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Screenplay Writing Basics

By Expert Author: Ralph Brooks

Writing movies is a lot of fun. You get to put interesting characters into unusual situations. And it's not as difficult to learn as you might think.
When you begin your script, you show your main character as his life is now. For example, if he works at a gas station, you would have him interact with a customer. It's important to give him a flaw, such as being selfish, or fearful. As an example, lets assume the main character's name is Fred and he's timid.
On page 11 of your script, you must have a crisis. Something happens that changes things. Perhaps, the boss goes on a holiday and crooks rob the gas station. Fred sees the crooks, but is too afraid to do anything. The boss is upset when he finds out what happened and calls Fred a coward.
Now we have what's known as the debate section of the script. This is where the main character debates what he should do about the crisis. We might have Fred talk to a friend or go to the police and ask questions.
Page 23 is when Fred makes his decision. In our example, he gathers his courage together and goes after the criminals himself.
The pages from 30 to 55 are known as the 'fun and games section.' In a comedy, this part would be the funny situations that the main character gets into. In our example, Fred could be robbed, get a flat tire, be scammed by someone whose escaped from jail, finally ending up in a town where he's the exact double of the mayor whose been missing for seven months. In a horror movie, this section would involve a series of scary things happening.
Page 55 is the middle of the script. This is considered the halfway point. So your main character must have reached his goal in some way by this time. In our example, Fred finds out where the criminals are.
Pages 55 to 75 are when things begin to go badly for Fred. Perhaps, he is kidnapped by the criminals.
Page 85 is the lowest moment in the script. In our example, the crooks tell Fred that they have kidnapped his girlfriend and are going to kill her. Fred, having become more courageous through the experiences he's had, says that they should kill him instead. But, then something happens to give Fred an idea and by the end of the script, which is about 110 pages, he is able to save himself, his girlfriend and get the criminals arrested.

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