There is no single way to write a film script. There are so many screenplay templates, screenwriting bibles and “writing a screenplay step by step” guides out there. What’s a screenwriter to do?
Ultimately you need to follow your gut. Your story will show you the way. Here’s a simple paradigm to outline your script in 7 (yes 7) easy steps. Now I sound like an infomercial for screenwriters!
A 7 point screenplay outline will help you identify the key structural elements of your film script before you start to write. All of them are required in a commercial movie script.
The main point is that the page numbers are approximate and must be organic to your story. You will notice story rhythms in your screenplay, so a first plot point at the end of act 1 at page 40 might “feel” a little late. If you can justify a turning point at page 40, then stick with it by all means.
Also, if you want to be “artistic” you can deviate from a traditional closed resolution. An open-ended resolution occurs when a film abruptly ends and the audience speculates a resolution and story ending.
Screenwriters are entitled to individual artistic expression. However, these 7 plot points are natural story beats that audiences expect. If you skip a beat, the film will appear off.
- Line 1 Introduce the protagonist and their world (first 10 pages)
- Line 2 Inciting Incident (around page 10)
- Line 3 First plot point, end of Act 1 (around page 25-30)
- Line 4 Mid point (around page 45-55)
- Line 5 Second turning point, end of Act 2 (around page 75-80)
- Line 6 Third turning point, end of Act 3 (around page 95-100)
- Line 7 Resolution (page 100-110)
Also, notice how I’ve ended the screenplay page count at page 110 rather than the traditional 120? Brevity is gold to Hollywood readers these days. A 120 page film script is considered too long. White space is your friend.
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