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July 12, 2017 | Author: kmm08 | Category: Screenplay, Plot (Narrative), Leisure
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The Art Of Plotting Your Story & Screenplay Structure

12/12/14, 11:51 AM

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The!Art!Of!Plo:ng!Your!Story!&!Screenplay!Structure

Screenwri:ng'Ar:cles

By!Linda!Cowgill

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For'many'people'plot'is'the'same'thing'as'structure.'Both'deal'with'designing'the'story,'crea:ng rela:onships'between'its'elements'and'developing'how'ac:on'builds'to'a'climax.'When'you structure'a'film'story,'you're'working'out'the'plot'to'discover'the'best'way'of'telling'it.

The!Principles!of!Organiza5on!C!Story!Structure Real'structure'gives'you'the'organizing'principles'for'your'material.'It'is'far'more'than'plot points,'turning'points,'act'breaks'or'whatever'you'choose'to'call'them.'Structure'gives'you'a framework'to'manage'and'make'sense'of'all'your'material'F'the'ac:on,'conflict,'characters, exposi:on,'theme,'subtext,'etc.'It'creates'the'context'for'this'complex'interplay'of'elements.'Yet in'the'finest'films'there'is'an'underlying'simplicity'to'their'structures'that'is'as'elegant'and graceful'as'quantum'physics.

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The!SceneCByCScene!Rela5onships!C!Plo:ng PloKng,'on'the'other'hand,'is'the'nuts'and'bolts'of'puKng'your'material'together.'You'move from'being'the'neat'and':dy'architect'to'contractor'and'craLsman'breaking'your'nails,'and'find along'the'way,'all'the'ensuing'problems'of'turning'the'plan'into'the'project. When'you'"plot"'you'turn'the'structural'story'considera:ons'that'have'to'do'with'conflict'and meaning'into'moments'that'convey'exposi:on,'build'suspense,'reveal'character'and'expose emo:on'to'deepen'the'audience's'involvement'in'the'work.'You'look'for'specific'ac:ons'that'tell us'how'a'character'acts'and'reacts'F'intellectually'and'emo:onally'F'and'then'construct'specific scenes'to'advance'the'ac:on,'reveal'character'or'convey'exposi:on.'You'want'to'find'the'clear line'that'shows'how'one'ac:on'leads'to'the'next'and'so'on,'so'that'you'build'a'chain'of'events that'flows'intelligently'and'coherently.'But'you'want'the'most'interes:ng,'surprising'and'moving ways'to'connect'your'scenes'from'one'to'the'rest.'PloKng'is'really'the'art'of'crea:ng'the rela:onships'between'your'scenes'to'make'your'story'points'more'powerful'and'meaningful.'(By "story'points"'I'mean'more'than'just'"turning"'or'"plot"'points'and'act'breaks;'I'mean'the important'informa:on,'emo:on,'ac:on'and'exposi:on'of'a'story.)'

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Of'course,'you'can'call'all'this'structure'and'story'design,'too,'and'you'wouldn't'be'wrong.'What I'm'really'saying'here'is'wri:ng'a'screenplay'is'a'mul:Ffaceted'process.'First'you'need'an'overall plan'that'gives'shape'and'meaning'to'the'material.'The'next'step'is'the'actual'outlining'or ploKng'of'the'scenes'to'create'the'path'of'ac:on'and'reac:on'that'builds'tension,'meaning'and emo:on.

Emo5onal!Plo:ng The'best'plots'build'to'emo:onal'payoffs'that'feel'real'and'important.'Yet'this'is'one'of'the hardest'things'to'see'when'working'on'the'overall'design'of'a'screenplay:'where'emo:on'fits into'the'story.'OLen'in'first'structuring'a'story,'writers'focus'on'the'characters''ac:ons'and'goals. Writers'want'to'keep'their'stories'moving'forward'to'ensure'momentum'builds'and'skip'over characters''responses'to'the'ac:on'that'might'be'emo:onal'for'fear'they'slow'the'story'down.'

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But'emo:on'is'frequently'a'key'mo:va:ng'factor'in'a'character's'ac:on.'Because'the'writers jump'over'the'reac:ons,'their'stories'lose'emo:onal'dimension'or'reality.'As'a'result'the http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-art-of-plotting-your-story-and-screenplay-structure.html

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The Art Of Plotting Your Story & Screenplay Structure

12/12/14, 11:51 AM

jump'over'the'reac:ons,'their'stories'lose'emo:onal'dimension'or'reality.'As'a'result'the emo:ons'aren't'incorporated'effec:vely'into'the'plot'ac:on'of'the'story'F'and'the'characters'feel less'3Fdimensional'and'the'stories'feel'flat.' If'we'look'at'great'films'we'see'emo:on'plays'an'integral'part'in'the'plot'ac:on.'Scenes'exist'to drama:ze'the'emo:on'a'character'feels'so'the'audience'can'feel'it'and'empathize'with'the character,'too.'These'scenes'can'be'some'of'the'most'memorable'in'a'film.'Look'at'the'moment when'Lester'(Kevin'Spacey)'in'American)Beauty'registers'that'his'daughter'Janey'(Thora'Birch)'is in'love.'The'joy'and'happiness'that'spread'across'his'face'makes'us'feel'good,'too.'Or'when'Will (Joseph'Fiennes)'in'Shakespeare)in)Love'discovers'that'his'friend'and'rival'Kit'Marlowe'(Rupert

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Evere_)'has'been'killed'and'he'thinks'he's'responsible.'We'feel'his'pain.'Remember'in'Jaws when'the'mother'of'the'boy'killed'by'the'shark'slaps'and'blames'Chief'Brody'(Roy'Scheider)'and how'the'Chief'accepts'the'responsibility,'and'we'feel'for'him.' But'the'emo:on'does'even'more.'It'serves'to'mo:vate'characters'and'expand'the'audience's understanding'of'story'events.'Let's'look'at'Erin)Brockovich.'In'the'middle'of'the'story,'Erin'(Julia Roberts)'is'trying'to'get'more'families'to'commit'to'the'lawsuit.'She'meets'Rita'and'Ted'Daniel (Cordelia'Richards'and'Wade'Williams)'whose'daughter'Annabelle'(Kris:na'Malota)'has'cancer. Her'head'wrapped,'presumably'because'of'the'chemotherapy,'Annabelle'snuggles'in'a nightgown'between'her'parents'while'Erin'talks'to'them.'But'instead'of'talking'about'the lawsuit,'Erin'focuses'on'the'girl'and'keeps'the'conversa:on'light,'complimen:ng'the'girl'and smiling'at'her,'though'in'Erin's'eyes'we'see'how'affected'she'is.'

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The'following'short'scene'shows'Erin'driving'home,'emo:onally'wrought,'her'eyes'fixed'on'the highway,'clearly'moved'and'upset'by'what'she'has'experienced.' The'next'scene'shows'her'dogging'Ed'Masry'(Albert'Finney)'to'convince'him'to'widen'the'scope of'the'case.'We'understand'her'mo:va:on;'we've'seen'how'deeply'affected'she's'been,'and now'we'see'it'in'her'ac:ons.'He'refuses,'but'she'just'doesn't'give'up.'She'dogs'him'outside'the office'building,'through'the'hallways,'all'the'way'to'his'office'where,'s:ll'refusing,'he'closes'the door'on'her.'But'she'doesn't'quit.'Erin'waits,'possibly'just'pausing,'unsure'but'unwilling'to'give up.'Ed'opens'the'door,'not'expec:ng'to'find'her'there,'and'relents'just'a'li_le.'He'learns'there are'a'lot'more'families'involved'and'finally'yields'to'Erin.' This'short'sequence'develops'how'Erin'moves'this'case'forward'to'the'classF'ac:on'suit.'It'does so'not'by'flatly'recoun:ng'each'step'along'the'way,'but'by'showing'emo:onal'moments'that'tell us'as'much'about'Erin'as'they'do'about'the'story.'They'allow'us'to'connect'with'Erin'and'care about'her'because'we'see'how'she'connects'and'cares'about'these'people.' Effec:ve'ploKng'incorporates'ac:on'and'reac:on,'cause'and'effect,'to'build'momentum'and deepen'meaning.'Audiences'then'become'more'intensely'involved'in'the'story.'We'use'ac:on'to propel'the'forward'mo:on'of'the'story;'reac:on'to'show'the'consequences'the'ac:ons'have'on the'characters.'When'we'show'what'characters'have'to'deal'with'as'a'result'of'their'ac:ons,'and how'that'leads'to'new'ac:ons,'we'oLen'understand'the'characters'be_er'and'empathize'with them'as'well.

