While writing our first screenplay in 1994, then called Southfork, we went out and bought the usual screenwriting books, the ones that give you that "Hollywood" recipe. These books insisted that when a screenplay is cooked properly the author will not only succeed artistically, but make millions in the process. The main ingredient that the "Hollywood" recipe called for was a "story arc." The exact construction of the arc was left up to the discretion of the author, however it was expected of you to craft a story that was compelling by always having a character that wins, then loses, then wins again thus cooking up a good satisfying ending for the audience. The writer must cheer and root for his or her character so that he or she will overcome the most devastating of circumstances, and in the end, leave the crowded theater with a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Our second draft of our screenplay was called Middlefork, and we thought we added all the ingredients that the recipe called for... Except, we soon realized, we were still missing our main Ingredient: the story—it didn't have an arc. Plus we didn't have money to construct this key
element. The one thing that the screenwriting books failed to mention was that to feed millions, you need millions. And the reality was... Our "Fork," regardless of its direction—South, West, East, North—was not going to serve millions without a proper arc.

Our final draft was called Northfork. And it finally had what the others lacked: A story arc. Our ark was ninety feet long and built on the plains of Montana. As the how-to books suggested, our ark was the center of our story's universe and would lead our character (and the entire crew for that matter) through some devastating circumstances: It withstood seventy mile-an-hour gusts of wind, three chilling blizzards, a herd of cows, and even James Woods.

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