As mentioned, I had the honored of being a part of the 2014 Las Vegas Writers Conference at the end of April.
This was the first time I've attended a writers conference as a Faculty Member instead of a some-what-shy, Attendee. A big thanks to the Henderson Writer's Group and to all the attendees who made the conference an absolute blast.
Since I spend a lot of time in front of a computer, interacting with people who are--despite my love for them-- not real, but fictional, I'd almost forgotten what it was like to be around other writers. To be put in a room full of people who practically radiate creativity and talent, as a writer, is to feel at home. A special thanks to those at the conference who came up to me and shared your stories, and personal trials and tribulations. I enjoyed speaking to you all immensely!
One thing I did as a Faculty Member was to hold a presentation, titled: How to Strengthen Your Plot by Using Screenplay Formula.
For those at the conference who missed it, for those who attended the classes, but may want a refresher, and for those who are just curious about how I plot, here are the notes from my class:
Screenplays are generally plotted with an expected page count of 110. One page in screenplay, usually equals one minute of screen time.
Act I, is where we’re introduced to the characters, and their core issues.
Act II is where the ups and downs of the plot takes place.
Act III is for the Climax and Resolution.
The numbered pages (15, 30,45 etc.) are where the Plot Points happen.
Plot point = the beats of your story. They're the structured twists and turns of the movie.
As you can see in the drawing, each Movie has 8 Plot Points.
Before the first Plot Point, on page 15, we establish the character’s world as it is. This is where we get to know our character and their everyday life before their world changes.
Page 15: Is known as the INCITING INCIDENT or The Catalyst. This is where the story kicks off. The Inciting Incident is the first movement of the plot that takes us away from Status Quo and leads us in a new direction.
Page 30: Is known as Plot Point One. This is the end of Act I and where we enter the NEW WORLD. This is usually where the characters make a choice to commit to a journey, or a goal.
Page 45: This is also known as the ALMOST KISS Moment. In a Romantic Comedy this could be the point where one, or both of the main characters, have a moment that shows us that they have feelings for one and other. If it’s not a romantic comedy, this is usually a moment where the character almost gets something they want. But they’ve either gone about it the wrong way, they lose it, or experience a setback.
Page 60:This is known as the MID-POINT, not only because it’s the middle of the movie, but because this is where the plot or character movement takes a dramatic turn. Most of the time, but not always, it's for the worse of the character.
Page 75: is called the POINT OF NO RETURN. This is usually where the characters have regrouped from whatever happen at the mid-point and it’s the development of the final plan. Whatever choice the characters make here, they can’t go back.
Page 90: This is the End of Act II, called Plot Point Two or THE TWIST. This is where a big turn of events take place. Usually this is where the protagonist has reached their goal, but when they do, something unexpected happens.
CLIMAX: This is where it all goes down. The climax is your typical Good Vs. Evil duke it out, our character battles his or her antagonist, whether it’s an actual physical “Bad Guy” or an emotional one.
THE RESOLUTION: Is the end of Act III. This is a very quick thing, a few minutes tops, where we see the outcome and how our characters lives have changed, hopefully for the better.
Next Week, I'll add the section on how you can take the screenplay's Plot Points and stretch them to fit your novel's format!