Suspense When'working'on'the'overall'design'of'a'screenplay,'another'difficulty'writers'face'is'knowing when'to'play'sequences'for'suspense.'Writers'tend'to'indicate'con:nuous'rising'ac:on'in'their structural'outlines'usually'in'one'or'two'scenes.'They'then'go'on'to'plot'out'a'full'story'of'65'or 75'scenes.'The'trouble'is'when'they'come'to'those'suspense'scenes'in'their'screenplays,'they don't'have'room'to'do'them'right.'They've'misjudged'how'something'that'can'be'summarized'so quickly'in'outline'form'will'translate'into'script'pages'and'end'up'wri:ng'a'quick'scene'or'two'to cover'the'ac:on,'but'it's'not'very'interes:ng'or'exci:ng.' PloKng'a'great'suspense'sequence'can'take'up'as'much'as'five'or'fiLeen'minutes'of'screen':me (and'as'many'pages),'and'increase'tension'and'excitement'in'a'script.'But'if'you'haven't'leL room'in'the'overall'design'of'the'story,'the'ac:on'will'be'rushed'and'unsuccessful.'A'writer'who knows'how'to'plot'iden:fies'these'sec:ons'of'the'story'so'she'can'develop'them'into'effec:ve segments'of'ac:on'that'contribute'to'the'success'of'the'screenplay.

Structure!Supports!Plot PloKng'and'structure'are'two'sides'of'the'same'coin'in'screenwri:ng.'They'go'handFinFhand'in crea:ng'a'successful'screenplay.'Coming'up'with'the'overall'design'is'the'first'step. http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-art-of-plotting-your-story-and-screenplay-structure.html

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The Art Of Plotting Your Story & Screenplay Structure

12/12/14, 11:51 AM

Understanding'that'the'story'must'be'plo_ed'in'terms'of'ac:on,'emo:on'and'suspense'is'the second.' If'you've'seen'those'maps'of'the'Rockies'or'Himalayan'Mountain'Ranges'with'eleva:on'points outlined'for'the'highest'peaks,'then'you'have'a'good'idea'what'a'plot'should'look'like.'Think'of those'peaks'as'the'main'story'points'in'your'outline,'the'major'turning'points'you'want'to'build to.' What'those'maps'don't'show'you'are'the'harsh'and'windy,'snowF'and'iceFcovered'paths'that carry'you'up'to'the'precipice'and'down'into'the'next'valley'of'complica:ons.'Those'paths'are the'plot'of'your'story.'They'are'the'routes'you'must'cover'stepFbyFstep'to'get'to'your'goals. Nego:a:ng'those'paths'is'the'only'way'you're'geKng'to'the'summit'and'back'down'again.'The goal'is'making'the'trip,'not'just'looking'down'from'the'top'F'you'can'do'that'from'an'airplane.' PloKng'your'story'is'really'"plodding"'your'story'("to'work'slowly'and'steadily").'Story'structure is'a'map,'ploKng'is'taking'the'trip.'Nighhall,'avalanches,'weather,'and'animals'real'and'fanciful will'try'to'distract'you,'so'set'out'well'prepared.'You'can'use'a'guru'for'story;'for'plot,'find'a Gurkha.

About!Linda!Cowgill Linda'is'a'screen'and'television'writer'who'heads'the'Screenwri:ng Department'at'the'Los'Angeles'Film'School.'Her'feature'film, "Opposing'Force,"'was'released'by'Orion'Pictures'in'1986.'She'has wri_en'for'such'shows'as'"Quincy,"'"The'Young'Riders"'and'"Life Goes'On,"'for'which'she'won'a'Genesis'Award.'Most'recently,'she op:oned'her'script'"Honor'Student"'to'World'Interna:onal Network.'She'received'her'MFA'from'UCLA'where'she'won'a'Jim Morrison'Award'for'best'short'film.'Ms.'Cowgill'is'the'author'of'the popular'film'school'textbook'Wri:ng)Short)Films,'Secrets)of Screenplay)Structure'and'The)Art)of)PloAng.'She'can'be'contacted through'her'website'at:'www.plotsinc.com.

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Hit Me With Your Best Subplot!

12/12/14, 11:52 AM

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Hit!Me!With!Your!Best!Subplot!

ScreenwriPng'ArPcles

By!The!Unknown!Screenwriter

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Wri5ng!Subplots!&!Mul5ple!Plot!Lines!In!Your!Screenplay

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More'and'more'screenplays'I'read'lately'have'hardly'any'subplots...'Especially'those'screenplays I'do'occasionally'read'from'people'trying'to'break'into'the'industry.'

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Subplots'are'simply'TOO'IMPORTANT'not'to'include'into'your'story.'

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Let'me'say'it'ONE'MORE'TIME'TO'BE'PERFECTLY'CLEAR...'

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Subplots'are'simply'TOO'IMPORTANT'not'to'include'into'your'story.'

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UNDERSTAND?'Good.' Every'once'in'a'while,'I'will'read'a'script'from'a'newbie'that'REALLY'gets'me'turning'the'pages and'doesn’t'seem'to'let'me'even'relax'between'all'the'acPon...'And,'once'I’m'finished,'I'actually have'to'take'a'breather...' It’s'usually'during'this'Pme'that'my'mind'starts'to'quickly'travel'through'the'story'again'and guess'what...'IT'DOESN’T'TAKE'LONG.' When'it'doesn’t'take'that'long,'that’s'my'red'flag'to'quickly'go'back'through'the'screenplay'to see'what'kind'of'subplots'there'were'because'for'the'life'of'me...'I'COULDN’T'REMEMBER'ANY.' Don’t'think'that'your'subplots'will'naturally'develop...'Some'will'of'course'but'that’s'cheaPng.'As you'create'new'characters'that'interact'with'your'main'characters,'of'course'some'kind'of subplot'emerges'but'these'are'the'kind'that'we'expect.' Don’t'take'my'word'for'it'(unless'you'want)'but'I'think'you'need'at'least'the'following'in'your screenplays...

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The'MAIN'plot'of'your'story The'MAIN'subplot'of'your'story Up'to'three'more'subplots Why'the'restricPon?'Again,'this'is'my'own'structural'thesis'but'it'really'boils'down'to'AUDIENCE and'OVERKILL.' I'would'rather'tell'a'story'as'concise'as'possible'and'have'the'subplots'totally'SUPPORT'the'story rather'than'take'away'from'the'story'hence,'the'above'restricPons.'Make'note'that'some'of these'subplots'will'naturally'develop'from'simple'interacPon'between'your'characters...'This'is fine.'This'is'great.'Do'this'as'you'would'normally'and'keep'on'doing'it.'

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What'I'want'to'discuss'here'are'planned'subplots.' First,'let’s'define'SUBPLOT.

Subplot http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/writing-subplots-and-multiple-plot-lines-in-your-screenplay.html

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Hit Me With Your Best Subplot!

12/12/14, 11:52 AM

Subplot (From'Wikipedia,'the'free'encyclopedia)' A"subplot"is"a"series"of"connected"ac2ons"within"a"work"of"narra2ve"that"func2on"separately from"the"main"plot." Plot"–"the"connec2on"of"events"in"a"temporal"or"metaphorical"line–is"dis2nct"from"ac2on"(events themselves),"and"when"a"work"of"fic2on"has"both"a"central"plot"and"a"second"set"of"connected ac2ons"that"is"separate"from"that"plot,"it"is"said"to"have"a"subplot.'

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Subplots'may'connect'to'main'plots,'in'either'Pme'and'place'or'in'themaPc'significance. Subplots'oYen'involve'supporPng'characters,'those'besides'the'protagonist'or'antagonist.' A'subplot'is'somePmes'referred'to'as'a'“B'story”'or'a'“C'story”'and'so'on,'with'the'“A'story” being'the'main'plot.'

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Okay...'So'that'gives'you'a'general'“idea”​'about'what'a'subplot'is...'A'decent'foundaPon'for'the informaPon'that'follows...'I'hope.' Most'important'rule'about'subplots:' ALL'SUBPLOTS'SHOULD'SUPPORT,'INFORM,'AND'EVENTUALLY'WRAP'UP'OR'PAY'OFF'INTO'YOUR MAIN'STORY'PLOT.

Subplots!CAN!HAVE!different!TIEMINS!to!your!main!story!plot 1.' Subplots'can'ENHANCE'your'main'story'plot. 2.' Subplots'can'UPSET'the'main'story'plot. 3.' Subplots'can'be'used'to'SETbUP'your'main'story'plot. 4.' Subplots'can'be'the'MIRROR'OPPOSITE'of'your'main'story'plot.

