Writing A Great Script Fast In A Nutshell

Step 16 - Setups & Payoffs ....................... . . ... .Next Step 17


Step 16: Setups & Payoffs

Once you start thinking about plot points, you will want to weave in setups and payoffs to pull your story together.

Setup/Payoff: Any information, phrase, event or object introduced early in the story, that may seem unimportant at the time, which turns into a key payoff element later.

Setups need to be carefully presented in way that audience does not suspect they are being given key story information. Audiences should flash back to the earlier setups during payoff moments and put the information together in a new way.

Setups Payoffs
Character says something that seems unimportant like “I don’t drink coffee.” Character needs to be rushed to the hospital for allergic reaction to coffee later.
Object given, found or obtained which seems useless or of small importance at the time. Useless object becomes valuable tool or enables character to accomplish plot goal in surprising way.
Information given to character that seems unimportant. This information becomes the key to accomplishing plot goal later.
Character finds clue, information or evidence. We do not see what they do with this new information. Character uses clue in surprising way that audience may not see at first. Show the result, such as information being suddenly presented at a meeting. Another character could explain it was sent earlier.
Character states opinion about situation such as “The truth shall set you free.” Character ends up in a courtroom forced to lie then goes to jail for perjury.
Unexpected event occurs causing character to adjust. Unexpected event spirals out of control.

Look at your climax plot point and see what setup info or thing you can include early in the story to shift the outcome in a surprising way:

Plot Goal succeeds or fails at climax because _________

Any other ideas for using setups and payoffs in your story?




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