Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 6

20 Screenwriting Terms You Must Know | Good In A Room

20 Screenwriting Terms You Must Know | Good In A Room

These 20 terms are frequently used by writers, producers, directors, stars, agents, and other Hollywood
professionals. Lets ensure that your knowledge of relevant Hollywood jargon establishes that youre
someone who is in. !

!
A-story, B-story, C-story"
!

The A-story is the core story of how the hero seeks the goal. The B-story is a story which runs parallel
and intersects at key points with the A-story; often the B-story is the love story. The C-story (more
common in television) is like another B story, just smaller and less important.!

!
Example: !
!

I like the love story a lot I kind of wish that instead of this project being a comedy with the love story
as the B-story, I wish that this was a romantic comedy where the love story is the A-story.!

!
Act Break, Break Into 2, Break Into 3"
!

The end of each Act is known as a break because in TV this is typically where we cut to a commercial
break. To maintain viewer interest enough to resume watching after the commercials, the act break
should be surprising and important. In film, the end of an act can still be called a break even though
theres no commercial, and what defines the break is when the hero makes the decision to pursue the
goal of the A-story. In a film there is typically a 3-Act structure and thus two act breaks (at the end of
Act 1 and Act 2 - the end of Act 3 is the climax). In TV a 4-Act structure is more common.!

!
Example: !
!

And then, in the midst of his acute grief over the death of his Aunt and Uncle, Luke Skywalker tells ObiWan that he wants to train in the ways of the force, and we break into 2.!

!
Beat"
!
A beat can be a unit of story information, a moment in a scene, or a slightly longer than normal pause.!
!
Example (unit of story information): !
!
The debate beat seems weak how can we strengthen the dilemma before the break into two? !
!
Example (moment in a scene): !
!
Im concerned about the beat where Indiana Jones catches the date to prevent his friend from eating
the poison I want to make sure its clear that he sees that the monkey is dead first.!

!
Example (longer pause): !
!
After reading her dead husbands will, she takes a beat, collects herself, and returns to.!
!
!
!

20 Screenwriting Terms You Must Know | Good In A Room

Beat Out"

To outline the major scenes in a story. Such an outline could be called a beat sheet. For example, the
Blake Snyder Beat Sheet identifies fifteen key story beats.!

!
Example: !
!
Okay, Ive got the core story now its time to beat it out!!
!
Break A Story"
!

To figure out how the story works. Essentially, when a story has been broken, youve identified all of the
major story beats, including the act breaks and the climax.!

!
Example: !
!
Before I start writing scenes and dialogue and such, I need a few days to break the story.!
!
Callback"
!
To reference or return to something that has already happened or been said, typically a joke.!
!
Example: !
!
That was a great flux capacitor joke in Act 1 can we do a callback to that in Act 3?!
!
Cold Open"
!

Also known as a teaser, a cold open is when a TV shows first scene jumps directly into the A-story
before the credits or main title sequence.!

!
Example: !
!

This episode of CSI starts with a cold open where we see the murder of the Attorney General then
after the opening credits were in the lab where Grissom is examining three pig brains. !

!
Creative differences"
!

This can mean two different things depending on the context. Sometimes when people say we had
creative differences it means they were working together and then had an amicable split, and
sometimes it means that they had a bad breakup and hate each other.!

!
Example: !
!
We developed the project with Shia LeBeouf but parted ways because of creative differences.!
!

20 Screenwriting Terms You Must Know | Good In A Room

Derivative Content"

Typically this refers to online content (e.g. apps, social media games, blogs, webisodes) that is
designed to support and enhance a movie or TV show.!

!
Example: !
!
We love the concept for the movie tell us about your ideas for derivative content.!
!
Good In A Room"
!

A term used by agents, managers, studio executives, and other decision-makers to refer to writers who
pitch ideas effectively in meetings.!

!
Example: !
!
He came in with great energy, was hilarious, great story totally good in a room.!
!
Hip Pocket"
!

This is what happens when an agent agrees to represent you or your project without actually signing a
contract to represent you like a trial period. Its a way of saying, Ill make a few calls and send your
work out to a few people and if that amount of effort results in a sale, then Ill be your agent, and if not,
then I wont.!

!
Example: !
!

I love the script, and I think you have great potential. Id like to hip pocket you and see if we can make
something happen.!

!
Left Word"
!
This means, left a phone message.!
!
Example: !
!
I left word for Matt Damon.!
!
MacGuffin"
!

The MacGuffin is a thing that is being sought by the hero (and potentially other characters as well), e.g.:
a nuclear weapon, secret code, treasure map, briefcase, or Maltese Falcon.!

!
Example: !
!
In MI:3 the MacGuffin is a bioweapon called, The Rabbits Foot.!
!

20 Screenwriting Terms You Must Know | Good In A Room

On The Nose"

!
This means that a beat or joke is overly direct, too obvious, or clumsy. !
!
Example: !
!
This joke about Larry David being neurotic is too on the nose.!
!
Returning For"
!
This means, calling you back.!
!
Example: !
!
Matt Damon returning for Amy Pascal.!
!
Self-contained, arced, format, docu, hybrid"
!

These are the five terms you must know to pitch a reality TV show. Self-contained means each episode
has a story that stands on its own; the alternative is arcd, meaning that stories span several episodes.
Format means that theres a game and rules; docu means its showcasing the lives of the subjects;
hybrid means a combination of format and docu elements.!

!
Example: !
!

Our cooking show is like Top Chef in the sense that its self-contained and uses a format, but our show
goes more into the lives of the contestants and is really a hybrid.!

!
Page One"
!
A page one is a complete rewrite (starting the script from scratch).!
!
Example: !
!
Your core concept is good but the execution just isnt working for me at all. This needs a page one.!
!
Punch Up"
!

To make funnier. Often a rewrite assignment for a comedy writer is to punch up a script by adding more
and better jokes. Unfortunately, sometimes when a writer is asked for punch up its for a project that is
flawed and really needs a page one.!

!
Example: !
!
We want you to do punch-up on the project paying special attention to Act 3 which is especially flat.!
!
!

20 Screenwriting Terms You Must Know | Good In A Room

Table Read"

The first time a script is read by all of the primary actors, its typically done around a table - its like the
first formal rehearsal of a project.!

!
Example: !
!
This sequence is long; lets see how the table read goes and then talk about where we can trim.!
!
The Room"
!

The room is a physical space, usually a conference table and couches area, where TV writers work
together to break stories - often revealing intimate details of their own lives and saying things that
should never be said out loud in public - but which help to bring life to the project. What happens in the
room, what is said in the room, stays in the room.!

!
Example: !
!

Maybe he disagreed with the showrunner, but tweeting about what happened in the room? Im
surprised he wasnt fired.!

!
..................................................................................!
!
For more information from Good in a Room:!
!
Resources!
!
Most Popular Posts!
!
Index of Screenwriting Articles