Writing Screenplays

arlingtons group

We did our first session on screenplays at Arlingtons Writing Group last night.


We’ve done travel writing, poetry, novels, short stories, flash fiction and writing for magazines.  This is by far the hardest thing we’ve tackled so far.

And that’s just the first session.

Google ‘screenplay structure’ and you’ll see what I mean.  There are hundreds and hundreds of different approaches.  There is some overlap but this makes it harder, not easier, to make sense of it all.

The same is true with structuring novels and plays but when I’ve researched how to structure those, you don’t read things like: ‘If you don’t write it exactly as I’ve told you – with plot points planned to the second, you will utterly fail.’

Overall, my favourite website is:-  http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting-101/screenplay/five-plot-point-breakdown

Do check out the website.

My version is almost the same except for the definition of the ‘midpoint’ and ‘cimax’.

I would say the five main plot points are:-

1.  The Inciting Incident (sets everything in motion – someone dies, falls in love…)

2.  The Lock In (the point of no return)

3.  Midpoint (reversal of fortune, where the victim starts fighting back)

4.  Climax (the high point of emotional intensity – the chase scene, the battle, self-sacrifice, death, the reveal)

5. Twist (a surprise – such as where Darth Vader is Luke’s father, often gives the film a deeper resonance.

In group, we used that to analyse our favourite films and then plotted out storylines of our own.

Homework is to bring a new storyline in one of the following forms:-

a) A summary

b) A ‘once upon a time’ type

c) A storyboard

d) A graph/table showing how you’ve used the plot points to structure the story.

In group everyone got a good, solid structure but we didn’t hear as many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as we usually get in reading time.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens when we’ve all got a bit more time to be creative.