The Second 15 Minutes

Pages 15-30 form the second half of Act I. Here’s what you typically need to put in that section of your screenplay.

Remember, there are no hard and fast rules or formulas for creating a screenplay. However, there are guidelines that can help you craft your story or provide guidance whenever you’re stuck on where to go next.

In most screenplays, the second half of Act I (pages 15-30) provides the hero with something new. During the first half of Act I (pages 0-15), the hero is mired in a dull, stagnant life with an initial hint of another world. During the second half of Act I (pages 15-30), the hero gets jolted out of his old world and is faced with something intruding into his new world.

In “WALL-E,” this occurs when the other robot, Eve, arrives on Earth and starts scrounging around the planet to the bewilderment of WALL-E. In “A Bug’s Life,” this occurs when Flick (the hero ant) prepares to leave the island in search of warrior bugs. In “Star Wars,” this occurs when Obi Wan Konobi asks Luke to join him to help Princess Leia, but he refuses.

The second half of Act I is all about the hero’s old world colliding with a new world. The beginning of this second half starts with an Inciting Incident that shocks the hero, whether it’s Obi Wan Konobi helping Luke or Eve suddenly arriving in WALL-E’s world. The Rising Action occurs when this intrusion in the old world tries to pull the hero into a new world, but the hero struggles against this intrusion. The Climax occurs when the hero chooses to step away from the old world and into the new world.

In “Star Wars,” Luke literally has no choice after the stormtroopers burn down his uncle’s farm and he has no where else to go. In “WALL-E,” WALL-E chases after Eve after a mother ship retrieves her and WALL-E clings to the ship as it blasts off and literally takes him off his old world.

Think of the two halves of Act I like setting up the pieces of a chessboard. In the first half (0-15 pages), your script introduces the hero, his problem, and his goal along with a hint of a new world. In the second half (15-30 pages), your new world collides with the hero’s old world, the hero resists, and finally the hero makes the decision to leave the old world and adventure into the new.

Those are the general principles of Act I. You’re setting up the pieces of your story and from this point on, your script should proceed with the hero’s goal and story theme.

[xyz-ihs snippet=”Making-a-Scene-book”]

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