Screenwriting – The Beginning Middle and End

The opening to your story is the most important part of the whole journey. Before you even sit down and start writing, know your beginning, middle and end.

Some writers have a hard time just getting started. If you take your time to figure out basic story structure (Setup, Conflict, Resolution) you will have a better understanding of how your story should come together. If you know the ending, think the exact opposite for the beginning. This will help you establish your starting point or opening scene. Remember, film is a visual medium, show the reader, and don’t tell them what is happening.

Begin your story with an opening scene that has impact. You’ll want to hook your audience, drawing them in as your story moves forward and continues to grow. Make sure that your theme; tone and pacing make sense for each scene. Establish a compelling plot arc that propels your story forward. Introduce your main characters (i.e. Protagonist, Antagonist), and then introduce a point of conflict or an “inciting incident”.

Each scene should have a beginning, middle and end. Just as your story has setup, conflict, and resolution, a scene should have setup, conflict, and dilemma. This will keep the audience engaged with every scene and launch the audience into the next scene.

Your character needs to be capable of change from the very beginning; otherwise the change won’t be believable. As your story progresses, the protagonist must face situations and conflicts that require change in order to stay on track with your character arc. Be sure to outline the consequences that your protagonist will encounter on their hero’s journey. To keep the attention of the audience, and to further the transformation of the protagonist, things must get worse before they get better. The conflict must intensify.

You’ll want to ensure that your protagonist has a proper evolutionary character arc. It’s one of the most important elements of storytelling. When a character grows, we vicariously experience his or her changes and are transformed alongside the evolution of the character. Think of the character arc as a map of your character’s beginning, middle, and end. Your character might start off insignificant and without possibilities, then finds a reason to change even while the odds are stacked against them.

Eventually the protagonist reaches a “tipping point,” a moment when a crucial decision must be made or a truth must be revealed. By the end of your story, the character has left their original identity behind and is now at the end of their journey. Your main character should be changed or develop in some way.

Don’t begin writing your story unless you know how it will end.

– David Spies

This entry was posted in Screenwriter, Screenwriting, Story, Treatment and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Screenwriting – The Beginning Middle and End

  1. adauphin04 says:

    Excellently and simply said. It’s amazing how something so simple and obvious can be so difficult to achieve.

  2. Christine Koehler says:

    Thank you for this, David! This is something to keep in mind and re-read, throughout the entire process of writing our scripts!


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