Posts tagged ‘structure’

October 10, 2012

Script: Tootsie

Tootsie was written by Larry Gelbart. It’s considered one of the most perfectly structured screenplays ever written and is referred to in virtually every book on screenwriting.

October 6, 2011

Quote of the Day: Peter Rader

Your ego and your conscious mind already have way too many rules. To receive another set of rules about having 3 acts and 1st act twists and all sorts of things like that, I think, is a way of homogenizing movies. It’s very destructive to the industry. On the other hand, your sub-conscious, the crazy person, that’s the one who needs the rules.

September 14, 2011

Quote of the Day: Greg Marcks

A structural approach to screenwriting requires patience and discipline, but the rewards are great. You might find if you spend three weeks hammering out your story, the actual screenwriting will take only a week.

April 22, 2011

Recommendation: BeatSheetCentral

 *Note: Sites and services that I choose to recommend do not compensate me for my recommendation. These are simply resources that I have found helpful.*

I discovered this site today while looking for articles about how to beat out a script. It’s called and its simply a collection of user-generated beat sheets for famous movies and television shows.

You can search through the site’s content and try to find beat sheets for films similar to the one you’re trying to pen. Seeing the written structure of a film and trying to pick out for yourself where the inciting incident, the act breaks, the midpoint, the climax, etc. fall can be extremely informative when trying to create a structure for your own story.

Here are a few words from the site’s creator:

A few notes on what I consider a proper beat sheet:

  • It should contain every scene of the film, and say fully what happens in each scene.
  • It should be concisely written and easily readable.
  • Each scene should be its own paragraph, and be numbered for easy reference.

I should make this clear: I do not believe that there is a formula for creating commercially or critically successful films. I believe they come from, in the words of Norman Mailer, “experience filtered through the prism of memory.”

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April 21, 2011

Script Writing Basics: The Middle

This blog post from the popular blog Go Into the Story discusses what the second act of your screenplay should achieve. Take a look:

Many writers have trouble with their script’s middle part. Either they get confused and lost to the point where they drop the project out of frustration, or if they do succeed in getting through, the pages come off as a string of episodic events with no coherency to them, no build-up to a big All Is Lost Act Two end.

This is a big reason why I’m such a proponent of the Protagonist metamorphosis arc (Disunity to Unity), a dynamic we see at work in movie after movie. I’ll speak more on that later, but in terms of the story’s middle, let’s consider Deconstruction and Reconstruction.

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April 19, 2011

Know the Rules, Then Bend Them: Ben Ripley on Source Code

This great interview from the WGA talks with Ben Ripley about the writing of Source Code. Ben wrote the script on spec and had to complete a few full rewrites before getting to the structure you see on screen:

When Ben Ripley first came up with the idea for Source Code, in which government operative Colter Stevens repeatedly relives the eight minutes leading up to a terrorist train bombing in hopes of finding the bomber, he had no intention of writing it on spec. Having established himself in Hollywood largely doing “studio rewrites on horror movies,” he felt a solid pitch would do the trick. Unfortunately, it didn’t. “I sat down with a few producers, and the first couple just looked at me like I was nuts,” confesses Ripley. “Ultimately, I had to put it on the page to make my case.”

So he wrote it on his own dime and, given the idea of a parallel universe-bending time traveler was already pretty esoteric, he played it safe with the structure, churning out a standard Syd Field-style script. As the writer puts it: “It was very plodding and things happened in a completely comprehensible way.”

And how’d that work out? “It was underwhelming. We thrashed around with rewriting that, and it was still underwhelming.”

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