#7 Screenwriter: The Plot

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Now that we have the structure we now need a story or the plot, when I first studied this I compared it to writing a song which is a story in miniature, there is always a structure verse chorus bridge etc, it’s the same with a story, the plot points give it a structure and the writer works within the structure.

Before we begin the story, we need to ask the central question: what does the hero want?

A script is made up exactly 44 plot points no more and no less, and a plot point is a discreet, unique and essential chunk of story information. In the hierarchy of
screenwriting, it exists above beats and scenes and just below acts.

With the Central Question established, and always in the forefront, itʼs time to get specific about how to answer it within the 108-115 pages of our screenplay. We discussed previously that  a screenplay is divided into three acts, and how if you divide the second act in half, youʼll have four sections of approximately the same length.

Now, itʼs time to focus on Act I, with our hero in their Orphan stage of development. Here are some of examples  of the plot point 1.

Plot Point 1
We meet either the Hero, Victim/Stakes Character, or Antagonist.

In FORREST GUMP, we meet the hero first. Forrest Gump is sitting on a bench, waiting for life to happen around him.

In STAR WARS, we meet the antagonist first.

In THE LION KING we meet Simba, safe and revered by all the animals in his parents care.

In BEVERLY HILLS COP, Axel Foley is in Detroit, causing mischief.

In JAWS, the story opens with the kids on the beach right before Chrissie goes for her ill-fated swim.

Many films lump meeting the antagonist with meeting the victims for the obvious reason of victims need someone to make them victims and antagonists need someone to antagonize. There is other variations on this, but I’m sure that you’ve got the picture – no pun intended!

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