What are the key plot points in a screenplay?

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  • What are the key plot points in a screenplay?

    Hi everyone, despite joining this forum a couple of years ago I never got serious about writing until now.

    As I do my research into story structure I'm finding so many different ways people go about writing their screenplay.

    My question is what are the basic plot points you have in a script. At the moment I'm reading Syd Fields Screenplay and he only really talks about plot points one and two.

    Could anyone point me in the direction of a more detailed diagram of structure. Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: What are the key plot points in a screenplay?

    Well there are many other books go check some out at Barnes and noble. But my advice is pick a few great movies you love and seen many times - ones you want to write yourself. And write down every scene in the movie and time in movie it happened. The plot points. This will explain more than just reading books. And be more fun.

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    • #3
      Re: What are the key plot points in a screenplay?

      Originally posted by Syringe View Post
      Hi everyone, despite joining this forum a couple of years ago I never got serious about writing until now.

      As I do my research into story structure I'm finding so many different ways people go about writing their screenplay.

      My question is what are the basic plot points you have in a script. At the moment I'm reading Syd Fields Screenplay and he only really talks about plot points one and two.

      Could anyone point me in the direction of a more detailed diagram of structure. Thanks in advance.
      there are five major turning points. that if well done turn the story at points that keep the story interesting.

      Inciting Incident:
      some call it "the call to adventure," or the catalyst. though the names may vary there is always some moment that starts the story. something happens today that makes THIS day different in the hero's life and starts him down the road to discovery, and/or success or failure at some goal. (somewhere around 10% or pg 10-ish in a feature, pg 6-ish in a one hour show.


      Plot Point 1:
      this is a turning event that changes the direction in the story and spins it into a new direction. this is also the point at which we KNOW and understand what the hero's goal is and what's at stake. it hits at the end of the first act around page 25 ish in a feature. the faster you get to this point the better. this is when the story really begins. this is also where the hero "crosses the threshold" into the special word of act 2.

      Mid-point turn:
      having an up or down beat in the middle of the story that turns the direction again is a great way to break up the huge space of act 2. a wiff of death is always a good plot point. ie in Star Wars this is when we believe Luke has been killed by the garbage monster. it cuts the second act in two. prior to this point it seems the hero is headed in the right direction, but after this point is when the stakes are raised and the hero begins to fail as his attempts to succeed at his goal.

      Plot Point 2:
      occurs at the end of act 2 at approximately the 75% mark. this is the "all is lost moment," or the "dark night of the soul." it is the moment when the hero feels they are at their lowest, darkest point. it feels impossible, insurmountable to continue their quest. the hero will have to adapt to the situation and find it deep within themselves to find a solution to their problem. this is a good point for a revelation to assist the hero in learning an important lesson that has continued to hold them back.

      Climax:
      this is the final battle. depending on your story and structure, where this lands can vary quite a bit. it can be the last page even. this is the final battle moment when the hero will take all that he's learned over the course of the story to either become the victor or the failure of his quest. this can be a physical battle like destroying the Death Star, or blowing up the asteroid and saving the planet after sacrificing your life for Earth, or it can be an argument like in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, when the two heroes are have a battle of words when they confront each other after learning the truth of each other's deceits.

      i'm primarily an action/thriller writer so i am always breaking down my scripts so that 'something' happens every 5-10 page increments. 5 if i can push it, especially when writing reversals in an action set piece. it's a lot of turns, but that's what we go to action movies for.

      i've read a lot of books on structure, but a couple years ago i found this youtube webseries from a really gifted novelist that puts structure to bed in a way that is simple and direct. no fancy words, pure structure. he uses one example in the first half, how to create a fully realized story, including your main character, their weaknesses and their flaws. then the second half of the series shows him applying it to creating his next novel right in front of your eyes.

      i have the blue structure sheet if you want a jpg of it. i use it along with my STC beat sheet every time i'm outlining or when i need to restructure a spec i'm rewriting. PM me and i'll forward it. i've been forwarding this to all the writers that requested the pilot breakdown template i created.

      it's twelve 10 minute episodes and worth the time, imo.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54l835una7A

      believe it or not, you already understand story structure, we all do. we've been telling stories our whole lives.
      Last edited by finalact4; 05-13-2019, 01:39 PM.
      "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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      • #4
        Re: What are the key plot points in a screenplay?

        Thank you so much for helping guys, I'm super grateful. This really helps a lot.

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        • #5
          Re: What are the key plot points in a screenplay?

          Originally posted by Syringe View Post
          Thank you so much for helping guys, I'm super grateful. This really helps a lot.
          um, you didn't give me your email address in your PM request. please do and i'll be happy to send the info to you.
          "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,- Pablo Picasso

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          • #6
            Re: What are the key plot points in a screenplay?

            Originally posted by Syringe View Post
            Hi everyone, despite joining this forum a couple of years ago I never got serious about writing until now.

            As I do my research into story structure I'm finding so many different ways people go about writing their screenplay.

            My question is what are the basic plot points you have in a script. At the moment I'm reading Syd Fields Screenplay and he only really talks about plot points one and two.

            Could anyone point me in the direction of a more detailed diagram of structure. Thanks in advance.

            I think they're easier to understand if you look at them from the perspective of change. Understand change and plot points fall into place.
            Story Structure 1
            Story Structure 2
            Story Structure 3

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            • #7
              Re: What are the key plot points in a screenplay?

              ^ thanks for your help, I'll take that on board

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