the reasons the audience sticks around to watch Scrooge is because he’s not just an a-hole but an over the top one, like the Jack Nicholson character in As Good As It Gets (no save-the-cat moment in the beginning either). That makes for a fascinating character that is hard not to watch.
    We want to see where he’ll end up, and as a commenter wrote, we may want to know whether/how he’s going to get his deserved comeuppance.
    But few writers are willing to go to that length or chicken out by giving them a save-the-cat moment. It takes a lot of guts and talent to make this type of character work, but when it does, what a treat.
    Happy holidays, SS. And special kudos to you brave AOWers and you, regular commenters for helping make this site so enlightening.

    • shewrites

      Oops, review rather.

  • Cfrancis1

    Yes! XMas Carol is one of my favorite stories ever. I played Bob Crachit for five Christmases in a stage production and every year I would marvel at what a beautiful story it is. Scrooge has one of the best character arcs ever. I think one of the reasons audiences stick with Scrooge (besides that fact that just about everyone on the planet knows the story anyway) is that he’s so horrible in the beginning that we just know something’s gotta give. He has to change in some way. What’s wonderful is how it happens.

  • Poe_Serling

    The ever growing list of Award Season scripts… courtesy of Go Into The Story.

    http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/2014/12/update-award-season-screenplay-downloads-new-unbroken.html

    Recently added screenplays: The Gambler by William Monahan and Unbroken by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen and Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson.

    • andyjaxfl

      Thanks for the share, Poe. I’ve been itching to read The Gambler for quite some time. Monahan is one of my favorite screenwriters.

      • Poe_Serling

        Thought you might be interested in this…

        It’s a fairly recent interview with Monahan over on Collider. He discusses The Gambler, his approach to writing, and a host of other topics.

        http://collider.com/william-monahan-the-gambler-mojave-interview/2/

        • andyjaxfl

          Great interview and thanks for the share, Poe. What did you think about it? He has passion about the craft — no doubting that. And his perspective on rewrites is pretty interesting (10th draft and no director or start date? No movie. Movie on).

          • Poe_Serling

            Yeah, he’s a dead serious guy for sure, especially about his writing.

            Interesting story about why he moved away from L.A.

            To be honest, the only Monahan films I’ve seen are Edge of Darkness (which I thought was quite good and tailor-made for Mel Gibson) and Kingdom of Heaven (very entertaining and eye-opening look at the crusades ).

  • klmn

  • romer6

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, people! You all teach me so much I can only thank you for everything. This community and Carson himself are invaluable presents in a wannabe writer´s life! Maybe I´ll never get there, maybe nothing good will come from all the writing, but it is a journey well spent with great companionship as yourselves. Next year, we will all break through, agreed? Let´s do it!

    • Malibo Jackk

      The first to break through
      buys a round for everyone.

  • leitskev

    I disagree. No one wants to read a story about the transformation of an old man. That has no hook appeal on its own.

    The hook involves the promise of ghosts. Will these ghosts give Scrooge what he has coming? What will they do?

    Once we are hooked and brought far enough into the story, THEN…and only then…do we care about Scrooge’s transformation.

    And the story is certainly not about his “reaction” to his transformation. No story is.

  • Midnight Luck

    OT: and not really pertinent.

    There is only ONE true way to have breakfast, out in these parts, Christmas Morning:

    • Malibo Jackk

      Eggnog chaser.

  • klmn