Category Archives: Writing

Plot break down: Good Will Hunting

In my ongoing quest to understand film script plot structure, I’ve broken down the plot of Good Will Hunting. My notes are my interpretation of the story. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck surely didn’t break it down exactly as I did, but my version will still give you a functional understanding of film structure. If you look at my break downs of Avatar or Back to the Future, you’ll notice the formats are slightly different. This is partly because I’m experimenting to find the best way to break movies down, but it’s also because there is no one right way to approach structuring a plot. The trick is to find a method that works for you.

For example, Good Will Hunting has 83 beats. Avatar has 101 beats, and Back to the Future has 39. I define a “beat” as an action sequence where a character engages in a conflict or opportunity. The sequence always includes a setup, catalyst, response and outcome. The conflict is usually between two characters, but as my break down of the first episode of the Twilight Zone shows, the conflict can be between the hero and the absence of other characters.

One thing that is consistent in all three of these movies is that about every 10 beats there’s a major conflict that changes the course of the plot. I refer to these 10-block chunks as Acts. Using this formula, Good Will Hunting has 8 Acts, Avatar has 10, and Back to the Future has 5. I refer to the final beat of an Act as the “threshold beat,” because once the hero crosses the threshold, there’s no going back.

In my breakdown of Back to the Future, I divided the storylines using the traditional “A-story, B-story and C-story” method. In my analysis of Good Will Hunting, I divided the beats into “quest chains” instead. I define quest chains as a series of beats in which a character is trying to accomplish a goal. Using this formula, Good Will Hunting has 11 quest chains. For your convenience, I’ve included a summary of the Acts, quest chains, and main characters at the beginning of my break down.

I only pasted my notes on the first two Acts of Good Will Hunting to this web page, because the whole document is 40 pages long, but you can download a Word document of the entire break down by clicking the link below. If you use the “find and replace” function in Word, you can change the names and tweak the story to make it your own to practice story structure.

View the original script on IMSDB.com

Download a complete Word document of the Good Will Hunting break down

Download a complete PDF document of the Good Will Hunting break down

CHARACTERS

Hero: Will

Hero’s signature strength: Genius

Hero’s signature flaw: Won’t leave his comfort zone

Hero’s life goal #1: Stay in a state of arrested development

Hero’s life goal #2: Be genius

 

Hero’s antagonist: Lambeau

Hero’s mentor: Sean

Hero’s best Friend: Chuckie

Hero’s love interest: Skylar

One-off bad guys:

Clark: An opponent who thinks he has more of the hero’s signature strength than the hero does, but the hero proves his mastery of their signature strengths is greater.

Judge: An authority figure who has the power to punish the hero for his signature flaw and is in a position to be swayed by the Antagonist.

Bobby Champa: An opponent the hero wants to fight, who is tailor made to receive the wrath of the hero’s flaw.

 

QUEST CHAINS

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development. (61 beats)

Quest chain 2 : Lambeau wants to find the next big genius (14 beats)

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends (25 beats)

Quest chain 4: Will and Skylar want to fall in love (31 beats)

Quest chain 5: Sean wants to stay in a state of arrested development(19 beats)

Quest chain 6: Will wants to stay out of jail. (30 beats)

Quest chain 7: Will wants to use his genius (10 beats)

Quest chain 8: Will wants to meet with Lambeau for math mentoring (8 beats)

Quest chain 9: Will wants to meet with a therapist for life mentoring (20 beats)

Quest chain 10: Lambeau wants to exploit Will (9 beats)

Quest chain 11: Will needs a real job. (18 beats)

 

ACTS

Act 1: Beats 1-12

Introduce all the main characters and give them each a strength, flaw and goal.

Act 2: Beats 13-22

The antagonist hunts for the hero while the hero meets his love interest.

Act 3: Beats 23-30

The antagonist traps the hero, and the hero fights back.

Act 4: Beats 31-39

The antagonist recruits a mentor for the hero, whom the hero rejects while getting closer to his love interest.

Act 5: Beats 40-51

The hero pulls away from the quest he should be on, but he’s no longer satisfied with his old life.

Act 6: Beats 52-59

The hero applies himself to his quest but pulls away again when he starts to make progress.

Act 7: Beats 60-73

With pressure mounting, the hero rides the fence and is even less satisfied with his old life. His allies finally help him overcome his signature flaw.

Act 8: Beats 74-83

Denouement

 

BEAT 1

Summary:

Will and his friends sit at a bar telling jokes and laughing.

 

Beat Functions:

Prologue

Introduce the hero

Introduce the hero’s goal

Introduce the hero’s flaw

Introduce the setting

Introduce the hero’s allies

Demonstration of character

Metaphor for the hero’s life

Begin Quest chain 1.

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 1: Introduction

 

BEAT 2

Summary:

Will is reading books at home while waiting to get picked up for work by Chuckie.        .

 

Beat Functions:

Introduce hero’s signature strength (Genius)

Introduce hero’s signature weakness (Won’t leave his comfort zone.)

Introduce hero’s home

Introduce here’s life goal #1 (Stay in a state of arrested development.)

Introduce hero’s life goal #2 (Be genius.)

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 2: Demonstrate how the hero is accomplishing his goals (Self-study and working a menial job)

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 1: Introduce Will and Chuckie’s routine

Quest chain 7: Will wants to use his genius

Step 1: Prologue

 

BEAT 3

Summary:

Lambeau challenges his students to solve an advanced math problem.

 

Beat Functions:

Introduce the antagonist

Backstory/setup of Quest Chain #1’s  inciting incident

Begin Quest chain 2.

 

Quest chain 2 : Lambeau wants to find the next big genius

Step 1: Introduction

Quest chain 7: Will wants to use his genius

Step 2: Antagonist creates an opportunity for the hero

 

BEAT 4

Summary:

Will and Chuckie goof around at their favorite hangout spot and make plans to go to a Harvard bar.

 

Beat Functions:

Begin Quest Chain 4.

Character development

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 3: Will’s normal life

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 2: Will’s normal life

Quest chain 4: Will and Skylar want to fall in love

Step 1: Prologue/setup to meeting Skylar

 

BEAT 5

Summary:

Sean sits on his roof looking morose, avoiding going to his college reunion.

 

Beat Functions:

Introduce the mentor

Establish mentor and antagonist as foils of each other

Begin Quest chain 5.

 

Quest chain 5: Sean wants to stay in a state of arrested development

Step 1: Introduction

 

BEAT 6

Summary:

At his class reunion, Lambeau’s students tell him someone has solved his math challenge.

 

Beat Functions:

Progress Quest chain 2

 

Quest chain 2 : Lambeau wants to find the next big genius

Step 2: Setup Lambeau discovering Will

Quest chain 7: Will wants to use his genius

Step 3: Will has used his genius secretly

 

BEAT 7

Summary:

Will and his team goof off and see Bobby Champa, a person who beat up Will in the past. (metaphor for Will’s father)

 

Beat Functions:

Setup to Will’s arrest

Demonstrate Will’s flaw (misplaced anger)

Introduce a little of Will’s backstory of abuse

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 4: Show will’s flaw holding him back

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 3: More of Will’s normal life

 

BEAT 8

Summary:

Lambeau tries and fails to find out who solved his math challenge by searching among his students in the hallway of MIT. Then he issues a new challenge.

 

Beat Functions:

Antagonist fails to achieve his goal. (find the next big genius)

Antagonist creates a new, escalated challenge.

 

Quest chain 2 : Lambeau wants to find the next big genius

Step 3: Fail first attempt. Begin second attempt.

Quest chain 7: Will wants to use his genius

Step 4: Antagonist creates a new challenge for Will.

 

BEAT 9

Summary:

Will, Chuckie, Morgan and Billy ride in Chuckie’s Cadillac talking about first world poor people’s problems.

 

Beat Functions:

Setup Will getting arrested

Character development

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 5: Show will’s flaw holding him back

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 4: More of Will’s normal life

 

BEAT 10

Summary:

Chuckie convinces Morgan to backup Will in a fight.

 

Beat Functions:

Character development

 

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 5: Chuckie demonstrates he’ll do anything for Will.

 

BEAT 11

Summary:

Will, Chuckie, Billy and Morgan fight Bobby Champa and his crew, ending with Will being arrested

 

Beat Functions:

Fight scene

Act 1 threshold

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 6: Will demonstrates he can’t control his flaw , and it is destroying his life.

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 6: Chuckie continues to demonstrates he’ll do anything for Will.

 

BEAT 12

Summary:

Sean sits morose on his roof having skipped his class reunion.

 

Beat Functions:

Demonstrate mentor’s flaw (arrested development)

 

Quest chain 5: Sean wants to stay in a state of arrested development

Step 2: Sean fails to confront the past, which is holding him back.

 

BEAT 13

Summary:

Chuckie picks up Will from the courthouse after being arrested.

 

Beat Functions:

Begin Quest chain 6

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 7: Will suffers the consequences of his failure at the end of Act 1.

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 7: Chuckie helps Will while enabling his self-destructive behavior.

Quest chain 6: Will wants to stay out of jail.

Step 1: Introduction

 

BEAT 14

Summary:

Lambeau and his students gather in class to learn who solved the second math challenge. They fail to achieve their goal. Lambeau creates a new goal for Will.

 

Beat Functions:

Antagonist fails his second attempt.

Antagonist begins new, escalated attempt.

 

Quest chain 2 : Lambeau wants to find the next big genius

Step 4: Fail second attempt. Begin third attempt.

Quest chain 7: Will wants to use his genius

Step 5: Will has used his genius in secret again, and the antagonist creates a new challenge for him.

 

BEAT 15

Summary:

Lambeau catches Will solving the third math challenge, but Will runs away.

 

Beat Functions:

Hero’s refusal of the call

Antagonist makes progress in Quest chain 2

Antagonist and hero meet for the first time

Hero’s flaw negatively impacts his life again (Will feels the need to quit his job.)

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 8: Refusal of the call

Quest chain 2 : Lambeau wants to find the next big genius

Step 5: Lambeau succeeds at finding his genius, but it’s a false victory as Will runs away.

Quest chain 7: Will wants to use his genius

Step 6: Refusal of the call

 

BEAT 16

Summary:

Will, Chuckie, Billy and Morgan go to Casey’s bar as discussed in Beat 4. Will says he lost his job and Chuckie says he can get him a new job.

 

Beat Functions:

Progress in all Quest chains present

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 9: Will suffers the consequences of his refusal of the call

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 8: Chuckie helps Will while enabling his self-destructive behavior again.

Quest chain 2 : Lambeau wants to find the next big genius

Step 6: Will makes it harder for Lambeau to find him by quitting his job.

Quest chain 4: Will and Skylar want to fall in love

Step 2: Travel to where the hero will meet his Skylar

 

BEAT 17

Summary:

Chuckie hits on Skylar and Lydia at a Harvard bar.

 

Beat Functions:

Introduce Skylar

Setup for Will helping Chuckie like Chuckie has been helping Will.

 

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 9: Chuckie sets himself up for trouble in a way that Will is perfectly suited to save him.

Quest chain 4: Will and Skylar want to fall in love

Step 3: Introduce the Skylar

 

BEAT 18

Summary:

Chuckie gets humiliated intellectually by Clark.

 

Beat Functions:

Introduce a conflict for Will to demonstrate his strength and impress his Skylar

 

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 10: Chuckie’s flaw (ignorance) gets in trouble.

Quest chain 4: Will and Skylar want to fall in love

Step 4: Clark creates an opportunity for Will to impress Skylar.

 

BEAT 19

Summary:

Will saves Chuckie by humiliating Clark intellectually.

 

Beat Functions:

Demonstration of hero’s signature strength (genius)

State the stakes (Staying in arrested development leads to perpetual poverty.)

Fight scene

Act 2 threshold

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 10: Will glorifies his poverty and is reminded of the consequences

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 11: Will saves Chuckie.

Quest chain 4: Will and Skylar want to fall in love

Step 5: Will impresses Skylar

Quest chain 7: Will wants to use his genius

Step 7: Will uses his genius successfully

 

BEAT 20

Summary:

Skylar gives Will his prize for beating Act 2 threshold beat-antagonist (Clark)

 

Beat Functions:

Act 2 prize  (Skylar’s number)

Progress Will and Skylar want to fall in love

 

Quest chain 4: Will and Skylar want to fall in love

Step 6: Skylar gives Will her phone number.

 

BEAT 21

Summary:

Will taunts Clark with Skylar’s phone number.

 

Beat Functions:

Victory dance

 

Quest chain 4: Will and Skylar want to fall in love

Step 7: Will demonstrates that he’s kept Skylar’s phone number.

 

BEAT 22

Summary:

Chuckie takes Will home from the bar.

 

Beat Functions:

Transit/transition

Demonstrate the quality of Will’s life

 

Quest chain 1: Will wants to stay in a state of arrested development.

Step 11: Will returns from Harvard to his poverty stricken neighborhood

Quest chain 3: Will and Chuckie want to be best friends

Step 12: Chuckie helps Will by taking him home.

If you liked this plot break down, you may like these other break downs:


Plot break down of “Avatar”

220px-avatar-teaser-poster

I created a detailed break down of the plot to the movie, “Avatar,” which I chose for two reasons. First, it’s the highest grossing movie of all time after, and if you want to understand best-sellers, why start anywhere else?

Second, the script is admirably tight. James Cameron does such a good job of introducing and recalling variables that the script almost reads like a computer program if you look at it with the right eyes, which I’m going to give you. I made a list of every character, object, location and piece of background information that appears in the movie. Then I broke down every beat into four stages:

  1. A character (usually Jake) is introduced to a situation. I call this character, the “beat protagonist.”
  2. The beat protagonist encounters a character who presents a conflict or an opportunity that will hurt or hinder the beat agent’s attempt to achieve their immediate or long-term goals. I call this character, the “beat agent.”
  3. The beat protagonist and beat agent respond to each other using a specific set of signature character traits and skills that belong to their character.
  4. One of the characters will either win or lose the encounter, resulting in a closing situation that will affect the direction of the story. Usually, if Jake wins, something good happens to him, unless he wins by using one of his flaws. Anytime he uses a flaw, he loses in the end. If the beat agent wins for any reason, something bad happens to Jake.

When describing these events of each beat, I wrote the characters, objects, locations and background information in capital letters to highlight the variables and show how the whole movie is strung together by recycling the same variables that were strategically introduced earlier in the movie.

I’ve only posted the first twenty beats on this post page, but you can find the fully completed break down in Word document form by following the link below. In the Word document, you can use the “find and replace” function to change the variables to whatever you want to rewrite your own version of Avatar. Then you can go through, beat by beat, and tweak your story. I believe this exercise will teach you more about plot structure than you will learn in a semester of most writing classes. I’ve also included an external link to the original script so you can follow along.

Word document of the Avatar break down

PDF document of the Avatar break down

Original Avatar Script at IMSDB

I’ve also included a list describing every beat, what Act it’s in, and what beat chain it’s in. The list includes all 101 beats, but the detailed breakdown doesn’t include the last Act, because it’s just the denouement, and after working on this project for over 100 hours, I never want to hear the word Avatar again, much less break down another one of its beats.

In the beat list, some beats have an asterisk next to them. This is to indicate that the beat could be considered two beats. This happens when there’s a short exchange between two distinct characters that precedes or follows a different and more significant exchange between two other characters. For example, in beat 4, Jake wakes up on a spacecraft by a floating nurse, which takes a few seconds and nothing significant really happens. Then he lands and receives a briefing from a sergeant aboard their landing vessel. The first exchange just introduced the second. Technically, they’re two beats, but the movie could exist without the first one. Don’t take my asterisks as gospel though. I might just be wrong.

With or without the double beats, each Act is consistently between 10-12 beats long. They each end with Jake either accomplishing or failing a major goal that results in him receiving a positive or negative prize that significantly affects the direction of the plot. Using this formula, there are 10 Acts in the movie, though you could combine them into 5 major Acts that each contain 2 minor Acts if you want to look at it that way.

Each Act has 2-3 “beat chains,” which are distinct story lines that are spliced together. They typically last 3-5 beats before switching to the next concurrent storyline. The beat chains are separated with spaces.

ACT/BEAT/BEAT CHAIN LIST

Act 1: Introduce the hero, and give him an opportunity to accomplish his ultimate goal in life.

1: Introduce the hero and state his goal

2: Metaphor for the whole movie

3: Jake recieves an opportunity to make his dream come true

*4: Jake arrives on Pandora

5: Introduce Quaritch and learn about the dangers of Pandora

6: Jake meets the Avatar team

7: Jake meets Grace

8: Grace tries to get Jake kicked off the Avatar team

*9: Jake trains how to use his Avatar body

*10: Jake gets a military assigment from Quaritch

Act 2: The hero accomplishes the first major goal/assignment necessary to achieving his final goal.

*11: Avatar team travels to the derelict Na’vi school in the jungle

*12: Jake is split up from his team running from a giant Thanator

13: Jake prepares to battle the creatures of the night

14: Jake fights the creatures of the night and is saved by Neytiri

15: Neytiri tries to take Jake to safety, but Jake is arrested by Tsu’tey

16: Jake is put on trial at Hometree

17: Jake eats dinner with Neytiri

*18: Jake returns to his human body and debriefs with the Avatar team

19: Jake debriefs with the military team

20: Jake and Grace tell eachother things they didn’t know about the Na’vi

Act 3: The hero trains in a physical skill.

21: Jake trains how to use a direhorse

*22: Jake gives military intel on the Na’vi to Quaritch

23: Grace moves the Avatar program to Site 26

24: Avatar team travels to Site 26

25: Avatar team sets up their equipment at Site 26

26: Neytiri teaches Jake about Banshees

27: Jake records a vlog at Site 26

28: Neytiri trains Jake in Na’vi language and bow

29: Norm trains Jake in Na’vi language

30: Neytiri trains Jake in tree hopping

31: Moat lets Grace and Norm into Hometree

Act 4: The hero trains in a mental skill.

32: Neytiri trains Jake in tracking and naturism

33: Grace teaches Jake about naturism

34: Jake demonstrates mastery of the skills Neytiri has been teaching him

35: Jake demonstrates mastery of naturism in human form

36: Tsu’tey leads Jake and other Na’vi trainees into the Floating Mountains

37: Jake tames his Banshee

38: Neytiri trains Jake how to ride his Banshee

39: Grace teaches Jake about the Leonopteryx and the Well of Souls

40: Neytiri teaches Jake about the Leonopteryx

41: Jake expertly kills a Sturmbeest with a bow while flying on his Banshee

42: Jake celebrates at a Sturmbeest feast at Hometree with the Na’vi

43: Jake and Tsu’tey start to bond, but Neytiri chooses to dance with Jake over Tsu’tey

44: Jake gives an eloquent speech about Naturism

Act 5: The hero accomplishes a major goal, which is undone by the antagonist.

45: Jake and Grace report to Selfridge, who says they’re out of time for diplomacy

46: Quaritch gives Jake one last chance for diplomacy

47: Jake enters his Avatar pod to go take the final test to become a Na’vi member

48: Jake prepares for his final test at Hometree

49: Jake takes Na’vi mescaline and trips out

50: Jake and Neytiri have sex

51: RDA attacks the Na’vi’s trees with Dozers to incite retalitation to justify war

52: Jake disables a Dozer

53: Tsu’tey challenges Jake to a duel for what the humans did to the Na’vi’s trees

54: Trudy flies Quaritch to Site 26

55: Jake and Tsu’tey duel

56: Quartich arrests the Avatar team causing Jake to lose his duel with Tsu’tey

Act 6: The hero regains lost ground.

57: Jake and Grace unsuccessfully beg Quaritch and Selfridge to call off the attack on Hometree

58: Quartich tells Selfridge that the Na’vi took the bait and wiped out their Dozer fleet

59: Quartich convinces Selfridge to attack Hometree

60: Trudy warns Jake and Grace that Quaritch is going to attack Hometree

61: Grace and Jake convince Selfridge to give them one more chance at diplomacy

62: Grace and Jake try to warn the Na’vi that Hometree is about to be attacked

63: Hometree is attacked

64: Trudy breaks the Avatar team out of jail

65: The Avatar team travels out of the RDA compound

66: The Avatar team gets to Trudy’s gunship

67: Quartich fires at Trudy’s gunship, hitting Grace.

