Reversal

Typically a scene starts on a positive value and ends on a positive value. Or starts nagatively and ends negatively. Every scene must end up in a different place from where it started. Other wise what’s its purpoe? And it’s the reversal that gets a scene from one place to another. So, what exactly is a reversal? A reversal is a surprising turn of events that leads directly to the scene’s climax. It’s the “wow, I did’nt see that coming moment” that completely alters the course of the scene either in a big or subtle way. Everything up to this point has been going in one direction, and then, at the reversal, it swithches to it’s complete opposite. The scene changes from a negative to a positive(or vice versa) and then ends with the climax. Make sure your scenes surprise the reader. Know what you want the outcome of your scene to be, and then start it in exactly the opposite way. That way, you can add a reverrsal near the end that flips the scene into it’s desired place. Another type of screenwriting reversal- the “force from the outside” in this case the reversal is another character that suddenly enters the scene turning it in another direction. This is a very popular type of reversal. A reversal is a a lot device in which we’re led to expect one thing, and the opposite or pretty close to he opposite occures instead. This can involve a minor matter within the course of a scene or it can be a huge plot changing event. Reversals are are more than just defied expectations. Which is also a dramatically useful technique. With a reversals, our expections go beyond not being met: the reversal happens, or nearly the reverse. It’s not just a different result or outcome than was anticipated that should happen quiet frequently in a good script. Rather, it’s in some way the opposite outcome, in short,reversal is an action, event or verbal statement that creats an opposite or nearly opposite result than was anticipated by the audience and/or the characters. This

there is no sense of story advancement. For instance. The same can be said with going from a mixed or bad opening state of affaires. The opposite outcome could also be in refrence to the situation. and now are good(2nd reversal) until the end that’s better but still not enough to seem like a story. In other words a “story” where things get bad and then they get good… the end seems like a half story. Perhaps a new task or subgoal as well. Lets say a story starts wherethe status quo is “mixed” in some ways good. Or with things going poorly. The uses of reversals What good are reversals? Why do most scripts benefit from three or more major plot altering reversals. Then bad then good for a time then bad again that has the variety and fullness needed for a story. This situation again lacks interest and variety. But if things turn around. and then they stay that way. Few if any films have achieved audience acceptance unless they have at least three reversals of fortune lets examine why that is so. it’s a “V” and an upside down “V” isn’t any better: “ things get good and then they get bad-the end” that too is a half story. If there is no change in this. If things are mixed or good at beginning. and a number of smaller scene reversals? Reversals are one way to achieve surprise and audiences love to be surprised. But one or two aren’t enough! If an event occures which makes things worse ( a big problem 1st reversal) and that continues for long time except for mionr uptickes after a while. And in some ways badin terms of the main characters. It would be just as dramatically weak for a story to start out with things giong well.and often you have not three but four or more major reversals of fortune. There’s insufficient variety in terms of story direction and emotions. Reversals are also a way to create more variety in the story. a major reversal will create the need for new plans. It’s a static. and they stay that way until the end. Reversals tend to generate new complications and usually a changed state of affairs. But none? Or one.. While there are some stories that don’t contain a plot changing reversals of situation. the audience grows restless. adding a major revresal of forutune helps.“opposite outcome” can be in regard to an anticipated reaction to something a character does or says. good to bad or bad to .

