One thing is true of all stories. They all have a beginning, middle and end. Film scripts typically run from 100 to 120 pages with each page representing about a minute of screen time. Within these script pages there will be five vital events.
Below you see the basic layout of a storyline for a script. You will notice the five key points of story structure which are incredibly important in scriptwriting.
The Inciting Incident
The Inciting Incident generally takes place about fifteen minutes into a script and is the first major turning point of the story. The normality of your main character’s life will be broken in a big way.
In the movie Dodgeball the Inciting Incident would be when Peter La Fleur finds out that Average Joes Gym will be sold unless he can raise enough money to pay off the bank.
Plot Point I
Towards the end of Act I, around page 25, comes the first Plot Point. So far your story has been going in a certain direction but now the story will be grabbed, shook and pointed to it’s
true course. This is where you realize what your main character is going to do to set about returning his world back to normal.
In Dodgeball this would be where Gordon points out that there is a large cash prize for winning a Dodgeball tournament, enough to save Average Joes Gym.
To a scriptwriter the Midpoint of the script is the anchor in the vast sea of Act II. This is yet another turning point where the need of the main character is brought into focus. Often this is done through the introduction of a new character who forces the main character to sharpen his eye on the goal.
The Midpoint for the film Dodgeball would be where Patches O’Houlihan is killed in an accident, leaving the team without their coach.
Plot Point II
Towards the end of Act II and the beginning of Act III we come to a crisis point, Plot Point II. Right now the main character in your script has had enough. They’re sick and tired of all the obstacles being thrown in their way. Their world is a dark place with little light left. Plot
Point II should:
- Force the main character to take action in attempt to solve the problem created by the inciting incident.
- Make note of the “ticking clock”. Time is running out for your main character to finish the job.
- Focus the character on their goal.
Plot Point II would take place in Dodgeball where Peter La Fleur storms out of a team meeting and contemplates selling the gym to his rival White Goodman.
The climax is the biggest scene in the movie, the final battle between right and wrong, good and evil. Your main character will save the day and resolve their problems in dramatic fashion.
In Dodgeball the Average Joes team beat the team from Globo-Gym only for White Goodman to reveal that Peter La Fleur had already sold him the gym, so the victory was all for nothing. La Fleur counters with the revelation that he placed all the money White had given him and bet on Average Joes to win, leaving him with enough money not only to buy Average Joes but White Goodman’s Globo-Gym as well.