Act 7: The hero gains ground.

68: The Avatar team attaches the link module at Site 26 to Trudy’s gunship to move it

69: The Avatar team travels to a new location with the link module

70: The Na’vi are regrouping at the Well of Souls

71: The Avatar team sets up the link module near the Well of Souls

72: Jake retrieves his Banshee

73: Jake tames the Leonopteryx

74: Jake uses the Leonopteryx to reunite with the Na’vi

75: The Na’vi prepare to try to save Grace

*76: The Na’vi fail to save Grace, and Jake urges the Na’vi to recurit more help

77: Jake enlists the help of the Na’vi Horse Clan

Act 8: The hero and antagonist prepare for their final showdown, and the antagonist wins the first round.

78: Quaritch urges all RDA Personell to fight the Na’vi

79: Selfridge tries and fails to stop Quaritch’s war path

80: Max warns the Avatar team Quartich is going to attack the Well of Souls

81: Jake trains the Na’vi how to fight the humans

82: Jake prays to Ewa for help

83: The Na’vi and the humans make final preparations for battle

84: Human mech warriors battle Na’vi Horse Clan (Humans win)

*85: Jake and Na’vi Banshee Clan attack Human Gunships. Norm and Tsu’tey get knocked out of the battle (Humans win)

Act 9: The hero and his allies rally and win the final showdown.

86: Ewa attacks the humans with Banshees and Bull Hammerheads

88: Max leads a revolt within the RDA compound

89: Jake attacks Valkryie Gunship

90: Quaritch goes Berzerker

91: Humans begin retreating despite orders to hold the line

92: Quartich closes in on the Well of Souls

93: Jake unsuccessfully attacks the Dragon Gunship

94: Trudy sacrifices herself to take out the Dragon Gunship

95: Max attacks the RDA control room

*96: Neytiri and Jake kill Quaritch

Act 10: Denouement

97: Neytiri saves Jake’s life and sees his human form for the first time

98: Tsu’tey passes leadership of the Na’vi to Jake, and Jake mercy-kills Tsu’tey

99: The Na’vi and Avatar team kick RDA off Pandora

100: Jake makes a denouement vlog

101: The Na’vi transfer Jake’s soul from his human body to his Avatar body

 

CHARACTERS

CHARACTER: JAKE

PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 1: FIND A CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR/PROTECT THE WEAK FROM THE STRONG

PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 2: BE MORE THAN A MAN CAN BE

PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3: WALK

PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 4: FLY

PROTAGONIST PREVIOUS CAREER: MARINE

PROTAGONIST CURRRENT CAREER: DISABLED VETERAN

PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS: INOPERABLE LEGS

PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

PROTAGONIST FLAW: OBEDIENCE

PROTAGONIST RESOURCE: WHEEL CHAIR

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE: SARCASM AND HUMOR

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE: NEVER GIVE UP

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

PROTAGONIST CURSE: RECIEVES NO SYMPATHY FROM UNIVERSE

PROTAGONIST SKILL: ACT LIKE A MARINE

SKILL: NA’VI LANGUAGE

HUMAN RESPONSE: REFUSAL OF THE CALL

RESOURCE: WHEELCHAIR

RESOURCE: AVATAR BODY

CHARACTER: BAR BULLY

(Metaphor for RDA)

CHARACTER: BARTENDER

CHARACTER: TWO RDA CORP AGENTS

CHARACTER: SPACESHIP NURSE

CHARACTER: FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT

CHARACTER: DOZER

CHARACTER: MECH SUIT WARRIOR

CHARACTER: QUARITCH

CHARACTER GOAL 1: MAINTAIN AN EFFECTIVE FIGHTING FORCE AGAINST PANDORA

CHARACTER GOAL 2: HELP HUMANS SURVIVE PANDORA

SKILL: BUREAUCRATIC RANK

SKILL: MECH PILOT

CHARACTER: NORM

SKILL: LANGUAGE SKILLS

TRAIT: JEALOUSY

TRAIT: INSECURITY

CHARACTER: MAX

CHARACTER SKILL: TECH SAVY

CHARACTER: GRACE

TRAIT: SMOKING HABIT

TRAIT: HIGH EXPECTATIONS

TRAIT: DEDICATION TO SCIENCE

SKILL: KNOWLEDGE OF NA’VI

SKILL: NA’VI GREETING

GOAL 1: PACIFISM

CHARACTER: SELFRIDGE

FLAW: BUREAUCRATIC INEPTITUDE

FLAW: GREED

FLAW: DISRESPECT FOR NATURE

FLAW: PHYSICALLY WEAK

GOAL 1: MONEY

GOAL 2: MINE UNOBTANIUM

GOAL 3: HAVE A MILITARY ASSET ON THE AVATAR PROGRAM

SKILL: BUREAUCRATIC RANK

SKILL: GOLF

CHARACTER: TRUDY

RESPONSE: TOUGH GIRL

CHARACTER: MILITARY ESCORT

CHARACTER: FOREST BANSHEE

CHARACTER: BULL HAMMERHEAD

CHARACTER: GIANT THANATOR

CHARACTER: NEYTIRI

SKILL: KNOWLEDGE OF PANDORA

SKILL: BOW

SKILL: RIDE DIRE HORSE

SKILL: USE ANTENNA/SHAHAYLA

SKILL: RIDE MOUNTAIN BANSHEE

SKILL: NATURISM

SKILL: SUMMON BANSHEE CALL

SKILL: TREE HOPPING

SKILL: RIDE MOUNTAIN BANSHEE

NA’VI FLAW 1: RACISM

RESOURCE: BOW

CHARACTER: THE GREAT TREE

RESOURCE: WOODSPRITE

RESOURCE: ROOT TENDRILS

RESOURCE: WILLOW TENDRILS

CHARACTER: PACK OF VIPERWOLVES

CHARACTER: TSUTEY

FLAW: RACISM

FLAW: JEALOUSY

CHARACTER: EYTUKAN

CHARACTER: EWA

CHARACTER: MO’AT

CHARACTER: MOUNTAIN BANSHEE

CHARACTER: FAN LIZARD

CHARACTER: HEXAPEDE

CHARACTER: GROUP OF CHILDREN NA’VI

CHARACTER: GROUP OF TEENAGE NA’VI

CHARACTER: GROUP OF HUNTER NA’VI

CHARACTER: GROUP OF WOMEN NA’VI

CHARACTER: GROUP OF ELDER NA’VI

CHARACTER: GROUP OF RANDOM NA’VI

CHARACTER: JAKE’S BANSHEE

CHARACTER: LEONOPTERYX

CHARACTER: STURMBEEST

CHARACTER: DEAD NA’VI LADY

CHARACTER: TREE OF VOICES

SKILL: HEAR PRAYERS

SKILL: ANSWER PRAYERS

CHARACTER: DOZER PILOT

FLAW: OBEDIENCE

CHARACTER: GROUP OF FOOT SOLDIERS

CHARACTER: RANDOM FOOT SOLDIER

CHARACTER: WAINFLEET

CHARACTER: PRISON GUARD #1

CHARACTER: PRISON GUARD #2

CHARACTER: NA’VI ANCESTOR SPIRITS

CHARACTER: GROUP OF HORSE CLAN WARRIORS

CHARACTER: GROUP OF BANSHEE CLAN WARRIORS

CHARACTER: GROUP OF RDA PERSONELL

CHARACTER: GROUP OF MECH SUIT WARRIORS

CHARACTER: VALKYRIE PILOT

CHARACTER: GROUP OF SCIENTISTS

CHARACTER: VALKRYIE GUNSHIP 1

CHARACTER: VALKRYIE GUNSHIP 2

LOCATIONS

LOCATION: PROTAGONIST DREAM

LOCATION: STREETS OF PROTAGONIST HOME TOWN

LOCATION: INSIDE PROTAGONIST HOME

LOCATION: PROTAGONIST NIGHT LIFE SPOT (CONFLICT AGENT 1 & 2)

LOCATION: ALLEY BEHIND PROTAGONIST NIGHT LIFE SPOT

LOCATION: PANDORA FLIGHT LINE

LOCATION: BRIEFING ROOM

LOCATION: AVATAR LAB

LOCATION: AVATAR CONTROL ROOM

LOCATION: RDA CONTROL ROOM

LOCATION: AVATAR TRAINING COMPOUND

LOCATION: MILITARY HANGAR

LOCATION: THE SKIES OF PANDORA

LOCATION: GUNSHIP

LOCATION: JUNGLE LANDING ZONE

LOCATION: NA’VI SCHOOL

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 2

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 3

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 4

LOCATION: HOMETREE

LOCATION: RDA CAFETERIA

LOCATION: HOMETREE/THIRD LEVEL

LOCATION: HOMETREE/COMMONS

LOCATION: HOMETREE/RIVERBANK

LOCATION: RDA OPS CENTER

LOCATION: RAIN FOREST

LOCATION: TRUDY’S GUNSHIP

LOCATION: SITE 26/LINK MODULE

LOCATION: SITE 26/SLEEPING MODULE

LOCATION: HOMETREE/BANSHEE EYRIE

LOCATION: RANDOM FOREST

LOCATION: MOUNTAIN TRAL

LOCATION: BANSHEE ROOKERY

LOCATION: THE WELL OF SOULS

LOCATION: HOMETREE/LOWEST LEVEL

LOCATION: WILLOW GROVE

LOCATION: SELFRIDGE’S OFFICE

LOCATION: DRAGON GUNSHIP/COCKPIT

LOCATION: DRAGON GUNSHIP/ROOF

LOCATION: RDA COMPOUND CORRIDOR

LOCATION: RDA COMPOUND PRISON

LOCATION: RDA COMPOUND AIRFIELD

LOCATION: FOREST CLEARING

LOCATION: WELL OF SOULS

LOCATION: RUINS OF HOMETREE

LOCATION: CLAN GATHERING

LOCATION: NA’VI BATTLE CAMP

BACKGROUND INFO

BACKGROUND INFO: STORY UNIVERSE’S PRIMARY FLAW: THE RICH CONTROL THE WORLD AND EXPLOIT THE POOR MERCILESSLY IN THEIR INSATIABLE PURSUIT OF PROFITS

BACKGROUND INFO: PANDORA EXISTS (a place where PROTAGONIST can achieve his ultimate goals)

BACKGROUND INFO: THE UNIVERSE CAN FULFILL PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3 for enough money, which PROTAGONIST doesn’t have

BACKGROUND INFO: JAKE IS A TWIN, AND HIS TWIN IS DEAD

BACKGROUND INFO: RDA CORP HAS AN AVATAR PROGRAM ON PANDORA

BACKGROUND INFO: AVATARS REQUIRE MATCHING DNA TO FUNCTION

BACKGROUND INFO: THERE ARE NO HEROES ON PANDORA, ONLY MERCENARIES

BACKGROUND INFO: THERE IS NO SPECIAL TREATMENT ON PANDORA

BACKGROUND INFO: THE AIR ON PANDORA WILL KNOCK YOU OUT AND THEN KILL YOU

BACKGROUND INFO: EVERYTHING ON PANDORA WANTS TO KILL YOU

BACKGROUND INFO: NOT EVERYONE WILL SURVIVE 6 YEARS ON PANDORA

BACKGROUND INFO: AVATARS ARE EXPENSIVE

BACKGROUND INFO: THE AVATAR PROGRAM BUILT A SCHOOL TO TEACH NA’VI ENGLISH

BACKGROUND INFO: THE AVATAR PROGRAM’S SCHOOL ENDED IN DISASTER

BACKGROUND INFO: HUMANS ARE ON PANDORA TO MINE UNOBTANIUM

BACKGROUND INFO: EWA is TEAM NA’VI’s deity.

BACKGROUND INFO: NEYTIRI’S SISTER was killed by RDA.

BACKGROUND INFO: MIND-MELT BOND IS CALLED “SHAHAYLU”

BACKGROUND INFO: UNOBTAINIUM IS A SUPERCONDUCTOR THAT CAN MAKE THINGS FLOAT

BACKGROUND INFO: MOUNTAIN BANSHEE’S ATTACK IF YOU LOOK IN THEIR EYES. p.60

BACKGROUND INFO: DIRE HORSES DON’T ESTABLISH PERMANENT/MONOGOMOUS SHAHAYLU with NA’VI.

BACKGROUND INFO: MOUNTAIN BANSHEES ESTABLISH PERMANENT, MONOGOMOUS SHAHAYLU WITH NA’VI.

BACKGROUND INFO: TO BECOME TARONU/HUNTER YOU MUST CHOOSE YOUR OWN BANSHEE AND IT MUST CHOOSE YOU.

BACKGROUND INFO: TARONU/HUNTERS GET THEIR BANSHEE WHEN THEY ARE READY.

BACKGROUND INFO: SYLWANIN was killed at TEAM NA’VI school for burning a DOZER.

BACKGROUND INFO: LEONOPTERYX CAN DESTROY GUNSHIPS p.75

BACKGROUND INFO: THE WELL OF SOULS IS TEAM NA’VI’S MOST SACRED PLACE p.76

BACKGROUND INFO: NEYTIRI’S ANCESTOR TAMED A LEONOPTERYX.

BACKGROUND INFO: ONLY 5 LEONOPTERYX HAVE EVER CHOSEN A NA’VI.

BACKGROUND INFO: EVERY NAVI KNOWS THAT NEYTIRI’S ANCESTOR BROUGHT THE CLANS TOGETHER IN A TIME OF GREAT SORROW.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: NEYTIRI IS BETROTHED TO TSU’TEY

BACKGROUND INFO: RDA WILL ATTACK THE WELL OF SOULS

BACKGROUND INFO: THE FINAL TEST OF BECOMING A NA’VI MAN IS “THE DREAM HUNT”

BACKGROUND INFO: THE TREE OF VOICES CAN HEAR AND ANSWER PRAYERS

BACKGROUND INFO: THE TREES ON PANDORA SHARE A NEURAL NETWORK

BACKGROUND INFO: NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT WORKS WORST AT THE WELL OF SOULS

BACKGROUND INFO: TSU’TEY IS SECOND IN LINE TO BE LEADER OF TEAM NA’VI

BACKGROUND INFO: EWA CAN USE THE GREAT TREE TO MOVE SOULS INTO NEW BODIES

BACKGROUND INFO: JAKE IS THE NEW LEONOPTYRX RIDER/CLAN UNIFIER

BACKGROUND INFO: TEAM NA’VI IS MASSING FOR AN ATTACK

BACKGROUND INFO: QUARITCH HAS THE POWER TO DECLARE MARTIAL LAW

BACKGROUND INFO: EWA DOESN’T TAKE SIDES, ONLY PROTECTS THE BALANCE OF LIFE

RESOURCES

TEAM AVATAR RESOURCES

AVATAR POD

JAKE’S AVATAR

NORM’S AVATAR

GRACE’S AVATAR

COFFEE

BURRITOS

VLOGGING STATION

VLOG

RANDOM SCIENCE EQUIPMENT

AIRLOCK

TEAM MILITARY RESOURCES

RDA COMPOUND

AIRLOCK

RDA COMPOUND/CONTROL ROOM

RDA COMPOUND/SELFRIDGE’S OFFICE

RDA COMPOUND/RDA AVATAR LAB

RDA COMPOUND/AVATAR TRAINING GROUND

RDA COMPOUND/CAFETERIA

RDA COMPOUND/PRISON

RDA COMPOUND/CORRIDOR

RDA COMPOUND/AIRFIELD

RDA COMPOUND/BRIEFING ROOM

MILITARY RESOURCE: DOZER

WEAPON: BLADES

CAMERA

VIDEO PHONE

MILITARY RESOURCE: MECH SUIT

MILITARY RESOURCE: GUNSHIP

FLYING

RADIO

MISSLES

NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT

MILITARY RESOURCE: HEAVY MACHINE GUN

MILITARY RESOURCE: WOODEN SPEAR

VIDEO OF JAKE BASHING THE DOZER

DRAGON GUNSHIP

VALKYRIE GUNSHIP

MISSLES

GAS

HAND GUN

BULLETS

PRISON

KEY CARD

BIOSUITS

GAS MASK

COMPUTER

VIDEO

RADIO

SURVEILANCE CAMERA

ALARM BUTTON

EMERGENCY DOOR

TRAUMA BAG

MORPHINE

PALLETS OF EXPLOSIVES

TEAM NAVI RESOURCES

NA’VI FLAW: RACISM

NA’VI IDEOLOGY: NATURISM

NA’VI PRIME PEROGATIVE: HARMONY WITH NATURE

NA’VI RESOURSE: KNIFE

NA’VI RESOURCE: BOW

NA’VI RESOURCE: FIGHTING STAFF

NA’VI RESOURCE: DIREHORSE

NA’VI RESOURCE: BOLO

NA’VI RESOURCE: BEETLE FOOD

NA’VI RESOURCE: HAMMOCK

NA’VI RESOURCE: ANTENNA

NA’VI RESOURCE: NA’VI LANGUAGE

NA’VI RESOURCE: KAVA

NA’VI CUSTOM: THE DREAM WALK

NA’VI CUSTOM: NA’VI CAN PICK A MATE AFTER SURVIVING THE DREAM WALK

NA’VI CUSTOM: TEAM NA’VI’S SPIRITUAL LEADER IS CALLED A TSAHIK

NA’VI CUSTOM: DUEL CHALLENGE

NA’VI RESOURCE: SPIRIT ANIMAL

NA’VI SKILL: INVOKE CUSTOM

NA’VI SKILL: SHAHAYLU

NA’VI SKILL: TREE HOPPING

NA’VI SKILL: TRACKING

NA’VI SKILL: NA’VI GREETING

NA’VI SKILL: RIDE BANSHEE

NA’VI SKILL: DEATH RITES

NA’VI SKILL: DREAM WALK RITES

NA’VI SKILL: GROUP PRAYER CHANT

NA’VI SKILL: SOUL TRANSFER

NA’VI SKILL: SOUL TRANSFER RITE

NA’VI SKILL: WAR CRY

GROUP OF HORSE CLAN WARRIORS

GROUP OF BANSHEE CLAN WARRIORS

TEAM PANDORA RESOURCES

POISON AIR

GRAVITY

WIND

UNOBTAINIUM

BANSHEE

DIRE HORSE

NA’VI

FLOATING MOUNTAINS

GIANT TREES

FORESTS

RIVERS

NEURAL NETWORK

MAGNETIC ROCK

LEONOPTEREYX

BEAT 1 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 1-2

SUMMARY:

PROLOGUE

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

Relate key information to the audience

 BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Introduce most important variables about the protagonist and background information.

 BEAT 1 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: FLYOVER OF FOREST CANOPY IN JAKE’S DREAM. (Jake wants to fly.)

Also shown is LOCATION: JAKE’S HOUSE (JAKE lives in poverty.)

ALSO shown is LOCATION: CITY STREET (The masses on Earth live in poverty.)

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKES is having a dream.

JAKE states BACKGROUND INFORMATION 1

JAKE states BACKGROUND INFORMATION 2

JAKE states BACKGROUND INFORMATION 3

JAKE states PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 1

JAKE states PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 2

JAKE states PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3

JAKE states PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 4

PROTAGONIST TAKES ACTION TO ACHIEVE THE CURRENT BEAT GOAL:

JAKE dreams he can be and do more since society won’t give him the chance.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

The economy is oppressive and merciless. JAKE can’t afford a cup of coffee on his disability checks.

RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE wakes up. His eyes open in the same way as the final image of the movie when JAKE wakes up as a Na’vi.

BEAT 2 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 3-4

SUMMARY:

JAKE attempts to achieve PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 1

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to find a cause worth fighting for.

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

BAR BULLY wants to oppress the weak.

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Introduce PROTAGONIST’S GOALS and conflict resolution abilities by using the beat conflict as microcosm of the story conflict

BEAT 2 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: POOL HALL

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is drinking trying to impress BEAT 1 EXTRAS

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION:

JAKE is doing something that resembles PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE QUEST GOAL 2 despite PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 1. But JAKE knows his he’s only achieving PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 2 superficially. So he looks around LOCATION: POOL HALL for a more meaningful opportunity to accomplish his goal.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

JAKE sees BAR BULLY standing at the bar.

