Hollywood movies are simple.
Though writing a successful Hollywood movie is certainly not easy, the stories for mainstream Hollywood films are all built on only three basic components: character, desire and conflict.
Film stories portray heroes who face seemingly insurmountable obstacles as they pursue compelling objectives. Whether it’s Clarice Starling trying to stop Hannibal, Captain Miller Saving Private Ryan, or Billy Elliott trying to gain admission to a ballet school, all these protagonists confront overwhelming conflict in their pursuit of some visible goal.
Plot structure simply determines the sequence of events that lead the hero toward this objective. And here’s the good news: whether you’re writing romantic comedies, suspense thrillers, historical dramas or big budget science fiction, all successful Hollywood movies follow the same basic structure.
Even if you are a novelist, speaker, marketer or attorney, understanding these turning points, and incorporating them into your stories, will strengthen your ability to enthrall your reader or audience.
In a properly structured movie, the story consists of six basic stages, which are defined by five key turning points in the plot. Not only are these turning points always the same; they always occupy the same positions in the story. So what happens at the 25% point of a 90-minute comedy will be identical to what happens at the same percentage of a three-hour epic. (These percentages apply both to the running time of the film and the pages of your screenplay.)
In the explanation that follows, I want to take two recent blockbusters through this entire structural process: Susannah Grant’s screenplay for Erin Brockovich; and Gladiator, written by David H. Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson. As different as these two films are in style, genre, length and subject matter, both have made more than a hundred million dollars at the box office, both were among the most critically acclaimed films of 2000, and both employ the same basic plot structure.
STAGE I: The Setup … click here to read on and make your story everything you want it to be.
And while you’re at it check out his articles on the six stage plot
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