Posted by: phanxine | March 14, 2009

Basic Screenplay Structure

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Basic Screenplay Structure

QUESTIONS to ask yourself

This page will be dedicated to the standard three-act structure of a screenplay. It’ll cover everything from Plot Points, Character Development, Subplots, Conflict etc etc etc…
Your IDEAS are greatly welcome.
Here is a basic list of how your script should be formatted.

Typeface Always use Courier 12-point font!
Margins Because of the 3-hole punched paper, the Left margin should be 1.5 inches and the Right is .5 inches.
Top and Bottom should be 1 inch each.
Dialogue -2.5 inches from the left- will be about 3 to 3.5 inches wide and shouldn’t extend more than 6 inches from the left.
Character’s Name at 3.7 inches and above the dialogue.
Page Numbers should be located in the upper right hand corner and then double space and continue writing.

First Page A screenplay begins with FADE IN:

Last Page At the end of your script you should type The End and center it, or double space, to the far right of the page, and type FADE OUT.


More to come on format…
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Plot Points
This is the basic outline of the average movie made today. Give or take a few minutes.
Your COMMENTS are welcome!

Between pages 1-5: The HOOK, something that grabs our attention and pulls us in.

Page 10: At this point in your script you should have the “MINI CRISIS”. The “MINI CRISIS” should lead us into…

Page 17: …The DILEMMA. Creation of the team and what the movie is about.

Page 30: The REACTION to the dilemma or situation.

Page 45: First “REVERSAL” of the 17 minute point. This point furthers the characters and pushes them deeper into the situation or the dilemma.

Page 60: The “TENT POLE” of the movie. Where the passive characters become active or vice versa.

Page 75: Second “REVERSAL” to the 17 minute point. To reaffirm what the story is about.

Page 90: The LOW POINT of action. The place from which our main character has to rise up from.

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Here is a list of requirements for a cinematic character.


They must be EMPATHETIC, have an internal and external struggle. They must have an arc.
VULNERABLE, they must tell us what their vulnerability is.
Your character should be an UNDERDOG…
Give your characters STRENGTHS-Something that they are really good at, but…
They need FLAWS that could be fatal. Characters with doubts and faults are more interesting and believable.
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These questions might be helpful to ask yourself about character before you start your screenplay.
Who is your story about?
What kind of trouble is that person in?
What does your character want and what will your character do to get it?
What is your character most afraid of (his/her ghost)?
Questions to ask yourself about your script.
GENRE Does your script fulfill the expectations of its particular genre?
CHARACTERS Are your characters memorable? Are they larger than life?
STRUCTURE Does it create suspense? What’s the big question the audience will be wondering about throughout the movie?
THEME What is your movie really about?
RESOLUTION Is the Movie satisfying to the very last scene?
MOMENTS Are there at least four or five memorable moments? Think of this as a “Trailer Moment”.
STORY It is the point when your Character is forced to solve his/her inner conflict in order to solve the outer conflict.
FRESH Is your script fresh? A new perspective on the human condition.
CHARACTERS They must reflect the conflicts of the main Characters.
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Script Checklist
Opening hook
Primary conflict up front
Set the Genre and Tone
Post a general question
Introduce the protagonist in a unique way
Why does the story start today
ANTAGONIST: Who? Why? What?
What power does the antagonist hold over the hero?
10 minute point
Event and declaration
17 minute point
Reaction/30 minute point
Main goal or plan
What’s at stake?
How is the hero trapped?
Time Lock
Are there teams? Hero’s and Antagonist’s
Mid Point
How does hero seize control of destiny?
How does the hero voice this new awareness and need
An Action that conveys the seizing of control
How does the hero face the antagonist on their own turf
How are the stakes raised raised for the 2nd half of the movie
What Unforeseen Obstacle is now in the way
When does the hero realize his/her worst fear
Tighten the screws
Epiphany; it should put your hero at a crossroads
Creates a New Goal
What truth emerges?
What does the Entire Screenplay stand for?
What do you want the audience to come away with?
What’s it about – In One Word
Is the structure complex enough to sustain the movie?



  1. Hay đấy!
    Tớ cũng hiểu được 90 %

  2. ok, tks anh Linh

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