BEAT AGENT’S ACTION:

BAR BULLY accomplishes GOAL 1 by hitting a woman. This provides JAKE an opportunity to be a hero and fight above his weight class.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO BEAT AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE on BAR BULLY. JAKE attacks BAR BULLY.

THE UNIVERSE’S COUNTERACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

BAR BULLY fights back.

THE PROTAGONIST’S COUNTERACTION TO THE UNIVERSE’S ACTION:

JAKE uses CHARACTER TRAIT: NEVER GIVE UP.

THE VICTOR/OUTCOME OF THE CONFLICT:

JAKE wins the fight, but BARTENDER throws JAKE out POOL HALL into BACK ALLEY and then throws JAKE’S WHEELCHAIR on him.

FINAL IMAGE:

JAKE is laying on the ground, defeated for winning.

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 1: SARCASM AND HUMOR

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

He laughs to himself to show he is never daunted in the face of overwhelming odds or seeming defeat.

HOW THE OUTCOME OF THE ENCOUNTER AFFECTS THE PROTAGONIST’S ABILITY TO COMPLETE ANY QUEST GOAL:

JAKE is found in the BACK ALLEY by RDA AGENTS who were looking for him.

RDA gives JAKE an opportunity to achieve his goals

 BEAT 3 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 4-5

SUMMARY:

JAKE receives and accepts a job offer on PANDORA.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to defy the world

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

TWO RDA AGENTS want to recruit JAKE for the Avatar program.

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

A tragic and unexpected opportunity provides the CATALYST moves JAKE out of stasis and into unknown territory

BEAT 3 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

ALLEY BEHIND POOL HALL

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is lying on the ground

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE THE CURRENT BEAT GOAL:

JAKE continues laying on the ground as he has nowhere else to go really. This is his life.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

TWO RDA CORP. AGENTS fulfill their 3 goals:

GOAL 1: FIND JAKE SULLY

GOAL 2: DELIVER INFORMATION TO JAKE

GOAL 3: CONVINCE JAKE TO JOIN RDA CORP ON PANDORA

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: JAKE IS A TWIN, AND HIS TWIN IS DEAD

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: RDA CORP HAS AN AVATAR PROGRAM ON PANDORA

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: AVATARS REQUIRE MATCHING DNA TO FUNCTION

 PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 1: FIND A CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR

ALLIGNS WITH

RDA AGENTS’ GOAL 3: CONVINCE JAKE TO JOIN RDA CORP ON PANDORA

RDA AGENTS gives JAKE a sales pitch he can’t refuse

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE accepts the offer

RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE leaves Earth

BEAT 4 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 5-9

SUMMARY: REACH PANDORA

JAKE arrives on PANDORA and receives a quick safety briefing.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to get to Pandora

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT wants to get the new arrivals off the plane safely

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Moves JAKE towards predestined opportunities and conflicts

Introduce necessary variables related to new environment

BEAT 4 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: SPACESHIP

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE wakes up from deep sleep.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE 3: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

Via narration, JAKE gives the audience BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THERE ARE NO HEROES ON PANDORA, ONLY MERCENARIES

Via a transport ship, JAKE arrives at PANDORA FLIGHT LINE where he’s briefed by FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT GOAL 1: GIVE ROOKIES INFO ON PANDORA

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE 3: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT provides BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THERE IS NO SPECIAL TREATMENT ON PANDORA

FLIGHT LINE SERGEANT provides BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THE AIR ON PANDORA WILL KNOCK YOU OUT AND THEN KILL YOU

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

Nobody gives JAKE any special treatment

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE is last off the transport ship

JAKE sees a DOZER with arrows in its tires, foreshadowing TEAM NA’VI

JAKE sees a MECH SUIT foreshadowing he’ll have to fight one

 BEAT 5 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 10

SUMMARY:

JAKE introduced to the dangers of PANDORA by QUARITCH’S safety briefing.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to attend a safety briefing with QUARITCH

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

QUARITCH wants to warn the new recruits how dangerous Pandora is.

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Introduce new sources of conflict and new background information

 BEAT 5 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: BRIEFING ROOM late.

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE enters the room.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE 3: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

QUARITCH gives a safety briefing to newcomers.

QUARITCH GOAL 1: MAINTAIN AN EFFECTIVE FIGHTING FORCE AGAINST PANDORA

QUARITCH GOAL 2: HELP HUMANS SURVIVE PANDORA ALLIGNS WITH PROTAGONIST GOAL 4: COMPLETE 6 YEAR CONTRACT ON PANDORA

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

QUARITCH uses BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THERE IS NO SPECIAL TREATMENT ON PANDORA

QUARITCH gives Jake BACKGROUND INFORMATION: EVERYTHING ON PANDORA WANTS TO KILL YOU

QUARITCH gives Jake BACKGROUND INFORMATION: NOT EVERYONE WILL SURVIVE 6 YEARS ON PANDORA

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE. He’s bored with routine safety briefings

RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE is one step closer to completing QUEST CHAIN 2

BEGIN QUEST CHAIN 3

QUARITCH eyes JAKE sternly

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

QUARITCH knows JAKE exists, setting up the beat when QUARITCH assigns JAKE QUEST CHAIN 3.

 

BEAT 6 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 11-14

SUMMARY: INPROCESS INTO AVATAR PROGRAM WITH TEAM MEMBERS

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to inprocess into the Avatar program

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

NORM wants to help JAKE inprocess

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Introduce Jake’s primary allies and set up to introduce QUEST CHAIN 3: INFILTRATE TH NA’VI

 BEAT 6 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: AVATAR LAB,

Jake meets MAX

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE enters AVATAR LAB led by NORM, who is explaining how the Avatar program works

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE 3: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

Jake uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 1: SARCASM AND HUMOR

Jake uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:  

Jake asks NORM and MAX for help understanding science, but they are distracted.

NORM gives JAKE BACKGROUND INFORMATION: AVATARS ARE EXPENSIVE

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE is pretty much on his own and is unprepared to win Grace’s favor in the next beat:

 

BEAT 7 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 13-14

SUMMARY:

JAKE inprocesses into TEAM AVATAR and meets GRACE.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to be accepted onto the Avatar team despite being unqualified

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

GRACE wants JAKE off the Avatar team because he’s unqualified

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

INTRODUCE JAKE’S CONFLICT WITH GRACE

SET UP GRACE’S CONFLICT WITH SELFRIDGE

BEAT 7 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: AVATAR CONTROL ROOM

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE enters AVATAR CONTROL ROOM with NORM and MAX

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE 3: FOLLOW AND LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

JAKE meets GRACE emerging from AVATAR POD

GRACE demonstrates TRAIT 1: SMOKING HABIT

GRACE demonstrates TRAIT 2: HIGH EXPECTATIONS

 GRACE’S GOAL 1: PACIFISM VS PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

GRACE tests NORM and JAKE’S expertise. NORM passes. JAKE fails.

NORM uses SKILL 1: LANGUAGE SKILLS

MAX uses SKILL 1: TECH SAVY

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 1: SARCASM AND HUMOR

PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

GRACE leaves to tell SELFRIDGE to take JAKE off the Avatar team

 RESULTING SITUATION:

Grace storming out of AVATAR CONTROL ROOM

 

BEAT 8 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 15-17

SUMMARY:

GRACE tries to get SELFIRDGE to take JAKE off TEAM AVATAR.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

GRACE wants SELFRIDGE to take JAKE off the Avatar team

 BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

SELFRIDGE wants GRACE to keep JAKE on the Avatar team

 BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

INTRODUCE ANTAGONIST

INTRODUCE MAJOR SOURCE OF CONFLICTS

INTRODUCE BACKGROUND INFO

 BEAT 8 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: RDA CONTROL ROOM

OPENING SITUATION:

SELFRIDGE is playing mini golf and makes it known he doesn’t care about what’s going on around him, demonstrating CHARACTER 11 TRAIT 1: BEUROCRATIC INEPTITUDE

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

GRACE storms into RDA CONTROL ROOM

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

SELFRIDGE lectures GRACE revealing important variables:

SELFRIDGE GOAL 1: MONEY

SELFRIDGE GOAL 2: MINE UNOBTANIUM

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THE AVATAR PROGRAM BUILT A SCHOOL TO TEACH NA’VI ENGLISH

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THE AVATAR PROGRAM’S SCHOOL ENDED IN DISASTER

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: HUMANS ARE ON PANDORA TO MINE UNOBTANIUM

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

GRACE protests

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

SELFRIDGE reveals SELFRIDGE GOAL 3: HAVE A MILITARY ASSET ON THE AVATAR PROGRAM

SELFRIDGE uses SKILL 1: BEAUROCRATIC RANK and rejects GRACE’S demand.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

GRACE leaves defeated

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE’S membership on the Avatar team is permanently secured

SELFRIDGE announces a new quest chain for JAKE: FIND DIPOLOMATIC SOLUTION TO CONFLICT WITH NA’VI

 

BEAT 9 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 17-20

SUMMARY: JAKE TRAINS HOW TO USE HIS AVATAR

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to train how to use his AVATAR BODY

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

GRACE wants JAKE to take it slow

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE trains how to use PROTAGONIST RESOURCE: AVATAR BODY

JAKE achieves PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3: WALK

JAKE completes QUEST CHAIN 2: INPROCESS INTO PANDORA

BEAT 9 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

AVATAR CONTROL ROOM

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE enters his AVATAR POD with GRACE’S assistance

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE THE CURRENT BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:  

GRACE uses TRAIT 2: HIGH EXPECTATIONS

GRACE uses BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THERE IS NO SPECIAL TREATMENT ON PANDORA

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S OPENING ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 1: SARCASM AND HUMOR

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

GRACE connects JAKE to his Avatar even though she doesn’t want to.

 THE PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO THE UNIVERSE’S ACTION:

JAKE wakes up in his Avatar body at LOCATION: AVATAR TRAINING COMPOUND

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

JAKE achieves PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3: WALK

JAKE partially achieves PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 2: BE MORE THAN A MAN CAN BE

NORM and MAX try to stop JAKE but are unable

JAKE runs through the training course and demonstrates proficiency using his Avatar body

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE wins a little favor in GRACE’S eyes

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE is ready to journey into Pandora’s jungle

 

BEAT 10 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 23-25

SUMMARY:

JAKE completes his military inprocessing.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to follow orders to meet QUARITCH

 BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

QUARITCH wants JAKE to give him intel on TEAM NA’VI

 BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE completes QUEST CHAIN 2: INPROCESSING INTO PANDORA

JAKE accepts QUEST CHAIN 3: INFILTRATE TEAM NA’VI

 BEAT 10 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: MILITARY HANGAR

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is walking and talking to TRUDY

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

TRUDY gives JAKE QUEST GOAL 3.2.1: DOOR GUNNER AND MILITARY ESCORT FOR AVATAR TEAM. JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE and accepts the quest.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

QUARITCH offers JAKE QUEST GOAL 3.2: GATHER MILITARY INTEL ON NA’VI.

In return, he will fulfill PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 3: WALK at the end of his 6 year tour on Pandora.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE and says, “Hell yeah.”

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE accepts a military mission that conflicts with his Avatar mission and PROTAGONIST ULTIMATE GOAL 1: FIND A CAUSE WORTH FIGHTING FOR (PROTECT THE WEAK FROM THE STRONG)

 

BEAT 11 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 26-30

SUMMARY: JAKE ESCORTS AVATAR TEAM TO NA’VI SCHOOL IN THE JUNGLE

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to escort GRACE and NORM to TEAM NA’VI SCHOOL

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

GRACE doesn’t want MILITARY ESCORT to come with them.

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE moves into the unknown where he can find what he doesn’t know he’s missing

BEAT 11 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: THE SKIES OF PANDORA

OPENING SITUATION:

TRUDY is piloting JAKE, GRACE NORM and MILITARY ESCORT in MILITARY RESOURCE: GUN SHIP

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE sees a FOREST BANSHEE flying around

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

JAKE tracks the FOREST BANSHEE with MILITARY RESOURCE: HEAVY MACHINE GUN

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

TRUDY lands her GUN SHIP at LOCATION: JUNGLE LANDING ZONE. GRACE refuses to allow MILITARY ESCORT to accompany them into the dangerous jungle.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE doesn’t protest despite PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

JAKE, GRACE and NORM walk into the jungle without incident.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

They are setting themselves up for trouble.

 

BEAT 12 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 31-34

SUMMARY:

JAKE, GRACE AND NORM retrieve SCIENCE EQUIPMENT from NA’VI SCHOOL.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to escort NORM and GRACE in and out of Pandora’s jungle safely

ANTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

GIANT THANATOR wants to eat JAKE

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Provide information on TEAM NA’VI

Move JAKE closer to TEAM NA’VI

 BEAT 12 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: NA’VI SCHOOL

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE, GRACE and NORM enter the school.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

He pays attention to his surroundings and asks questions

JAKE asks GRACE questions about the school, but she is not forthcoming with answers.

GRACE relays BACKGROUND INFORMATION: HUMANS HAVE NOTHING TEAM NA’VI WANT

They leave LOCATION: NA’VI SCHOOL and enter LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE, where JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA and goofs around.

JAKE is attacked by BULL HAMMERHEAD and then GIANT THANATOR.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

GIANT THANATOR attacks JAKE

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE runs.

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

GIANT THANATOR chases JAKE.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE escapes but gets lost in the jungle

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE fails to complete the beat goal, but this is a false failure, as it will bring him into contact with TEAM NA’VI.

 

BEAT 13 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 35-36

SUMMARY: JAKE tries to survive alone in Pandora’s jungle.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to survive the night

ANTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

NEYTIRI wants to kill JAKE

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE makes contact with CHARACTER 16: NEYTIRI

 BEAT 13 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 2

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is walking cautiously through the jungle.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE.

He makes MILITARY RESOURCE: WOODEN SPEAR

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA and makes a bunch of noise and doesn’t pay attention to what’s around him.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

JAKE doesn’t see NEYTIRI because she is using SKILL 1: KNOWLEDGE OF PANDORA

NEYTIRI is about to kill JAKE, but THE GREAT TREE uses RESOURCE 1: WOODSPRITE to pacify NEYTIRI

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE is blessed by THE GREAT TREE. So NEYTIRI follows and watches over him.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE is one step closer to making contact with TEAM NA’VI.

 

BEAT 14 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 37-43

SUMMARY:

NEYTIRI saves JAKE

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to survive the night.

 BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

PACK OF VIPERWOLVES want to eat JAKE

 BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE makes contact with TEAM NA’VI.

 BEAT 14 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 3

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE being hunted by PACK OF VIPERWOLVES

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST SKILL 1: ACT LIKE A MARINE

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

He turns MILITARY RESOURCE: WOODEN SPEAR into a torch

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

PACK OF VIPERWOLVES attacks JAKE.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE fights back but loses.

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

NEYTIRI saves JAKE using SKILL 1: KNOWLEDGE OF PANDORA and NA’VI RESOURCE: BOW

 THE PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO THE UNIVERSE’S ACTION:

JAKE tries to thank NEYTIRI, but she uses SKILL 2: NATURISM

NEYTIRI tries to teach JAKE killing predators is bad if it’s not necessary.

NEYTIRI uses NA’VI FLAW 1: RACISM and tells JAKE he’s like a baby.

JAKE pleads for her to help him, but she refuses until THE GREAT TREE uses RESOURCE 1: WOODSPRITES to bless JAKE again.

RESULTING SITUATION:

NEYTIRI agrees to help JAKE and leads him to safety.

EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE has earned an opportunity to infiltrate TEAM NA’VI.

  

BEAT 15 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 43-45

SUMMARY:

JAKE is taken captive by TSU’TEY.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to follow NEYTIRI to safety

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

TSU’TEY wants to kill JAKE

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE gets closer to TEAM NA’VI but experiences backlash

JAKE meets a recurring source of conflict in TEAM NA’VI community

 BEAT 15 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: DEEP JUNGLE 4

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE and NEYTIRI are running through entertaining background.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE tries to get to know NEYTIRI by asking her questions.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

TSUTEY shows up riding NA’VI RESOURCE: DIREHORSE

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

TSUTEY uses NA’VI RESOURCE: BOLO to catch JAKE.

TSUTEY tries to use NA’VI FLAW: RACISM and NA’VI RESOURCE: BOW to kill JAKE.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA. He’s helpless.

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

NEYTIRI intercedes and saves JAKE’S life, but TSUTEY hauls JAKE to HOMETREE for judgment.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE is officially a helpless captive.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

PROTAGONIST WEAKNESS 2: UNPREPARED FOR PANDORA

JAKE enters TEAM NA’VI’s home, a huge step closer to infiltrating them.

This is his first chance to gather military intelligence on TEAM NA’VI.

  

BEAT 16 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 45-48

SUMMARY: Jake joins TEAM NA’VI

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to not get killed by TEAM NA’VI

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

EYTUKAN wants to kill JAKE

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE survives the night and succeeds at infiltrating TEAM NA’VI

New Na’vi characters are introduced

BEAT 16 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

LOCATION: HOMETREE

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is dragged to the center of a circle of Na’vi.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE is docile.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

EYTUKAN uses NA’VI FLAW 1: RACISM and says JAKE should have been killed already instead of brought to their home.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE tries to be friendly. It doesn’t work.

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

NEYTIRI tells the mob that THE GREAT TREE told her to save JAKE in BEAT 13.

MO’AT shows up to speak on behalf of EWA. MO’AT questions JAKE.

 THE PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO THE UNIVERSE’S ACTION:

JAKE tells MO’AT he’s a warrior and he wants to learn from them. MO’AT decides they could learn from JAKE Too.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

MO’AT orders NEYTIRI to train JAKE in the ways of TEAM NA’VI.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE begins a new TRAIN IN THE WAYS OF TEAM NA’VI.

BEAT 17 PLOTTING INFO

 PAGE: 48-50

SUMMARY:

Jake learns to eat with TEAM NA’VI.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to impress NEYTIRI by eating BEETLE FOOD

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

NEYTIRI wants to test JAKE by feeding him BEETLE FOOD

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Establish JAKE and NEYTIRI’S personal and training relationship.

 BEAT 17 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

TREE HOME

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE and NEYTIRI are sitting down for dinner.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE eats dinner with NEYTIRI

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

NEYTIRI wants JAKE to eat NA’VI RESOURCE: BEETLE FOOD

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

NEYTIRI encourages JAKE to BEETLE FOOD.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE eats BEETLE FOOD enthusiastically and compliments them.

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

MO’AT and EYTUKAN comment that NEYTIRI will kill JAKE

 THE PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO THE UNIVERSE’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 2: NEVER GIVE UP

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE survives his first lesson.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE is one step closer to completing his training.

 

BEAT 18 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 50

SUMMARY: JAKE debriefs with the Avatar team

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to debrief with the Avatar team.

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

NORM and GRACE don’t appreciate JAKE’S victory

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

The Avatar team accepts JAKE’S role as their new ambassador to TEAM NA’VI.

BEAT 18 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

 OPENING LOCATION:

HOMETREE, He wakes up in JAKE wakes up in AVATAR CONTROL ROOM.

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE falls asleep next to NEYTIRI in NA’VI RESOURCE 6: HAMMOCK.

NEW LOCATION:

AVATAR CONTROL ROOM

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is laying in his AVATAR POD.

GRACE is slapping JAKE in the face, telling him to wake up.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION:

JAKE greets GRACE.

NEW LOCATION:

RDA CAFETERIA

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is sitting at a cafeteria table with NORM, GRACE and MAX.

JAKE tells his audience about his night and its implications for their mission.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

NORM is jealous. GRACE is credulous. MAX is impressed.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE uses PROTAGONIST RESPONSE TO OVERWHELMING ODDS 1: SARCASM AND HUMOR

RESULTING SITUATION:

GRACE and NORM accept the situation.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE progresses one step closer to quest goal.

BEAT 19 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 51-52

SUMMARY: JAKE debriefs with the military team

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to report his progress to QUARITCH

BEAT AGENT’S BEAT GOAL:

QUARITCH wants intel on HOMETREE

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

Progress military plot line

 BEAT 19 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

RDA CONTROL ROOM

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is in a meeting with QUARITCH and SELFRIDGE.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE tells QUARITCH about his night and becoming TEAM NA’VI ambassador

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

SELFRIDGE is at the meeting.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

SELFRIDGE says HOMETREE is the next UNOBTANIUM mining site.