Let’s!take!them!one!by!one... 1.' Subplots'can'ENHANCE'your'main'story'plot:' Subplots'do'this'by'introducing'new'characters,'creaPng'theme,'and'revealing subtext'and'backstory'of'your'main'story'plot.'*'NOTE:'Remember,'the'THEME'is what'your'story'is'REALLY'about'underneath'all'the'locaPons,'acPon,'and dialogue. 2.' Subplots'can'UPSET'the'main'story'plot.' Subplots'do'this'by'introducing'new'characters,'creaPng'a'love'interest,'revealing flaws'or'problems'that'the'Protagonist'possesses'or'is'going'through...'Revealing other'complicated'relaPonships'between'the'Protagonist'and'other'characters. 3.' Subplots'can'be'used'to'SETbUP'your'main'story'plot.' I'call'this'the'VISUAL'PROLOGUE.'You’ve'seen'it'before.'A'scene'that'basically'sets the'mood,'tone,'style,'and'scope'of'the'main'story'plot.'Normally'gives'us'just'a glimpse'of'the'Protagonist,'the'Antagonist,'or'a'vicPm'of'the'Antagonist. 4.' Subplots'can'be'the'MIRROR'OPPOSITE'of'your'main'story'plot.' This'is'prefy'selfbexplanatory.'Basically'a'subplot'that'shows'a'story'line'that'is'in complete'contradicPon'to'the'main'story'plot.

How!to!USE!your!subplots These'are'fun'lifle'“tricks'of'the'trade”'uses'of'subplots'and'I’ll'list'them'in'order'of'importance to'ME. To'slow'down'the'advancement'of'your'main'story'plot. This'is'actually'my'FAVORITE'use'of'subplots'because'not'only'can'you'slow'down'the advancement'of'your'main'story'plot,'you'can'also'use'the'same'subplot'for'a'myriad'of'other http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/writing-subplots-and-multiple-plot-lines-in-your-screenplay.html

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Hit Me With Your Best Subplot!

12/12/14, 11:52 AM

advancement'of'your'main'story'plot,'you'can'also'use'the'same'subplot'for'a'myriad'of'other tricks...' And'they'are: Revealing'backstory. Revealing'exposiPon. Revealing'character'flaws'of'your'Protagonist. Introducing'other'characters. Revealing'subtext. Revealing'theme. SHOWING'simultaneous'acPon'that'happens'alongside'your'main'story'plot. Dumbfound,'shock,'frighten,'mysPfy,'excite,'saPsfy,'and'relax'the'audience. Increasing'the'stakes'of'your'main'Protagonist. Supplying'tension. Plugging'possible'main'story'plot'holes. Tying'main'story'plot'into'other'story'lines. The'above'is'by'no'means'an'exhausPve'list'but'will'hopefully'give'you'a'helping'hand'with'your own'subplots.' Remember,'no'mafer'how'good'or'bad'you'think'your'subplots'are,'they'must'follow'the'most important'rule:' “ALL'SUBPLOTS'SHOULD'SUPPORT,'INFORM,'AND'EVENTUALLY WRAP'UP'OR'PAY'OFF'INTO'YOUR'MAIN'STORY'PLOT.” And,'the'most'important'part'of'the'above'rule,'is'that'you'eventually'feed'your'subplot'into your'main'story'plot.

DO!NOT!leave!your!subplots!unaTended! This'is'another'rule'that'I'wish'I'could'shout'out'loud'at'you'while'you’re'wriPng.' DO'NOT'LEAVE'YOUR'SUBPLOTS'UNATTENDED! DO'NOT'LEAVE'YOUR'SUBPLOTS'UNATTENDED! DO'NOT'LEAVE'YOUR'SUBPLOTS'UNATTENDED! DO'NOT'LEAVE'YOUR'SUBPLOTS'UNATTENDED! DO'NOT'LEAVE'YOUR'SUBPLOTS'UNATTENDED!' There,'how’s'that?' Unafended'subplots'take'focus'away'from'the'main'story'plot'when'in'fact'they'should SUPPORT,'INFORM,'AND'EVENTUALLY'WRAP'UP'OR'PAY'OFF'INTO'YOUR'MAIN'STORY'PLOT!' You'heard'that,'right?' At'the'same'Pme,'TOO'MANY'SUBPLOTS'can'end'up'doing'exactly'the'same'thing'i.e.,'take'focus away'from'the'main'story'plot'by'having'way'too'much'going'on.' YOU'DO'NOT'WANT'THAT'TO'HAPPEN'IN'YOUR'SCREENPLAY!' Another'good'rule'of'thumb'with'introducing'subplots'into'your'main'story'plot'is'to'introduce all'the'characters'that'will'advance'those'subplots'somePme'within'Act'1.' Remember,'a'subplot'should'advance'the'main'story'plot;'not'the'other'way'around...'Having said'that'however,'you'can'oYen'end'a'subplot'when'the'main'story'plot'also'ends'as'long'as you’ve'smoothly'woven'it'into'your'main'story'plot.' Your'subplot'needs'to'start'independently'from'your'main'story'plot'and'then'eventually http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/writing-subplots-and-multiple-plot-lines-in-your-screenplay.html

Page 5 of 8

Hit Me With Your Best Subplot!

12/12/14, 11:52 AM

Your'subplot'needs'to'start'independently'from'your'main'story'plot'and'then'eventually INTERSECT'the'main'story'plot'and'help'push'it'forward'to'the'end.'Think'of'several'rivers eventually'dumping'into'the'ocean'to'help'you'visualize'the'concept.' By'paying'off'and'resolving'all'your'subplots'by'the'end'of'your'story,'you'really'engage'the audience'and'give'them'the'opportunity'to'FOCUS'on'your'main'story'plot.'Your'subplots'will'be there'to'give'the'audience'all'the'conflict,'tension,'and'drama'when'they'need'it'most.

About!The!Unknown!Screenwriter A'working'screenwriter'and'producer,'The'Unknown'Screenwriter'makes'his'home'in'the'Sierra Nevada'Mountains'of'Northern'California'and'somewhere'in'the'state'of'New'Mexico'with'just'a lifle'bit'of'Los'Angeles'thrown'in'when'he'feels'he'can'breathe'the'air.

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PowerView'lets'you'easily'customize'your'story'structure'into'colorbcoded acts,'sequences'or'chapters'and'includes'sample'templates'like'the'"3'Act Structure"'and'the'"Hero's'Journey"'which'many'Hollywood'blockbusters are'based'upon.'You'can'also'create'your'own'templates.

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Screenplay Structure in Four Easy Pieces

12/12/14, 11:49 AM

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Screenplay!Structure!in!Four!Easy!Pieces

[email protected]'[email protected]

By!Jengo!Robinson

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All'plays,'whether'on'the'screen'or'on'the'stage,'have'a'format'more'defining'than'any'other form'of'literary'expression.'Screenplays'are,'perhaps,'the'toughest.'They'have'a'structure'as steely'and'rigid'as'the'support'towers'of'the'Golden'Gate'Bridge.'They'are'more'[email protected]'than the'Japanese'seventeenBsyllable,'setBinBconcrete'poem'known'as'haiku.'The'best'comparison'is to'picture'a'novel'a'vat'of'mushroom'soup,'and'a'screenplay'as'a'stock'cube,'same'intensity'of flavor,'but'powerfully'compressed.'If'[email protected]'a'novel'is'swimming'in'the'ocean,'[email protected]'is swimming'in'the'bath. Every'story'must'have'a'beginning,'must'have'a'middle,'and'must'have'an'end.'And'don't'think you'can'write'it'[email protected]'you'know'what'that'end'is.'These'elements'can'also'be'called'setBup, conflict'and'[email protected]'You'can'dance'around'this'formula'[email protected]'you're'blue'in'the'face,'but you're'always'going'to'come'back'to'it.'SetBup.'Conflict.'[email protected]'That's'the'way'it'always'has been.'That's'the'way'it'always'will'be.'And'the'key'to'screenplay'structure'is'hiLng'the'right page'with'the'right'beat.

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Set'up.'Conflict.'[email protected]'Act'I,'Act'II,'Act'III.'Scripts'are'[email protected]'Structuring'them'is'a numeric'problem.'They'are'[email protected]'engineered;'yet'must'disguise'their'geometric precision. Act'II'is'so'long'—'60'pages'—'it'must'be'divided'in'half'to'create'Act'II'A'and'Act'II'B,'which leaves'four'Acts.'Plain'and'simple.'But'the'trick'is'to'split'Act'II'at'the'central'turning'point'of'the [email protected]'movie.'This'can'[email protected]'be'called'the'flipBtheBscript'moment,'or'the'midBpoint,'and'it happens'exactly'halfway'through'all'movies.'This'turning'point'in'the'drama'must'be'established long'before'you'begin'[email protected]'And'it'must'take'the'audience'from'Act'II'A'into'Act'II'B. Each'Act'should'be'30'pages.'Four'of'those'make'120,'the'Hollywood'length.'Act'I,'II'A,'II'B'and III.'But,'unlike'the'theatre'that'has'a'curtain'to'divide'Acts,'or'television'dramas'where'they'are consistent'with'commercials,'how'can'you'tell'when'an'Act'has'changed'in'the'cinema?'Being able'to'spot'this,'and'understanding'why'Acts'change,'and'grasping'what'each'Act'must'achieve is'something'you'must'master.

