Practicing Writing Plots

Let’s practice developing plots. Your Task: Take a movie that you’re working on that uses the 3-act structure. If you don’t have one, download a screenplay online. Identify plot point 1 and brainstorm 25 other possible scenarios.

Genres

Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman

Two cars, a sports car and an SUV arrive at the same parking spot. Write the scene or sequence of scenes in
a. A Romantic Comedy
b. An Action Adventure
c. A Film Noir mystery
d. Science Fiction

You may change the vehicles and characters inhabiting them as you please.

Beyond Google

Google has become so popular as a search tool that it often becomes the only instrument used when doing internet research. Expanding our horizons gives us more information from a variety of sources. Your Task: Read “Conducting Research on the Internet.” Now, using 3 methods from this article, research a random subject to come up with 5 facts.

Place as Action

Have you ever seen Ghost in the Shell? There’s a contemplative movement in the second act where the main character watches the city go by. It’s a perfect example of place as action. The pensive main character is taken away by place in a moment that gives the viewer a chance to reflect on the action and philosophy in the movie. Are there other examples of place as action? Can place move the plot forward?

The Exercise

Brainstorm five movie scenes where place is a defining factor in the scene.

Advancing Action

Dialogue can be used as an exposition of character. It can also be used to advance action. Advancing action moves the plot forward from one scene to the next. Your task: Write a 2-page scene where dialogue is used to advance action.

Happily Ever After

Let’s use the ending of a film to practice creating scenes. Your Task: Pick a movie – any movie. After watching it, jot down 4 alternate possibilities for an ending. Now, pick one of your 4 new finales and use standard screenplay format to write out one of these endings.

Defense Against the Critics

Can you defend the choices you’ve made in your own writing? Try it. Your Task: Take a screenplay that you’ve written. Pick out the major plot points and defend your decisions for the way you’ve written them. Write a short essay detailing the decisions you’ve made for the plot of your story and defend these choices against potential criticism.

Exposition

Expository dialogue builds our characters personality. It gives the audience a chance to learn more about who our character is. For example, in the movie “Adaptation,” much of the voice over that is used is built as an internal monologue that gives the audience an idea of the main character, Charlie’s intense inner critic. Your Task: Identify one scene in a movie where expository dialogue is used. Now, write your own 1-page scene that involves this kind of dialogue.

The Interview

You’ve finished a draft of your script! Congratulations. Now it’s time to re-write. Before you get started, get someone else to help you clear your thoughts. Your Task: Get Interviewed! Have a friend interview you about your script. Here are some questions: What do you like about your work? What do you want to change? What should never be changed? Why? How do you feel about writing? What about yourself as a writer? If you had to give up your script to a production company today, what would you be embarrassed about? What are you proud of? Hope that gets you started!

creative screenwriting exercises (Get the book for all 101 exercises)