SELFRIDGE uses GOAL 2: MINE UNOBTANIUM

SELFRIDGE says bad press from killing NA’VI is better than bad shareholder reports.

SELFRIDGE uses GOAL 1: MONEY

SELFRIDGE gives JAKE new mission: CONVINCE NA’VI TO RELOCATE in 3 months.

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

JAKE accepts the mission.

RESULTING SITUATION:

The meeting ends.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE has conflicting missions.

 

BEAT 20 PLOTTING INFO

PAGE: 53

SUMMARY: JAKE identifies NA’VI in photos to GRACE, which brings up the topic of NEYTIRI’S sister, who GRACE informs JAKE, is dead.

PROTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

JAKE wants to give GRACE inside information about TEAM NA’VI.

ANTAGONIST’S BEAT GOAL:

NORM resents JAKE’S success

BEAT’S IMPACT ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

JAKE gives GRACE intel on Na’vi, and GRACE trains JAKE by giving him info that prepares him.

JAKE learns NEYTIRI’s sister was killed by humans.

 BEAT 20 SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

OPENING LOCATION:

AVATAR LAB

OPENING SITUATION:

JAKE is sitting at a computer terminal with GRACE, NORM and MAX.

GRACE is showing JAKE pictures of TEAM NA’VI on the terminal.

PROTAGONIST’S OPENING ACTION TO ACHIEVE BEAT GOAL:

JAKE identifies TSU’TEY, NEYTIRI, EYTUKAN and MO’AT in photographs for GRACE. GRACE explains the cultural significance of the positions each person holds in NA’VI society.

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY:  

NORM and GRACE

AGENT OF CONFLICT OR OPPORTUNITY’S OPENING ACTION:

NORM resents JAKE’S success and ignorance. He gives JAKE BACKGROUND INFORMATION: EWA is TEAM NA’VI’s deity.

GRACE tells JAKE BACKGROUND INFORMATION: RDA killed NEYTIRI’S sister

PROTAGONIST’S REACTION TO AGENT’S ACTION:

Sadness

THE UNIVERSE’S REACTION TO THE PROTAGONIST’S ACTION:

GRACE puts JAKE into his Avatar body.

 RESULTING SITUATION:

JAKE goes into his avatar body.

 EFFECTS OF RESULTING SITUATION ON PLOT PROGRESSION:

The stakes of JAKES’s missions are escalated.

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Plot break down of “The Twilight Zone,” Season 1, Episode 1 Where is Everybody

512px-thetwilightzone-logo-svg

This is a break down of the first episode of The Twilight Zone. For the past year I’ve been experimenting with different ways of breaking down movies and sitcoms, and I’ve found the easiest way to do it is to paste a set of prompts in between each beat of the script. Then, I fill out the prompts and add headings that break the beat itself into its components. The prompts and headings are self-explanatory. The one confusing things about this script is that the antagonist of each beat isn’t a character, it’s the absence of life.

The script was written by Rod Serling and copyrighted by CBS. This break down is obviously for educational purposes. So I hope it falls under fair use. All of my original analysis is free domain. Enjoy.

Click here to download a Word document of this break down

Click here to download a PDF document of this break down

BEAT: 1

SUMMARY:

Mike walks to a diner but doesn’t know if he has any money. He checks his pocket and is delightfully surprised to find some. Then he goes in the diner.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Introduce the hero

Setup main conflict

Mystery

Teaser

QUEST CHAIN:

1: Hero’s introduction

Step 1: Introduce the hero

 

ACT ONE
ESTABLISHING SHOT

The camera has begun to pan down until it passes the
horizon and is flush on the opening shot (each week the
opening shot of the play). We are now looking down the
small two-lane asphalt highway. It is dawn, the road is
deserted save for a small diner on the left hand side. A
broken neon light flashes on and off over the front door.
From inside the sound of a rock-‘n’-roll record lends a
strange, raucous dissonance to the early morning silence.

SETUP
Then the camera sweeps right for a
LONG SHOT MIKE FERRIS
Who suddenly appears, walking down the road. His step is
tentative, unsure. He’s a tall man in his thirties. His
dress is nondescript, his only identifiable garment being
army pants. There’s an indecisiveness, a puzzlement, in his
features as he comes closer to the camera, sees the diner,
stops, rubs his knuckles over the side of his face and
feels his beard’s stubble.

OPPORTUNITY

He pats in his pocket, unsure,
reaches in and pulls out a couple of dollar bills.

OUTCOME

For some
reason this buoys him up. He looks a little more resolved
as he walks up the steps and into the diner.

 

BEAT: 2

SUMMARY:

Narrator gives his opening speech, stating the quirk in the universe, Mike inexplicably has no memory.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Narrator’s prologue

State the problem

Teaser

QUEST CHAIN:

1: Hero’s introduction

Step 2: Narrator’s prologue

 

SETUP

NARRATOR’S VOICE
We are looking at a male Caucasian,
age approximately thirty-one, height
approximately 5’11”.

CONFLICT

As to his name,
where he is, and what he’s doing
there — this even he doesn’t know.

OUTCOME
For the journey that this man will
take is an excursion into the shadows,
and all of you are invited to go
along.
DISSOLVE TO:

 

BEAT: 3

SUMMARY:

Mike sees signs of life in the diner but no life.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Show the hero’s problem

Hero investigates

Escalation

Mystery

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 1: Investigate the diner

Step 1: Setup

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 1: Investigate American money

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT
INT. DINER
It is a small, nondescript, typical eatery with a row of
small booths along the outside window, a counter, and a
kitchen beyond. The room is empty.

SETUP
PAN SHOT MIKE
As he walks over to a stool and sits down at the counter,
reaches over, takes a menu, studies it for a moment, then
turns and looks over toward the juke box.
MED. CLOSE SHOT JUKEBOX
Garish, multicolored, still blaring out the music.
MED. SHOT ROOM
He turns on his stool to look toward the opening to the
kitchen.
CLOSE SHOT AN OVEN INSIDE KITCHEN
Through the glass we can see a row of six or seven pies
baking and almost fully browned.

CONFLICT
MED. SHOT ROOM
Mike calls out.
MIKE
(sardonically calling out)
Is this thing loud enough for you out here?
I mean, can you hear it all right?
He grins wryly, waits momentarily for an answer that never
comes, turns and looks again at the juke box. He rises,
gets off his stool, goes over the juke box, looks all
around it, pushes it away from the wall a few inches,
reaches back, fiddles with a knob. The music goes much
lower. Then, satisfied, he pushes the machine back against
the wall and goes back over to the counter.
MIKE
Kind of early for that kind of music, isn’t
it?
Still, silence.
MIKE
I noticed there’s a town just up the road.
What’s the name of it?
Again, silence. Mike puts the menu down, peers through the
little opening to the kitchen.

A small room with a couple of stoves, et cetera. He goes
over to the stove, turns down the oven, and looks around
the room. He goes over to a back door, tries it and it
swings open. He steps back as it creaks open and reveals
the diner’s backyard.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
(calls out)
Hey? You got a customer out front! Hey!
Customer here!

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
Still no answer. Mike turns, retraces his steps to the
lunch counter.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MED. SHOT ROOM
Mike still shows no real emotion beyond a puzzlement. He’s
neither frightened nor concerned as yet. Again he picks up
the menu and studies it. He talks out loud, now.
MIKE
I think ham and eggs. Eggs up and soft.
Hash browns. Coffee. Black.
(looks up, calls out again)
Customer! Got a customer out front!
(he rises from the stool
again — sticks his head in
the kitchen)
Ham and eggs. Hash browns. Coffee black.
He stands there by the open, swinging door staring into the
empty kitchen. His eyes dart about now and for the first
time we see something beyond puzzlement on his features.
What supplants it is irritation, not acute, but definitely
there. He reaches into his shirt pocket and takes out a
crumpled pack of cigarettes, goes back to the lunch
counter. Now he scratches his head, sits down on the stool
for a long moment.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

Suddenly the music on the juke box
stops. The sudden cessation of noise brings with it a
silence even more obvious.

HERO’S RESPONSE

Mike turns to stare at the juke
box. He looks up at the clock.

CLOSE SHOT CLOCK
It is on the counter near the coffee urn, its face turned
sideways so that Mike can’t see it.
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he goes over to the clock to turn it around and stare at
it.
CLOSE SHOT CLOCK
It reads a quarter to six.
MED. SHOT MIKE
Mike turns away from it, but in doing so brushes against it
and knocks it to the floor.
CLOSE SHOT CLOCK
On the floor as Mike bends over and picks it up. The face
of it is broken. He puts it back on the counter, then goes
back over to his seat.
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
His fingers tap a nervous staccato on the counter top. The
silence now begins to be oppressive and nerve-racking.
Suddenly, as if an afterthought, he reaches into his pocket
and pulls out the money, looks at it in his hand, then
reaches into all his other pockets. He finds nothing. He
rubs at his face again.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

Mike speaks aloud but obviously to
no one in an attempt to make noise or sound or just to end
the stillness.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
Cash customer here. Hungry cash customer.
(he rubs his face again)
I got two dollars and eighty-five cents.
(he looks at the money very
thoughtfully, almost
questioningly)
Two dollars and eighty-five cents, American
money.

OUTCOME
(then he stops and looks off
in obvious puzzlement)
American money.
(he throws it out into the
air as if to reassure
himself as to the meaning of
the phrase)
Sure, American money.

 

BEAT: 4

SUMMARY:

Mike admits he doesn’t know who he is or anything about himself. He discovers he’s American because he has American money.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Catalyst

State the problem

Mystery

Discover a clue

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 1: Investigate the diner

Step 2: Shout for help

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 2: State the problem

SETUP

He looks at the clock again, and into the opening to the
kitchen and the swinging doors, at the silent juke box, and
back at the money in his hand.

OPPORTUNITY
MIKE
Well, we got this much settled. I’m an
American.
(he raises his voice a
little now as if to wake
someone in the next room)
There’s a little question about my
identity. Let me put it to you this way —
I’m not sure who I am.

HERO’S RESPONSE
(he holds up the money)
But I’ve got two dollars and eighty- five
cents and I’m hungry.
This much is established!
He gets up off the stool and suddenly slams both palms down
hard on the counter, making all the salt shakers and catsup
bottles quiver and rattle.
MIKE
(shouts)
I got two dollars and eighty-five cents and
I’m hungry!

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
He stops dead now, listening to the silence that enfolds
and surrounds him.

HERO’S RESPONSE

Then he looks around. Again the sense of
irritation.

OUTCOME

He takes a drag on his cigarette, then butts it
out, rises, goes to the front door and stares out.

 

BEAT: 4

SUMMARY:

Mike looks outside the diner for signs of life.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Mystery

Character development

Investigation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 1: Investigate the diner

Step 2: Look outside

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT
EXT. LUNCH ROOM
The long road that leads away from the lunch counter
without a sign of traffic, people, or anything.

SETUP

He whirls
around to look back into the lunchroom.
MIKE
(aloud)
I’m gonna wake up in a minute. I know I’m
gonna wake up.

CONFLICT

I wish… I wish there’d be
a noise or something to wake me up.

HERO’S RESPONSE
He suddenly sticks two fingers in his mouth and whistles,
listens for a moment, then he whistles again, kind of
grinning to himself.
MIKE
A little noise, please!
(now he sings at the top of
his voice)

HERO’S ESCALATION
“Yes sir, that’s my baby. No sir, don’t
mean maybe. Yes sir, that’s my baby now!”
He laughs a little sheepishly,

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

listens for a moment to the
silence,

OUTCOME

then he turns and goes back to the lunch counter.

 

BEAT: 5

SUMMARY:

Mike gives up looking for clues in the diner.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Failure

Escalation

Mystery

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 1: Investigate the diner

Step 3: Fail quest chain 2.1 (Investigate the diner)

 

SETUP
INT. LUNCH ROOM
Mike sits down, buries his face in his hands, rubbing his
eyes, massaging his temples as if trying to force out with
his fingers some connective link… some reassurance of
existence… some knowledge of where he is and what he’s
doing. Once again he looks around the room.

CONFLICT
PAN SHOT WITH HIS EYES
Taking in the shots of the coffee urn, the menus, the salt
and pepper shakers, all the simple, commonplace, terribly
normal adjuncts to what should be a normal scene but
somehow isn’t.

OUTCOME

He rises now, looks around again, then walks
to the door.
CLOSE SHOT THE ‘OPEN’ SIGN ON THE DOOR
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he slowly reaches down and turns the sign over to read
CLOSED. Then he walks out.

DISSOLVE TO:

 

BEAT: 6

SUMMARY:

Mike finds no life outside and starts to crack up a little.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Mystery

Investigation

Restate the problem

Character development

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 2: Investigate outside

Step 1: Look at the stores

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT

EXT. TOWN STREET MIKE’S P.O.V.
It’s still early morning, and what we’re looking at is the
main drag of a small town, flanked by stores, a courthouse,
a post office, et al. The most singularly overwhelming
feature of this is the complete absence of motion and all
noise.

SETUP
LONG SHOT MIKE FERRIS
As he walks down the sidewalk looking from one side of the
street to the other.

CONFLICT
TRACK SHOT
Past stores as Mike goes by them. Drugstore, grocery, soda
bar. Most of the doors are open and there are lights on
inside, but there are no people. There’s an odd,
indefinable feeling that permeates the scene, a sense of
activity and yet coming with no players, and no people, as
if it was a place full of motion and movement suddenly
stripped of the people performing it.

OUTCOME
LONG SHOT DOWN THE STREET
From Mike’s point of view. It is devoid of any kind of
movement whatsoever. It is absolutely quiet. Over this
tableau we superimpose the title, “Where Is Everybody?”
along with major credits.

 

BEAT: 7

SUMMARY:

Mike thinks he sees a person, but it turns out to be a mannequin.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

State the problem

False hope

Failure

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 2: Investigate outside

Step 2: Investigate the woman

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 3: State the problem

 

SETUP

CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he stops and looks around. He is suddenly startled by
the sound of chimes.

He whirls around and looks up.
LONG SHOT CHURCH STEEPLE BELL
As it rings.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
He shades his eyes to search out the church and then, in
turning away from it, he stops abruptly, staring at
something across the street.

OPPORTUNITY
LONG SHOT ACROSS THE STREET
A little clothing store and alongside of it an alley where
a large delivery truck is parked. In the cab, in the
passenger- seat, a human figure can be seen.

HERO’S RESPONSE
LONG ANGLE SHOT
Looking down as Mike goes to the curb, cranes his neck to
look over to the truck.
MIKE
Hey, miss? Miss?
(he makes a gesture that is
part a wave, part an attempt
at reassurance)
Over here, miss. Look, I wonder if you
could do me a favor? I don’t want you to
think I’m nuts or anything. I mean, it’s
nothing like that. It’s just that —
(again he grins a little)
I don’t seem to remember who I am. It’s the
craziest thing. I’ve looked all around and
I haven’t seen anybody around. I guess it’s
just early or something. Literally there
hasn’t been a soul.
(he takes a step off the
curb, looks again toward the
cab of the truck, a little
puzzled. He smiles again.)
You know, it’s a real oddball thing but…
well, I woke up this morning…
(he stops and rubs his jaw)
I didn’t exactly wake up. I just sort of
found myself on the road walking.
(and then suddenly)

HERO’S ESCALATION
Amnesia, that’s what they call it, isn’t
it? Amnesia? Well that must be what I’ve
got. I just don’t remember a thing… I
can’t find anybody to ask…
TRACKING SHOT
As he starts to walk across the street.
MIKE
(as he walks)
You’re the first person I’ve seen. Look, I
really don’t want you to be frightened or
anything, but I was wondering if you could
just tell me if maybe there’s a doctor or
something.

CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he stops dead in his tracks. He’s about ten feet from
the truck.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
MED. LONG SHOT THE TRUCK
The female figure is outlined in the passenger seat but
very much in the shadows.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MOVING SHOT MIKE
As he gets close to the cab.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
CLOSE SHOT PROFILE FEMALE HEAD

HERO’S RESPONSE
FLASH CLOSE SHOT MIKE’S EYES
As they suddenly narrow in reaction.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE’S HANDS
On the door handle as he suddenly yanks the door open.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
MED. CLOSE SHOT INSIDE THE CAB
The female figure suddenly slumps down in the seat, her
head sticking out of the open door, the hair cascading
down. The camera pans slowly across her body until it stops
at what should be arms. There are no arms. Mike reaches
over, grabs at the hair of the figure and pulls it up and
around, to stare into the wooden face of a mannequin. He
very slowly lets loose and the mannequin tumbles back onto
the seat and then down to the floor of the cab.
CLOSE SHOT FLOOR
he mannequin staring up with glassy, manufactured eyes.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MED. SHOT MIKE
As he slowly backs away, then turns to read the lettering
printed on the side of the truck.
CLOSE SHOT LETTERING
It reads, RESNICK’S STORE MANNEQUINS.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As his lips form the words that he’s read. Then he turns to
look through the window of the cab at the figure of the
mannequin, He takes a few steps over to her and then very
gently picks her up and sets her back on the seat.
MIKE
I’m very sorry, Madame. I can assure you
that at no time did I mean to be so
upsetting. As a matter of fact I’ve always
had a kind of secret yen for quiet women.
(then he grins)
You get what I mean, Babe?
(he kisses his fingertips
and then plants them on the
mannequin’s nose)
Now don’t take any wooden boy friends.

OUTCOME
Then he looks at her again for a more pensive moment as if
unspoken now were his earnest wish that this creature was
alive and could be talked to. He turns away and walks back
across the street.
LONG SHOT MIKE
As he walks.

 

BEAT: 8

SUMMARY:

Mike uses a payphone to ask the operator what’s going on.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 2: Investigate outside

Step 3: Investigate the phone booth

Step 1: Make a call

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT

SERIES OF SHOTS MIKE WALKING
In different sections and on different streets. The last
scene ends with him stopping abruptly to stare at something
down the street.
LONG SHOT GAS STATION
Out in front is a glass-enclosed public phone booth.

SETUP
LONG ANGLE SHOT LOOKING DOWN AT MIKE
As he walks toward the gas station and goes into the phone
booth.

CONFLICT
MIKE
Look, I wonder if anyone there could tell
me —
He stops abruptly, grins, shakes his head, slaps at the
side of his head with an open palm, fishes in his pocket
and takes out a coin, deposits it in the phone, then dials
the operator. He listens to the dial tone that comes on and
off with dull regularity. He jiggles the receiver
impatiently.
MIKE
Operator. Operator. Will you listen to me?
He pounds on the phone and then just indiscriminately dials
a bunch of numbers. He’s about to throw down the phone in
disgust when suddenly at the other end of the line he hears
a dial tone ringing. He very slowly and very gratefully
picks up the phone now and hears a voice filtered at the
other end.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
VOICE
(filtered)
This is the Special Operator.
(MORE)
VOICE (CONT’D)
The number you have reached is not a
working number. Please make sure you have
the right number and are dialing it
correctly.

HERO’S RESPONSE
Mike starts to shout into the phone.
MIKE
Is everybody asleep over there? What kind
of operation do you people run?

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
Then she repeats all she’s just said as Mike listens to
her, excited beyond words that he has found someone alive.
When she finishes repeating the message he grabs the phone
and is about to speak when suddenly he hears the Operator’s
voice again.
VOICE
This is a recording.
There is a certain suggestion of tenseness that suddenly
shows on Mike’s face.
VOICE
(filtered)
This is the Special Operator. The number
you have reached is not a working number.
Please make sure you have the right number
and are dialing it correctly.

OUTCOME
MIKE
A recording?
(he pounds on the receiver
hook and shouts)
Operator! Look, all I want to know is where
I am. I just want to know the name of this
place.

 

BEAT: 9

SUMMARY:

Mike looks in a phone book for answers

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 2: Investigate outside

Step 3: Investigate the phone booth

Step 2: Escape the phone booth

 

4: Who’s watching Mike?

Step 1: Evidence on the street

SETUP

Then he slowly lets the receiver loose and it hangs down
from the phone box.