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Act!I This'introduces'the'main'characters,'establishes''the'rules'of'the'world','and'setsBup'the'hero's goal'for'the'rest'of'the'movie.'But'this'can't'be'an'arbitrary'decision.'In'all'great'scripts,'there lies'within'Act'I'the'Inci%ng'Incident.'This'is'the'event,'usually'found'on'page'10B15'that'sparks the'desire'your'hero'needs'in'order'to'pursue'his'goal.'When'you'study'films,'it'can'be'[email protected]fied easily.'Watch'out'for'the'event'that'occurs'in'the'hero's'life'that'doesn't'happen'every'day.'This is'the'[email protected]'Incident. Act'I'ends'on'page'25B30.'Study'opening'scenes'from'films'you'know.'Why'have'they'chosen'to start'this'way?'How'does'this'opening'reveal'character,'introduce'the'hero'or'nemesis?'The opening'to'a'movie'must'be'chosen'carefully.'The'Incident'that'sparks'the'story,'must,'above'all, be'credible.'Not'some'cockamamie'idea'that'will'cause'everyone'in'the'cinema'to'say,'"Yeah, right!"

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Act!II!A http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/screenplay-structure-in-four-easy-pieces.html

Page 1 of 6

Screenplay Structure in Four Easy Pieces

12/12/14, 11:49 AM

Act!II!A The'hero'begins'his'journey.'It'must'be'filled'with'conflicts'and'obstacles'that'are'constantly being'thrown'in'his'way.'The'trickiest'part'is'[email protected]'that'turning'point'on'page'60.'It'must change'the'course'of'the'story,'yet'keep'the'hero'pursuing'the'same'goal.'A'great'example'is'in Derailed.'At'the'end'of'Act'II'A,'Clive'Owen'suddenly'realizes'Jennifer'Anniston'is'no'longer'the sweet'blond'with'a'bad'marriage,'but'his'real'nemesis.'You'must'come'up'with'something'that will'literally'turn'the'script'around,'making'the'audience'gasp.'This'turning'point'is'so'[email protected]'you may'want'to'structure'the'[email protected]'story'around'this'one'event.'Watch'films'and'[email protected]'this point.'A'History'of'Violence'contains'another'great'example.

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Act!II!B At'the'beginning'of'this'Act,'a'ray'of'hope'must'shine'upon'the'hero.'With'his'original'goal'from Act'I,'and'with'the'drama'now'aimed'in'a'new'[email protected],'conflicts'must'start'again,'sliding towards'the'lowBpoint,'where'the'hero'reaches'an'[email protected]'low.'This'must'happen'on'page'90.'It marks'the'end'of'Act'II.'It's'the'nowBorBnever'moment,'and'everything'you'write'is'aimed resolutely'towards'this'point.'You'must'keep'telling'yourself,'"I've'got'to'get'my'hero'to'the'page 90'abyss'in'the'next'x'amount'of'pages."'You'll'find'it'easier'to'work'backwards.'That'will'stop you'[email protected]'and'ending'up'page'96,'which'makes'Act'II'B'too'long,'too'long,'too'long. Then'you've'got'to'cut'it,'which'is'even'more'difficult'than'[email protected]'it.

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Act!III This'contains'two'parts.'The'final'bagle'with'the'nemesis,'where'the'hero'achieves'his'goal against'all'odds,'and'then,'the'long'awaited'[email protected]'B'only'a'few'pages'long.'The'end'of'the script'is'the'most'important'part.'You'must'know'where'your'hero'is'going'before'you'write'one word'of'the'script.'You'write'towards'the'end.'This'will'allow'you'to'plant'and'foreshadow'the drama.'You'cannot'operate'[email protected]'the'end'has'been'established.'If'you'start'[email protected]'without knowing'the'end,'you'will'fail,'probably'catastrophically.

Mastering!this!informa5on. Once'you'know'the'basic'story,'spend'the'next'five'hours'trying'to'work'out'the'last'two'minutes of'the'movie.'Then'you'can'begin'to'establish'the'lowBpoint,'moving'backwards'to'the'much more'tricky'midBpoint. The'easiest'Act'to'write'is'the'first,'because'it's'an'[email protected]'and'establishes'the'Goal. However,'Act'I'requires'diligent'research'and'more'detail'than'any'other'part'of'the'script.'Act'II is'very'hard,'and'this'is'where'almost'every'script'fails,'leading'up'to'the'turningBpoint.'And'if you'feel'this'is'going'wrong,'you'might'as'well'turn'off'your'computer'and'start'again. [email protected],'you'live'and'die'between'page'30'and'page'60.'It's'a'four'Act'structure,'no'ifs,'ands or'buts.'Keep'the'reader'or'audience'hooked,'load'in'the'surprises,'and'no'goofing'off'cruising through'three'or'four'pages'without'much'happening.'You'can't'afford'it'in'[email protected] Watch'films'with'all'these'points'in'mind.'Pay'[email protected]'to'Act'breaks,'(@me'them'on'your'watch —'about'every'half'hour).'Count'the'conflicts'being'hurled'at'the'hero.'Watch'how'the'nemesis always'seems'more'powerful.'This'is'the'making'of'a'hero.'He'must'overcome'the'seemingly insurmountable'struggle'to'achieve'his'goal. Thrillers,'[email protected]'films,'Westerns'and'horrors'are'great'genres'to'grasp'these'principles.'High Noon,'The'Wizard'of'Oz'and'Star'Wars'all'possess'the'geometric'precision'I'have'outlined.'The watchword'is'structure.'And'it's'as'[email protected]'to'your'[email protected]'as'those'towers'that'hold'up'the Golden'Gate'Bridge.

About!Jengo!Robinson Jengo'Robinson'has'a'BA'in'[email protected]'[email protected]'and'Art'History'from the'University'of'East'Anglia.'He's'wrigen'eight'feature'film'scripts, and'has'a'1'yr'diploma'in'[email protected]'from'the'New'York'Film Academy.'He'works'in'London'as'a'script'consultant.

http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/screenplay-structure-in-four-easy-pieces.html

Page 3 of 6

Screenplay Structure: Building Your Story From the Ground Up

12/12/14, 11:53 AM

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Screenplay!Structure:!Building!Your!Story!From!the Ground!Up

ScreenwriFng'ArFcles

By!Robert!Gregory!Browne

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Structure'is'one'of'the'most'important'parts'of'any'story,'whether'it'be'for'the'screen'or'the page.'This'essay'was'originally'wri:en'with'screenplays'in'mind,'but'I'approach'my'novels'in'the exact'same'way.'Let'me'explain: A'friend'of'mine'had'a'house'built'on'the'side'of'a'hill'in'the'Pacific'Northwest.'BeauFful'view.'At night,'he’d'stand'on'his'deck'and'look'out'at'the'valley'spilling'out'below'him,'moonlight reflected'on'the'surface'of'the'ocean'beyond. The'house'itself'was'a'marvel'of'wood'and'glass'and'filled'with'just'about'any'convenience'you can'think'of,'fully'automated'by'a'mainframe'computer.'People'who'visited'usually'stood'around wideKeyed'and'slackKjawed,'completely'amazed'by'the'place.'It'was'that'impressive.

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A'few'months'aMer'he'moved'in,'my'friend'was'walking'barefoot'across'his'carpet'when'he noFced'an'odd'bump'in'the'floor.'He'explored'it'with'his'toes,'then'crouched'down'and'ran'his hands'along'the'bump.'Alarmed,'he'pulled'the'carpet'back'and'felt'his'stomach'clutch'up'when he'discovered'a'crack'in'the'foundaFon'that'ran'the'enFre'width'of'the'house'–'a'crack'that literally'split'the'place'in'half. FranFc'calls'got'him'nowhere.'He'was'told'very'ma:erKofKfactly'that'the'only'way'to'fix'it'was'to tear'down'the'house'and'start'from'scratch'with'a'new'foundaFon.'It'turned'out'that'the original'contractor'had'used'substandard'cement'that,'coupled'with'a'serious'design'flaw, couldn’t'withstand'the'weight'of'the'house.'A'week'later,'the'storm'of'the'decade'washed'half of'it'into'the'valley.'Pieces'of'my'friend’s'dream'were'sca:ered'from'his'perch'on'the mountainside'all'the'way'to'the'Pacific'Ocean. Despondent,'my'friend'moved'in'with'his'parents'while'he'contemplated'what'to'do'next.'His father,'a'reFred'firefighter,'said,'“Can’t'build'a'house'without'a'solid'foundaFon.'Can’t'have'a solid'foundaFon'without'a'foolproof'set'of'plans.”

