Welcome to DAY four in the thirty days to a first draft screenwriting thread.
This is an old school screenwriter’s trick: We’re going to use notecards to brainstorm scene ideas. The great thing about the notecards method is you can flip through them and change the order and lay them out to see your plot without committing to the order of scenes.
The method is you write at the top of each card, what happens in the scenes in big bold letters. Then you can add little notes on the card as you see fit little details.
The goal is to have forty cards total. Ten cards for act one. Twenty for act two — or ten cards for the first half of act two, ten cards for the second. And ten for act three. Forty cards makes a full plot, but of course, this is not an exact science and different movies will have different numbers if scenes.
You’ll see once we start, by filling in what you know it will lead you to figure out what other scenes you might need.
I’ll talk you through it here. For example” let’s say we need to write a superhero flick. They tend to follow a similar pattern.
START by writing down any scenes you know you need. Or anything that you have a strong picture. I picture this superhero movie having a fight on a train. So I’ll write that down.
Next, we’ll tackle act one. Write a card for the OPENING IMAGE. Now write another for The INCITING INCIDENT. Give us three scenes that’s three cards, that will give us a picture of the characters life before the inciting incident. This is the ordinary world phase.
After the INCITING INCIDENT, which could be the moment they gain their powers. We’ll watch them struggle with the decision to take action. This is the DEBATE section or the refusal of the call. We’ll probably need to give an introduction scene to the antagonist. This is easy to make cliche, so push yourself to find a new version to make the antagonist seem good and scary. Then we’ll end act one with a moment where the character takes on the journey: THe LOCK-IN or plot point one.
Now we are in ACT TWO. Write up three scenes or obstacles that the protagonist might face in the first half of act two.
You may need to introduce a B story. It could be a love interest or something.
Brainstorm a bunch of potential obstacles that get harder and harder. You’ll throw some of these cards out. Brainstorming rules are, no idea is too stupid. No idea is censored. That’s why you bought a 100 pack and not a fifty.
You’ll need one for a MIDPOINT, this will change the story and three more obstacles for the second half of act two.
Add cards to revisit the B story. At some point, your character will have a conversation where they assert their POINT OF VIEW on life, They’ll be wrong, and this will establish the theme by having them say something they think but shouldn’t.
Think about a few set pieces, scenes that we’ll remember. Write cards for those.
Now we’ll hit act THREE. You’ll need an ALL IS LOST MOMENT. Then your character will need to change. The Antagonist will make one last grasp at the hero. Then we’ll have a resolution. Then a resolution for the B story. Maybe a denoument and a closing image.
If you want more ideas on story structure, check out my playlist analyzing story structure of several films…
Try to get forty cards. We’ll use these tomorrow to create an OUTLINE.