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if you’re looking for bonus-points, each of those characters and sub-plots should have a story-line in at least a basic three-act structure). Well, you’re going to have to wrap all of those up too. Typically around the time you’re wrapping up the main-narrative’s storyline.

That means that your Third Act is going to be filled-to-the-brim with conclusions and resolutions and all sorts of story-points - and you are not going to have anywhere near enough space to fit it all in. You’re going to have to be very judicious with your writing in the Third Act. Every bit of space is important and is much-needed for something else. So, you just can’t add anything that’s extraneous. No long scenes that go nowhere. Anything like that just steals time away from everything else.

Not only do you have to wrap up your main-plot and your love-story, but you have to wrap up all your sub-plots too!

Hopefully your storyline is chock-full of interesting sub-plots and supporting-characters (and

Gangster movies such as Goodfellas, The Godfather and The Godfather II are really great films to watch when you are writing your screenplay’s sub-plots.

Gangster movies tend to have huge casts of characters, in multiple crime gangs or families. This gives the screenwriter an absolutely massive amount of sub-plots to contend with (not to mention exposition, backstories, accents, etc...).

The Godfather series has so many characters it isn’t even funny! Just imagine being the screenwriter on that one - and trying to juggle all the various plot-threads! Which is probably why it was based on a book. Most of the movies with humongous ‘worlds’ or ‘universes’ or ‘cast of characters’ was adapted from a book.

You want your sub-plots to have, at least basic three-act structures, so you’re going to be contending with three-act structures on-top of three-act structures on-top of three-act structures.

It’s easy to get confused.

But, don’t leave the main-narrative for too long! You don’t want to get drawn-in and focus too much on all your minor storylines. You don’t want your audience to forget what the movie’s about. Sub-plots are great for a moment or two away from the main-story, but don’t dwell too long on your sub-plots. They are interesting little asides, not main-narratives. Get back to the main-story fairly quickly.

Writing Sub-Plots: Wrapping Up Your Sub-Plots

Screenwriting 101:

PROPER SCREENPLAY FORMAT

SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE

SCREENPLAY TEMPLATE

SAMPLE SCREENPLAY PAGES

BEGINNER SCREENWRITERS

FILM SCHOOLS

SCREENWRITING DEGREES

SCREENPLAY STORY STRUCTURE

HOW LONG SHOULD EACH ACT BE?

THREE ACT STRUCTURE

START WRITING NOW

STORY-STRUCTURE TEMPLATE

THE FIRST TURNING POINT

THE SECOND TURNING POINT

PROTAGONIST’S CHARACTER-ARC

GET COVERAGE


FORWARD Writing Sub-Plots for Your Script

When I say that all your sub-plots should have three-act structures, it’s easy to think that they need to be long and complicated. That’s not the case. In fact, just the opposite. You want your sub-plots to be really deep in story and depth, but really short in screen-time (or page length).

You don’t need ten pages to tell a simple story in the proper structure.

For instance, remember the famous seasons-long jokes in Community (the tv-show)? They would often have actual stories that played out completely in the background of scenes. Like Abed having a baby and even an appearance by Beetlejuice!

For instance, see the video below.

You don’t need to spend a lot of time on your sub-plots. Some you may want to spend pages and pages on - others can just be transitory, an eighth of a page here and there.

Just make sure you have at least one or two sub-plots.

At the very least, your film-editor will thank you (for giving him something to cut away to). Stories that never leave the protagonist tend to be boring.

Give the audience something else to watch every once in a while. Something different. Give them a breather too. Just like your protagonist, you can’t just keep pounding the same thing into the audience the entire script.

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