Transformational Narrative:
Screenplay
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SCREENPLAY

Syd Field's books on the essential structure of emotionally satisfying screenplays have ignited lucrative careers in film and television since 1979. In this revised edition of his premiere guide, the underpinnings of successful onscreen narratives are revealed in clear and encouraging language that will remain wise and practical as long as audiences watch stories unfold visually—from hand-held devices to IMAX to virtual reality . . . and whatever comes next.

As the first person to articulate common structural elements unique to successful movies, celebrated producer, lecturer, teacher and bestselling author Syd Field has gifted us a classic text. From concept to character, from opening scene to finished script, here are fundamental guidelines to help all screenwriters—novices and Oscar-winners—hone their craft and sell their work.
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Syd Field's books on the essential structure of emotionally satisfying screenplays have ignited lucrative careers in film and television since 1979. In this revised edition of his premiere guide, the underpinnings of successful onscreen narratives are revealed in clear and encouraging language that will remain wise and practical as long as audiences watch stories unfold visually—from hand-held devices to IMAX to virtual reality . . . and whatever comes next.

As the first person to articulate common structural elements unique to successful movies, celebrated producer, lecturer, teacher and bestselling author Syd Field has gifted us a classic text. From concept to character, from opening scene to finished script, here are fundamental guidelines to help all screenwriters—novices and Oscar-winners—hone their craft and sell their work.
In 1979, when I first wrote Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, there were only a few books on the market that dealt with the art and craft of screenwriting. The most popular was Lagos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing, first published in the 1940’s. Though it was not really a book about screenwriting, but playwriting, the principles laid out were precise and clear. At that time, there was no real distinction between the craft of writing for the stage and writing for the screen. The few other books that were on the market were either about writing for television or playwriting.

Screenplay changed all that. It laid out the principles of dramatic structure to establish the foundations of screenwriting. It was also the first book using well-known and popular movies of the time to illustrate the craft of writing for the screen. And, as we all know, screenwriting is a craft that occasionally rises to the level of art.

When it was first published, it became an immediate best seller, or “an instant sensation” as my publisher labeled it. Within the first few months of publication it went through several printings and became a “hot” topic of discussion. Everyone, it seemed, was surprised by its meteoric success.
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting is a non-fiction book and filmmaking guide written by Syd Field. First published in 1979, Screenplay covers the art and craft of screenwriting. Considered a bestseller shortly after its release, to date it has sold millions of copies. It has served as a reference for Judd Apatow, James Cameron, Frank Darabont, Tina Fey and many other professional screenwriters. Now translated into more than a dozen languages, Screenplay is considered the "bible" of the screenwriting craft.[1]
The Hollywood Reporter once called the late Syd Field “the most sought-after screenwriting teacher in the world.” In the 1980s and 1990s, his internationally acclaimed best-selling book very quickly established itself as the “bible” of the film industry. His books Screenplay and The Screenwriter’s Workbook, in particular, are in their fortieth printing and are used in more than 400 colleges and universities across the country and have been translated and published in 29 languages. This one is a classic that you should have under your belt if you consider yourself a serious screenwriter.
The first act is the beginning of the story, and it introduces the world of the movie, the main conflict and the main characters. Within the first ten pages of that first act, we should meet the protagonist in their normal world and then see some kind of external event that comes into the protagonist’s world and sets him/her after a goal. After that inciting event occurs, we get to see how the protagonist reacts to that world-shattering incident. In other words, this is where we get the set up of the story.

Plot Point One is the external event that spins act one into act two. It’s often the moment where the audience remembers the story beginning after they leave the theater, even if it really began with the external event on page ten....

The second act is where we get to see the main conflict of the story. The protagonist will try to pursue that main goal established in act one (using every tactic in his/her arsenal to try to win whatever it is that he/she is after). Also during this time period, we will get to see a number of obstacles that stand in the way of the protagonist winning the goal. As a writer,..

The Midpoint is similar to a plot point in that it is an external event that spins the plot into a new direction, and many people use this to help them divide up act two. It occurs halfway through the second act and, simultaneously, halfway through the screenplay. Often, this will be a major event that starts to change the severity of the film and often, once again, raises the stakes...

Plot Point Two is often called the Point of No Return. Once the protagonist has participated in this event, they can never go back to who they were at the beginning of the film: a character known for being a jerk at the beginning volunteers to help someone in need, an innocent murders someone that is attacking her, etc. Often, this event can be a big reveal. 

In Act Three, we get the conclusion of the story. This act usually starts at a point that is really high or really low for the protagonist, usually because of the event that took place at plot point two. If the protagonist is eventually going to lose his goal, then he should start this act out by being on top of the world. He thinks that he has everything, and then the rest of the act will show all of that being taken away from him. If the protagonist is eventually going to win her goal, then this act will usually start with a lowest moment, where the protagonist has pretty much given up all hope of ever winning her goal. She doesn’t spend the rest of the act feeling sorry for herself, though. She will usually get that extra piece of motivation (or firepower) that she needs in the second scene of the act to get her back up and fighting again.
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