Screenplay Paradigm

There is a Paradigm, a formula that almost all Hollywood movies follow. This formula is normally: establishing characters and the action in the first act, then having a major conflict in the middle, and then resolution at the end. Odds are high, especially as a first time Screenwriter that if your screenplay doesn’t follow this standard, that it will be rejected. This fact is unfortunate because it takes away a great deal of creativity from the writer.

There are many films that do not follow this Hollywood standard for movie making, but the best example of this is probably PULP Fiction, which came out in 1994. This movie was told in a circle, actually starting at the end, and moving around to different stories until the end of the movie revisited the beginning of the movie. It was a very strange new idea, but it worked and it violated every single Hollywood Paradigm standard that there is. Obviously, screenwriter of this movie was very well established and could do anything he wants, unlike any new person trying to break into a very difficult profession like Screenwriting.

In my first screenplay I did not follow the standard and I told the emotional story of a high school athlete who longs for what could have been 10 years earlier out of order. The way I thought of this story, there was no way I could have written it any other way than the way I wrote it. First of all, the story started 10 years after when he was in high school and circumstances in the present day were always reminding the main characters and his friends of what could have been had he not been injured in the championship game when they were all 18 years old.

As far as sports movies, we always honor those who break through and make it, but what about the millions of athletes who don’t make it, who have to forego a fantastic life and career and accept the normal boring jobs and experiences that most people have to live through, including sitting in a cubicle all day, and mass transit which can include a bus ride or train ride every day. How about a bad drive and bad traffic each way, every day, 5 days a week.

As far as following this Hollywood standard, or Paradigm, I mostly followed this in my send and third screenplay but I will not let this standard or any other accepted standard control my creativity as a screenwriter.

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