Mike’s hand touches and then grasps a
telephone book, a thin one that he grabs and looks at
hungrily.
CLOSE SHOT TELEPHONE COVER
On it is written OAKWOOD.
MED. SHOT MIKE
He rips open the cover, looks down at the first page.
MIKE
A. Abel. Ackerman. Adams. Allenby. Arnold.
All right, boys, where are you?
(his voice is a little
edgier now)
Where do you all live? Just in this book
here?
(he rips the page open)
Baker. Beldon. Biltmore. Botsford. Well,
look, gang — who’s watching the store?
He suddenly turns to look out at the street.
FULL SHOT THE STREET MIKE’S P.O.V.
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
MIKE
Who’s watching any of the stores?
He lets loose of the phone book now, lets it fall to the
floor, and stands there motionless for a moment, deep in
thought. Then he automatically reaches for the door handle,
turns it, and pushes.

CONFLICT

Nothing happens. He tries again and
it remains locked.

HERO’S RESPONSE

He waits a moment, then puts all his
weight against it.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

It does not yield.

HERO’S RESPONSE

It is more than
irritation that we see on Mike’s face now. There’s the
first suggestion of a real concern. He looks around his
strange, glass prison.
MIKE
All right. Who’s the wise guy? Who locked
the door?
(he tries the door once
again)
It’s a great gag.
He pounds again and then suddenly stops and looks all
around.
PAN SHOT FROM MIKE’S P.O.V.
From inside the phone booth. The camera moves all the way
around the glass, almost in a three hundred and sixtydegree pan.
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
He laughs softly, shakes his head.
MIKE
Trapped in a phone booth! Trapped in a
glass phone booth, like a goldfish.
(then he suddenly calls out)
Well, here I am! You got me! Everybody come
see! I’m right here on display!
LONG ANGLE SHOT LOOKING DOWN AT MIKE
In the phone booth, as once again he starts to pound on the
glass.
MIKE
How about a hand, somebody? A little
assistance — how about it? This is an
absolutely hysterical town, and I’m growing
very fond of it, but I’d appreciate it if
ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
He stops abruptly.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE’S FACE
As he stares at something through the glass.
CLOSE SHOT A CIGAR
Half-smoked and still burning, lying on the sidewalk just
outside the booth.

HERO’S RESPONSE
ANGLE SHOT
Looking into Mike’s face through the glass. For the very
first time there’s a look of incipient fear.
MIKE
Look. Whoever’s out there. This isn’t funny
any more. You understand? I don’t like this
jazz. It’s getting dull.
(he looks around again)
(MORE)
MIKE (CONT’D)
Look, I know I can be heard. I know… I
know somebody’s watching me.
Immediately after he’s said this he realizes he has
suddenly given voice to his fear. He’s labeled what is
beginning to bother him. Simply a sense of being watched.

OUTCOME:
He suddenly bends down, picks up the phone book, flings it
against the glass of the door. The glass disintegrates.
Mike sticks his hand through, opens the door from the
outside, then kicks at it with his foot. It springs open
and halfway off its hinges as he goes out onto the street.
Then he looks down at his hand. It’s cut; a rivulet of
blood runs down through the fingers. He feels for a
handkerchief, takes it and wraps it around the hand. He
squeezes it a couple of times, trying to get more blood to
flow. Then he starts down the street again.

 

BEAT: 10

SUMMARY:

Mike investigates the police station.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 2: Investigate outside

Step 3: Investigate the police station

 

4: Who’s watching Mike?

Step 2: Paranoia escalates

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT
LONG SHOT STREET MIKE’S P.O.V.
Once again the sense of emptiness and loneliness and that
bizarre quality of activity with no actors.

SETUP
TRACK SHOT WITH MIKE AS HE CONTINUES DOWN THE STREET
He pauses in front of a building and looks up.
CLOSE SHOT SIGN
Which reads, POLICE STATION.
TRACK SHOT
He walks up the steps and into the building.
INT. POLICE STATION
There’s a small anteroom, and then an open, barred door
which leads to a corridor lined with cells.
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he enters and looks around. There is a police sergeant’s
desk, files, pictures of wanted men on the wall. A teletype
machine hums in the corner. Mike goes to look at it. The
light over it is on, but nothing is being written. He
whirls around and stares toward the sergeant’s desk, goes
behind it, picks up a microphone, fingers it for a moment,
then talks into it.
MIKE
Calling all cars. Calling all cars. Unknown
man walking around the police station.
Suspicious looking character. Probably
wanted by the FBI —
Then he stops, looks at the mike, chuckles softly for a
moment and then stops abruptly, the smile gone. He flings
the microphone away from him and looks slowly around the
room.

CONFLICT
MIKE
I wish I could shake that feeling…
(he looks around again)
That crazy feeling of being watched…
listened to…

HERO’S RESPONSE
He stares toward the cell doors then begins to walk slowly
toward them.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he stands in the middle of the next room, looking from
empty cell to empty cell. Then he whirls around at a
bubbling sound. There, on a hot plate, is a pot of coffee
perking. Behind him we see the barred door leading to the
anteroom begin to close.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

Mike’s eyes look wild, as if
subconsciously he realizes he’s in danger.

He whirls around
to see the cell door closing and then,

HERO’S RESPONSE

with a shout, throws
himself against it, pushing it away before it locks. He
seems to hang on it now, breathing deeply.

OUTCOME
MIKE
All right, time to wake up! Time to wake up
now!
He whirls around, his face distorted, close up against the
camera. He shouts.
MIKE
Time to wake up!
He stumbles through the anteroom and then back to the
street.

HERO’S ESCALATION
EXT. STREET LONG ANGLE SHOT
Looking down at Mike as he stands in the middle of the
empty street, the stores around him, the quiet. He suddenly
screams.
MIKE
Where is everybody? Where is everybody!?
FADE TO BLACK:

 

BEAT: 11

SUMMARY:

Mike tries to take advantage of his alone-ness by stealing cigars, but it doesn’t make him feel better.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Mystery

State the problem

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 3: Exploit the situation

Step 1: Investigate the drugstore

Step 1: Enjoy a free cigar

 

ACT TWO

ESTABLISHING SHOT
FADE ON:
FILM CLIP A HOT AND HIGH AFTERNOON SUN
Shimmering in a sea of heatwaves. The camera sweeps down
until it is level with the street.

SETUP

Note: This segment could be considered its own beat.)
LONG SHOT MIKE FERRIS
As he sits on a curb, staring dully and numbly across at
nothing. The church steeple clock sounds two. He looks up,
listens to it, but is no longer shocked by it. He just lets
the sound of the chimes play along the edges of his
consciousness without really being aware of them. Now he
rises and walks slowly, methodically, without much apparent
purpose across the street. He looks up to see a sign
reading DRUGSTORE. He enters.
INT. DRUGSTORE
It is light and cheerful inside. On the left hand side is
the soda bar with a big mirror behind it full of stickers
advertising various concoctions — soft drinks, ice cream,
sandwiches.

OPPORTUNITY

Mike, as he enters, pauses by the cigarette and
candy counter.

HERO’S RESPONSE

He looks through the glass for a long
moment, then reaches behind and takes out a couple of
cigars. He unwraps one, sticks it in his mouth, lights it,
takes a couple of draws, butts it out, reaches in another
box, takes one of those, then looks in the box.
MIKE
Two for a dollar. Now that’s more like it.
I always like an expensive cigar.
Then he turns with a smile and says to nobody.
MIKE
How about you guys — any of you want a
cigar?

HERO’S ESCALATION
SERIES OF SHOTS OF EMPTY BOOTHS
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he gets up on a stool.
MIKE
I’ll take a chocolate soda with chocolate
ice cream.
He starts to laugh, but the laugh is checked almost
immediately as he sees his reflection in the mirror behind
the counter. His fingers run exploringly across his face,
taking in the beard stubble, the hollowness beneath the
eyes, the strange, haunted, frightened look that is obvious
there. He looks at himself again for a long moment.
MIKE

HERO’S RESPONSE
You’ll forgive me, old pal, but I don’t
recollect the name. The face seems vaguely
familiar… but it’s the name that escapes
me.
(a pause)
I’ll tell you what my problem is. I’m in
the middle of a nightmare that I can’t wake
up from.
(he points to the
reflection)
You’re part of it. You and the ice cream
and the cigar. That police station and the
phone booth. That little mannequin. This
whole bloody town, wherever it is.
(a pause)

OUTCOME
Whatever it is. I just remembered
something. Scrooge said it. You remember
Scrooge, old buddy? Ebenezer Scrooge? It’s
what he said to the ghost, Jacob Marley. he
said, “You may be an undigested bit of
beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese,
a fragment of an undone potato. There’s
more of gravy than of grave about you.” You
see? That’s what you all are. You’re what I
had for dinner last night. You must be. But
now I’d like to wake up. I’ve had it… I’d
like to wake up now. And if I can’t wake
up, at least I’d like… I’d like to find
somebody to talk to.

 

BEAT: 12

SUMMARY:

Mike tries to enjoy an icecream soda, but it doesn’t make him feel better, and he sees a comic titled “The Last Man on Earth” that freaks him ou.t

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Mystery

Misdirection

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 3: Exploit the situation

Step 1: Investigate the drugstore

Step 1: Enjoy a free soda

 

SETUP

He rises now and goes behind the counter. He starts to fix
himself a chocolate soda, experimenting with some of the
cupboards until he finds the right ingredients, the ice
cream, the milk, et cetera. Then he mixes himself a soda,
tall, frosty, delicious.

He starts to sip it with a straw
as he walks around the drugstore.

OPPORTUNITY

He stops by a poster of a
high school football schedule.
CLOSE SHOT CARDBOARD SIGN
IT READS, OAKWOOD HIGH SCHOOL, 1958 SCHEDULE. A LIST OF
TEAMS AND DATES TO BE PLAYED APPEARS BELOW.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he takes it in one hand and reads it as he sips the
soda. But the normality of it suddenly points out the
incongruity of what he’s living through. He puts the poster
back on the counter, shaking his head, staring at it.
MIKE
I must be a very imaginative guy. Very
imaginative. Nobody in the whole world can
have a dream as… as complete as mine.
Right down to the last detail.
(he taps the poster)
Right down to the last detail.

OUTCOME
He turns, stares across at a big magazine rack near the
front window of the store. He crosses over to it, stares
down at some of the magazines, then kneels down,
interested. He begins to trace the dates on each one of the
magazines. The majority of them say October 1958 and his
mouth forms that phrase, “October 1958.”
Then he bites his lips, shakes his head again, rises, looks
down at the group of comic books, each with a lurid title
having to do with horror themes, Spook themes, et cetera.
Then suddenly he stops and looks down at one, the cover of
which is peeping out from behind the others and whose title
is visible. He reaches down and pulls it out just a few
inches farther so that he can read the entire title.
TIGHT CLOSE SHOT COVER
The title: The Last Man on Earth.
MED. SHOT MIKE
He picks it up and stares at the cover, then flings it down
on the floor. He turns rapidly away and heads back to the
counter where he puts the soda down. He is suddenly gripped
by another spasm of such utter loneliness that it forces
him out onto the street.

 

BEAT: 13

SUMMARY:

Mike tries to take advantage of his aloneness by stealing money from a bank, but it doesn’t make him feel better.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 3: Exploit the situation

Step 2: Investigate the bank

Step 1: Enjoy some free money

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 4: State the problem

 

SETUP
EXT. STREET
Camera follows him out of the store. As he gets out on the
street he suddenly shouts, shrilly, illogically.
MIKE
(shouting)
Hey! Hey, anybody! Anybody hear me? Anybody
hear me?
He almost lurches to the other side of the street where he
buries his face against the window of a building. When his
head goes back he sees the letters U.S. POST OFFICE and he
starts to laugh again.
MIKE
Any mail for me? Anybody write me a letter?
I don’t know what my name is, but maybe you
can tell me in there, huh? Will you tell me
what my name is?
He pounds his fist against the glass and then suddenly has
to stifle what obviously is a sob as he begins to give in
to the loneliness and to the unknown and to the pulsating,
gnawing fear that envelops him. Then he turns away from the
window, struggling for composure.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
He looks at something across the street. Camera sweeps wide
until it stops on —
LONG SHOT BUILDING

OPPORTUNITY
With a sign reading CITY BANK.

HERO’S RESPONSE
LONG SHOT MIKE
As he gets up off the bench, walks across the street, and
into the bank.
INT. BANK
TRACK SHOT MIKE
As he walks past all the tellers’ cages. He stops at the
end of the line, presses his face against the bars.
CLOSE SHOT ROW AFTER ROW OF STACKED BILLS
MED. SHOT MIKE
MIKE
I’d like to borrow about eight hundred
thousand dollars. How about it?
(then he nods and grins)
Thanks. I think that’s generous of you. I
think that’s really generous.
He pulls the bars up, reaches in and takes two packages of
money. Then he starts to retrace his steps toward the front
door. He’s about to leave when he looks toward the first
teller’s window.
MED. SHOT ROWS OF COINS ON TOP OF THE COUNTER
MED. SHOT MIKE
He takes some of the bills that he’s crammed into his shirt
pocket, throws them away.

OUTCOME
MIKE
Gotta make room for some silver.
He goes behind the teller’s window and starts to cram rolls
of coins into his pockets. Then suddenly his eyes look wild
again as he looks up, his eyes scanning the room. And
again, illogically, the same mixture of wisdom and
paranoia.

 

BEAT: 14

SUMMARY:

Mike almost gets locked in the bank.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

False victory

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 3: Exploit the situation

Step 2: Investigate the bank

Step 2: Danger in the bank

4: Who’s watching Mike?

Step 3: Paranoia escalates

 

SETUP
MIKE
Somebody watching me?
He goes out in front of the teller’s cage again and looks
around.
MIKE
Somebody watching me?
He looks up toward the ceiling and around as if expecting
to see someone.
MIKE
Crazy feeling. Crazy, odd-ball feeling.
Like… like I knew someone was watching
me.
And then his eyes narrow again in an awareness of danger.
MIKE
Watching me… and trying to button me up
someplace. Trying to trap me.
He looks around wildly again.

CONFLICT

CLOSE SHOT HIS LEGS
As he starts to run toward the door. He trips over some
sort of a lever close to the teller’s cage.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
FLASH SHOT ALARM BELL
On the wall as it begins to ring.

HERO’S RESPONSE
LONG ANGLE SHOT LOOKING DOWN AT MIKE
As he stops by the front door and whirls around as the
loud, dissonant clanging pierces the quiet. Then he whirls
around and tries the front door again.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

It’s locked.

HERO’S RESPONSE
SERIES OF FLASH SHOTS
Bell. Teller’s cage. Locked door. Mike’s hand. Mike’s face.

TRACK SHOT MIKE
As he races toward the alarm on the wall. He grabs the
wires that extend from it and suddenly yanks on them,
pulling them apart. The bell abruptly stops. Then he whirls
around and stares at the front door.

OUTCOME
CLOSE SHOT DOOR
It is now ajar.

 

BEAT: 15

SUMMARY:

Mike tries lighting a cigar with money but it doesn’t make him feel better.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 3: Exploit the situation

Step 2: Investigate the bank

Step 3: False victory

 

SETUP

MED. SHOT MIKE
As he goes back toward the teller’s cage, grabs the coins
and bills, crams them back into his pocket. He walks toward
the open door, then out onto the street again, leaving a
trail of silver and bills behind him.

OPPORTUNITY

He sits down on the
curb, unwraps the handkerchief from around his hand, wipes
his face with it. He reaches into his pocket, takes out a
crumpled fistful of bills, takes one out, grins at it,
takes out the remnants of a cigar, sticks the cigar in his
mouth, takes the bill, lights it.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
Here’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
Always wanted to do this.
He takes the lit bill and lights a cigar with it, then he
lets loose of the burning bill and watches it flutter to
the ground and disappear in ashes. Mike watches it burn,
and then slowly his face looks tired, hopeless.

OUTCOME
MIKE
Big deal. So what? Big deal.
He lets his head hang a moment.
DISSOLVE TO:

 

BEAT: 16

SUMMARY:

While investigating a movie theater, Mike sees a poster in a window that makes him realize he’s in the Air Force.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

Find a clue

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 4: Investigate the movie theater

Step 1: Investigate the ticket booth

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 5: Find a clue

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT
EXT. TOWN SQUARE [NIGHT]
TIGHT CLOSE SHOT STREET LAMP
As it suddenly goes on. Camera then pans down for a
SHOT OF MIKE

SETUP
On a bench looking up toward the light. Then he turns to
look toward the street flanking the square. The lights have
gone on in front of all the stores and in the windows.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
Reacting.
MED. LONG SHOT THEATER MARQUEE
As the lights go on around it.
TRACK SHOT MIKE
He walks across the street, stops by the ticket window, and
then, almost dreamlike, speaks.

OPPORTUNITY
MIKE
I’d like one tick —
Then he stops, shakes his head, closes his eyes, realizing
how ludicrous this is. He is about to go in when he
suddenly stops and stares at a poster advertising the
movie.
CLOSE SHOT POSTER
Which shows an air force pilot in his coveralls advertising
the movie.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he suddenly feels his own outfit and gradually makes the
connection that the uniform of the man in the picture is
similar to that which he wears.
MIKE
Air force. Air force.
(then he whirls around,
looks up toward the sky)
Air force. I’m air force.
(he once again looks down at
his coveralls and feels
them, grabs at them)
Air force. I’m in the air force.

OUTCOME
TRACK SHOT MIKE
As he walks from the outside of the theater, through the
lobby, on into the interior.
MIKE
(shouting)
Hey, everybody. I’m in the air force. I
remember that much. I’m in the air force.
Does anybody hear me? I’m in the air force.
And then once again he rubs his eyes, runs a hand wildly
across his face and then suddenly surveys the theater.
CUT TO:

 

BEAT: 17

SUMMARY:

Mike Ferris investigates the inside of the movie theater, fails to find anyone and really starts to crack up.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 4: Investigate the movie theater

Step 2: Investigate inside the theater

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 6: Analyze the clue

 

SETUP
FULL SHOT THE THEATER
There are enough lights on to cast a soft orange glow
through the room. He looks around at the absolute, vast
emptiness of the place. Then he sits down, checks his
watch, looks up at the big white screen with nothing on it.
He looks at his watch again and then settles down in the
chair, his eyes closed, and he starts to succumb to the
fatigue that sweeps over him.
MIKE
Air force. What does that mean? Was there a
bomb or something? Is that what happened?
That must have been it, a bomb.

But if
there was a bomb —
(he looks around the empty
theater now)
It would have destroyed everything. And
nothing is destroyed.

CONFLICT
Suddenly he is aware of the lights lowering. He starts and
his eyes open wide in time to see the last of the lights go
down. A long beam of white light shines from the projection
booth and suddenly on the screen appears a big introductory
title, Cartoon Parade, with appropriate march music. Mike
leaps to his feet, looks from the projection booth down to
the screen. He suddenly starts to run down the aisle,
shouting.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
Hey! Hey, somebody up there?
He stops in front of the projectionist’s light so that we
get an almost — nightmarish picture of the cartoons
partially showing on his face and body as he screams.
MIKE
Hey, somebody up there? Who’s running the
pictures? Can you see me? Can you see me up
there? Hey!
Then he races back up the aisle, arriving at the rear of
the theater. He looks wildly around, then he sees a door
with a glass window, steps visible on the other side.
LONG ANGLE SHOT STAIRS
As he races up them.
INT. PROJECTION BOOTH
As he bursts inside. The picture is running from one of the
two projectors,

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

but the room is absolutely empty.

HERO’S RESPONSE

Mike
races over to the machine, bends down and peers at it as
the film goes through and he hears the sound of the cartoon
music and voices. This is too much for him. He throws
himself against the wall, peering out of the small,
circular hole that the picture shoots through.
LONG ANGLE SHOT THROUGH THE HOLE
Of the vast, empty theater.

HERO’S ESCALATION
INT. PROJECTION BOOTH
He turns away, goes out the door, stumbling down the steps.
ANGLE SHOT DOWN STAIRS
He continues down the steps and out into the lobby again.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
INT. LOBBY
He stops for a moment and looks across the lobby.
MED. LONG SHOT POPCORN MACHINE
That is at this moment making popcorn.