variety.good and that’s it? Or even two from good to bad then bad to good or vice versa. Or of an unexpected action or reaction. or basically the same.by having atleastthree major reversals of fortune... despair.. and also no major sections of “things are going poorly except for a few brief minor successes instead it’s neither good nor bad overall for any length of time beyond a scene or two. sometines choppy sea which is intersperesed several times with a some immense waves it’s best to have many minor positive and nagative evants within several sections that are overall positive or negative in terms of progress towards the goal or the main characters perspective. That way we can sustain and even intensify feelings of hope. Too uneventful too linear. too unvaried. It affects and serves the scene. Scene vs plot reversals There are three levels of reversals. It’s a development within a scene that generates surprise in the form of a reversal of expectations. You have a plot with richness. There are “scene reversals” “sequence reversals” and “plot reversals” A scene reversal is a reversal within a scene but which does not necessarily alter the story. joy tension etc. And less predictability so the basic options are. there are no overall sections of ”thingsare going basically well. with overly long period of “mostly good” or “mostly bad” but the lack of any overall sense of things being largely positive or nagative beyond a scene or two can make things seem almost linear all the minor and frequent upticks and downticks start to flatten outto lose their power its like sailing on a mildly choppy sea. or of the situation within that scene.one additional option: no strong clear-cut major reversals of fortune but frequent smaller reversals every scene or every couple of scenes or so in other words. That’s more intersesting than a flat sea but not as good (dramatically speaking)as a sometimes smooth. Thes would seem too thin.too boring. of fortune.. allowing for difficulties and obstacles etc. But it doesn’t have long term consequences. But its effects do not lead to great change in what happens after the scene. The goal the course of action and the plan are still the same. It may take the form of an obstacle or a short lived complication. .

In between scene and plot reversals are wequence reversals.A plot reversal is a scene reversal with giant and long lasting consequences. A quick on sentence emotional description of your main character gives us a context for the dialogue and actions that follow. The third element is what makes the character three dimensional. but a quick description of who they are will give a context to those actions and dialogue. it’s a reversal combined with a turning point and it’s quite powerful damatically. A framework to build the character on. but not to the degree of creating a plot reversal or even a major turning point in the plot. 3D characters Contrast is the tool behind a character creation method. sometimes there will be reversal within that sequence often sequence reversals function like scene reversals: there is some effect on the overall plot. So we are going to sum up the entire character in one sentence that will be their introduction. Just a sentence tells us what’s going on inside your protagonist. Come up with three different dimensions for your character. Sometimes there are three or more scenes that make up a sequence. or an overall action(escaping. Three types of reversals 1) A reversals of expectations 2) A reversals of fortune. What makes them jump off the page and come alive. And/or a plan is unfolding. in which a subgoal is bing pursued. It’s a reversal which is also a plot changing event. What do you do? . Character descriptions and context You’re still going to show us who they are through dialogue and actions. We can use the magic number three to create strong characters in our screenplays. searching etc) is in effect. 3) A full-fledged reversal of situation.

You want your conflict to grow until the protagonist has no choice but to do something.So let’s start with two elements that create a basic character. Much worse. Without conflict there is no story. This fits the standard three act structure and makes the script a real page turner. Antoagonist(or forces of antagonism) as the bringers of conflict are the most important characters in any story. The weaker the . Things gets worse. That’s how you want your script to work. every 15 pages. External conflict and emotional conflict are co conspirators in story. Conflict in every scene Story is conflict and every scene in your script needs conflict. If they are in contrast. Threat escalation The conflict isn’t stagnant. I usually escalate the threats every fifteen pages. Without them there is no story. Details will always change on a script’s journey to screen. we already have something interesting to start with each character is given substance because of the conflict within them. But its important to keep the theme intact. Building both conflict and threat to a boiling point. Conflict driven Without conflict nothing happens so conflict is the most important part of story. Things continue to get worse. But when you add. Casting locations. a millions of other things along the way alter the script. Both must be present for a story to grow. Not some arbitrary conflict pasted on to make the scene more exciting but a slice of the main conflict in the script. it’s growing and evolving. often these two elements will be a character’s personal life and their occupation. A third element you’re adding another dimension to the character. Everything in your script (and real life) is cause and effect so the antagonist has to be just as strong and just as well drawn and just as motivated as the protagonist or you have effect with no cause and everything stops moving.

16 steps to better descriptions 1) The word is action My first step is easy. think of it as action movement. the weaker the protagonist. Things happening . Don’t think of it as description.antagonist and weaker the antagonist’s motivation.

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