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format Survey about screenwriting: tight blueprint or compelling storytelling?

We know there's a difference between a story compellingly told, and a story laid out like a blueprint for the sake of production. The jeopardy here is that in the early stages of your shop phase, who's assigned to read your script may well determine whether you struck the wrong tone: Write a blueprint and the overworked, sleepless reader might miss your subtle genius. Tell your story in a compelling way and your... well... overworked, sleepless reader might not have the patience to stick around for the payoff.

I've seen countless examples of each. So which approach do you use? Any personal experience to shine a light?
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
In my experience I don't see one or the other. A compelling story can
follow a standard structure – that “blueprint”.

I have been that overworked, sleepless reader and I have often been
accused of missing the subtle genius that lies within an unstructured
screenplay.

By all means tell your story your way. If it's compelling even the overworked,
sleepless reader will see it. The fact is; most writers who blaze their own
path in order to avoid the “blueprint” just aren't good enough to do it successfully.

When trying to break in it doesn't hurt to follow that dreaded blueprint and tell
your compelling story within those guidelines.
 
I have my own process... I also use my own 4 Act Structure... I shared it here many, many moons ago but since then, it's evolved quite a bit. I also have built into it, 24 plot points. Because I'm not a huge outliner and at least for me, outlines ALWAYS change. Each act is a mode that the Protagonist goes through and within each act are 6 plot points. The reason I developed it this way was for the sake of brevity. I literally come up with ideas every day but some of those ideas are not complete.

My original problem was that if I didn't write them down? I'd forget about'em. I designed 24 plot points so that as I come up with an idea or concept, I can almost immediately see where that particular part of the idea or concept plays in the story. Then I simply plug it into that plot point. It may change but at least I have it written down. I may only have one plot point but I can open that document (I created a pdf with form fills) any time I want and play with the existing plot points or add to them as I come up with a new one.

The reason I created the process in this way is because I often don't have an entire story thought out... Maybe just some cool scenes or inciting incident or whatever. I quickly realized that once I actually start plugging in plot points? My subconscious IMMEDIATELY begins going to work on filling out the rest of the plot points.

Because I am not really an outliner by any stretch of the imagination? My description for each plot point is very short... Just enough to let me know what needs to be taking place in that plot point but not so detailed that I'm following any kind of detailed instructions.

Please make note that this is not a one-size structure that fits all... It's simply me creating a roadmap of my story. Of my idea. Of my concept.

During the actual writing phase (which is WHY I developed this process for myself), my characters don't always do what the plot point wants them to do... LOL. Which to me is ORGANIC and how I like to write. So my first drafts are often long... 165 to 200 pages long. I don't let any of that bother me. I don't try to get into a scene as late as possible during my first draft because often? What I write before the scene is pretty good stuff that I can manipulate into the latter part of the scene but had I simply entered that scene as late as possible? I probably would have never dreamed up what I did dream up to happen just before.

So as I actually write the script? Plot points may change... To better fit the story. Or? They change because my characters MAKE THEM CHANGE... LOL.

So I use this tool to begin and end... Meaning that once my first draft is complete and I let it sit for a week or so? I jump back in with my original plot points and hammer the script back into place utilizing those plot points for the most part and of course the overall 4 Act Structure. Of course by the final draft? Anything can happen as far as the structure goes... I always try to do what's best for the story.
 
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