OUTCOME
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he closes his eyes, shakes his head. Then he opens them.
His eyes go wide. He starts to run toward the camera,
coming up very close and almost at the point of impact we
CUT AWAY TO:
TIGHT TWO SHOT
Of Mike and a mirror as he smashes his face and hands
against it and then recoils from the reflection, backs off
a few feet, and then looks at the mirror on the opposite
side of the room. The combination throws off reflections
almost to infinity. He looks from left to right staring at
the hundreds of Mike Ferrises who ape him in his every
movement. Then he stops and looks across at the refreshment
stand where the popcorn continues to pop in the big
container. This, too, is more than he can stand. His face
screws up like a small child about to cry, and then he
shouts.
MIKE
Oh my God. Oh my dear God!
He stumbles through the lobby and out into the street.

 

BEAT: 18

SUMMARY:

Mike leaves the movie theater and cracks up on the street.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

Climax

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 5: Climax

Step 2: Approach the climactic threshold

 

SETUP
EXT. STREET
He stumbles down the street aimlessly now, intent only on
moving, not finding. His footsteps start to drag and
finally he stops, sits down on the curb, buries his face in
his hands, rubs his eyes. Then he looks up to once again
find himself looking through the drugstore window, the
magazine that he’d been reading lies on the floor face up.

CONFLICT
HIGH ANGLE SHOT
Looking down through the window, distorting the cover of
the magazine in such a manner as to make the lettering
appear big and irregular. Once again the title slaps at him
across the face. The Last Man on Earth.

HERO’S RESPONSE

He rises slowly,
backing away from the window, shaking his head. He turns
and races across the street. Suddenly, then, he stops
abruptly as the light on the corner changes to red and he
instinctively comes to a halt. And then he stops dead,
realizing once again the ludicrousness of it. He begins to
laugh — the laughter becomes convulsive, wild. All the way
across the street he continues it.
ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

TRACK SHOT
As he goes by all the stores that we’ve been introduced to.
As he goes by each one a sound emanates from it, a sound
way out of proportion to what it actually should be. When
he passes the pool hall we hear the mammoth bowling alley
sound echoing from it. From in front of the theater comes a
cacophony of music and laughter. From the drug store there
is a fizzling, bubbling sound of drinks. From the record
store, the dissonant, blaring sound of music. As each noise
joins in it becomes mumbled and part of a big morass of
noise.

HERO’S RESPONSE
Gradually the very dimension of it so frightens and shocks
Mike that he begins to back away from each store as he
passes — it as if being assaulted on all sides. He
stumbles against a street post, whirls around, frightened,
stares at it, and then suddenly, almost supplicatingly,
throws his arms around it, buries his face against it. He
starts to sob.
MIKE
Won’t somebody help me? Won’t somebody
please help me?

OUTCOME
Then his sobs subside and he stands there, breathing
deeply. His eyes slowly open. Sweat stands out on his
features. He looks haggard, desperate, close to cracking.
The noise somehow, for no apparent reason, suddenly stops
and there’s a deep, dead, all-pervading silence again.
Mike’s eyes travel up the post, stare up toward the sky. He
squints against the sun.

 

BEAT: 19

SUMMARY:

Mike gives up his quest and begs for release.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Mystery

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 5: Climax

Step 2: Finishing move

 

4: Who’s watching Mike?

Step 4: Paranoia escalates

 

SETUP
MIKE
Who’s watching me? Who’s looking at me?
(screaming)
Who’s looking at me?
He looks down toward the street.

CONFLICT
LONG SHOT THE STREET
He moves to the middle of the road again, still looking up
toward the sky, and then as if suddenly seeing an
adversary,

HERO’S RESPONSE

begins to run.
CLOSE SHOT STORE WINDOW
As Mike backs into it, trying to get inside, reaching for
the door and missing, and then slamming his face against
the front pane.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
CLOSE SHOT MIKE’S FACE AND EYES
Looking from inside the store outside toward him. His eyes
go wide and he starts to scream.
CLOSE SHOT OVER MIKE’S SHOULDER
At a huge eye looking at him.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MED. SHOT MIKE
As he starts to run away from the store again.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

The camera takes in a shot of an optometrist’s sign with a huge eye that Mike had seen.

OUTCOME
TRACK SHOT MIKE
As he runs back toward the post. He grabs it and holds on
tight, then he looks down. His hands have touched a button
and he looks down at it.
TIGHT CLOSE SHOT A BUTTON
With a sign over it: PUSH TO TURN GREEN.
MED. SHOT MIKE
As he looks away toward the light.
CLOSE SHOT THE LIGHT
MED. SHOT
And then suddenly Mike slams the palm of his hand against
the button and punches it over and over again.
MIKE
Somebody help me. Help me. Help me.
CLOSE SHOT THE LIGHT
As if flashes from red to green, from green to red, from
red to green, over and over again.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE’S HAND
As he keeps pushing the button. His voice, sobbing,
screeching, plaintive, frightened.
MIKE
Somebody help me. Please. Please, help me

 

BEAT: 20

SUMMARY:

It is revealed that Mike has been in a military-run isolation experiment.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Answer the mystery

Backstory

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 6: Denouement

Step 1: Reveal the answer

3: Who is Mike?

Step 7: Reveal the answer

4: Who’s watching Mike?

Step 5: Reveal the answer

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT
DISSOLVE TO:
OUT OF FOCUS ON HIS HAND
CLOSE SHOT IN FOCUS HIS HAND
Pushing a button on an instrument panel. The camera dollies
away until both the back of the panel and Mike’s face are
on a small television screen.

SETUP
LONG ANGLE SHOT
Down a line of officers in a viewing room as they intently
watch the screen. We hear Mike’s voice as it coincides with
a red light that flashes brilliantly on and off over the
viewing screen.

CONFLICT
MIKE’S VOICE
Please. Please help me. Help me.

BEAT PROTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
A general, obviously in command, turns to his aide on his
right.
GENERAL
Clock him!
(and then turning to his
left says to the officer
alongside)
Get him out of there, quick!
Officer two reaches over for a hand mike. Pushes the
button.
OFFICER TWO
Release the subject! On the double!

BEAT ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
INT. LARGE HANGARLIKE ROOM
In the center of it, illuminated by a couple of spots in an
otherwise dark room, is a small, hermetically sealed metal
box about six by five feet and about five feet high. A
sliding panel is pushed back. Several air force men reach
down and start unstrapping Mike and then carefully lift him
through the hole. A white-clad medical officer begins to
remove electrodes that have been taped to his body at
various points. By this time Mike has stopped speaking. His
eyes are half closed. He breathes deeply and irregularly,
slumps forward in his seat.
CLOSE SHOT HIS RIGHT FIST
Smashed against the instrument panel.
EXTREMELY TIGHT CLOSE UP HIS FIST
And the broken glass covering a clock on the panel which
reads six fifteen.
MED. GROUP SHOT THE AIR FORCE MEN
As they remove him.
AIR FORCE MAN ONE
Be careful. He’s cut his hand on that clock
glass there —
LONG SHOT GENERAL AND STAFF
As they hurriedly approach the scene, their footsteps
ringing hollowly on the concrete floor.

OUTCOME
MEDICAL OFFICER
He’s all right, sir. Delusions of some
sort. I guess that’s it. He’s coming out of
it now.
GENERAL
(nods)
Fine. You get all your data recorded?
MEDICAL OFFICER
Yes, sir. Every bit of it.
GENERAL
(to Officer One who comes up
from behind)
Did you get him clocked?
OFFICER ONE
Yes, sir. Four hundred and eighty four
hours, thirty-six minutes.
GENERAL
Good. I’d like to get a look at all the
data when they’re compiled. I’d like the
reaction chart on him, too.

 

BEAT: 21

SUMMARY:

A general explains the experiment to a report.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Explanation

Backstory

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 6: Denouement

Step 2: Reveal the backstory

 

SETUP
OFFICER TWO
(sotto)
The press, sir?
He points toward the opposite side of the room.
LONG SHOT THREE OR FOUR MEMBERS OF THE PRESS
As they stand waiting expectantly.
GROUP SHOT GENERAL AND THE OTHERS
GENERAL
On the run, if they don’t mind. I want to
talk to Ferris.
OFFICER TWO
Yes, sir.
He motions toward the press, and beckons them over as the
General, the medical officers, and the others start walking
in the opposite direction toward Mike Ferris, who lies on a
stretcher at the very far and opposite side of the room.
TRACK SHOT WITH THE GENERAL AND THE REPORTERS
As they join him and start to walk across the room toward
Ferris.

CONFLICT

REPORTER ONE
You consider it a success, sir?

BEAT PROTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
GENERAL
Very much so. He’s been alone in that box
for something in the neighborhood of four
hundred and eighty four hours, which is
roughly equivalent to a trip to the moon,
several orbits, and then back.

BEAT ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
REPORTER ONE
And this then was a simulated trip to the
moon? Is that right, General?

BEAT PROTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
GENERAL
(nods)
For all intent and purpose.

BEAT ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
REPORTER TWO
What about the wires attached to him?

BEAT PROTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
GENERAL
Electrodes. All of his reactions have been
charted and graphed. Respiration, heart
action, blood pressure.
At this moment they reach a point some ten feet away from
where Mike Ferris lies on a stretcher attended by a couple
of medics. Their voices become low.

BEAT ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
REPORTER THREE
What happened to him toward the end? Just
before he pushed that button or whatever it
is.

OUTCOME
GENERAL
What happened to him was that he cracked.
We assume delusions of some sort, but I’ll
tell you something, gentlemen — you spend
two and a half weeks all by your lonesome
in a five foot square box without ever
being able to hear a human voice other than
your own… I’ll give you especially good
odds that your imagination would run away
with you too, just as his obviously did.

 

BEAT: 22

SUMMARY:

Mike is debriefed by the general.

BEAT PURPOSES:

State the moral

Backstory

Repercussion

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 6: Denouement

Step 3: State the moral

 

SETUP
One of the medics looks up, motions the general over. The
general takes a few steps until he’s very close to Mike.

CONFLICT
GENERAL
How do you feel, son?

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
(his voice is weak but he’s
obviously much improved now)
I feel much better, sir. I’m sorry about…
toward the end.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
MEDICAL OFFICER
(close by)
What was it like, Ferris? Where did you
think you were?

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
(looks from one to the
other, wets his lips)
Some place I don’t want to visit again. A
town… a town without people. Without
anybody.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
MEDICAL OFFICER
And you had to get out of that town, didn’t
you?

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
(nods)
I sure did.
(then he looks up toward the
medical officer)
What was the matter with me? Just off my
rocker, huh?

OUTCOME
MEDICAL OFFICER
Just a kind of nightmare, Ferris, that your
mind manufactured for you.
The reporters lean forward straining to overhear this
conversation.
MEDICAL OFFICER
You see, Ferris, we can feed stomachs with
concentrates. We can supply microfilm for
recreation, reading, even movies of a sort.
We can pump oxygen in, waste material out.
The camera now moves around so that it is shooting just
over the heads of all the men assembled and is looking at
the box in the background which is on the periphery of the
light.
MEDICAL OFFICER
But there’s one thing we can’t simulate.
That’s a pretty basic need — man’s hunger
for companionship, the barrier of
loneliness. That’s one we haven’t licked
yet.

 

BEAT: 23

SUMMARY:

We find out Mike’s future, which is to go to the moon alone.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Sunset

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 6: Denouement

Step 4: Sunset

 

SETUP

At this moment the medics help Ferris to his feet. He
stands there motionless for a moment as if testing newfound
legs, and then he looks out toward the open hangar door at
the night sky.

CONFLICT
MIKE
Next time though… it won’t be just a box
and a hangar, will it?

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
GENERAL
(going to his side and
looking out toward the sky
with him)
No, Mike. Next time you’ll really be alone.

HERO’S RESPONSE
There’s a long, thoughtful silence as Mike takes a few
steps toward the hangar door. He pauses for a moment near
the box. A side has been removed so that he’s staring
directly into the control panel where the broken clock can
be seen still reading six fifteen.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he reacts.
CLOSE SHOT COCKPIT
As the camera pans over the broken clock, a microphone
which hangs by the cord, a small microfilm apparatus, et
cetera.

OUTCOME
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he looks away and then continues to walk over to the
hangar door. He slowly looks up toward the sky and the
camera sweeps up for a long shot of the moon hanging bright
and lustrous in the sky.
MIKE
(grins thoughtfully, stares
up toward the silver orb,
and then quietly)
Don’t go away up there. Next time… next
time it won’t be a nightmare or a dream.
Next time it’ll be real. So don’t go
away… We’ll be there in a little while.
Then he starts to walk out in the night followed by the
others. The camera begins a slow pan back into the room
until it is shooting on the box, squatting empty and
impassive in the empty room.
BEAT: 24

SUMMARY:

Narrator gives an epilogue speech.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Epilogue

Narrator’s closing speech

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 6: Denouement

Step 1: Narrator’s epilogue

 

SETUP

NARRATOR’S VOICE
The barrier of loneliness. The palpable,
desperate need of the human animal to be
with his fellow man.

CONFLICT
LAP DISSOLVE TO:
NIGHT SKY
The moon and the stars.

NARRATOR’S VOICE
Up there… up there is the vastness of
space, in the void that is sky… up there
is an enemy known as isolation. It sits
there in the stars waiting… waiting with
the patience of eons… forever waiting…

OUTCOME
in the Twilight Zone.
FADE TO BLACK:
THE END

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Plot break down of “Avenger’s Assemble,” Season 1, Episode 5: Blood Feud

A Wise Sloth fan E-mailed me recently and asked if I could break down the plot to the fifth episode of the cartoon TV show, “Avengers Assemble.” So I did. You can download a Word document copy of the break down by clicking the link below:

Word document of the Avengers Assemble S01E05 Blood Feud break down

PDF document of the Avengers Assemble S01E05 Blood Feud break down 

It took me about 4-5 hours to break this plot down. It would have been quicker if I had the script. I’m willing to break down an episode or two of a show you’re interested in by E-mailing me through my About/Contact page, but understand what a commitment of time that is for me, and please consider supporting me on Patreon. The more patrons I get, the more time I’ll have to analyze plot structures for the public.

The Avengers Assemble

S01E05 Blood Feud

 BEAT: 1

TIME: .01-.022

SUMMARY:

Antagonist’s minions attack the Avenger compound

QUEST CHAINS:

1: Introduction: Antagonist’s minions attack

Step 1: Get into the compound

BEAT TYPES:

Introduction

Antagonist’s minions attack

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Black Widow approaches the Avenger’s compound in disguise with a group of vampires.
  2. Black Widow uses a grappling hook to reach an unguarded balcony on the Avengers compound
  3. Black Widows unlocks a door by entering the entrance code on a keypad

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Black Widow

Group of vampires

Locations:

Ext. Avenger’s compound

Resources:

Grappling rope

BEAT: 2

TIME: .22-1.07

SUMMARY:

Vampires sneak past Avengers

QUEST CHAINS:

1: Introduction- Antagonist’s minions attack

Step 2: Get past the Avengers

BEAT TYPES:

Action sequence

Humor

Multi-scene beat

Antagonist closes in

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Sneak past Iron Man and Falcon
  2. Sneak past Hulk and Thor

Note: These two steps could also be interpreted as their own beats.

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Black Widow

Group of vampires

Iron Man

Falcon

Thor

Hulk

Locations:

Int. Avengers compound- kitchen

Resources:

None

BEAT: 3

TIME: 1.07-1.28

SUMMARY:

Vampires attack Captain America and Hawkeye

QUEST CHAINS:

1: Introduction- Antagonist’s minions attack

Step 3: Vampires attack

BEAT TYPES:

Antagonist attacks

Fight scene

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Vampires attack Captain America
  2. Hawkeye fights back
  3. Vampires counter attack
  4. Hawkeye sounds the alarm

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Captain America

Hawkeye

Black Widow

Group of vampires

Locations:

Int. Avengers compound- training room

Resources:

Hawkeye’s bow and arrows

BEAT: 4

TIME: 1.28-2.14

SUMMARY:

Avengers fight back

QUEST CHAINS:

1: Introduction- Antagonist’s minions attack

Step 4: Avengers counter-attack

BEAT TYPES:

Fight scene

Avengers counter-attack

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Humor segment between Iron Man and Hulk
  2. Iron Man analyzes the enemy
  3. Hulk punches enemies
  4. Captain America tells Iron Man to use UV lights
  5. Iron Man uses UV lights
  6. Group of vampires die
  7. Black Widow is in pain

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Iron man

Captain America

Hulk

Hawkeye

Falcon

Group of vampires

Black Widow

Locations:

Avengers compound- training room

Resources:

Iron Man suit

UV lights

BEAT: 5

TIME: 2.14-2.46

SUMMARY:

Captain America unmasks Black Widow and learns Dracula is the antagonist behind the attack.

QUEST CHAINS:

1: Introduction: Antagonist’s minions attack

Step 5: Avengers unmask defeated Black Widow

End: Quest Chain 1

4: Dracula and Red Skull’s Alliance

Step 1: Introduce conflict between protagonist and antagonist. Protagonist has something the antagonist wants (Captain America’s blood), and antagonist has something protagonist wants(cure to Black Widow’s blood infection/possession).

BEAT TYPES:

Receive the prize for winning previous conflict (False victory)

Introduce the antagonist

Primary catalyst

State the incentives

State the stakes

State the conditions

State the mission

Primary story conflict catalyst

Introduce the antagonist

Begin new quest

State conditions of quest

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Captain America deduces the enemies are vampires
  2. Captain America unmasks Black Widow
  3. Dracula speaks through Black Widow and offers her life in exchange for Captain America’s.

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Iron man

Captain America

Hulk

Hawkeye

Falcon

Dracula

Black Widow

Locations:

Avengers compound- training room

Resources:

none

BEAT: 6

TIME: 3.00-3.54

SUMMARY:

The Avengers discuss their plan for saving Black Widow

QUEST CHAINS:

2: Create a plan

Step 1: Analyze the variables at hand

BEAT TYPES:

Planning

State the mission

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Captain America says Black Widow isn’t completely turned
  2. Hawkeye resists the notion of vampires existing
  3. Thor and Iron Man insist there’s a scientific explanation for vampires

 VARIABLES:

Characters:

Iron man

Captain America

Hulk

Hawkeye

Falcon

Black Widow

Locations:

Avengers compound- Training room

Resources:

None

Note: Beat 6 and 7 could be interpreted as a single beat with a lead-in segment.

BEAT: 7

TIME: 3.54-4:30

SUMMARY:

Black Widow attacks

QUEST CHAINS:

2: Create a plan

Step 2: Complication

BEAT TYPES:

Complication

Antagonist minion strikes

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Black widow wakes up and attacks the Avengers
  2. Avengers fight back
  3. Black Widow escapes
  4. Black Widow knocks herself out running into a mirror
  5. Avengers analyze the fact that Black widow couldn’t see her reflection.

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Iron man

Captain America

Hulk

Hawkeye

Falcon

BLACK WIDOW

Locations:

Avengers compound- training room

Resources:

Thor’s hammer

Mirror

BEAT: 8

TIME: 4:30-5:20

SUMMARY:

Avengers analyze Black Widow and determine they need to go to Transylvania to locate the source of her vampirism.

QUEST CHAINS:

2: Create a plan

Step 2: Investigate known variable (Black Widow)

BEAT TYPES:

Investigation

Reveal backstory

Planning

State the mission (find the vampire who turned Black Widow and force him to release her)

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Analyze Black Widow using biometric scanning machine
  2. Learn Black Widow was investigating Red Skull in Transylvania
  3. Captain America wants to go to Transylvania to find the vampire
  4. Iron Man wants a scientific solution
  5. Jarvis malfunctions
  6. Avengers agree to go to Transylvania

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Iron man

Captain America

Hulk

Hawkeye

Falcon

BLACK WIDOW

Locations:

Avengers compound- Biometric scanning machine room

Resources:

Biometric scanning machine

BEAT: 9

TIME: 5:20-6:20

SUMMARY:

The Avengers approach Dracula’s castle.

QUEST CHAINS:

3: Approach the antagonist’s gates

Step 1: Travel to Transylvania

BEAT TYPES:

Travelling

Preparation

Reveal backstory

State mission info (Dracula wants something from Captain America)

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Establishing shot (airplane flying)
  2. Falcon asks Captain America about his silver attack disks
  3. Hawkeye is skeptical about vampires
  4. Captain America tells about America’s alliance with Dracula in WWII
  5. Iron Man insists “Dracula” is using something scientific on Black Widow
  6. Hawkeye prepares wooden stake arrows
  7. Thor warns they’re walking into a trap

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Iron man

Captain America

Hawkeye

Falcon

Black Widow

Locations:

Int. Avengers airplane

Resources:

Avengers airplane

Silver attack disks

Wooden spike arrows

BEAT: 10

TIME: 6:20-6:50

SUMMARY:

Dracula and Red Skull discuss their progress and plan.

