Screenwriting : Screenwriters Master Chart by Katie Bryan

Katie Bryan

Screenwriters Master Chart

Wondering if writers follow this, and if so, how closely? (My prologue throws this all out of whack, but my story follows it fairly well, which is cool because I didn't plan it that way.) And yes I know 'forget formula', forget the rules', etc. but still, as a loose guideline what do you think? (I uploaded it, just have to open in a new tab)

Katie Bryan

And...allrighty then, it didn't upload. Hmmm.....

Katie Bryan

ACTION/PLOT POINT/DESCRIPTION PG #s IN 120-PG SCRIPT SETUP: Who is the character, what is the place, time, mood, size/scope/feeling, point of view. What's the story about? Whose story is it? What does hero want, and what's stopping hero from getting it? Do we like hero and care if he/she gets what she wants? What happens next 1 - 12 CENTRAL QUESTION POINT: What is the central question, the theme, the main issue the movie is going to answer? 3 NEW OPPORTUNITY: Something that happens to steer events in a particular direction 12 CHOICE OF PATH: Based on the new opportunity, the hero begins taking steps toward a general goal 12 - 30 CHANGE OF PLANS/TURNING POINT: what event throws hero a curve, forces response or reaction, sets the hero's plan/goal, defines the hero's new pathway for Act II? General goal(s) become specific. 30 PROGRESS: Plans to achieve goals are working. There are conflicts but things are going pretty well. Hero is changing, circumstances are changing and stakes get higher. 30-60 MOVING FORWARD METAPHOR: A small scene with symbolic overtones, showing the character's growth, and giving us a clue to the resolution 45 POINT OF NO RETURN: Something happens so that hero, if pushing forward and committing, against all odds, to goal, cannot return to where he/she was in the setup. Sometimes, here the external goal has become internal/personal, and pursuing it will change the hero. 60 POST-POINT MOMENT: A lighter moment, which typically follows the POINT OF NO RETURN. Doesn't further action, but shows how hero is changing, then obstacles start to escalate 60+ COMPLICATIONS AND HIGHER STAKES: The goal becomes even harder to achieve. It looks like it will take everything to do this, harder than thought, but hero wants it more because it's harder. 60 - 90 ALL HOPE IS LOST/ MAJOR SETBACK/THE BIG GLOOM/ GIVING UP POINT: The greatest setback. It appears that hero may not achieve goal, hero about to give up, but something happens that changes everything, an event that gives a chance at a goal hero didn't know he/she had 90 FINAL PUSH --> ONE SPECIFIC ACTION: Final intensification of the hero's pursuit of the goal, which usually becomes focused here into achieving one specific action. An event occurs that educates the hero, and starts the resolution. Hero may be getting something more or different from what he/she set out to get, hero has learned something and is changed by it, a new complications sets in? 90 - 108 CLIMAX: Hero is close, can see goal, final obstacle, has to give up everything in pursuit of the goal, crisis point where all is in jeopardy, final moment, all or nothing . Hero achieves or fails to achieve the goal, and outer motivation is clearly resolved, often through confrontation with a "nemesis." 108 - 114 DENOUEMENT: What is the outcome, resolution, hero's new life? 108 - 114 THE END 120

Dan Guardino

Toss it. The only people that care about any of that stuff are screenwriters and they aren't going to buy or produce your screenplay.

Katie Bryan

That's pretty much what I thought too. As an editor, I tell my writers to at least learn the rules before they break them. Structure is good, but I'm not so sure it's got to be page by page. I saw that and thought, Oh hell.

Erik Grossman

I don't buy into this plug and play stuff. You're writing a script, not filling out a madlib.

Katie Bryan

LOL. true enough, Erik. I did have fun with those Madlibs, lol.

Danny Manus

It's all the same shit with different titles. Look, you need structure. You need the major beats that keep a reader engaged and a story moving and progressing. Ive never heard of this exact one before but its all the same shit. Use it if it helps, dont use it if it hinders.

William Martell

That's the basic beats of just about any story, and you could change the terms and have SAVE THE CAT or HERO'S JOURNEY or any of the others. I'm against page numbers for stuff, and here's one of the reasons why - 120 pages is probably too long for a screenplay today. Normal is more like 110 pages... and more in the realm of 90 of you're writing horror or comedy. Okay, now how does that chart thingie work? You can use something like that as a basic guideline if you need it, but always look for the reasons behind any rule and focus on that reason instead of the rule. Different stories work different ways, and one size does not fit all.

Craig D Griffiths

Story has a start middle and end. Over thousands of years humans have developed patterns to story telling. Some people have documented it and try to make a business from that. To me a masterclass involves craft not formula. If I did a painting masterclass I'd be angry if they gave me a paint by numbers kit.

Katie Bryan

Great answers, all. Thanks! I think it comes down to experience and that rule thing....know the rules in order to break the rules. Same with 'formula'. I do think it might help new writers learn structure as they learn craft and hone their writing skills.

Tony Cella

It depends on the type of film. Hollywood movies follow a specific formula. Fitting paradigms is less important for independent cinema. I recommend reading scripts, comic books and novels, in that order, over guides on writing. Learning from the source beats imitations.

Katie Bryan

Absolutely agree.

Fiona Faith Ross

I tried to read it but my eyes glazed over. Sorry. I think I must be tired.

Tony Cella In addition to a list of In and Out Burger locations and amusing Hollywood anecdotes, the above book contains a similar version of the outline for 80-100 page scripts. I've considered writing one based on the format--a simple action movie screenplay--to use as a sample in case I somehow make it big and a larger studio wants me for re-write work or to send me assignments.

Katie Bryan

I love and appreciate everyone's viewpoints. Thanks! :)

William Martell

I'm writing the Blue Book on structure right now and it opens with a look at famous novelists who used things like this to create books that won awards or are still in print decades after being written.

Katie Bryan

Very cool, William! I read every 'how to' book before I started writing books and scripts. Then I started writing, joined crit groups, got an editor's job, and really learned what works and what doesn't. I think the one thing a lot of new writers struggle with is starting in the right place.

Harold Vandyke

I keep hearing that 110 pages is the new norm, yet there are still plenty of 120+ minute movies. By nature, I tend to write closer to 120 pages, probably because the types of films I like tend to be in that range.

Harold Vandyke

John, that's what my understanding has always been. So it's not an across the board change then.

Katie Bryan

All great stuff here thanks! I use the GMC method first and foremost and have to know my ending before I can even start.

Calvin Bender

This is the kind of stuff they teach us in school, but in the end we never use it. I agree with Erik Grossman, write your script and tell your story.

Steve Cleary

I agree that it's very helpful. If you can loosely define all those plotpoints in your story planning, it makes actual writing that much easier. You can always change what you pre-defined as your script takes shape.

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