I finally got around to reading that ALL CAPS David Mamet memo to the writers of The Unit, which got cancelled last year. The part that I agree with the most reads as follows:
“QUESTION:WHAT IS DRAMA? DRAMA, AGAIN, IS THE QUEST OF THE HERO TO OVERCOME THOSE THINGS WHICH PREVENT HIM FROM ACHIEVING A SPECIFIC, ACUTE GOAL.
“AND SO WE, THE WRITERS, MUST ASK OURSELVES OF EVERY SCENE THESE THREE QUESTIONS: (1) WHO WANTS WHAT?; (2) WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY DON’T GET IT?; (3) WHY NOW?
“THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS ARE LITMUS PAPER. APPLY THEM, AND THEIR ANSWER WILL TELL YOU IF THE SCENE IS DRAMATIC OR NOT.”