(Ch. 3) Writing Assignment – Adaptation Study -Due March 3


Due on March 3 (11:59 pm). Earlier in this chapter you were offered an overview of why “adaptations” find such success in the film world. Now, you can get into the mindset of a filmmaker. You must dissect a story-song or story-poem using the guidelines listed below. When you break down a story-song/poem into the formula components (character, conflict, resolution), you’ll get a closer understanding and appreciation for how filmmakers find story ideas for adaptations. As always, your journal entry should include three images, three tags and three links. Post your link below, or email/message me the link if it doesn’t post.



1. You must find and story-song or story-poem (do not examine a music video for this even if one exists– this is strictly about exploring and dissecting the written words or lyrics). If there is a music video out there, that can only be used for bonus points and shouldn’t be the focus of the assignment. You may select any story-song or story-poem that fits the criteria below. If you need suggestions for songs/poems, email or message me before Thursday. I also have a list of user summited songs that fit the criteria here in this chapter. 

2. Your selection must include:
A. Character or Characters
B. Some type of conflict/crisis
C. Resolution
3. You must post the original lyrics (and attribute the writers and/or performers) and then do the following:
A. Identify the characters
B. Identify the Inciting incident
C. Identify the setting of the story (if you can tell)
D. What is the conflict/crisis?
E. What is the resolution
F. If this were made into a film, would it be a comedy, drama, action, horror, animated film? Why?
G. BONUS POINTS (up to 20 additional points) (for any of the following): Identify which “literary hero” is best represented and why. Which film director or acting cast do you think would be best to bring this adaptation to the big screen? What is the story question? How was the story question answered? Do you feel this follows the standard Freytag story arc we explored … if so, offer defense. Include embedded audio or video file connected to the song.

Check out this example:

“Goodbye Earl” – Performed by the Dixie Chicks and written by Dennis Linde

Mary Anne and Wanda were the best of friends4h
All through their high school days,
Both members of the 4H Club,
Both active in the FFA.
After graduation, Mary Anne went out
lookin’ for a bright new world.
Wanda looked all around this town,
and all she found was Earl.
Well, it wasn’t two weeks
after she got married that
Wanda started gettin’ abused.
She put on dark glasses
earlhitand long sleeved blouses
And make-up to cover her bruises
Well, she finally got the nerve to file for divorce,
She let the law take it from there,
But Earl walked right through that restraining order
And put her in intensive care.
Right away Mary Anne flew in from Atlanta
On a red eye midnight flight;
She held Wanda’s hand and they worked out a plan, And it didn’t take them long to decide
That Earl had to die.


Goodbye, Earl.
Those black-eyed peas?
They tasted all right to me, Earl.
You’re feeling weak?
Why don’t you lay down and sleep, Earl.
Ain’t it dark?
copsWrapped up in that tarp, Earl.

The cops came by to bring Earl in;
They searched the house high and low,
Then they tipped their hats
and said “Thank You, ladies, if you hear from him let us know.”

Well, the weeks went by and spring turned to summer,
And summer faded into fall,
And it turns out he was a missing person
who nobody missed at all.

So the girls bought some landham
and a roadside stand
Out on Highway 109.
They sell Tennessee ham
and strawberry jam,
And they don’t lose any sleep at night
‘Cause Earl had to die.

Goodbye Earl.
We need a break.
Let’s go out to the lake, Earl.
We’ll pack a lunch.
And stuff you in the trunk, Earl.
Well, is that all right?
tarpGood! Let’s go for a ride, Earl..

Hey, Well, hey hey hey
Ah, hey hey hey
Well, hey hey hey

  • Cast of Characters: Mary Anne, Wanda, Earl, cops.
  • Inciting Incident: Wanda finding Earl is first, but after two weeks of marriage, Earl begins abusing his wife, Wanda.
  • Setting: Small Southern Town (USA)
  • Conflict: Mary Anne and Wanda vs. Earl ([Wo]Man vs. Man); Earl is continually abusing Wanda, even after she files for a restraining order against him. She and her best friend, Mary Anne, look for a way to resolve this conflict. You could also have a character vs. society conflict (because of the on-going issue of abuse within society and how it is often overlooked or disregarded.
  • Resolution: The girls kill Earl, by poisoning him with black-eyed peas, and they get away with it.
  • Genre: Murder Mystery or drama, but the music video feels more like a dark comedy.​


Freytag Story Arc (much is covered above): 

Exposition – Mary Anne and Wanda were best friends throughout high school, involved in everything together.

Inciting Incident: (from above) – Wanda finding Earl is first, but after two weeks of marriage, Earl begins abusing his wife, Wanda. The story question: What will Wanda and her friend Mary Anne do about the abuse?

The Rising Action: Earl’s abuse of Wanda got so bad that she filed for divorce and asked for a restraining order. Earl disregards the judge’s order, and beats Wanda so badly that she ends up in intensive care. Mary Anne finds out and comes to Wanda’s aid. 

The Climax: Wanda and Mary Anne develop a plan to end the abuse by killing Earl (by poisoning him) and getting rid of the body.

Falling Action: The police investigate Earl’s disappearance and determine he must have just left town. 

Resolution: The girls get away from Earl’s Abuse (the story question is answered) … and they get away with murder in the process. 

Denouement: Wanda and Mary Anne buy land and start their own business selling ‘Tennessee Ham and Strawberry Jam” at a roadside stand. This is a happily ever after story … except for Earl.


Hero Study:

I would say that Wanda and Mary Anne exhibit exhibit a combination of hybrid-hero characteristics as we examine the “literary heroes” from the earlier chapter. There are elements of

A.Anti-hero – They murder someone, but the audience can understand why, and ay even find themselves pulling for them to get away with it.

b. The Modern Hero -They had to rise above the norm and do something neither thought they were capable of.

c. Tragic hero – Wanda may feel that she wouldn’t have been abused (and become a murderer), if she had not found Earl. It was her choice to marry him.

Cast, Crew and Director (if made into a feature film):

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I’d love to see Jennifer Lawrence & Saoirse Ronan star in a film version directed (and adapted screenplay) by Emma Thompson. 

~Kathryn Manning


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