QUEST CHAINS:

4: Dracula and Red Skull’s alliance

Step 2: Backstory introduction

BEAT TYPES:

Introduce antagonist’s plan

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Dracula calls Red Skull
  2. Dracula tells Red Skull the Avengers are approaching
  3. Red Skull tells Dracula to “stick to the plan” and he’ll get something he wants

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Dracula

Red Skull

Locations:

Int. Dracula’s throne room

Resources:

Communication device

BEAT: 11

TIME: 6:50-8:13

SUMMARY:

The Avengers confront Dracula at his door.

QUEST CHAINS:

3: Approach the antagonist’s gates

Step 2: Approach antagonist’s lair

BEAT TYPES:

Good guys close in

Good guys approach antagonist’s lair

Good guys first attack (failure)

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Establishing shot (Avengers airplane approaches Dracula’s castle)
  2. Establishing shot (Avengers exit airplane)
  3. Avengers approach Dracula’s castle on foot
  4. Hawkeye asks if it’s always night at Dracula’s castle
  5. Dracula appears and restates his deal (Captain America’s life for Black Widow’s)
  6. Hawkeye attacks Dracula
  7. Dracula dodges attack using teleportation power
  8. Dracula steals Black Widow
  9. Dracula summons minions to attack Avengers

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Iron man

Captain America

Hawkeye

Falcon

Black Widow

Hulk

Dracula’s minions

Locations:

Ext. Avengers airplane

Ext. Dracula’s castle

Resources:

Avenger’s airplane

Wooden spike arrows

Dracula’s teleportation power

BEAT: 12

TIME: 8:13-10:30

SUMMARY:

Avengers fight Dracula’s minions.

QUEST CHAINS:

3: Approach the antagonist’s gates

Step 3: Fight antagonist’s minions

BEAT TYPES:

Minion fight

Repercussion of failing previous beat conflict

Learn secret to defeating enemy from analyzing enemy

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Jarvis analyzes Dracula’s minions and says they’re unknowable
  2. Iron man says to attack
  3. Everyone fights
  4. Iron man learns the enemies have unique blood properties
  5. Captain America makes/states a plan: Iron Man and Hulk stay outside as backup. Captain America, Hawk Eye and Falcon go inside to find Black Widow.
  6. Hulk breaks through the wall of Dracula’s castle.

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Iron man

Captain America

Hawkeye

Falcon

Hulk

Dracula’s minions

Locations:

Ext. Dracula’s castle

Resources:

Jarvis

Falcon wings

Silver attack disks

Wooden spike arrows

Thor’s hammer

Iron man blasters

Hulk smash

BEAT: 13

TIME: 10:30-10:50

SUMMARY:

Captain America states his plan and Falcon strays from the path.

QUEST CHAINS:

5: Find the Antagonist

Step 1: State the plan

6: Falcon strays from the path and into a trap

Step 1: Introduction/Catalyst

BEAT TYPES:

State the plan

Team member strays from the path

Antagonist’s team strikes back

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Captain America deduces where Dracula’s lair would most likely be.
  2. Hawkeye says something witty.
  3. Captain and America go towards Dracula’s lair.
  4. Falcon hears Black Widow’s voice calling for him.
  5. Falcon goes in a different direction following the voice.

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Captain America

Hawkeye

Falcon

Black Widow

Locations:

Int. Dracula’s castle- corridor

Resources:

Vampire telepathy

BEAT: 14

TIME: 10:50-11:44

SUMMARY:

Black widow fights Falcon. Hawkeye shows up to save the day but is defeated by Dracula.

QUEST CHAINS:

6: Falcon strays from the path and walks into a trap

Step 2: Fight scene (quest completed)

BEAT TYPES:

Fight scene

Antagonist closes in

State the hero’s weakness

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Establishing shot- Ext. Dracula’s castle with lightening
  2. Falcon finds Black Widow
  3. Black widow uses noise to disable Falcon by exploiting his armor’s weakness
  4. Hawkeye intercedes
  5. Dracula intercedes
  6. Dracula wins the fight
  7. Dracula states the hero’s weakness (compassion)

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Falcon

Black Widow

Hawkeye

Dracula

Locations:

Ext. Dracula’s castle- Arial shot with lightening

Int. Bell tower

Resources:

Falcon’s armor

BEAT: 15

TIME: 11:44-12:00

SUMMARY:

Captain America surrenders to Dracula

QUEST CHAINS:

5: Find the Antagonist

Step 2: Completed

BEAT TYPES:

Hero and antagonist fight

Antagonist defeats hero

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Dracula tells Captain America he’ll spare his friends life in exchange for his.
  2. Captain America surrenders.

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Captain America

Dracula

Hawkeye

Falcon

Locations:

Int. Bell tower

Resources:

none

BEAT: 16

TIME: 12:00-12:33

SUMMARY:

Hulk and Thor fight Dracula’s minions

QUEST CHAINS:

7: Hulk and Thor’s mission

Step 1: Fight antagonist’s minions

BEAT TYPES:

Fight scene

Planning

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Hulk and Thor discuss strategies to fight the vampires
  2. Hulk and Thor attack

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Thor

Hulk

Antagonist’s minions

Locations:

Ext. Dracula’s castle

Resources:

Hulk smash

Thor’s hammer

BEAT: 17

TIME: 12:33-12:55

SUMMARY:

Jarvis tells Iron Man he found some info on Captain America while Iron man fights vampires.

QUEST CHAINS:

8: Iron Man investigates unknown variables

Step 1: Prologue/introduction

BEAT TYPES:

Fight scene

Investigation

Foreshadowing

Plot teaser

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Iron man fights vampires
  2. Jarvis tells Iron Man he’s discovered something about Captain America

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Iron Man

Jarvis

Antagonist’s minions

Locations:

Ext. Dracula’s castle- Arial

Resources:

Iron Man suit

BEAT: 18

TIME: 12:55-15:57

SUMMARY:

Dracula and the Avengers fight in the major midpoint battle

QUEST CHAINS:

9: Midpoint Showdown

Step 1: Antagonist attacks

BEAT TYPES:

Antagonist states his motives (survival)

Antagonist states his incentive (Captain America’s blood)

Fight scene

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Dracula tells Captain America what he wants and why (kill humanity because humanity is encroaching on his domain and threatening him)
  2. Dracula attacks Captain America
  3. Captain America fights back (Note, the next 5 steps could be interpreted as their own beat because the fight takes a distinct turn, introduces new characters and the tension/stakes/danger are raised dramatically.)
  4. Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Falcon and Hawkeye intercede
  5. Dracula turns Hulk into a vampire
  6. Hulk attacks the Avengers
  7. The Avengers fight back
  8. Black Widow gets knocked out in the brawl

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Captain America

Dracula

Hawkeye

Thor

Iron Man

Falcon

Black Widow

Locations:

Int. Dracula’s lair

Resources:

All Avenger powers

All Dracula powers

BEAT: 19

TIME: 15:57-17:00

SUMMARY:

Dracula gets the upper hand but then loses it.

QUEST CHAINS:

9: Midpoint showdown

Step 2: Good guys get the upper hand

BEAT TYPES:

False victory for the antagonist

Good guys strike back

Fight scene

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Captain America holds Black Widow and says she’s dying
  2. Dracula reveals he absorbed Hulk’s power when he drank his blood
  3. Dracula attacks Captain America
  4. Captain America fights back
  5. Dracula falls over in pain
  6. Iron Man states that Hulk’s gamma-radiated blood is poisoning Dracula

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Captain America

Black Widow

Dracula

Iron Man

Locations:

Int. Dracula’s lair

Resources:

Hulk’s blood

Dracula’s blood/power sucking ability

BEAT: 20

TIME: 17:00-18:32

SUMMARY:

The Avengers plan on how to cure Hulk of vampirism.

QUEST CHAINS:

9: Midpoint showdown

Step 3: Reverse the antagonist’s curse

BEAT TYPES:

Planning

State the condition of success

Fight scene

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Iron man says Hulk’s blood will counteract the vampire blood in him if he gets mad enough.
  2. Avengers attack the Hulk to anger him
  3. Hulk’s rage kills the vampirism in his blood

VARIABLES:

Characters:

All Avengers

Locations:

Int. Dracula’s lair

Resources:

All Avenger resources

Vampire blood

Hulk’s blood

BEAT: 21

TIME: 18:32-19:24

SUMMARY:

Dracula loses his Hulk power but gets away.

QUEST CHAINS:

9: Midpoint showdown

Step 4: The Antagonist loses

BEAT TYPES:

Final blow to the antagonist

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Hulk’s blood continues attacking Dracula’s blood.
  2. Dracula reverts from Hulkish vampire to regular vampire
  3. Captain America demands Dracula release Black Widow from her vampirism
  4. A portal opens in the ground, and vampires drag Dracula to safety.
  5. Dracula says Black Widow’s vampirism is permanent

VARIABLES:

Characters:

All Avengers

Dracula

Locations:

Int. Dracula’s lair

Resources:

Hulk’s blood

Dracula’s blood

BEAT: 22

TIME: 19:24-19:46

SUMMARY:

The Avengers escape from Dracula’s imploding castle.

QUEST CHAINS:

10: Avenger’s denoument

Step 1: Escape the self-destructing antagonist’s lair

BEAT TYPES:

False victory

Prize

Escape

BEAT STEPS:

  1. The building starts to collapse
  2. Avengers say they need to get out and save Black Widow somehow
  3. The avengers escape the building and fly away in their airplane

VARIABLES:

Characters:

All the Avengers

Locations:

Int. Dracula’s lair

Ext. Dracula’s imploding castle

Resources:

Avenger’s airplane

BEAT: 23

TIME: 19:45-20:05

SUMMARY:

Avengers try to save Black Widow by injecting her with Hulk blood on the Avenger’s airplane.

QUEST CHAINS:

10: Avenger’s denouement

Step 2: Create/enact plan to save Black Widow

BEAT TYPES:

Regroup

Planning

Enact plan

Teaser

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Falcon asks if injecting Hulk blood in Black Widow will save her
  2. Iron Man says they’re going to try
  3. Iron Man injects Hulk blood in Black Widow.

VARIABLES:

Characters:

All Avengers

Locations:

Int. Avenger’s airplane

Resources:

Avenger’s airplane

Hulk’s blood

Vampire blood

BEAT: 24

TIME: 20:05-21:04

SUMMARY:

Red Skull meets with Dracula.

QUEST CHAINS:

11: Dracula’s denouement

Step 1: Repercussion and prize

12: Dracula’s new job

Step 1: Introduction (Recruitment)

BEAT TYPES:

Antagonist’s repercussion

Antagonist’s prize (second chance)

End quest chain

Janus beat- Begin new trans-episode quest chain (Quest chain 12: Dracula’s new job)

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Red skull approaches Dracula’s mausoleum as Dracula’s minions surround him.
  2. Dracula tells the minions to let Red Skull pass. (Note: The rest of the steps could be considered a separate beat from Red Skull approaching the mausoleum.)
  3. Dracula hooks himself to a blood tranfuser and talks to Red Skull. Dracula is feeling humiliated.
  4. Red Skull offers Dracula a job on his council of evil
  5. Dracula says he’s interested.

VARIABLES:

Characters:

Red Skull

Dracula

Dracula’s minions

Locations:

Ext. Dracula’s mausoleum

Int. Dracula’s mausoleum

Resources:

Dracula’s blood transfuser

BEAT: 25

TIME: 21:04-21:36

SUMMARY:

Black Widow wakes up cured from vampirism

QUEST CHAINS:

10: Avenger’s denouement

Step 2: Happy sunset

BEAT TYPES:

Final prize

Final beat

Happy sunset

Humor

BEAT STEPS:

  1. Black Widow wakes up surrounded by the Avengers
  2. They confirm she’s human and make jokes.

VARIABLES:

Characters:

All the Avengers

Locations:

Int. Avenger’s compound- Infirmary

Resources:

None

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Formula Plot Tempates

Tips on being a writer


Excerpts from my upcoming book about film script plot templates

I’m currently working on a book that explains the standard film script plot structure used in all those Hollywood movies that seem to have the same plot. I’ve still got a few months of work to do before it’s finished because the formula contains a surprising amount of detail and a lot of subtle variations. Plus I’m also busy creating an autistically detailed break down of the plot to Avatar.

While I’ve been working on these projects I’ve had a couple of people E-mail me through my About page asking for advice on story plotting, which reminded me there are a lot of people looking for this information right now. So I’m going to go ahead and share a few useful excerpts from the book:

THE 7 MOST COMMON ACT STRUCTURES FOUND IN HOLLYWOOD MOVIES

  • 1. The hero accepts the quest. 2. The hero trains to fulfill the final condition. 3. The hero attempts to fulfill the final condition and fails. 4. The hero fulfills the final condition. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero fails to fulfill the goal that would yield the incentive, resulting in creating a new condition. 2. The hero identifies the new condition of obtaining the incentive. 3. The hero acquires a resource he needs to fulfill the final condition. 4. The hero fulfills the condition. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero identifies the incentive and its three successively dependent conditions. 2. The hero completes the first condition. 3. The hero completes the second condition. 4. The hero completes the final condition. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero accepts the quest. 2. The hero attempts to complete the final condition and fails, creating a new condition. 3. The hero attempts to complete the new condition and fails, creating a new condition. 4. The hero completes the final condition. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero accepts the quest. 2. The hero gathers a team. 3. The team accomplishes the first condition of obtaining the incentive. 3. The team plans and prepares to fulfill the final condition. 4. The team succeeds at neutralizing the final condition. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero survives an apocalypse that creates a deficiency in his need. 2. The hero creates a plan to survive. 3. The hero fulfills the first condition of survival. 4. The hero fulfills the final condition of survival. 5. Denouement.
  • 1. The hero accepts a job that will fulfill his highest need and in-processes into the new job. 2. The hero trains at his new job. 3. The hero applies his training on his assigned task and fails. 4. The hero applies what he learned from failing to the task and completes it. 5. Denouement.

DETAILED SAMPLE SCRIPT TEMPLATE

Act 1

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 7

Suggested beats: 1-3, 7-10

The A-story in Act 1 introduces the hero, his ultimate external goal, a problem that stands between him and his goal. He attempts to achieve his goal but either fails at the end of the Act or accepts an opportunity to progress towards his goal. Either way, he crosses a threshold he can’t return from.

B-story

Suggested number of beats: 3-4

Suggested beats: 4-7

The B-story in Act 1 introduces the hero’s ultimate internal-oriented goal, conditions and the stakes. You can foreshadow future conditions and complications in Act 1 or wait to introduce them in Act 2.

C-story

Suggested number of beats: 1

Suggested beats: 7-8

The C-story in Act 1 introduces the hero’s third goal, stakes and possibly foreshadow its conditions and complications. Since crossing the threshold in Beat 10 creates the problem, he won’t be able to create a plan until Act 2.

Any additional storylines should also be introduced in Act 1. The C-story can impact the hero’s quest when it’s introduced, but it doesn’t have to.

Act 2

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 7

Suggested beats: 11-13, 17-20

Act 2 reboots the hero’s problem solving steps in the A-storyline, because after crossing the threshold in Beat 10, there is a new problem standing between him and his ultimate goal. So he must have experiences that walk him through the process of defining the problem, the conditions of success and the stakes. Then he must create a plan and enact it. He will complete the plan in Beat 20, but he will learn in Beat 21 that his success has backfired, creating a new condition he will spend Act 3 attempting to fulfill.

B-story

Suggested number of beats: 3-5

Suggested beats: 14-19

When the B-story is appears in Act 2, it will collide with the A-storyline, usually because the hero uses one of his signature flaws to solve a problem. The B-story will conflict with the A-story. In Act 2, the hero can either be aware or unaware of the fact that completing the B-storyline goal is a condition of completing his A-storyline goal, but it usually creates more tension if the character is aware of the fact.

The B-storyline goal, condition/s, stakes and primary obstacle must be stated by the end of Act 2.

If the condition of the A-story and B-story goal require the hero to complete the same task, such as in “Avatar,” where Jake Sully must infiltrate the Na’vi in order to fulfill his commitment to both his military boss and his scientific/humanitarian boss, then the hero can spend Act 2 on one quest in which every beat is technically both A and B-story.

C-story

Suggested number of beats: 1

Suggested beats: 15-17

In Act 2, the C-story reveals how crossing the threshold in Beat 10 created a problem with a condition the hero must fulfill in order to complete the C-storyline. The hero can also create a plan and enact it, but he shouldn’t fulfill the goal until the latter half of Act 5.

Act 3

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 7

Suggested beats: 20-27

Act 3 begins with the hero finding out his success at the end of Act 2 didn’t fulfill the condition/s of his ultimate goal. Instead, it resulted in a worst-case setback in the A-storyline, B-storyline or both. Now the hero must create a new plan to meet the new condition of the new complication. It’s usually the most dramatic if the hero fails every step of the way, forcing him to adapt and try again until he fails completely at the end of Act 3. However, if it makes sense for the story, he can win a few rounds.

The hero’s false victory at the end of Act 2 can create a worst-case setback in the hero’s quest to accomplish his A-story goal without affecting the B-story in any other way than, it would be futile or impossible to complete the A-storyline goal without fulfilling the condition of his B-storyline goal first. If this is the case, you can devote all 7 beats in Act 3 to the A-story.

B-story

Suggested number of beats: 0-7

Suggested beats: 21-27 or 24-27

The hero’s false victory at the end of Act 2 can create a worst-case setback in the hero’s quest to accomplish his B-story goal without affecting the A-story in any other way other than the hero can’t fulfill the major condition of his A-storyline goal without fulfilling the condition of his B-storyline goal. If this is the case, you can devote all 7 beats in Act 3 to the B-story.

You can devote some of the beats in Act 3 to the A-story and the B-story, but at the end of Act 3, the hero will can fail to complete at least whichever quest takes up the most beats in Act 3. You can also have the A and B story collide in a way that causes him to fail one or both of his quests.

C-story (0-1 Beats)

Suggested number of beats: 2

Suggested beats: 2-23, 29

The hero will continue enacting his C-storyline plan in Act 3 and fail. This storyline still doesn’t have to be impacted by, or have an impact on, the A or B storylines.

Act 3 Finale

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 0-3

Suggested beats: 28-30 or 28, 30

If the hero failure at the end of Act 3, the repercussions of his failure will put him in a worst-case scenario. All of his options will be eliminated, and he is tempted to give up. However, he restates the stakes of failure and decides he must press on.

If Act 4 is the last 3 beats of Act 3, the hero will make his final attempt to meet one of his storyline’s major conditions under the most dire circumstances.

B-story (1-3 Beats)

Suggested number of beats: 0-3

Suggested beats: 28-30 or 29

The hero uses a lesson he’s learned in the B-storyline to solve the A-storyline obstacle in front of him. Since the B-storyline is an internal conflict, completing the B-story quest means he fixes an internal flaw, creating a new virtue inside him. He then applies that virtue to the problem in front of him and overcomes it.

C-story

Suggested number of beats: 0-1

Suggested beats: 29-30

The C-story doesn’t need to appear in Act 4 since there’s so little time to cram it in. However, you can have the hero apply a lesson he’s learned or resource he’s gained in the C-story quest to fulfill the condition of the A or B storyline.

Act 4

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 5-7

Suggested beats: 31-37

If the major condition of the B-storyline was resolved in Act 4, then all 7 Beats in Act 5 will be A-storyline. In the last beat of Act 5 the hero will fulfill the major condition of the A-storyline, neutralizing the antagonistic force that has a conflict of interest with him achieving his ultimate goal.

B-story

Suggested number of beats: 0-2

Suggested beats: 31, 34-36

If the major B-storyline condition hasn’t been met yet, then the hero can use a lesson or resource gained from the B storyline to fix his internal flaw and turn it into a new virtue when he is “dug in” halfway through Act 5.

