First Act RSS

commercial writing, first act, MacGuffin, plot point, three-act structure -

Screenwriting often works best when it adheres to a very strong three-act structure. Does every movie in the entire history of cinema have a tight structure, or need one? No. But. Especially when it comes to “commercial” writing, as much as possible we want the script to plug into structure. The idea being that structure offers a guide for both the story/writer, and the audience; we know what the story is doing and where it is going, thus giving the narrative contour and momentum. There are several plot points, but here let’s focus on plot point one. Plot point one...

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30 pages, Avatar, Ex Machina, First Act, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, Screenwriting Groups, Star Wars, Table Reads, The Hunger Games, The Lion King, The Matrix, Titanic -

I run one of the largest writers’ groups in Hollywood, with writers at all different skill levels. Every week the group hears 30 pages of a screenplay acted out by professional actors (like a table read), then the rest of the writers in the group gives notes on the pages. As you can probably imagine, people mostly present the first 30 pages of a feature. At this point I have heard nearly 1000 Act One’s, and in this article, I want to discuss what makes an Act One FLY or DIE. There are multiple things you need to accomplish in...

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