Script Writing StructureWriting structure of the script
Plots structure easily defines the order of occurrences that take the character to this goal. Whether you write romance comedy, thrilling stories, historic drama or sci-fi on a large scale, all Hollywood films have the same fundamental structure. There are six levels in a well-structured film, each of which is marked by five important turning points in the game.
These turning points are not only always the same, they also always take up the same position in history. This percentage applies to the duration of the movie as well as to the pages of your script. As one script page corresponds to about one minute onscreen, the 75% of a 120-page script on page 90 or about 90 will fall into the two-hour movie.
However, I would also like to guide two new rockbusters through this whole structure process: Suzannah Grant's script for Erin Brockovich and Gladiator, by David H. Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson. The one is a modern play built on a real storyline, the other is a thrilling, action-packed, historic comedy.
But, as different as these two movies are in terms of styles, genres, length and content, both have earned more than a hundred million US dollar worldwide, both were among the most celebrated movies of the year 2000, and both have the same mainstory. Uhre Brokovich: Erin is a bankrupt, jobless lone parent who can't find a career, is struck by a vehicle and looses her sue.
Your first 10% of your script must involve the readers and the public in the starting point of the plot, revealing your hero's daily routine and establishing a sense of identity with your heroes by making them likeable, menaced, likeable, fun and/or power. Or, think of the perilous submarine worlds of WWII in U 571 or Lowell Bergman's enigmatic, menacing persecution of a history at the beginning of The Insider.
Uh, Erin Brokovich: Erin makes Ed Masry give her a gig. Tens of per cent of the way into your script must be given to your heroes a chance to awaken a new, visual wish and bring the characters on the road. Note that the wish generated by the occasion is not the particular target that your storyline design is defining, or the target line that your main characters must pass at the end of the movie.
erin brokovich: erin begins working for ed masry's lawyer office, meeting her neighbour george, starting a case in hinkley, california, in which pg&e is involved, but gets sacked. In the next 15% of the game, your character will respond to the new situations arising from the game. In this phase the character gets used to the new environment, tries to find out what is going on, or draws up a concrete blueprint to achieve his overall goal: Fletcher must find out that he is accursed to tell the truths in liars, liars; and Mrs Doubtfire drafts the blueprint to see his cubs.
Quite often the storyline structure follows geographical, as the occasion brings your heroes to a new place: aboard the Titanic and The Talent Mr. Ripley cruisers; go to Cincinnati to inter rogate his dad in Rain Man; the president starts with Air Force One. Most of the films, the Heroes readily enter this new reality, often with a sense of anxiety and expectation, or at least in the belief that the new issue they face can be resolved with ease.
erin brokovich: erin is reinstated to defeat pg&e in a lawsuit. There must be something happening to your character a quarter of the way through your script that turns the initial wish into a concrete, visual target with a clearly definable endpoint. It is the sequence that defines your storyline and reveals your hero's external motivations.
External motivations is my concept for the visual finishing line, which reaches the public until the end of the work. That' s what we do for Tess, and we know that when she reaches (or hasn't reached) that target, the picture will be over.
That is probably the most important design concept you can control. When your hero's visual target is set too early in your script, the plot will lose momentum long before the highpoint. When the external motivations are only half way there, the readers have become disinterested and have switched to a different script.
You probably realized how often I used the term "visible" in this item. I' d like to avoid any mix-up between the storyline of your film and the inner voyage of your character. The structure is a calculation for the representation of the results we see on the monitor. As your character's development or bow unfolds throughout the course of the storyline, it emerges from the quest for the apparent purpose, but it does not meet these severe turning points.
It is one of those basic principals that may sound easy, but is difficult to integrate into your writing. HDOLLOWOOD films are based on what the character does when they follow a clearly identified end point or result. Since much of what we react to emotively arises from the hero's desires, sores, anxieties, courage as well as his or her own development, we often concentrate on these factors as we evolve our histories.
However, these unseen elements of history can only be effective if they evolve out of a mere, visual yearning. Rarely, as in My Best Friend's Wedding and The President, the external motivations (dissolution of the marriage; adoption of the bill of crime) are indicated at the 10% level, but the target achievement target is not clearly specified and no measures are taken up to the one-quarter level.
