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Changing Life
By Lilian Carridine

Act 1
The room was completely empty except for the girl standing in the middle of it. The walls were peeling and the ceiling were leaking. The floor creaked as she stepped on it and the one window in the room was broken. It was Casey who stood in the broken doorway staring at the girl

Casey: I used to live here, my mom came home too late to cook us dinner. Food either came from me or my father, he wasn’t meant to be in the kitchen. I had one younger brother, (Casey trailed off)

Lillian: This is such a ran down place, it’s so sad. I’m sorry that this (Casey cuts Lillian off)

Casey: It’s not your fault, you didn’t cause this. This place used to look a little better but I guess the owner of it after us didn’t really care. It used to be filled with happiness and family. We didn’t care that we would sleep on the floor or a couch. (Casey smiles and Grabs Lillian’s hand)

Lillian: I bet it was wonderful, thank you for showing me. You really didn’t have to do that though.

Casey: You want to go get something to eat, I know a wonderful pizzeria down the street (Casey walks to the door)

Lillian: sounds great (both walk off stage in same direction)

Opening Image

page 1

If you had to choose a photo to establish what “the world” is like before your story starts, this is it.

Make it stand out, because first impressions matter. They set the tone and mood and scope, and hook the audience (or reader).

If it’s a vast epic, the opening image should be grand. If it’s a small intricate family drama, the opening images are small and subdued.

Theme Stated

page 5

It might not be clear at first, but your story should have a theme.

You can think of the theme as an argument, that the rest of the movie has to prove.

Remember that a theme is there to guide you as a story writer, and provide a strong undercurrent to your story. It’s not a restriction, it’s a fountain for your imagination. If you ever get stuck, go back to your theme and you will find your answer there.


pgs 1-10

By the first 10 pages (or 12 at most), you need to have set up your story.

If you think of your story as a cannon shot, by page 10 the cannon needs to be loaded, aimed, and ready to be fired.


pg 12

Again, with the cannon analogy: Your cannon is aimed in pages 1-10, it needs to actually fire by page 12.

Here again, the size and scope of the catalyst event must match the size of your story. If it’s a small drama, it could be a phone call announcing a death in the family, or it could be a breakup.

If it’s a sprawling epic, it should be something grander. The outbreak of war, or the destruction of a planet.


pgs 12-25

If your hero starts moving towards his goal immediately, it’ll seem as though he’s just reacting to what happens around him.

No one wants to see a hero react, they want to see him or her act.

That’s what the debate section is for. This is where the hero shows that he/she knows that it’ll be a long road, but consciously decides to act.

Act 2
Lillian, Casey, Janet, and Jaime all sat in a studio. It was a simple studio with a sound booth on one side and a comfy room on the other. the room has a couple couches and chairs set up around a table. The group sat in around the table talking to each other.

Break into Two

pg 25

Once the hero decides to act, it’s time to step through a membrane, and enter the world of Act II.

For example, in Star Wars, the catalyst is Luke’s parents being killed, but the Act II event occurs when they board Han’s ship, and the journey begins.

B Story

pg 30

The audience has been through a lot of turmoil to get to this point. Introduce a secondary story to give them a rest.

This B story usually involves a romance, or a new friendship, or some other relationship with a character from the “new world” of Act II.

It also serves two useful tools for you as a writer:

  1. It lets you have a second storyline to “cut to”, when needed. It’s like having a second camera to cut to when editing.
  2. It’s an avenue you can use to discuss the theme.

This is where the B Story starts, but it runs throughout the rest of the movie.

Fun and Games

pgs 30-55

This is where you get to have fun (yes, even in a serious drama).

With your logline, you asked a question: “What would happen if __?”
This is where you answer that question.

You’ve set up your story, your characters, and propelled them along in their journey. This is where you get to explore what happens.

If there was a teaser for your movie, most scenes will come from this section.


The Resolution

The resolution of the story and its subplots. The climax is the scene or sequence in which the main tensions of the story are brought to their most intense point and the dramatic question answered, leaving the protagonist and other characters with a new sense of who they really are.

Break Into Three

pg 85

Find the solution!

Because of everything that’s happened so far, and with the help of B story characters, the hero finds his last best effort to find a solution.

The idea for the solution is at hand.


pgs 85-110

Wrap it up.
The climax must be the result of the entire chain of events leading up to this point. A chain that should be linked by the words “therefore” or “but”… it’s not enough for Y to follow X, Y must happen because of X.

Your climax is the result of

  1. Who your hero is.
  2. How your hero has changed.
  3. The events leading up to this point.

Dispatch all the bad guys (literal or figurative), in ascending order. At the end, a new world is born.

Not only must the hero suceed, but he/she must change the world.

Final Image

pg 110

The opening image is your “before” shot, this is the “after”.

The world must have changed, and the difference between the opening image and the closing is the proof of this change.