Plot & Structure

The basic elements of plot structure include the basic idea, backstory, exposition, pace, plot or turning point, hurdles, dramatic irony, climax, and resolution. Let’s look specifically at the underlying idea.

The basic idea of the story must be short and concise so that it can be easily told through the studio ranks until it reaches someone who can say yes to it. For example, the core idea of Indecent Proposal is a man who offers a million dollars to a couple so he can spend one night with the wife. You’ll need a strong basic idea that can green light your project to the top of Hollywood’s corporate ladder.

In the structure you will find three Acts:
Act I – page one to around page thirty with an inciting incident and Plot Point I
Act II – page thirty-one to ninety with the Midpoint around page sixty
Act III – page ninety-one to one hundred twenty with a climax around page one hundred ten
Note – comedies are typically around one hundred pages.

Now let’s review a crucial area within the three ACT structure… the midpoint…that is the heart or central point in your script. You’ll also notice this theme in all types of stories.

Midpoint – is the structural lifeline and a turning point halfway through the screenplay. There is often an introduction to a new character that forces the main character to redefine and sharpen the main character’s inner need. Remember when Jessica Lange comes on the scene in Tootsie?

Syd Field describes it something like this: “An important scene in the middle of the script, often a reversal of fortune or revelation that changes the direction of the story.” Field suggests that driving the story towards the Midpoint keeps the second act from sagging. (Karel, The Story Department, April 20, 2007)

Blake Snyder, “In both my Save the Cat! Books and also the Save the Cat! Story Structure software, I have stressed the vital importance of figuring out what the midpoint of a screenplay is. I like to say that if you can crack the midpoint, you can crack the story. And it may not be until you do that you truly know what your story is really about!” “To me, the day I discovered there is a secret to what happens at the midpoint in every story, I was rocketed into a whole new dimension in my abilities as a writer.” (Interview with Script Frenzy April 14, 2008, by Jennifer Arzt)

The basic idea for Peace Lily is at the Midpoint where the main character experiences a personal revelation. This revelation gives the protagonist the courage to overcome her internal and external demons. This basic idea in Peace Lily is similar to what many people believe is the central idea of the Bible.

The idea.
…It is better to trust in the Lord than in the confidence of man is found in Psalm 118:8.

So how do you depict this central idea in your scenes without a “burning bush moment?”

The central idea is easy to display. It’s something we often use in our life…and we call it intuition. It is connecting with our higher self. You know…when you go beyond the predictable logical response to a situation. Go to your heart or center of a case and let the inner knowing guides your actions.


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

The Brand StoryHome

…is in honor and memory of Tessa, my small Maltese born October 6, 1993, and passed away September 18, 2009.

I was considered the 3rd dog in Tessa’s pack. Her first master was the first dog, Tessa was the second dog, and I was the third dog. No matter what I’d do to gain respect or position in Tessa’s eyes… I was “ the third dog.” She was so adorable and such a character. I caved to her demands…and she was very demanding…which brought me joy and contentment. Her demands were begging for food and sitting on my lap.

Tessa had a few quirky personality traits based on her past…growing up in a less than ideal environment thrown into the backyard with two Dobermans to fend for herself. She was about 3 pounds at that time the runt and a spitfire. Not far from being a replica of me….she made me smile with joy at her attitude.

Quite the problem solver

She also liked mischief and got herself into some severe problems. Like the time she discovered chocolate candy on the coffee table and laid in wait for her moment to snatch the candy bars run upstairs and hide them under the bed until nightfall. In the middle of the night, I awoke to a banging noise. It was Tessa banging her water bowl against the metal stairs to get my attention. I soon discovered several empty candy wrappers, piles of vomit everywhere, and Tessa hitting the bowl. It is unbelievable that she survived that terrible episode eating more candy bars than I could… at one time!

Filled with inspiration

She will always be my inspiration and a reminder of perfection.

As I emerged in the second half of my journey as a storyteller, launched myself into the world of screenwriting, and left behind an entirely different phase of my life, I also had to let go of my friend…my companion my little spitfire Tessa.

I will forever be the 3rd dog.