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And'he'was'right.'You'can’t.'And'you'shouldn’t. When'my'friend'told'me'what'his'father'had'said,'it'brought'to'mind'something'very'similar'that I'(and'many'others)'have'been'saying'for'years'–K'about'wriFng,'not'houses.'And'if'you’ve'spent any'amount'of'Fme'trying'to'become'a'professional'writer,'you’ve'heard'it'before: WriFng'a'story'is'like'building'a'house.'You'can'decorate'it'to'your'heart’s'content,'but'without'a solid'foundaFon,'it’s'bound'to'fall'apart.

WHAT!STRUCTURE!IS

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When'people'ask'writers'what'structure'is,'the'most'common'response'you'hear'is'this:'a beginning,'middle'and'end. Well,'duh.'Any'moron'knows'that.'We’ve'all'seen'enough'movies'and'read'enough'books'to know'that'you’ve'go:a'start'somewhere,'end'somewhere'else'and'that'a'bunch'of'stuff'has'to happen'in'between.'Otherwise'what’s'the'point? http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/movie-screenplay-structure-building-your-story-from-the-ground-up.html

Page 1 of 10

Screenplay Structure: Building Your Story From the Ground Up

12/12/14, 11:53 AM

The'trick'is'knowing'where'to'start,'where'to'end,'and'what'to'put'inKbetween.'If'you’re'laying'a foundaFon'with'a'faulty'plan'or'substandard'material,'you’ll'sFll'have'your'beginning,'middle and'end,'but'there’s'a'pre:y'good'chance'that'your'story'won’t'stand'up'to'much'scruFny. Several'years'ago'I'read'an'arFcle'in'Writer’s'Digest'by'a'writer'named'Gary'Provost.'Mr.'Provost wisely'compared'a'story'to'a'basketball'game,'in'which'the'players'have'an'overall'goal'–'to'win the'game.'To'reach'that'goal,'they'must'face'the'challenge'of'several'smaller'goals,'traveling from'one'end'of'the'court'to'another'in'order'to'score'baskets'and,'of'course,'to'prevent'the opposing'team'from'scoring.'All'during'the'game,'the'two'teams'have'conflicFng'goals'and'will

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do'anything'they'can'to'stop'the'other'from'succeeding. Mr.'Provost'was,'I'believe,'trying'to'describe'the'nature'of'conflict'in'storytelling,'and'he'did'it'in a'way'that'not'only'tells'us'about'conflict,'but'about'structure'as'well.'The'two'are'so'closely intertwined'that'it'would'be'difficult'not'to'discuss'them'both'in'the'same'breath. Structure'is'a'series'of'goals'that'lead'to'an'overall'goal.'You'can’t'have'your'players'wandering around'for'no'reason.'They'have'to'have'a'purpose'in'life.'They'have'to'know'what'their objecFves'are'and'must'be'willing'to'fight'(conflict)'to'reach'those'objecFves.

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A!MAN!WITH!A!PURPOSE Let’s'look'for'a'moment'at'the'movie,'The'FugiFve.'While'not'a'perfect'acFonKthriller,'it'comes pre:y'close,'especially'in'terms'of'structure. It'opens'with'a'woman'being'killed.'Her'husband,'a'prominent'doctor,'is'arrested'and'convicted for'her'murder,'but'he’s'an'innocent'man.'The'real'killer'is'a'oneKarmed'man,'with'whom'he fought'at'the'crime'scene. On'the'way'to'prison,'there’s'a'terrible'bus'crash'and'the'doctor'escapes.'Seizing'this opportunity,'he'begins'his'quest'to'clear'his'name.'And'the'only'way'to'do'this'is'to'find'the'oneK armed'man. This'setup'is'the'“beginning”'of'the'story.'Act'One.'It'defines'the'main'character,'his'situaFon and'his'overall'goal,'to'find'the'real'killer.'Not'only'is'this'the'character’s'overall'goal,'it'was'the writer’s'overall'goal'as'well.'It'was'the'writer’s'job'to'figure'a'way'to'get'his'hero'to'this'goal'in'a dramaFcally'compelling'way.'Not'an'easy'task. To'accomplish'that,'the'writer'had'to'structure'a'series'of'subKgoals'(think'basketball)'that'would eventually'lead'his'hero'to'the'end'of'the'game.'Conflict'helped'him'do'that. Let’s'break'it'down: In'Act'One'of'The'FugiFve,'what’s'the'first'subKgoal?'Not'the'hero’s'goal,'but'writer’s. Stuck?'I’ll'give'you'a'hint:'to'get'Dr.'Kimble'arrested.'Plain'and'simple. Kimble’s'wife'is'killed,'he'fights'with'the'oneKarmed'man,'the'oneKarmed'man'escapes'and Kimble'is'leM'behind'with'no'alibi'and'blood'on'his'clothes.'The'next'thing'he'knows'he’s arrested'for'murder. In'the'process'of'sebng'up'the'character’s'main'objecFve,'the'writer'uses'this'smaller'goal'as'a kind'of'navigaFng'point.'The'first'act'is'a'series'of'these'navigaFng'points,'and'by'breaking'the act'down'in'this'way,'the'writer'is'able'to'execute'his'story'in'more'manageable'chunks. The'second'subKgoal'in'Act'One'is'to'get'Kimble'convicted'of'the'murder,'followed'by'a'third, and'slightly'bigger'goal'(turning'point)'—'the'bus'crash'and'escape'that'end'the'act'and'allow the'hero'to'begin'his'quest'toward'his'overall'objecFve.

GOALS,!GOALS!AND!MORE!GOALS The'part'of'the'story'that'usually'makes'or'breaks'the'writer'is'the'“middle”'part,'or'Act'Two. This'act'is'commonly'known'as'the'confrontaFon'act,'and'carries'the'bulk'of'the'story.'Again, like'Mr.'Provost’s'basketball'game,'Act'Two'is'filled'with'many'subKgoals'and,'hopefully,'a formidable'force'to'keep'the'hero'from'reaching'those'goals. In'The'FugiFve,'Kimble'has'escaped'in'Act'One,'but'Act'Two'brings'him'a'whole'new'series'of problems.'His'immediate'objecFve'is'to'get'to'safety'and'to'take'care'of'a'gash'in'his'side'caused http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/movie-screenplay-structure-building-your-story-from-the-ground-up.html

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Screenplay Structure: Building Your Story From the Ground Up

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problems.'His'immediate'objecFve'is'to'get'to'safety'and'to'take'care'of'a'gash'in'his'side'caused by'the'bus'wreck.'He'runs'through'the'woods'in'his'prison'garb,'exchanges'it'for'a'truck'driver’s overalls,'then'sneaks'into'the'nearest'hospital'and'tends'to'the'wound. These'scenes'are'filled'with'conflict'because'Kimble'is'being'pursued'at'the'Fme'by'a'new character'the'writer'has'introduced'—'Kimble’s'nemesis,'U.S.'Marshall'Sam'Gerard,'a'hardKassed fugiFve'hunter.'Gerard’s'overall'goal'is'to'bring'his'man'in.'He’s'the'opposing'team,'trying'to score'those'baskets'and'win'the'game. So'in'Act'Two,'the'first'subKgoal'is'gebng'Kimble'to'the'hospital.'This'subKgoal'was'created'by conflict'–'the'bus'crash,'gash'and'police'pursuit'—'as'Kimble'reacts'to'and'ba:les'against'it. This,'in'turn,'leads'to'yet'another'subKgoal'or'navigaFng'point:'the'first'confrontaFon'between Kimble'and'Gerard.'At'the'hospital,'Kimble'steals'an'ambulance,'gets'cornered'by'Gerard'in'a viaduct'and'jumps'to'certain'death'in'order'to'escape.'Again,'by'using'this'first'confrontaFon'as a'navigaFng'point'and'wriFng'toward'it,'the'writer'was'be:er'able'to'manage'his'story. Since'we’re'limited'by'space'here,'rather'than'conFnue'through'the'story'scene'by'scene,'let’s look'at'some'of'the'subKgoal/navigaFng'points'that'helped'the'writer'make'it'through'Act'Two: Kimble'survives'the'jump'and'heads'back'to'Chicago. He'contacts'a'colleague,'who'helps'him'with'money. He'goes'to'the'prosthe=c'ward'of'a'Chicago'hospital'and'gets'a'list'of'one?armed'men. He'calls'several'of'the'men,'narrows'down'the'list,'and'discovers'one'is'in'prison. He'goes'to'the'prison,'discovers'it’s'the'wrong'guy,'but'is'confronted'by'Gerard'and'must'escape. He'breaks'into'the'one?armed'man’s'apartment,'finds'photos'and'evidence'that'raise'ques=ons about'a'drug'Kimble’s'own'hospital'had'been'tes=ng,'a'drug'Kimble'knew'was'defec=ve. He'goes'to'his'hospital'to'inves=gate'and'discovers'his'colleague'is'behind'his'wife’s'murder'– with'Kimble'the'intended'target. Each'of'these'is'a'subKgoal/navigaFng'point'that'helps'the'writer'build'his'story.'Moving'parallel to'this'are'a'series'of'goals'involving'the'Gerard'character.'By'moving'from'one'to'the'next,'the writer'is'able'to'build'a'series'of'sequences,'each'affected'by'one'preceding'it. By'going'beyond'the'simple'“beginning,'middle'and'end”'and'structuring'your'own'story'this way,'your'foundaFon'becomes'as'solid'as'a'rock,'and'the'process'is'much'easier'to'handle. Like'those'before'it,'Act'Three,'the'resoluFon,'will'have'its'own'navigaFng'points,'the'biggest'of all'being'the'hero’s'success'or'failure'to'achieve'his'overall'goal. Have'your'eyes'glazed'over'yet? Hey,'nobody'said'wriFng'a'screenplay'is'easy.

