< The Screenwriter's Master Chart Used with permission.

The Screenwriter's Master Chart

What's Supposed to Happen -- When?
A Summary of Various Script Breakdowns and Systems

SETUP: Who is the character, what is the place, time, mood, size/scope/feeling, point of view. What's the story about? Whose story is it? What does hero want, and what's stopping hero from getting it? Do we like hero and care if he/she gets what she wants? What happens next
1 - 12
CENTRAL QUESTION POINT: What is the central question, the theme, the main issue the movie is going to answer?
NEW OPPORTUNITY: Something that happens to steer events in a particular direction
CHOICE OF PATH: Based on the new opportunity, the hero begins taking steps toward a general goal
12 - 30
CHANGE OF PLANS/TURNING POINT: what event throws hero a curve, forces response or reaction, sets the hero's plan/goal, defines the hero's new pathway for Act II? General goal(s) become specific.
PROGRESS: Plans to achieve goals are working. There are conflicts but things are going pretty well. Hero is changing, circumstances are changing and stakes get higher.
MOVING FORWARD METAPHOR: A small scene with symbolic overtones, showing the character's growth, and giving us a clue to the resolution
POINT OF NO RETURN: Something happens so that hero, if pushing forward and committing, against all odds, to goal, cannot return to where he/she was in the setup. Sometimes, here the external goal has become internal/personal, and pursuing it will change the hero.
POST-POINT MOMENT: A lighter moment, which typically follows the POINT OF NO RETURN. Doesn't further action, but shows how hero is changing, then obstacles start to escalate
COMPLICATIONS AND HIGHER STAKES: The goal becomes even harder to achieve. It looks like it will take everything to do this, harder than thought, but hero wants it more because it's harder.
60 - 90
ALL HOPE IS LOST/ MAJOR SETBACK/THE BIG GLOOM/ GIVING UP POINT: The greatest setback. It appears that hero may not achieve goal, hero about to give up, but something happens that changes everything, an event that gives a chance at a goal hero didn't know he/she had
FINAL PUSH --> ONE SPECIFIC ACTION: Final intensification of the hero's pursuit of the goal, which usually becomes focused here into achieving one specific action. An event occurs that educates the hero, and starts the resolution. Hero may be getting something more or different from what he/she set out to get, hero has learned something and is changed by it, a new complications sets in?
90 - 108
CLIMAX: Hero is close, can see goal, final obstacle, has to give up everything in pursuit of the goal, crisis point where all is in jeopardy, final moment, all or nothing . Hero achieves or fails to achieve the goal, and outer motivation is clearly resolved, often through confrontation with a "nemesis."
108 - 114
DENOUEMENT: What is the outcome, resolution, hero's new life?
108 - 114

© 1996, Mary J. Shomon

MODULE 4: SCREENWRIGHT: the craft of screenwriting