Divide a typical 120-minute movie into eight segments and you get eight 15-minute segments. Each 15-minute segment the hero must be pursuing a goal. In “Die Hard,” the goals of these eight 15-mintue segments look like this:

  • Get to the office party. (Success)
  • Make up and get back together with his wife. (Fail)
  • Escape terrorists as they take over the party. (Success)
  • Contact the authorities. (Success)
  • Save the SWAT team. (Success)
  • Find out what the detonators are for. (Success)
  • Save the hostages. (Success)
  • Rescue his wife. (Success)

Without a mini-goal to pursue every 15-minute segment, your story can feel aimless. By providing mini-goals for the hero to follow, the story keeps moving forward. This is what the goals of “Terminator 2” look like:

  • Find clothes. (Success)
  • Find John Connor. (success)
  • Rescue John Connor. (Success)
  • Rescue Sarah Connor. (Success)
  • Get to Sarah Connor’s safe house in the desert. (Success)
  • Stop Sarah Connor from killing SkyNet’s creator. (Success)
  • Blow up the SkyNet lab. (Success)
  • Kill the evil Terminator. (Success)

Watch a bad movie and chances are good there isn’t a clear mini-goal that the hero is pursuing, which makes the story feel like it’s dragging and going nowhere. Put mini-goals along the way and each mini-goal acts like a stepping stone that moves the hero closer to fulfilling the ultimate goal of the story.

Screenwriting is more than just writing a script. It’s about crafting a story. Before you start writing, make sure you have a solid story structure to follow. That way you’ll be more likely to create a great script that could be turned into a great movie.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”Google-Horizontal-Ad”]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Story Structure

Previous article

Murphy’s Law
Story Structure

Next article

Get Emotional