Blueprint for Screenwriting: A Complete Writers Guide to Story Structure and Character Development

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Buy As Gift. Overview Blueprint for Screenwriting demystifies the writing process by developing a "blueprint" for writers to follow for each new screenplay--from original concept to completed script.

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Author and international script consultant Dr. The genesis of my scripts are always the same. A story idea will pop into my mind. While most of these ideas are ephemeral, there are others that stubbornly occupy my thoughts, like squatters refusing to vacate. When this happens, I know the time has come to begin the writing process. But before writing the first word, I will spend days, sometimes weeks, just thinking, visualizing the primary characters, their appearances, determining their goals, and how they will advance the story or create conflict.

I envision their interactions with each other, hearing how they speak. I repeat this process, mentally editing and re-thinking until I am certain the story has a solid framework. Then I establish and lock in the ends of the first two acts of the script. Without getting bogged down in screenplay jargon, the ends of acts one and two are the most important turning points in any feature script. Watch just about any movie and you will notice, at some point between 20 and 30 minutes into the film, after the environment and atmosphere have been established, main characters introduced, and potential conflicts and sub-plots foreshadowed, some event or action occurs that spins the story into a new direction.

This is where act one ends and act two, the main body of the story, begins. Regardless of the specific genre of a script, these beats, or similar variations, are almost universally inherent in the structure of good screenplays. I normally have one more task to complete before I start writing the actual script.

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I reduce the story to its essence, a short log covering the first two acts. Act three is where he will surmount this obstacle or fail. This is a map, a way to stay on track and focused as the story unfolds. From now until the first draft is finished, I write a minimum of five pages each day, regardless of how many hours it takes me to meet that goal.

Only with this map am I ready to write. Are you writing about something that just happened? Does it hurt too much when you write about it?


Do you feel excited enough about your story to work on it for six months to a year? If the answer is yes, what are the reasons you feel this way? What are your motives for writing this story? Are you wanting to share your beliefs with others? Do you have something philosophical to say? Do you have a moral or ethic you feel strongly about?

However, there isn't really an answer because you don't develop either one first and the other second.

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  3. How to Write a Screenplay: Script Writing Example & Screenwriting Tips.
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  6. Story and character develop from each other. They are synergistic and each one emanates from the other. Each one is dependent on the.

    They are one and the same. What does this mean? Let's look and see. Do you remember that special relative you always loved and admired? Do you ever wonder what happened to the mysterious couple who lived in your neigh- borhood and always had their shades drawn?

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    Do you still fantasize about the most handsome guy in your high school? The one you had a crush on and who didn't know you existed? In all of the above examples you had a particular person in mind, someone you knew, liked or feared. If you decided to write about any one of these people you would end up with a character, but you wouldn't have a plot. It would then be your job to take the character and put him in an exciting story.

    As you would get to know your character you'd begin to create the proper environment, problems and conflicts for him or her. Your story would develop as your char- acter would develop.

    You would lay out your plot according to your character's choices, his or her decisions, actions and reactions. In other words the person your character is and what he or she does de- termines the plot structure of your screenplay. Character driven films are those in which the focus is on the character rather than the action.

    Such examples of classic character driven films are Tootsie, or Rocky. In both cases, each screenplay fea- tures, and is named for, the main character. Each script also illus- trates how the main character determines the action. You'd never create a frail, slight, educated character to play the role of Rocky.

    Nor would you create a stocky, muscle-bound character to play the role of Tootsie, who impersonates a woman in order to get a lead as a woman in a television soap opera. Could you imagine Mike Myers playing the role of Rocky or an action hero like Harrison Ford play- ing the role of Tootsie? Of course you wouldn't, because these char- acters wouldn't be realistic or create the necessary action to make the screenplays work. Who your character is, what he thinks, feels and believes will de- termine how he or she will behave.

    Your character's actions must be consistent with his or her personality. You must have your character be realistic and believable through his or her inner motivation, de- sires, drives, as well as his or her outer goal. This will be discussed more in depth in a later chapter.

    How to Write a Screenplay: Script Writing Example & Screenwriting Tips

    On the other hand, let's suppose you always have been interested in subjects such as World War II or fire fighters. These subjects always intrigued you and you've decided you want to write a script featur- ing one of these topics. You'd then need to create characters who would relate to the subject you chose and who'd motivate the proper action for your script.