How To Write A Movie Script
The average cinema-goer doesn’t know a thing about writing a movie script, but he knows what he likes, as the saying goes. We go to the cinema to be entertained and to be transported out of our boring everyday lives for a couple of hours.
Different people love different types of films, but subconsciously they are all looking for the same things in a movie.
We expect a satisfying story-line to emerge with a definite beginning, a middle and an end.
It sounds easy, and the basic idea is pretty simple. However, it takes a skilful script writer to transform a story into visual treat that you can’t tear your eyes away from.
To to this, the script must be planned right down to the last minute to make sure the audience is satisfied when the curtain comes down.
The 3 Act Structure Common To All Modern Movies – The Hero’s Journey
Aristotle first presented the idea that a story must have 3 definite parts to satisfy an audience, reader or listener.
1. The first act introduces the hero and shows his normal life, before everything changes
2. The second act thrusts the hero into a quest or journey that he’s reluctant to accept
3. Third describes how the hero succeeds against huge odds and defeats the villain
So far so good, but this structure is much to simple for a writer to produce a finished novel or movie. It’s really important that the screenplay writer gets it right, because millions of dollars depend on a box-office success or failure.
The Hero’s Journey was first put forward by Joseph Campbell in 1949 and later expanded into a 12-phase process by Christopher Vogler in 2007.
This later template is the structure used by the vast majority of screenwriters today. Here are the 12 parts of the Hero’s Journey:
1. The hero is introduced and his normal ‘comfortable’ life described.
2. An unforeseen event forces our hero to leave his comfort zone and meet a great challenge, to either get something he desires or to save lives. The question is ‘Will he accept the challenge?’ (Think of Frodo in The Hobbit.)
3. The hero refuses the call at first, but decides to accept after much thought. The stakes are high and he’s not sure he can succeed.
4. He decides to accept but he doesn’t feel ready. This is where the Mentor enters the scene, an older and wiser figure who helps or pushes the hero to get moving!
5. The hero starts the quest, which ideally also means going on a physical journey. There is no turning back and he’s fully committed.
6. The main part of the movie is Act 2, during which the hero meets friends and foes while facing a series of challenges of ever-increasing severity. The main villain is behind most of these challenges.
7. Approaching the inner cave of despair, where the hero is presented with the great end game challenge. A good example is the Death Star in Star Wars.
8. The Black Hole Of Despair happens when the hero faces the greatest challenge of all and almost fails. It’s a very low point. Friends desert him and people often die, such as his mentor or friend. He emerges stronger, wiser and ready to win.
9. Seizing The Sword is when the hero grabs the reward promised at the beginning of the quest. With a surge of energy and courage, he grabs it with both hands.
10. This is the beginning of Act 3. It’s the road back to his old life, but there are still dangers ahead.
11. The Climax of the movies has the hero facing death or worse at the hands of the villain. This is the final test.
12. The hero goes home. He has succeeded in the quest and returns with the treasure, or prize and also the girl of his dreams.
Each and every one of these steps must be in place if the movie is to be a winner. Of course, there are other things to consider, such as dialogue, scene planning and script formatting, but that’s another story.
How To Write A Movie Script – Jim Bruce is a published author and creative writing teacher.
Image Source – Pixabay
Guest Post by howtowriteagoodnovel