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The Hollywood Script Formula Chart offers help on the topic of screenplay writing, ideas on how to structure your screen story, how to format a screenplay, how to understand story acts, pick the right formula for your screenplay, and how to structure a screenplay according the hero’s journey model.
Formatting your screenplay can be a headache. That’s why the experts created their screenplay formulas. These formulas are all on the Hollywood Script Formula chart, superimposed on the 3 act structure. The script chart lays out the plan for the battle against the dark forces of the mystery of writing the screenplay. You can go to the screenwriting links master page to get access to many other screenwriting resource sites. You find writers Guilds, script downloads, the best personal writers’ sites for beginners learning to write a screenplay.
You’ve knocked yourself out writing your screenplay. And you think it’s a movie people will want to see. How do you know the story is going to work? If it gets produced and distributed. It is fiercely competitive out there. Buyers and agents and distributors are looking for scripts that are perfectly formatted and structured. Before you send it out you’d like to know that your screenplay is in perfect script format and meets correct story structure. You want to know that it meets the guidelines of the studio executives and that your screenplay tells a compelling story.
You may have surfed the Internet for hints on how to write a script or formatting tips, or secret formulas of screenwriting but all you keep coming across is text and descriptions on how to write a 120 page script but you can’t even get started on your story idea because you’re so busy trying to understand how to incorporated it into the hundreds of different story ideas and formulas out there. You now feel confused and intimidated. Let’s talk straight here. There are a number of great script formulas out there from all the greats like Syd Field, Michael Hauge, Bob Mckee, and Chris Vogler but which one do you use? Do they all fit evenly on the 3 act structure? Do I even need to use the 3 act structure when formatting my screenplay? Why?
The 3 Act Structure
Aristotle codified the basic 3 Act Structure of dramatic storytelling in his Poetics well over two thousand years ago, and not only is the concept still going strong, but it is wonderfully compatible with other models of storytelling such as Campbell & Vogler’s Hero’s Journey. This ancient concepts, helps you build your stories with strong acts that have dramatic relevance for each of your characters, thus helping you to create an extremely strong framework on which the rest of your story can be built. If one looks at a story from the top down, you’d start with a Theme or Premise that encompasses the entire story. Below that, you might find Aristotle’s Three Act Structure.
Under that, would be a Chapter if you were writing a novel; a Sequence, Scene, or TV / Stage Play Act if you were writing for film, television or the stage and using its terminology; or perhaps a Journey Stage if you were working using the ideas of Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler’s Hero’s Journey. Regardless of what you call it, this Sequence allows you to group together a series of Story Beats and has useful questions to help ensure that this Chapter or Sequence has a strong focus and story movement, and that you actually accomplished in it all that you set out to do.
For a lot of the details on format for screenplays — and a few more tips on screenwriting the makers of the Hollywood Script Formula Chart have put together the secret formulas of screenwriting superimposed on the 3 act structure. It’s got the format rules, story structure basics and the screenwriting formulas all in one chart. You don’t have to be an Academy Award winning screenwriter to figure out that the basic technique in writing a great screenplay is knowing the formulas and structuring your story to fit neatly into one of them. And once you look at what’s involved in screenplay format, once you truly understand the concept you can plug in any story you come up with and come out with an award winning masterpiece. You can write a screenplay without this chart, but be prepared for lots of agony and torment especially when you start revising — or even just tinkering — with that first draft. If you’re serious about writing for film, just bite the bullet (as they used to say in Hollywood westerns) and get the Hollywood Script Formula Chart.
Each generation of screenwriters searches in their own way for the elusive clue to Hollywood’s eternal question: What makes a movie work for audiences? Most great movies have similar elements: brilliant characterizations that are well-acted, surprising action that is well-executed, and an involving plot. Lower (probably much lower) on the list of qualities that hook audiences is movie structure- how the characters are revealed and how the story unfolds. Yet, without a solid structure to support the characters, action and plot, the impact of these elements would be greatly diminished.
Building Story Structure
How do you build a unique and powerful structure for a story? Many writers don’t bother building a unique structure for their story; they merely grab their script’s genre by the throat and cling to it as their lifeline. The genre cliches become the spine of their story. If they’re writing a love story, then they know the genre demands the boy must meet the girl, then the boy must somehow lose the girl, and then he must win her back. These genre demands become their structure. They balance their brilliant characterizations and surprising actions on this rickety, tired structure. Genre and structure are NOT the same thing.
Don’t Confuse Genre with Structure
I’ll repeat: Genre and structure are not the same thing. Genre refers to the story elements the audience expects the movie to explore, like romance, danger, humor, horror, war, alien worlds, crime, or technology. The structure of a movie is the arrangement of scenes that reveals character and unfolds action – path of the storytelling. Don’t let your story genre limit your structural choices. Writers are often led to believe that a romantic comedy unfolds a certain way; and an action picture must unfold another way. These are generational prejudices. Great story structure transcends any trendy genre elements that attempt to stifle it.
Learn from the Pros
Wouldn’t it be great to have a recipe or formula for writing a successful screenplay? The intricate weave of change necessary to create a good movie story makes a formula or recipe absolutely necessary. Now there is one. It’s called the Hollywood Script Formula Chart. Formulas, act structures, plot points, turning points, are all part of the writing process and without knowing exactly where these fall in your script, you could destroy the musical flow of your story. There is a very good reason why that is so. Successful screenplays, become successful because the writer used a certain formula or structure. It’s like playing baseball. You can hit a homerun but if you don’t know the rules you’re going to lose the game. Imagination and creativity is where the writing power and writing success is. But without the working knowledge of what makes a screenplay work, how to format it properly and where to have your emotional curves and turning points in the story you’re not going to grab the emotions of the audience. That’s the Good News, because there are elements that you, the writer, have total control over. You now have all the screenwriting formulas that the pros use in one chart. Now it’s up to you to have the imagination, and creativity to create your story.