AH,!BUT!IT!DOESN’T!STOP!THERE Structure'doesn’t'end'with'these'navigaFng'points.'When'we'break'our'story'down'further,'each scene'should'have'a'goal'and'a'structure'of'its'own. That’s'right.'In'a'wellKwri:en'screenplay,'each'scene'has'it’s'own'setup,'confrontaFon'and resoluFon.'These'elements'may'not'be'as'fully'formed'as'they'are'in'the'overall'script,'but they’re'there.'I'urge'you'to'take'a'very'close'look'at'any'wellKwri:en'movie'and'see'for'yourself. But'don’t'strain'yourself'too'hard.'There’s'such'a'thing'as'overkill...

ARISTOTLE’S!MODEL!AND!THE!WHAMMY!BOYS Listen'to'new'writers'talk'about'structure,'and'it’s'fairly'obvious'they’ve'been'listening'to'blow hards'like'me'who'insist'that'each'story'is'comprised'of'three'acts'and'that'each'act'contains'an approximate'number'of'pages'with'a'couple'of'turning'points'along'the'way. Aristotle'wasn’t'an'idiot,'and'based'on'my'observaFons'over'the'years,'I’d'say'his'model'holds up'pre:y'well.'Even'soKcalled'five'act'stories'are'really'threeKact'stories'in'disguise.'And'on closer'scruFny,'even'the'infamous'Pulp'FicFon'with'its'“revoluFonary”'Fme'shiMs'follows http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/movie-screenplay-structure-building-your-story-from-the-ground-up.html

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Screenplay Structure: Building Your Story From the Ground Up

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closer'scruFny,'even'the'infamous'Pulp'FicFon'with'its'“revoluFonary”'Fme'shiMs'follows Aristotle’s'model. Trust'me,'it’s'true. So'it’s'probably'a'good'idea'to'have'that'model'in'the'back'of'your'mind'when'you'write'your novel'or'screenplay.'AMer'enough'reading'and'wriFng'and'movieKwatching,'the'threeKact structure'becomes'ingrained'in'our'system.'So'ingrained'that'we'oMen'forget'it’s'there. When'you’re'at'that'point,'a'good'way'to'approach'structure'is'to'design'your'story'so'that'it loosely'follows'Larry'Gordon'and'Joel'Silver’s'whammy'chart,'which,'boiled'down,'goes'like'this: Something'must'happen'every'ten'minutes'or'so. That'something'doesn’t'necessarily'have'to'be'a'shot'of'acFon'as'Gordon'and'Silver'insist'(hey, maybe'you’re'wriFng'a'love'story),'but'it'should'be'something'compelling. In'other'words,'when'you'structure'your'story,'take'those'subKgoal/navigaFng'points'I’ve'been blathering'on'about'and'spread'them'out'across'the'landscape'of'your'screenplay'so'that'each of'them'falls'every'ten'minutes'or'so.'Put'a'couple'of'the'larger'ones'at'the'end'of'Act'One'and Two'and'you’ll'do'okay. This'isn’t'as'formulaic'as'it'sounds.'Really.'In'fact,'I'think'as'you'work'out'your'story'you’ll'be surprised'to'discover'that'these'navigaFng'points'oMen'take'care'of'themselves'in'a'very'natural, intuiFve'way.

THE!LONG!AND!WINDING!ROAD Anybody'confused?'I'hope'not.'For'those'of'you'who'are,'simply'think'of'what'it’s'like'to'drive across'country.'It'would'be'impossible'take'the'trip'in'one'long'haul,'never'stopping'to'rest'and refuel.'Before'we'get'started,'most'of'us'pull'out'the'map'and'mark'our'route'and,'to'carry'an analogy'way'too'far,'lay'the'foundaFon'for'our'trip.'We'know'exactly'where'we’re'going'and how'to'get'there,'but'we’re'always'looking'for'places'to'stop'along'the'way'to'make'the'trip'a more'pleasant'experience. So,'go'on,'get'out'of'here.'Get'your'map,'mark'your'route,'and'start'driving. And'whatever'you'do,'don’t'get'lost.

About!Robert!Gregory!Browne Robert'Gregory'Browne'is'an'AMPAS'Nicholl'AwardKwinning screenwriter'and'novelist,'the'author'of'four'thrillers'with'a supernatural'twist'published'in'the'US,'UK,'Germany,'Russia, Bulgaria'and'Denmark,'and'has'a'story'in'Lee'Child’s'crime'ficFon anthology,'KILLER'YEAR:'Stories'to'Die'For.'That'story'was'opFoned for'television,'as'was'his'first'book,'KISS'HER'GOODBYE.'He’s'a member'of'ITW'and'is'a'regular'columnist'for'the'Anthony'Award nominated'writer’s'blog,'MurderaF.'He’s'currently'at'work'on'his fiMh'novel,'PARADISE'CITY,'for'Du:on'books.

Hover!over!the!screenshots!to!learn!how!Movie!Outline!can!help!your!wri5ng...

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The Five Key Turning Points Of All Successful Movie Scripts

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The!Five!Key!Turning!Points!Of!All!Successful!Movie Scripts

Screenwri7ng'Ar7cles

By!Michael!Hauge

Screenwri7ng'Tips

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Hollywood'movies'are'simple.'

Screenplay'Format Step'Outlining Entertainment'Law Screenwri7ng'Books Script'Wri7ng'Glossary

Though'wri7ng'a'successful'Hollywood'movie'is'certainly'not'easy,'the'stories'for'mainstream Hollywood'films'are'all'built'on'only'three'basic'components:'character,'desire'and'conflict.'

Screenplay'Sobware

All'film'stories'portray'a'hero'who'faces'seemingly'insurmountable'obstacles'as'he'or'she pursues'a'compelling'objec7ve.'Whether'it's'Clarice'Starling'trying'to'stop'Buffalo'Bill'in'Silence of'the'Lambs,'Captain'Miller'Saving'Private'Ryan,'or'Billy'EllioM'trying'to'gain'admission'to'a ballet'school,'all'these'protagonists'confront'overwhelming'conflict'in'their'pursuit'of'some visible'goal.'

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Plot'structure'simply'determines'the'sequence'of'events'that'lead'the'hero'toward'this objec7ve.'And'whether'you're'wri7ng'roman7c'comedies,'suspense'thrillers,'historical'dramas or'big'budget'science'fic7on,'all'successful'Hollywood'movies'follow'the'same'basic'structure.' In'a'properly'structured'movie,'the'story'consists'of'six'basic'stages,'which'are'defined'by'five key'turning'points'in'the'plot.'Not'only'are'these'turning'points'always'the'same;'they'always occupy'the'same'posi7ons'in'the'story.'So'what'happens'at'the'25%'point'of'a'90Yminiute comedy'will'be'iden7cal'to'what'happens'at'the'same'percentage'of'a'threeYhour'epic.'These percentages'apply'both'to'the'running'7me'of'the'film'and'the'pages'of'your'screenplay.'Since one'script'page'equals'approximately'one'minute'on'the'screen,'the'75%'mark'of'a'120Ypage screenplay'will'occur'at'page'90,'or'about'90'minutes'into'the'twoYhour'film.'

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As'I'explain'this'sixYstage'process'below,'I'll'refer'to'dozens'of'recent'successful'films.'But'I'also want'to'take'two'recent'blockbusters'through'this'en7re'structural'process: Susannah'Grant's'screenplay'for'Erin'Brockovich;'and'Gladiator,'wriMen'by'David'H.'Franzoni, John'Logan'and'William'Nicholson.'One'is'a'contemporary'drama'based'on'a'true'story;'the other'is'a'sweeping,'ac7onYfilled,'historical'epic.'But'as'different'as'these'two'films'are'in'style, genre,'length'and'subject'maMer,'both'made'more'than'a'hundred'million'dollars'world'wide, both'were'among'the'most'cri7cally'acclaimed'films'of'2000,'and'both'employ'the'same'basic plot'structure.

