The online diary of a dreamer creating Contemporary Romantic Fiction - because Every Woman needs Love and Laughter in her Life.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Playing the Numbers Game

Using Screenplay Outlines to help Edit your Story.

Is YOUR story hitting the beats?

Most writers create broad outlines for their work at the Story Development Stage.

Or second draft stage if they write blind and sculpt a story backwards.

Screenwriters would have you believe that they track the Action Line for a story much more rigorously.

There any SO many examples of how a story should track - from a Basic 3 Act to a 22 point revelation sequence and everything in between.

Blake Snyder has summarised the key stages in a typical Hollywood movie in a useful flow chart in his book ‘Save the Cat’ - which is available here:

It goes something like this: there are 15 steps in the screenplay format and each one corresponds to approx. position in the manuscript, so that the entire story is completed in 110 pages = 110 minutes on the screen for a movie.


1. Opening Image (1):

2. Theme Stated (5):

3. Set-Up (1-10):

4. Catalyst (12):

5. Debate (12-25):

6. Break into Two (25)

7. B Story (30):

8. Fun and Games (30-55):

9. Midpoint (55):

10. Bad Guys Close In (55-75):

11. All Is Lost (75):

12. Dark Night of the Soul (75-85):

13. Break into Three (85):

14. Finale (85-110):

15. Final Image (110):

This is a classical 4 Act structure- Turning points at about 25% and 50% and 75% of the script with the Black Moment in the last act. But having been through a few examples with recent films, I have to say that this basic structure is still valid.

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