Screenwriting II — Week 7 — Spring 2014

March 11, 2014

Okay, so we’re done with the most difficult assignment — The Synopsis. Once you finish the second most difficult assignment — The Sequence Outline,

you’ll look at yourself in the mirror and say: “I just finished two difficult screenwriting assignments. By George, if I’m not a screenwriter, I don’t know who is!”

Now, more helpful information on how to write a sequence outline:

Read this: THE SEQUENCE APPROACH.docx  (this is the page I handed out in class)

And this: 8 Sequences- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.docx 

This  above is a nice sample written by British screenwriter Brian Robinson.  (Note that you don’t have to indicate the location of your sequence or the theme in the header, next to sequence number. However, it would be great if you could indicated the problem, complication and resolution. But I won’t take points off if you don’t.  You will get extra points if you do, though. Note that the resolution should be appropriate to that particular sequence. In lieu of problem, complication and resolution, you can indicate the Hero’s Journey steps. Again, it’s optional.)

You Assignment: Read the Avatar screenplay (Blackboard). And Vogler, pp. 117-155. 

We’ll discuss both assignments, discuss the art of scene writing, watch some clips and do some in-class exercises. 

See you Monday. 


Screenwriting II — Week 7

October 23, 2013

Posted on: Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hello everyone,

In class I talked about the problems of Act II. I mentioned Syd Field’s books Screenplay and its companion, The Screenwriter’s Workbook. It was Field who introduced the term “plot point” into modern screenwriting. Plot points are what Robert McKee refers to as EVENTS or TURNING POINTS and John Truby calls CHARACTER REVELATIONS.

Field is correct in saying that ACT II is often very boring. Have you ever fallen asleep in a movie theater or simply turned off a film you were watching on TV because it wasn’t interesting enough? I bet you that most of the time it was somewhere in Act II.

So, to avoid the second act sag, Field divided Act II into TWO PARTS — 2A and 2B. The MIDPOINT connects the two parts of the second act and serves as a balancing pole that keeps the story from falling over. Let’s look at Field’s structure of ACT II:

Plot Point 1: The end of Act I, beginning of Act II. In Star Wars, Luke joins the Rebels to fight Darth Vader.

Pinch 1:  Reminds us of the overall central conflict of the story. Stormtroopers attacking the Millennium Falcon and reminding us that the Empire is not giving up on the stolen plans to the Death Star.

Midpoint: An important scene in the middle of the script. It is often a change in character or a revelation that changes the direction of the story.  Moving the story to Midpoint keeps the story from losing its drive and getting boring. Luke rescues Leia from the prison cell. But they’re still stuck on Death Star.

Pinch 2: Another reminder scene about 5/8 through the script (halfway through Act 2b) that is somehow linked to Pinch 1 in reminding the audience about the central conflict. In Star Wars, Pinch 2 is the Stormtroopers attacking them as they rescue the Princess in the Death Star. Both scenes remind us of the Empire’s opposition, and using the Stormtrooper attack motif unifies both Pinches.

Plot Point 2: A major reversal that ends Act 2 and begins Act 3. The hero is hell-bent on facing the opponent.  Plot Point 2 comes AFTER the hero had her lowest point and learned to go beyond it (remember The House of Games?)


1. Continue to work on the Sequence Outline. DUE MONDAY, OCT. 28th, NO LATER THAN 9:30AM.

2. Read THE SOCIAL NETWORK screenplay (Screenplays page on Blackboard).

In our next class we’ll look at dialogue writing and discuss scenes from Facebook. We will also do dialogue writing exercises.
Please bring something to write on and something to write with.

Let me know if you have any questions.

See you Monday.