Plot Points for Feature Films
Even if you are not interested in doing a feature right now, review these
plot points to get an idea of what you might be able to add to your short
somewhere. Using plot points will make writing treatments and scripts
much easier. For a feature treatment, I usually brainstorm a few ideas
of what might happen at each of the 40 points, fill in symbolic scene
locations, and then play with the order in which they occur. These plot
points do not have to occur in this exact order by any means. The film
Memento opens with the last plot point and goes backward. Lots of films
jump around through time, starting after the climax and looking back,
or with another character telling someone a story about something that
has already happened. You could randomly pick numbers 1 through 40 out
of a hat and construct a story using these plot points. The following
40 plot points are my interpretation of Michael Feit Dougan's 40 plot
40 plot points = 3 pages per plot point = 120 pages/minutes
1) Hook. Transition from the real world into to the
2) Setup. Introduce the protagonist and show what is
3) Enter antagonist. Doing what he or she does best.
4) Supporting characters. Show us different sides of
protagonist and film world.
5) Plot goal/want. First plot goal defined when a problem
6) Theme goal defined/need. Use metaphor. A character
could talk about a fable.
7) Gauntlet. Antagonist goals established.
8) First test. Protagonist may fail at first test to
show his or her weaknesses.
9) Inciting incident. An event that changes the status
quo (what's normal).
10) Exile. The protagonist leaves the familiar world
and sets off on goal.
about the other 30 plot points for feature films in "Developing Digital
forced to work within a strict framework, the imagination is taxed
to its utmost - and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom
the work is likely to sprawl."