Tag Archives | plant and pay-off

Friday 5 – Plant and Pay off – how to make your reader go “aha!”

I almost titled this post, How to turn your date night into research, but I realized all the different ways that could be misconstrued.

Fade in: Friday night at the Pauling house. Kids in bed. Time for pizza and a movie.

Me: I totally forgot about this movie. I must have always missed it at Red Box.

Hubbie: What is it?

Me: You’ll have to wait and see. (I’m so mysterious.)

Later, curled up on the couch, hubbie presses play.

Hubbie: Ah, we’ve seen this one.

Me: No way. It just showed up on Red Box. It must be new.

As we watched, I acknowledged that we had seen it. (Yes, I often do this.) But this time, after months of studying structure, I noticed some things worth sharing. Revelations.

Revelations from THE GHOST OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST. (A man is haunted by girlfriends from the past at his younger brother’s wedding.)

The plant and pay off that Alex Sokoloff talks about is very similar to the six flaws/problems that Blake Snyder talks about.

1. At the start, Connor (Matthew McConaughey) photographs woman in their underwear  (and he’s a jerk) and at the end he’s photographing his brother’s wedding.

2. At the start, we see an image of the empty swing set; in the middle we see the main leads (Matthew and Jennifer Garner) as kids on the swings; and at the end we see them again, with the male lead changed.

3. At the start, after choking when asking Jenny (Jennifer Garner)  to dance, his uncle picks him up in this old car and first instills the wrong idea that falling in love is not the way to go. Basically, love them and leave them. At the end, Connor uses that same car, breaking out of the garage, to track down his brother’s fiancé as she leaves the wedding. Complete turn around.

4. Somewhat at the beginning, Connor, in his selfishness, accidentally destroys the five-layer wedding cake. At the end, they show it repaired.

5. At the start, in the rehearsal dinner, Connor refuses to do the toast the next day and basically destroys the idea of marriage with his harsh words. At the end, in a moving, heart felt speech, he gives the toast to true love.

Wow. Talk about change. And because of all these plants or flaws/problems at the start; at the end, I was saying “aha”. And, of course, proceeded to share with my Hubbie the genius of the plant and pay off concept.  (He’s used to it.)

It’s not just a gimmick. It’s a tool to show the change in a character. It wouldn’t have meant as much if he’d changed jobs and became an interior decorator, or if he’d used his own car to chase down the fiancé, or if they’d bought a new cake, or if someone else had given the toast, or if the final moments were in the garden and not by the swing set.

These plants brought out symbolism, theme, and emotional power and made the movie emotional satisfying. And this concept can do the same for your story.

Have you seen this movie? It’s a tiny bit cheesy, but there were many other plants that I didn’t even mention. Worth a date night to watch.  Have you seen this concept in books or movie done well?

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