Once you have decided what you want to write about, it is now time to decide how you will tell your story. Basic film structure follows the three-act formula. First in act one you have the “setup” where we meet the protagonist in stasis, an “inciting Incident” occurs setting the film and the character into action at plot point #1. Act two leads up into the confrontation or the objective the character is now undertaking, whatever it is it’s either going to go very well or very bad. The “Midpoint’ of act two usually finds the protagonist at his/her lowest point of the film, (when the guy loses the girl, etc) but this could also be a high point if your going for tragedy. Plot point #2 occurs at the end of act two once the confrontation or objective has either been resolved or accomplished leading to the Climax of the film. Act three embodies the “Resolution” or falling action where the world of the protagonist returns to a new stasis.
For a more in depth analysis of structure please see: scribemeetsworld.com – screenplay-writing/how-to-write-a-script-outline-the-8-major-plot-points or screenplayer.org
These rules are of course not set in stone and like all rules are meant to be broken, but it is essential to understand the rules before you can break them appropriately. Pulp Fiction is an excellent example of seemingly breaking the rules of structure while still holding the same basic pattern of the rules.
When structuring it helps to breakdown the entire script into scenes with the “Who, what, where, when, and why” of each scene so you know how each step of the film affects the next. You can then go onto breaking down each scene into it’s own “beats” or moments of escalation. Understanding the rising and falling actions and climax of each scene within itself will make writing each scene and the entire script a lot easier throughout the process.
Before you even begin writing it is a good idea to outline your screenplay scene by scene. I use an ABC system as follows:
A – The Scene Location
B – The Characters in the Scene
C – The Major Point/The Action/What happens in
Do this for the entire screenplay and never have writers block again!