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July 10, 2011

What is a screenplay ? and How to plan a good one?

A screenplay tells a story using characters and actions. It is not a one-dimensional approach. Stories that focus on too much on action are shallow, while those focus too much on character are dull. Finest stories are a good mix of both. They provide clearly defined action as well as realistic characters.

The format of screenplays has been quite standard from ancient times, only a few differs.  When you write a screenplay, you are taking the reader on a journey,  Your audience should know where they would be going, but don't know how or what barriers and challanges they will encounter or who would they meet during the journey.

A protagonist (from the Greek protagonists, is the "one who plays the first part, chief actor") is the main character of the story, around whom the events the plot revolves. In simple hero of the story. When the story contain subplots, there may have different protagonists from the main plot.

Ex. Othello in Othello or Romeo and Juliet in the Romeo and Juliet.

In some stories, the protagonists may be impossible to identify, because multiple plots that do not permit clear identification of one as the main plot, such as Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, depicting 15 major characters involved in or affected by a war.

Protagonist involves in the story in two aspects or story lines. One story line deals with character’s inner motivation. The other story line deals with his or her inner motivations. The inner and outer stories blend through the conflict and theme of the story.

Outer Motivation

The outer motivation is about the protagonist's outward goal. What he or she trying achieve? Outer Motivation as the specific, visible goal a character wants to achieve by the end of a story. This goal must be realistic with physical action. The action need not be high energy and be clear to the audience. The outer motivation is resolved when the protagonist succeeds or fails at achieving his goal.

The outer motivation is revolves around physical action, providing good entertainment value in the script. It helps moving the story forward by keeping the audience attached to the story and be interested in the outcome. The script could be quite boring to the audience without a strong outer motivation and there will be less momentum in the story.

In movie “Brave Heart”, Young William Wallace witness the murder of his father at the opening of Braveheart, his passion for freedom from England starts.
In “Best of the Best” Hero’s outer motivation is to win the championship fight.

Inner Motivation
The inner motivation is about the protagonist's inner needs like how people care about him. The inner motivation also can be ambition to become a hero. It becomes resolved when the hero recognizes and overcomes it.

In Brave Heart, Williams inner motivation is caused by experiences of the past, where his father was killed and his wife was merdered. The inner motivation is ultimately revolve around personal relationships


The principal opponent of the protagonist is the antagonist, who creates obstacles that the protagonist must overcome. There may be more than one antagonist in a story. The antagonist may be the story's hero, where the protagonist is a terrorist - for example, the antagonist could be a police officer, or vice versa. It’s up to the screen writer to define the roles in the story.

Conflicts are presented as disputes, challenges, a threat, or an obstacle to concur. Conflicts create tension in the audience and continue curiosity about the outcome of the story. Conflict occurs between characters, wh where the protagonist takes action against the opposition party. As the story progresses, the hero must develop a action plan to succeed. Conflicts takes place both the inner and outer story.

When the opponent prevents protagonist from achieving his goal, an ally, a friend or a lover helps the protagonist. The inner story deals with realism of protagonist’s struggle to achieve his goal. The he hero’s lover is in custody of the opponent which delays his quest to destroy opponent. The most important element of a story is to keep the audience involved. Then you have a really good drama that is quick moving and interesting story. Hence conflict is the most effective story element.

Motiff is a recurring element that have a symboloic significance, a color, sound, animal or a camera angle. In matrix trench coats and sun glasses, black and green marix code, gureen hues and Artificial Intelligence

Watch Movies
Make a Schedule to Write
Have a Conflict
Nearly Impossible Goal
Develop a Theme
Build Chractors,
Create Plots and Sub Plots
Logical Sequence into a Resolution

Think like an ArcheologistWho, Why, What, How, When, Where?

Snap shot of Genere, Tone, setting, Mood, main chractors and

Conflicts and dont give away the ending. Its your marketing tool.
Story is a process, take one step at a time

Break the story into meaningfull scenes called beats- one sentence per scence.

Think screenplay writing as building of a house.

Call for adventure - a phone call can chage the life of the hero

Refusal of the call - Hero refuses due to Fear or Insecurity but eventually take the challange

Super Natural Aid - The guide and help appear

Crossing the turning point
Hero crosses the field of adventure, no turning back on the unknown world

Belly of the whale
Hero is seperated from his known world, faces conflicts and challanges

Roads of Trials
Series of Challanges , First is the smallest

Master of the two worlds
Hero knows new world, confident and competing fully

Freedom to Live
Hero has no fear, master of two worlds

A self-sacrifcing, hardship taking for someone else, his jouney is full of obstacles, gains wisdom as he moves

Mentor is a wise old man or a women

Threshold gurdian
Tests the hero as he enters the new world and become an ally

Makes hero shaken and awaken to pursue his goal. The death of Willams wife in Brave Heart

Shape Shifter
Makes Hero off guard, in 300 the mutant spartan betrays King

The Negative of the hero, a villan

The comic relief

Common Themes
The great journey
Loss of innocence
Love conquers all
Greed corrupts
Nobel Sacrifice
Truth Wins
Revenge of the fallen
Life is a mistery
Betrayal,Fate,  War, Courage, Beauty, Freedom, Jealousy, Lonliness, Loyalty, Suffering, Fear, Glory ..

Pick a theme you are passionate not someting that others will be fasionate about

Ticking Clock
Applied to create pressure and timeline. If A doesnt happen by B then resulting C will happen. A time bomb. If father dont pay the ransom, boy would be killed, RANSOM

Work with minimal charactors who are strong

Subplots are sub stories run along main story, they atlso have begining, middle and end and get linked to the main story

Information revealed in the story, trustworthy by audience, use more dialogs when possible

Pay off
Placing information play off later in the story. A scar on face linked to a merdered DNA testing, blood samples

Rule of threes - Human tend to think threes, Begining, Middle and End in plots, sceanes and charactors. Create, Progress and release.

Three is a charm, Seven is anonther Charm (7 nights in Japan, Three Thousand Miles, Three Pigs)

Pay attention to good jokes

Scripts - Keep it Simple
so anyone can understand it

Reading Scripts are meant to read by actors, keep white space for notes

Seduce the reader with your style

Shooting Script
Has scene numbers , shot numbers for cordination and production

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