January 4, 2019

Free Screenwriting Seminar: Pages 80-90 (Week 9)

What did your character miss? And how can that change the story? 

Welcome to week nine of the Free Screenwriting Seminar. We're in the penultimate lesson, and there's a lot of substantial emotional and plot swings to cover today. 

Your character(s) survived their lowest point, and the story is taking a break to the middle of act three for them to reorganize their plans.

Today we're going to take you through pages 80-90 and show you how you can thwart audience expectations to keep everyone on the edge of their seat as your story races to the finish.

We’re going to release one of these every Friday, so if you’re joining late, you can find all the other weeks in our free online screenwriting course here.

Let's get going! 

The Free Screenwriting Seminar Mission Statement

Most people access No Film School because they want to get information about cameras, gear, and storytelling. We’re aware that the luxury of attending film school is not available to most of the world, so we do our best to keep you all up to date on what’s out there and how you can shoot and create to your utmost potential.

What’s at the root of all filmmaking? Storytelling.

Over the next ten weeks, I’m going to give a free online screenwriting course. I’m going to teach you the fundamentals of screenwriting, coach you through 10-page sprints, and answer your questions about how your story can move forward in the comments section below each week.

If we’re going to finish this screenplay, we should get started right away. If you have some other stuff to do and only want to find out what to do this week, scroll down to the TL;DR portion.

Now, to the fun part!

Free Screenwriting Seminar Week Nine: Pages 80-90

Welcome to one of the hardest parts in your screenplay. Outside of act two, these pages are always the hardest for me to write. I love the challenge of racing toward the ending of your movie because it makes you focus in on what needs to be tied up.

There are times when I enter these pages and realize I need to go back and rewrite. It can be a necessary step to help my new progressions make sense. 

Still, since this course is about always writing forward, I encourage you to continue ahead while we are in the process and do a massive rewrite after you finish. 

So, what are we looking for in pages 80-90? 

We're in the direct aftermath of the worst possible thing to happen to your characters. And the audience should be at their emotional low as well. You need to take us through how your characters react. And then give us a glimmer of hope as they crusade forward. 

In our Story Map, pages 80-90 cover the following beats: 

The Hidden Clue - What do your characters discover about themselves/the problem that they never saw before?

Race To the Finish - They’re up and running no matter what.

Let's look at a few more examples to play around in pages 80-90 in your screenplay! 

Pages 80-90 Screenplay Examples

The best way to find examples for pages 80-90 in screenplays is to think about all the moments where characters lose everything... and then study what happens immediately after. 

This is where people come to terms with whether or not they're going to make it. 

One of the most startlingly real versions of these pages came from Manchester By The Sea. Where we find out the lead character just can't beat what he's been feeling. 

What we get at this moment in the movie is a discovery of theme. This is a movie about getting over a trauma, and our character realizes here that he will never be over it. 

But that doesn't preclude him from being a better uncle and involved in his nephew's life. 

We see him sulk, we see him fight, but ultimately he realizes that the people who are alive are more important than anything he feels. 

And that realization reinforces the movie's theme of mourning and redemption. 

Oof that's a sad start.

Let's jump into something funnier. 

Superbad is a masterclass in comedy. After Seth and Evan fight at the party, we think their friendship might be over. The next pages show us how the duo function without each other. 

Seth gets hammered and passes out and into Emma Stone's face. 

Evan is a good guy and passes up having sex with a too-drunk girl only to get hammered and pass out himself. 

Then the cops come in. 

Again, we know the theme of this movie is about friendship. So it only fits that when the cops show up to bust everyone, friends put aside their differences and get back to what matters...friendship! 

In saving Evan, Seth can make up for some of his selfish acts. And to deal with the idea that even if they are apart, they will always be there for each other. 

We also close the loops to the B-story with McLovin and the cops. 

Earlier, I mentioned using these pages to reveal a clue these characters new knew. In Superbad that discovery the characters make is that they genuinely love and care for one another. 

In Manchester By The Sea, it's that you never get over some grief. You just have to move forward and try to grow from it.

But if you're dealing with a genre movie like The Sixth Sense, this is much more of a reveal. Thanks to some handy plot devices

We think the low points are over. And as we race toward the finish, this script needs to assert what it has been about — not just Cole's redemption, but also Dr. Crowe's. 

Again, use these pages to reflect on what you need the audience to find out. 

Maybe it's that in 500 Days Of Summer we need our protagonist to finally be over Summer. You have to sell the audience on the idea that they moved on. So you put a scene here to show what each person found out about themselves. And how those discoveries can catapult them into a catharsis that ends the movie. 

No matter what, if you get stuck on these pages, go back to the theme and lesson. 

What do you want the audience to understand life? 

How can you show them that idea through the power of your story? 

Summing Up the Free Screenwriting Seminar: Week Nine

I cannot believe you only have 10(ish) pages left to write in your screenplay! 

As I have mentioned before, these page counts are not arbitrary. I usually write a little thin and then beef up my first draft on the rewrite, and then polish thin again. Everyone has their writing process

Take risks

The most important thing you can do is to finish your script. 

If you're struggling with these pages, reach out in the comments! This community is here to help. 

I hope you're all getting as much as I am out of this process and I can't wait to read what you come up with next. 

TL;DR of this Free Screenwriting Seminar: Wk. 9

Week Nine Screenwriting Goals:

- Give us catharsis... then race toward the finish!  

- Build us into a discovery  

- Pages 80-90.

Week Nine Music Listen to While Screenwriting:

"Fix you up...fix you up..."

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