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Three Things to Remember…

February 12th, 2010

When you sit down to write your screenplay, remember three things: 1. Beginning, 2. Middle, and 3. End. Every screen story has a beginning, a middle and an end. It sounds simple, but you’d be amazed by the number of scripts that leave out one (or more!) of these important story elements. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule – what’s the ‘middle’ of “Pulp Fiction?” Or “Adaptation?” But these are the products of one-of-a-kind talents, and, despite their alternative structures, they both have middles… (They’re just harder to find amidst the rest of the creativity the screenwriters are exhibiting.)

Every successful story has a beginning, a middle and an end (so simple, but it bears repeating about 20 times a day). And the end, in my opinion, is the hardest part. A ‘successful’ ending will leave the audience satisfied but stimulated; an unsuccessful ending leaves the audience merely disappointed. What’s most difficult is ending a story on a note that makes viewers walk out of the theater contemplating what they’ve just seen. More often, movies leave audiences wondering what exactly the filmmakers were thinking at the fade-out – frequently a strong hint that the script wasn’t ‘nailed down’ before production commenced. 

Three little things to remember… Only they aren’t so little. A screenplay with three solid acts will outshine one with a lackluster or missing act, even if that deficient screenplay is better-written overall. Every development executive in Hollywood hungers for writers who can provide story structure, since it means they can bring order to chaos, at least where a story is involved.

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