C-story

Suggested number of beats: 0-2

Suggested beats: 31-32, 38

The hero will attempt to solve the C-story one last time. The audience can see the hero succeed or find out in Act 6 that his actions fulfilled the condition of completing the C-story quest. The effects of completing the C-story quest can impact the hero’s ability to complete his A-story goal or not.

Act 5

A-story

Suggested number of beats: 1

Suggested beat: 38

The hero gets the A-story prize.

B-story

Suggested number of beats: 1

Suggested beat: 39

The hero gets the B-story prize.

C-story

Suggested number of beats: 1

Suggested beat: 40

The hero gets the C-story prize.

THE 12 STEPS OF A HERO ACCOMPLISHING A GOAL:

Once you’ve defined your hero’s need, the rest of the plotting process is just stating the steps he takes to get from Point A to Point B. In order for his thoughts and actions to appear human, you must show the following 12 events in this order:

  1. State the hero’s need.

In order for a hero’s actions to be logical, they must be done in pursuit of obtaining an incentive that will satisfy an unfulfilled need. So the first step is to state or illustrate the hero’s need.

  1. State the stakes of completing/failing to fulfill the need.

If a hero has a goal but no reason to accomplish the goal, then his actions will only be half-logical. The more clearly the audience understands the hero’s motive, the more reason they have to care if he accomplishes his goal. The less they understand his motive, the more distracted they’ll be trying to figure out why the hero is doing anything. The more poignant the hero’s motive, the more poignant the story will be to the audience. The less poignant the hero’s motive, the less reason the audience will have to finish watching or reading the hero’s story.

The reason the hero wants to accomplish his goal is because there are stakes at risk. If he succeeds, something good will happen. If he fails, something bad will happen. Since there are foreseeable good and bad consequences, the hero could literally write down the cost/benefit analysis of trying to accomplish his goal and come to the logical conclusion that he must take action. It could be patronizing to the audience to have the hero spell out his motives so explicitly, but the audience does need to know the consequences of both success and failure to fully understand the hero’s behavior.

When brainstorming the stakes in your story, bear in mind that the stakes will define the hero’s character. Whether the author intends it or not, the fact that the hero cares about the stakes, says something about his internal character. If you use the most exciting stakes you can brainstorm, it will make the hero seem like an exciting person. The more you personalize the stakes to the hero, the more depth the hero’s character, and his relationship to the story, will have.

  1. State the condition of fulfilling the need.

The fact that the hero has an unfulfilled need, implies that he must do something to satisfy it. If he didn’t have to do anything, then that would imply it’s already satisfied, unimportant or absurd.

The thing the hero must do to get the incentive is the condition (aka, goal). One condition/goal can have multiple conditions. The hero can learn all the conditions at the beginning of the story or along the way. If/when the hero doesn’t know his goal’s conditions, his immediate goal can be to learn them.

  1. State the hero’s decision to fulfill the conditions.

If the audience doesn’t witness the hero consciously decide to engage in his quest, then his behavior will appear random. When the hero chooses to commit to accomplishing a goal, he takes ownership of his quest. Plus, when he states what he’s about to do and why, the audience can follow the story.

  1. State the hero’s plan to achieve his ultimate goal.

After the hero has stated his goal and the condition to complete it, but before he takes action, he must decide what action to take. He must have a plan. The more clearly the plan is stated, the easier it is to follow the story.

Children’s stories state the hero’s plan almost every step of the way so children don’t get confused, but adults find this patronizing . They can easily follow the plot if the hero’s plans are implied.

The hero should state his plan for his major goals, but the audience doesn’t always have to know what the hero intends to do before he does it, especially when he’s completing minor goals. If the plan isn’t stated, as long as his behavior is within his character, the audience will accept the hero’s unexplained behavior as natural.

  1. The hero enacts his plan to meet the condition.

Once the hero knows what he wants to do, the next step is to do it. If he does anything between the time he formulates his plan and acts on it, he’s wandering around aimlessly. He might have an interesting adventure, but the story won’t move forward until he gets back to his plan, and a tightly written story is always moving forward.

  1. The hero encounters an obstacle or complication.

Technically, it would make a logical, coherent story if the hero decides to do something, does it and succeeds. Psychologically, though, that’s not very interesting. An enthralling story needs tension, and tension comes from the fear the hero won’t succeed.

So, the hero must encounter something at odds with him achieving his goal. Since a hero is measured by the quality of his opponents, the hero should encounter poignant ones that are tailored to reflect and draw out his character.

Whatever stands between the hero and his goal must have a logical reason to be there. Surprises are great, but the less relevant they are to the story, the more absurd your story will be.

The obstacle must have a conflict of interest with the hero achieving his goal. If the problem is a person, they will have a reason why they would benefit from the hero failing and lose something they value if the hero succeeds.

If the obstacle is inanimate, then its existence is the worst-case scenario God or the universe could put in front of the hero to prevent him from achieving his goal.  It helps to imagine that “God” is the antagonist, and God has a conflict of interest with the hero achieving his goal. So God keeps putting worst-case scenario obstacles and complications in the hero’s path.

  1. The hero reacts and adapts to the obstacle or complication

The obstacle will require the hero to perform an action to neutralize it. The hero can use one of his signature moves and neutralize minor opponents directly and immediately, but his major goals will need more eloquent problems and solutions.

  1. The hero fulfills the condition of the need.

Ultimately, the hero will either succeed or fail to fulfill the condition/s of his ultimate need. The only question is how many conditional steps he has to accomplish along the way.

  1. The hero attains the incentive.

The act of the hero accomplishing his goal is the catalyst of a cause/effect reaction that manifests the incentive that will satisfy his need. In other words, he gets the prize.

  1. The repercussion

The premise of the whole story is that something good would happen if the hero satisfies his need, and something bad would happen if he didn’t. Whenever a hero accomplishes a minor goal, the repercussions of that accomplishment will determine what he does next. In the second to last scene of the movie, the audience sees the repercussions of the hero fulfilling his ultimate need.

  1. The sunset

After the hero fulfills his need and experiences the repercussions, the story still begs the question, what does the future hold for the hero? What’s the hero’s next goal? The beginning of each beat is the sunset of the previous beat, and the last scene is the final sunset of the story.

Technically, a story doesn’t have to include steps 10-12 at the end of the story, but the whole story has been a stick and carrot leading up to this point. The author practically promised it, and the audience will be insulted and let down if they don’t get what they expected. You’re really not being clever by ending a story abruptly.

THE 9 PARTS OF A BEAT

My definition of a “beat” is, everything that happens between the time the hero enacts a plan to achieve an immediate goal and fails or succeeds to accomplish it.

Beats tend to be 1-3 minutes long and last 1-5 scenes, though most beats are only 1 scene long. This way, each scene opens to a new action sequence and ends with the hero succeeding or failing to accomplish a goal.

Every beat follows the same 9 steps, which are listed below:

  1. Opening image:

Each beat begins with the hero approaching a problem he needs to solve in order to accomplish a goal that will help him achieve his ultimate goal. This establishes where the camera will start rolling. So it needs to include the location and what the protagonist is doing when the director shouts, “Action.” Describe how the hero arrives or is found at the scene. The most common opening image is the hero walking through a door into a room where needs to do something.

  1. Hero’s opening action:

Once the hero’s presence is established on the scene, he needs to do what he came there to do. He already has a goal and a plan in mind. This is the first thing he does to engage the environment in pursuit of his goal.

  1. Opponent with a conflict of interest or opportunity:

There is always something standing between the hero and his immediate goal. It’s usually a person who has a conflict of interest with the hero. However, the “opponent” can be an ally of the hero, and the opponent’s ultimate goals can align with the hero’s. There still needs to be a source of conflict standing between them. In those cases, the conflict is the hero doesn’t want to the opportunity.

  1. Hero’s response:

After the hero encounters his opponent, he must logically react to it. The hero can only act in his character. The only way the audience can know the hero’s character is by watching him demonstrate his values and skills, of which he has 5-10 he reuses in every beat.

  1. Opponent’s response:

After the hero responds to the conflict in character, the opponent will counteract the hero’s action. Their action is usually a worst-case scenario that minimizes the hero’s chance of success. If the opponent has been seen before, they will use responses that were introduced in their first one or two appearances.

  1. Hero’s escalated response:

After the hero is hit with the opponent’s response, he will counteract the opponent’s move. This move will be more dramatic than his first response.

  1. Opponent’s escalated response:

The opponent will get at least one more chance to counter the hero. If the hero is destined to lose the conflict, this will be the deciding blow that neutralizes the hero and prevents him from achieving his goal. If the hero is destined to win the conflict, he would get another chance to respond with action after the opponent’s turn is over.

The beat can go on longer by having the hero respond again, and the opponent can respond again after that. In an action movie where the hero is physically fighting an enemy, the tit-for-tat can go on for five minutes in a single beat. Most conflicts are conversations where two people parse words briefly and then reap the consequences.

  1. Final outcome:

The final outcome is whether or not the hero won or lost the conflict.

  1. Hero’s closing image:

The closing image is what the camera sees right before the director shouts, “Cut.” This shows the immediate aftermath of the encounter and either implies or states how the outcome affects the hero’s progress towards his ultimate goal. If the hero wins, he may be doing a victory dance. If the hero loses, he may be laying in a gutter bleeding.

If you would like to see the current rough draft, you can download it by clicking here. As long as you give attribution credit, I don’t care if you steal it because I’m publishing it under creative common license.

Below are links to my earlier work on story plotting:

Formula plot templates:

Choose your own adventure story templates

 


Plot Breakdown: Back to the Future

back_to_the_future

This is a breakdown of the plot to Back To The Future. It divides the plot into 38 beats and the time they occur, rounded to the nearest minute. The beats are color-coded to show which quest chain is active at that time, and the beats are broken down into 6 sub-beats. Instances of foreshadowing are mapped to the beat they influence and are color coded according to their purpose.

Click the picture below to enlarge the image. Click here to download an Excel spreadsheet of the plot breakdown.

Back to the future Plot Picture

 

 

If you liked this post, you may like these: 

Formula Plot Tempates

Tips on being a writer


My quest to find the meaning of life

Over the course of 10 years, I wrote a book on the meaning of life titled “Why: An Agnostic Perspective on the Meaning of Life.” I didn’t do it to get rich quick, or because God told me to or because I’m the smartest person alive. My motives came from somewhere much more down to Earth. To understand why I wrote this book, you need to know the whole story.

I’ve always been a introvert, predisposed to working alone on long projects, and I’ve always loved puzzles. At the age of 17 I made a conscious decision to make a hobby out of solving difficult logic puzzles for the fun and challenge of it. Originally, this consisted of completing puzzle books, which I did with varying levels of success. That got boring quickly though, because I was just rearranging words, letters and numbers, which felt tantamount to mental masturbation. I wanted to solve real problems that had useful implications for myself and hopefully the rest of society.

The first big challenge I picked was creating a perpetual motion machine. Although I failed to build a working perpetual motion machine, I don’t count the quest as a failure, because it provided me hundreds of hours of entertainment and valuable problem-solving practice. When that thought-experiment had run its course I started looking for a new one. It wasn’t long before the question of the meaning of life caught my attention.

The challenge started out as a game, but the more I thought about it, the more seriously I took the question. I considered myself a responsible person who followed all the rules and lived a successful life by modern society’s standards, but could I say for certain I knew the meaning of life? No. So could I honestly be sure I was fulfilling it. No. I was just expecting I’d nail it by chance; I was leaving it up to chance whether or not I validated my existence or wasted it in vain. For the first time it struck me that the meaning of life might not be a novelty riddle after all. It might be a matter of life and death. In fact, it might even be a matter of eternal life and death… and that wasn’t even the worst part.

What shook me even more profoundly was the realization that if I didn’t know the meaning of life then I couldn’t teach my future children what it is or how to fulfill it. I was leaving their fate up to chance as well. How could I do that in good conscience?

To my surprise I found I wasn’t playing a game any longer. I was waffling at a crossroad in life. Should I go down that rabbit hole or find a way to write these thoughts off and get back to my routine, comfortable life? I didn’t have to second guess myself for very long. Regardless of anything else, the bottom line was I was planning on become a parent, and I had a responsibility to my unborn children. A father’s job is to teach his children how to make the most out of life, and since I didn’t know the meaning of life I didn’t have an end goal to teach my children how to accomplish. I was going to have to find some kind of answer to the meaning of life so I could teach my descendants everything needed to know to have the best chance at validating their existence and making the most out of life.

Being a child myself at the time, I had no idea where to begin answering such an enigmatic question, but I knew history was full of people much smarter than me. I assumed/hoped one of them had already figured it out. So I started making trips to the library and book stores hunting for the book the master wrote his/her revelation down in.

Some of the things I read had promise, but without exception they were all flawed in one way or another. Most of the self-help books were oversimplified and based on emotion more than logic. You could sum up most of them in the phrases, “The meaning of life is a good cup of coffee.” Or “Love everybody.” Nice sentiments but vague to the point of being useless.

The books written by self-proclaimed spiritual gurus tended to ramble incoherently and not be based on any kind of evidence whatsoever. The authors just said, “This is the answer,” and expected the reader to accept their mystical conclusions without asking for any logical or empirical proof.

As for Western philosophy… I know I could get crucified for saying this, but I would describe most of what I read as nine parts academic masturbation and one part insight. For all the amazing and useless things I read, I never found a systematic, logical, empirically valid explanation of the meaning of life.

And then there’s the world’s religious books. The first problem they pose is that most of them claimed to be the final truth on life and state it is foolish, arrogant, or outright immoral to question them let alone believe in any other belief system. So even if I quit searching for the meaning of life and bet my soul on any religion, I would still be committing blasphemy according to multiple other self-proclaimed holy books. This concerned me deeply, because I don’t want to go to Hell. If blasphemy is immoral, then I don’t want to commit it, but we’re all in a no-win situation. In the end I figured, if you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, you may as well do your best.

All things being blasphemy, the way I chose to commit it was to put all the religious books I could find to the test of empirical and logical truth. Without exception, they all contained historic and scientific errors, textual problems, absurdities, contradictions, and incoherent moral codes. Hundreds of thousands of books have been written about each religion, attempting to explain their mysteries. But Occam’s Razor can explain all of them in one sentence: All the religions humans have created are mythologies.

If that’s true, it creates as many questions as it answers. How was the universe created? What defines ethics? Is life meaningless, or is the purpose of life simply beyond the grasp of human intelligence?

The last question bothered me the most. If it really was true that we can never know the meaning of life then that would mean we have one, but can never sure if we’re succeeding at it. Does that mean we were never meant to fulfill it? Would that mean, for all practical purposes, life has no meaning? Are our lives nothing more than pieces in a cosmic game of Periwinkles? Are we not important?

My inability to answer any of these questions drove me to existential depression. I tried to act like nothing was wrong and continued going to work and socialize with friends but found it hard to be enthusiastic about anything since it seemed nothing we did mattered in the long run.

Walking through my tiny corner of the universe, I couldn’t shake my suspicions that it would be absurd for life to exist without a purpose. Surely there had to be a reason why such a complex universe full of complex living beings existed. So as I went through the motions of life I continued to think about and observe the world around me hoping to find the clues I’d missed.

On my way to work in the mornings I passed by a large oak tree, and I’d often stop to stare at it and ask myself, “What are you doing there Mr. Tree?” One day I was studying Mr. Tree when I found the clue I was looking for. The tree contained patterns. The branches weren’t geometrically organized, but there was a pattern to how trees in general look. Then I looked down at myself and found patterns in my body. We can recognize humans from other animals because our structure follows the same pattern. Skeletons follow patterns. Heredity follows patterns. Biology is all about patterns. For that matter, so is the rest of nature: gravitational pull, chemical reactions, and mathematical equations. These all behave according to patterns which reflect phenomenally elegant order in the universe.

It would be illogical to assume that everything in the universe behaves according to predictable patterns, but life (and all the patterns it contains) came into existence on accident. It’s no more an accident for life to exist than it is for water to freeze. The universe was meticulously designed to produce living beings. The immeasurable level of detail in the design of the universe isn’t an accident.

Atoms, molecules, solar systems and DNA are so ingeniously designed that I can’t discount the possibility an intelligent God created them. If that’s true, then why does God let bad things happen? Does/should God answer prayers? How do you learn about an absentee God of science? Do you even need to know God, or were we put here to do something else?

I wanted to explore these questions, but a voice in the back of my head kept asking, what if I’m wrong about religion, and there really is an angry, jealous God?  If I ever claimed to figure out life for myself, would I be punished? Would I go to hell? Were humans not meant to think for themselves? Why would God create children who aren’t supposed to think for themselves?

With or without God, is it still impossible (or at least too difficult) for humans to figure out? If the question can be answered, who’s smart enough to do it? Could I do it or should I leave it to the professionals? But who are the professionals? What would make someone qualified/disqualified to find the meaning of life anyway? Do you need a doctorate degree, a Nobel Prize, membership in a high IQ club, or at least published book under your belt before you’re certified to… ask questions?

I lost sleep asking myself these questions. I knew if nobody else had life figured out, then I’d have to do it on my own, but I didn’t think I could or should for all the reasons stated above. But then again, not trying was as good as suicide…and in the case of my potential offspring I was responsible for, manslaughter. This infuriated me. I kept telling myself, “This is insanity. It doesn’t make any sense.” Then, after a long night of tossing and turning in bed, I finally let myself admit the simple and obvious truth of the matter. It was insanity. It didn’t make any sense because it was illogical.

There may or may not be a God. We’re all just stranded in this big, elegant universe. We’re so lost we don’t even know how lost we are. If God’s out there, we’re left on our own to sink or swim. We don’t know the difference between right and wrong or if there is one. There is no instruction book. All we can do is figure out life for ourselves.

Whether we know or will admit it, everyone does this. We look at everything around us and come to our own conclusions. So I said, “To Hell with taboos,” and made a decision to consciously do what I’d already been doing all along. I’d figure out my own systematic, logical explanation of the meaning of life. The point wasn’t to create a book to publish. It was to create my own personal guidebook to life. 

Having decided that, I turned my attention to the enormous task of figuring out where the hell to begin. Ask yourself, “What is the first thing you need to do to answer the question, ‘What is the meaning of life?’” That’s a riddle within an impossible riddle. When I posed it to myself, I felt completely dumbfounded, but in that boggled, fuzzy state of mind I had a moment of horse-sense clarity. I realized if you want to answer any question, you need a step-by-step guide to answering questions.

So I went back to the library and the bookstores and read a stack of books on logic and problem solving. I learned a lot of useful things from those books, but I didn’t find the streamlined guide to answering questions I was looking for. So I looked back over everything I had learned about thinking and boiled it down to a neat list.

  1. Ask a question.
  2. Gather data
  3. Identify the variables you have.
  4. Identify the variables you don’t have.
  5. Sort the data.
  6. Apply formulas.
  7. Ask sub-questions.
  8. Question your answer.
  9. Apply the solution.

I spent years applying these steps to the question of the meaning of life and piecing my conclusions together in this book. I included a detailed breakdown of my method of problem solving in Chapter 14 since everything you’ll ever do in life will be the product of questions you’ve asked yourself. No matter what the meaning of life is, it involves problem solving since everything does.

If you read “Why” you’ll see how I applied these steps to the question of the meaning of life. If you just want to know the final conclusion I came to, read the next paragraph for the spoiler:

Regardless of whether or not God or an afterlife exists, or even if there’s no meaning to life at all, the most logical thing a living being can do with their brief time here is fulfill their potential. If that sounds anticlimactic, it’s because the most interesting part of the question, “What is the meaning of life?” isn’t “what,” it’s “why.”

This book isn’t the final answer on life. God didn’t reveal it to me. It’s just the conclusions I’ve come to that I base my life around. If you read my book and find even a single sentence lacking I hope you don’t dismiss all my observations and conclusions. Takes what you find to be true, and leave what you don’t. If you have a better answer, the world needs it. I need it. The way I’ll measure the success of my book isn’t by how many people believe me but by how many I inspire to ask questions.

You can download “Why: An Agnostic Perspective on the Meaning of Life” for free on Smashwords. I also have a few other E-books listed for free there, and I have some other books for sale on Amazon. You can find a list of all my books on the E-book page of my website, The Wise Sloth.

If you’re wondering what else I’ve done with my life, here are some more stories from my past:


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