It' s at this point that your character begins to live..... Este Brokovich: Erin collects proof, gets Hinkley dwellers to employ Ed to replace her, and gets romantic with George. Throughout the next 25% of your storyline, your hero's plot seems to work as he makes measures to reach his goal: Ethan Hunt begins to approach the bad guy in mission:
However, whatever impediments your character has, he is able to prevent or conquer them as he gets closer..... Este Brokovich: Erin and Ed are filing the suit and risk being dismissed by the court, which would ruin any hopes of an agreement. Right in the middle of your script, your character must be fully committed to his goals.
Until then she had the opportunity to turn back, abandon her plans and return to the way of being that she lived at the beginning of the work. Now your character has to go back and take both legs (don't ever let me put two trite metaphor together in one sentence).
Este Brokovich: Erin sees less and less of George and her children, Ed is bringing along a big company trying to get Erin out of the frame and alienate the Hinkley libel. As Maximus faces much larger battle in the battlefield, he becomes the heroes of the romans and Commodus discloses his real name.
The next 25% of your storyline will have larger and more common barriers, reaching the visual target will be much more challenging, and your character has much more to loose if he fail. It builds up until, as it seems, it is within reach, it is suffering.....
Este Brokovich: Most complainants are withdrawing because of the botched effort of the new attorneys, and George is leaving Erin. At page 90 of your script, something must be done to your character to give the public the impression that everything is lost: "When you write a romance such as Working Girl or What Woman Want, this is the point where your hero's illusion is uncovered and the lover breaks apart.
This catastrophic event leaves only one way for your heroe. They can' t go back to the kind of lives they lived at the beginning of the movie, because they excluded this opportunity when they crossed the point of no comeback. -Erin Brokovich: Erin needs to assemble the Hinkley family in order to accept a mandatory arbitrations and find proof that weighs on the PG&E Secretariat.
Defeated and defeated, your heroes must now take all he has and muster a lot of energy and bravery to accomplish his eventual goal: Thelma and Louise must overtake the FBI to get to the edge; and the Kennedys must try a last trial with the Soviets in 13 and a half years.
Throughout this phase of the script, the conflicts are overpowering, the tempo has increased, and everything has to work against your character until they..... erin brokovich: erin and ed are winning a $330 million comparison and george comes back. At the height of the movie several things have to happen: The heroine has to face the greatest hurdle of the whole storyline, she has to decide her own destiny, and the external motivations have to be solved once and for all.
Note that the highlight can be anywhere between the 90% point of your script and the last few moments of the film. erin brokovich: erin receives a $2 million rebate and will continue to work with ed. None of the films ends exactly with the dissolution of the hero's goal; you have to allow the public to live the emotions that you aroused at the thrilling, tragic or romatic highpoint.
Maybe you also need to tell the public all the open issues, and you want to disclose the hero's new live after he has finished his itinerary. There is little to be explained in films like Rocky, Thelma and Louise and The Truman Show, and the author's aim is to keep the public bewildered or thrilled.
However, in most romance comedy, mystery and drama, the last five or ten pages of the script will follow. The comprehension of these phases and turning points provides you with an efficient basis for the development and writing of your script. Has your storyline plan been divided into a fourth? Are your hero's goals really tangible, with a clearly implicit result, and not just an inner wish for achievement, acceptability or self-esteem?
Did you fully introduce your heroes before you give them a chance on page 10? Is she suffering a big blow of 75% of the way into your scenario? The structure is an efficient instrument to rewrite and strengthen the emotive effect of your history. Create personalities you like and a storyline that arouses your passions.
Then, use these structure rules to make sure your script reaches the broadest possible audiences with great power. He is a history specialist, writer and teacher working with authors, film-makers, marketing professionals, economic executives, lawyers and keynote contributors in Hollywood and around the globe. is the bestselling writer of 60 Seconds about your storyline selling:
Get Your Screensplay or Novel Read, as well as the new 20 years issue of its iconic Writing Screenplays That Sole. Several of Michael's workshops, among them The Hero's 2 Journeys with Christopher Vogler and Hollywood Magic to Your Storys, are available on DVD, CD and in electronic form through his website and bookstores around the globe.