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STAGE!I:!The!Setup

Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'is'a'broke,'unemployed'single'mother'who'can't'find'a'job,'gets'hit http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-five-key-turning-points-of-all-successful-movie-scripts.html

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The Five Key Turning Points Of All Successful Movie Scripts

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Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'is'a'broke,'unemployed'single'mother'who'can't'find'a'job,'gets'hit by'a'car,'and'loses'her'lawsuit. Gladiator:'Maximus,'Rome's'most'powerful,'and'most'popular,'general,'leads'his'troops to'victory'in'their'final'baMle. The'opening'10%'of'your'screenplay'must'draw'the'reader,'and'the'audience,'into'the'ini7al

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secng'of'the'story,'must'reveal'the'everyday'life'your'hero'has'been'living,'and'must'establish iden7fica7on'with'your'hero'by'making'her'sympathe7c,'threatened,'likable,'funny'and/or powerful.' Cast'Away'transports'us'into'the'world'of'a'FedEx'execu7ve,'shows'him'as'likable'and'good'at his'job,'and'creates'sympathy'and'worry'when'he'must'leave'the'woman'he'loves'at'Christmas to'fly'off'in'dangerous'weather.'

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Similarly,'Bowfinger'humorously'reveals'the'sad'existence'of'a'good'hearted'but'hapless'director hustling'to'get'a'movie'off'the'ground.'Or'think'of'the'dangerous'world'of'WWII'submarines'in'U 571,'or'Lowell'Bergman's'mysterious,'threatening'pursuit'of'a'story'at'the'beginning'of'The Insider.'These'setups'pull'us'out'of'our'own'existence'and'into'the'cap7va7ng'world'the screenwriter'has'created.

TURNING!POINT!#1:!The!Opportunity!(10%)

Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'forces'Ed'Masry'to'give'her'a'job. Gladiator:'Maximus'is'offered'a'reward'by'Emperor'Marcus'Aurelius,'and'he'says'he wants'to'go'home. Ten'percent'of'the'way'into'your'screenplay,'your'hero'must'be'presented'with'an'opportunity, which'will'create'a'new,'visible'desire,'and'will'start'the'character'on'her'journey.' This'is'the'point'where'Neo'is'taken'to'meet'Morpheus'and'wants'to'learn'about'The'Matrix,'or where'Ike'gets'fired'and'wants'to'go'meet'the'Runaway'Bride.' No7ce'that'the'desire'created'by'the'opportunity'is'not'the'specific'goal'that'defines'your'story concept,'or'the'finish'line'your'hero'must'cross'at'the'end'of'the'film.'It'is'rather'a'desire'to move'into...

STAGE!2:!The!New!Situa5on

Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'begins'working'for'Ed'Masry's'law'firm,'meets'her'neighbor'George, starts'looking'into'a'case'In'Hinkley,'California,'involving'PG&E,'but'gets'fired. Gladiator:'Maximus'is'asked'by'the'dying'Emperor'to'take'control'of'Rome'and'give'it back'to'the'people,'in'spite'of'the'ambi7on'of'his'son'Commodus. For'the'next'15%'of'the'story,'your'hero'will'react'to'the'new'situa7on'that'resulted'from'the opportunity.'During'this'stage,'the'hero'gets'acclimated'to'the'new'surroundings,'tries'to'figure out'what's'going'on,'or'formulates'a'specific'plan'for'accomplishing'his'overall'goal:'Fletcher'has to'figure'out'that'he's'been'cursed'to'tell'the'truth'in'Liar,'Liar;'and'Mrs.'Doubgire'devises'the plan'for'seeing'his'children.' Very'oben'story'structure'follows'geography,'as'the'opportunity'takes'your'hero'to'a'new loca7on:'boarding'the'cruise'ships'in'Titanic'and'The'Talented'Mr.'Ripley;'going'to'Cincinna7'to bury'his'father'in'Rain'Man;'the'President'taking'off'on'Air'Force'One.' In'most'movies,'the'hero'enters'this'new'situa7on'willingly,'oben'with'a'feeling'of'excitement and'an7cipa7on,'or'at'least'believing'that'the'new'problem'he'faces'can'be'easily'solved.'But'as the'conflict'starts'to'build,'he'begins'to'realize'he's'up'against'far'greater'obstacles'than'he http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-five-key-turning-points-of-all-successful-movie-scripts.html

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The Five Key Turning Points Of All Successful Movie Scripts

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the'conflict'starts'to'build,'he'begins'to'realize'he's'up'against'far'greater'obstacles'than'he realized,'un7l'finally'he'comes'to...

TURNING!POINT!#2:!The!Change!of!Plans!(25%)

Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'gets'rehired'to'help'win'a'suit'against'PG&E. Gladiator:'Maximus,'aber'learning'that'Commodus'has'murdered'his'father,'vows'to stop'the'new'emperor'and'carry'out'Marcus'Aurelius''wishes. Something'must'happen'to'your'hero'oneYfourth'of'the'way'through'your'screenplay'that'will transform'the'original'desire'into'a'specific,'visible'goal'with'a'clearly'defined'end'point.' This'is'the'scene'where'your'story'concept'is'defined,'and'your'hero's'outer'mo7va7on'is revealed.' Outer'mo7va7on'is'my'term'for'the'visible'finish'line'the'audience'is'roo7ng'for'your'hero'to achieve'by'the'end'of'the'film.'It'is'here'that'Tess'discovers'that'Katherine'has'stolen'her'idea'in Working'Girl,'and'now'wants'to'close'the'deal'herself'by'posing'as'a'broker.'This'is'what'we're roo7ng'for'Tess'to'do,'and'we'know'that'when'she's'accomplished'this'goal'(or'failed'to),'the movie'will'be'over.' This'is'arguably'the'most'important'structural'principle'you'can'master.'If'your'hero's'visible'goal is'defined'too'early'in'your'script,'the'story'will'run'out'of'steam'long'before'the'climax.'If'the outer'mo7va7on'isn't'defined'un7l'the'half'way'point,'the'reader'will'have'lost'interest'and moved'on'to'another'screenplay.' You've'probably'no7ced'how'oben'I've'used'the'word'visible'in'this'ar7cle.'I'want'to'prevent'any confusion'between'the'plot'of'your'movie'and'the'inner'journey'your'hero'takes.' Structure'is'a'formula'for'laying'out'the'events'we'see'on'the'screen.'Your'characters''growth'or arc,'which'will'be'gradually'revealed'throughout'the'story,'grows'out'of'their'pursuit'of'the visible'goal,'but'it'doesn't'conform'to'these'strict'turning'points.' This'is'one'of'those'principles'that'sounds'simple,'but'is'hard'to'incorporate'in'your'wri7ng. Hollywood'movies'are'built'on'what'the'characters'do'as'they'pursue'a'clearly'defined'endpoint or'outcome.'Because'much'of'what'we'respond'to'emo7onally'grows'out'of'the'hero's'longings, wounds,'fears,'courage'and'growth,'we'oben'focus'on'these'elements'as'we'develop'our'stories. But'these'invisible'components'of'the'story'can'emerge'effec7vely'only'if'they'grow'out'of'a simple,'visible'desire.' On'rare'occasions,'as'in'My'Best'Friend's'Wedding'or'The'American'President,'the'outer mo7va7on'(breaking'up'the'wedding;'passing'the'crime'bill)'is'declared'at'the'10%'mark,'but the'plan'for'accomplishing'the'goal'won't'be'defined,'and'no'ac7on'will'be'taken,'un7l'the'oneY quarter'mark.'It'is'at'that'point'that'your'hero'begins'to'experience...

STAGE!III:!Progress

Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'gathers'evidence,'gets'Hinkley'residents'to'hire'Ed'to'represent them,'and'gets'roman7cally'involved'with'George. Gladiator:'Maximus'is'taken'to'be'killed,'escapes'to'find'his'family'murdered,'and'is captured'and'sold'to'Proximo,'who'makes'him'a'powerful'gladiator. For'the'next'25%'of'your'story,'your'hero's'plan'seems'to'be'working'as'he'takes'ac7on'to achieve'his'goal:'Ethan'Hunt'begins'closing'in'on'the'villain'in'Mission:'Impossible'2;'or'Pat'gets involved'with'the'woman'of'his'dreams'in'There's'Something'About'Mary.' This'is'not'to'say'that'this'stage'is'without'conflict.'But'whatever'obstacles'your'hero'faces,'he'is able'to'avoid'or'overcome'them'as'he'approaches... http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-five-key-turning-points-of-all-successful-movie-scripts.html

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The Five Key Turning Points Of All Successful Movie Scripts

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TURNING!POINT!#3:!The!Point!of!No!Return!(50%)

Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'and'Ed'file'the'lawsuit,'risking'dismissal'by'the'judge,'which'would destroy'any'hope'of'a'seMlement. Gladiator:'Maximus'arrives'in'Rome,'determined'to'win'the'crowd'as'a'Gladiator'so'he can'destroy'Commodus. At'the'exact'midpoint'of'your'screenplay,'your'hero'must'fully'commit'to'her'goal.'Up'to'this point,'she'had'the'op7on'of'turning'back,'giving'up'on'her'plan,'and'returning'to'the'life'she'was living'at'the'beginning'of'the'film.'But'now'your'hero'must'burn'her'bridges'behind'her'and'put both'feet'in'(never'let'it'be'said'that'I'can't'work'two'hackneyed'metaphors'into'the'same sentence).' It'is'at'precisely'this'moment'that'Thelma'and'Louise'rob'the'grocery'store,'that'Truman'crosses the'bridge'in'The'Truman'Show,'and'that'Rose'makes'love'with'Jack'in'Titanic.'These'heroes'are taking'a'much'bigger'risk,'and'exposing'themselves'to'much'greater'jeopardy,'than'at'any previous'7me'in'those'films.' As'a'result'of'passing'this'point'of'no'return,'your'hero'must'now'face…

STAGE!IV:!Complica5ons!and!Higher!Stakes

Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'sees'less'and'less'of'George'and'her'kids,'Ed'brings'in'a'big'firm'that tries'to'squeeze'Erin'out'of'the'picture'and'alienates'the'Hinkley'plain7ffs. Gladiator:'Maximus'faces'much'greater'baMles'in'the'arena,'becomes'a'hero'to'the Roman'people,'and'reveals'his'true'iden7ty'to'Commodus. For'the'next'25%'of'your'story,'the'obstacles'become'bigger'and'more'frequent,'achieving'the visible'goal'becomes'far'more'difficult,'and'your'hero'has'much'more'to'lose'if'he'fails.'Aber Mitch'McDeere'begins'collec7ng'evidence'against'The'Firm'at'that'movie's'midpoint,'he'now must'hide'what'he's'doing'from'both'the'mob'and'the'FBI'(complica7ons),'and'failure'will'result in'either'prison'or'death'(higher'stakes).' The'conflict'con7nues'to'build'un7l,'just'as'it'seems'that'success'is'within'your'hero's'grasp,'he suffers...

TURNING!POINT!#4:!The!Major!Setback!(75%)

Erin!Brokovich:'Most'of'the'plain7ffs'withdraw'due'to'the'bungled'efforts'of'the'new lawyers,'and'George'leaves'Erin. Gladiator:'Maximus,'declaring'he'is'only'a'gladiator'with'no'power,'refuses'to'see Gracchus,'the'leader'of'the'Senate,'and'Commodus'plots'to'destroy'both'Maximus'and the'Senate. Around'page'90'of'your'screenplay,'something'must'happen'to'your'hero'that'makes'it'seem'to the'audience'that'all'is'lost:'Carol'dumps'Melvin'in'As'Good'As'It'Gets;'Morpheus'is'captured'in The'Matrix;'and'Annie'Reed'declares,'“Sleepless'in'SeaMle'is'history.”'If'you're'wri7ng'a'roman7c comedy'like'Working'Girl'or'What'Women'Want,'this'is'the'point'where'your'hero's'decep7on'is revealed'and'the'lovers'break'up.' http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-five-key-turning-points-of-all-successful-movie-scripts.html

Page 7 of 12

The Five Key Turning Points Of All Successful Movie Scripts

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These'disastrous'events'leave'your'hero'with'only'one'op7on.'He'can't'return'to'the'life'he'was living'at'the'beginning'of'the'film,'since'he'eliminated'that'possibility'when'he'passed'the'point of'no'return.'And'the'plan'he'thought'would'lead'to'success'is'out'the'window.'So'his'only choice'is'to'make'one,'last,'allYorYnothing,'doYorYdie'effort'as'he'enters...

STAGE!V:!The!Final!Push

Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'must'rally'the'Hinkley'families'to'agree'to'binding'arbitra7on'and find'evidence'incrimina7ng'the'PG&E'corporate'office. Gladiator:'Maximus'conspires'to'escape'from'Proximo,'lead'his'former'troops'against Commodus,'and'give'power'over'Rome'to'the'Senate. Beaten'and'baMered,'your'hero'must'now'risk'everything'she'has,'and'give'every'ounce'of strength'and'courage'she'possesses,'to'achieve'her'ul7mate'goal:'Thelma'and'Louise'must outrun'the'FBI'to'reach'the'border;'and'the'Kennedy's'must'aMempt'one'final'nego7a7on'with the'Soviets'in'13'Days.' During'this'stage'of'your'script,'the'conflict'is'overwhelming,'the'pace'has'accelerated,'and everything'must'work'against'your'hero,'un7l'she'reaches...

TURNING!POINT!#5:!The!Climax!(90J99%)

Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'and'Ed'win'a'$330'million'dollar'seMlement'and'George'returns. Gladiator:'Maximus'has'his'final'baMle'with'Commodus'in'the'arena. Several'things'must'occur'at'the'climax'of'the'film:'the'hero'must'face'the'biggest'obstacle'of the'en7re'story;'she'must'determine'her'own'fate;'and'the'outer'mo7va7on'must'be'resolved once'and'for'all.'This'is'the'big'moment'where'our'heroes'go'into'the'Twister;'the'Men'In'Black go'up'against'the'giant'alien,'and'the'Jewish'factory'workers'make'their'escape'in'Schindler's List.' No7ce'that'the'climax'can'occur'anywhere'from'the'90%'point'of'your'screenplay'to'the'last couple'minutes'of'the'movie.'The'exact'placement'will'be'determined'by'the'amount'of'7me you'need'for...

STAGE!VI:!The!A\ermath

Erin!Brokovich:'Erin'gets'a'$2'million'bonus,'and'con7nues'working'with'Ed. Gladiator:'Maximus'is'united'with'his'family'in'death,'and'his'body'carried'away'in'honor by'the'new'leaders'of'the'Roman'republic. No'movie'ends'precisely'with'the'resolu7on'of'the'hero's'objec7ve;'you'must'allow'the audience'to'experience'the'emo7on'you'have'elicited'in'the'exci7ng,'sad'or'roman7c'climax. You'may'also'need'to'explain'any'unanswered'ques7ons'for'the'audience,'and'you'want'to reveal'the'new'life'the'hero'is'living'now'that'he's'completed'his'journey.' In'movies'like'Rocky,'Thelma'and'Louise'and'The'Truman'Show,'there'is'liMle'to'explain,'and'the writer's'goal'is'to'leave'the'audience'stunned'or'elated.'So'the'climax'occurs'near'the'very'end of'the'film.'But'in'most'roman7c'comedies,'mysteries'and'dramas,'the'abermath'will'include'the http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-five-key-turning-points-of-all-successful-movie-scripts.html

Page 9 of 12

The Five Key Turning Points Of All Successful Movie Scripts

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of'the'film.'But'in'most'roman7c'comedies,'mysteries'and'dramas,'the'abermath'will'include'the final'five'or'ten'pages'of'the'script.' Understanding'these'stages'and'turning'points'provides'you'with'an'effec7ve'template'for developing'and'wri7ng'your'screenplay.'Is'your'story'concept'defined'at'the'oneYquarter'mark? Is'your'hero's'goal'truly'visible,'with'a'clearly'implied'outcome,'and'not'just'an'inner'desire'for success,'acceptance'or'self'worth?'Have'you'fully'introduced'your'hero'before'presen7ng'her with'an'opportunity'around'page'10?'Does'she'suffer'a'major'setback'75%'of'the'way'into'your script?' But'a'word'of'cau7on:'don't'let'all'these'percentages'block'your'crea7vity.'Structure'is'an effec7ve'tool'for'rewri7ng'and'strengthening'the'emo7onal'impact'of'your'story.'But'you'don't want'to'be'imprisoned'by'it.'Come'up'with'characters'you'love'and'a'story'that'ignites'your passion.'Then'apply'these'structural'principles,'to'ensure'that'your'screenplay'will'powerfully touch'the'widest'possible'audience.

About!Michael!Hauge Michael'is'a'story'consultant,'author'and'lecturer'who'works'with screenwriters,'novelists,'filmmakers'and'execu7ves.'He'has coached'writers,'producers,'stars'and'directors'on'projects'for'Will Smith,'Julia'Roberts,'Robert'Downey,'Jr.,'and'Morgan'Freeman,'as well'as'for'every'major'studio'and'network.'Michael'is'the'best selling'author'of'Selling'Your'Story'in'60'Seconds:'The'Guaranteed Way'to'Get'Your'Screenplay'or'Novel'Read,'as'well'as'the'brand new'20th'Anniversary'Edi7on'of'his'classic'book'Wri=ng Screenplays'That'Sell.'For'informa7on'on'his'consulta7on'services for'screenwriters,'novelists'and'filmmakers,'his'products'or'lecture schedule,'or'to'contact'Michael'directly,'go'to www.StoryMastery.com.

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Page 11 of 12

Act Two - The Elusive Heart of the Screenplay

12/12/14, 11:54 AM

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Act!Two!9!The!Elusive!Heart!of!the!Screenplay

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By!Jengo!Robinson

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