Apologies for the delay in posting but I have a special two parter post for you today to make up for it!
Every story has a beginning, middle and end but for aspiring screenwriters and novelists there’s a little more to it than that. If you’re serious about pursuing a career in writing you will probably be familiar with the work of seasoned script experts such Syd Fields, Blake Snyder and Robert Mckee but today I’m here to explain how to structure your screenplay in a simple and jargon free manner.
People often refer to the Paradigm devised by Syd Fields for screenplay structure but for novices and even seasoned writers it can be hard to apply this practically to your own manuscript; for this reason I’m going to discuss the sequence of events that should be taking place and provide examples using the plot of trucker girl. This is working with the assumption that the average screenplay is 90 pages long.
In the vast majority of films you will have watched the first 10 pages is usually written to introduce the audience to the protagonist, establish the genre, plot and the world your characters inhabit. This might sound like a lot of information to impart but it’s actually incredibly simple.
In the case of trucker girl for instance the first 10 pages will establish who the story is about. It is a post apocalyptic thriller set in present day North England; remember you don’t need to use dialogue to convey this. It can be established through visual cues such as empty towns and mass graves. The plot centers around a young female who drives supplies to various outposts and camps set up across the country.
10 (inciting incident)
Approximately 10 minutes in to a film there will be an ‘inciting incident’ that propels the plot in to a new direction. Trucker Girl’s inciting incident comes when she arrives at her brother’s camp to find everyone missing. A stranger approaches her and tells her me may know where her brother is. This small incident inadvertently set of a chain of sequences that drives her forward in to her quest to find her missing brother.
20 (Plot Point #1)
The first plot point should drive the screenplay in to the second act by building up the action and sending the plot in to a new direction. It could also be used as a device to demonstrate the protagonist’s commitment to their goal.
In the case of trucker girl for instance the first plot point occurs when her lorry is stolen, she is abandoned and we, the audience, meet the antagonist (a group of bandits) for the first time.
30 (Pinch #1)
The ‘pinch’ is a device used to remind the audience of what is at stake. Sounds simple right? It doesn’t have to be complicated by over thinking it; it is just a scene that reinforces the need for the protagonist’s commitment.
The pinch for trucker girl occurs when she reaches an outpost where she is told about a bandit camp set up nearby and she meets an ally. This reminds the audience of who the enemy is and what she is hoping to accomplish.
Please continue on to the following page to finish reading How to Structure Your Screenplay (Jargon free): Part Two.