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The Screenplay Spoonful

an analogy for a successful script

Presented by Michele Ryan


Not a new concept

Dovs Hollywood Formula:
5 Uh-Nos, 5 Oh-Shits, 2 Oh-My-Gods
Sid Fields Paradigm Structure:
Plot point 1, Pinch 1, Midpoint,
Pinch 2, Plot point 2, Resolution

Blakes Screenplay Physics/Beat sheet:

15 point beat sheet & 8 laws to follow

Karls Designing Structure for Emotional Impact:

12 points that must be addressed

Micheles Screenplay Spoonful

10 min: Enticing
incident w/ MC Flaw
25-30 min: Event that
changes everything:
MC gets his want (but
with a catch)

45-60 min: Montage,

fun & games,
title/trailer, MC high

60-75 min: Bad guy

returns, things start to
go bad
75-90 min: Just when
it cant get worse, it
does: MCs Hell/low
point (the worst thing
for that flaw)


30-45 min: Brave new

world w/ catch:
subplots start

Act II

0-5 min: Setup MC

flaw, MC wants vs.
needs, Tone, Plot Cues

Act II

Act I

This is how I approach a new script idea and how I analyze a movie I like.

90-115 min: Dilemma

and decision: MC
change (opposite of
original want)
115-120 min: Evidence
of what MC learned
(got what he really

Act I:
Questions to Answer
What is MC (main character) like before all this starts? (a day in the life)
How can we love this guy? (must empathize or like immediately)
What does MC want (on the surface) and need (deep down inside)?
What is MCs greatest and universal flaw?
What hints of the plot need to be shown early on?
What is the overall genre, tone and desired symbolism?
Enticing Incident:
How does this move toward what the MC wants?
How can this set up the event and show the overall need?
How does this demonstrate the flaw?
How does this lead into the Event?
Event that changes everything:
How does MC get what he thinks he wants? (better if it happens to him not by him)
What is the immediate catch? (be careful what you wish for)
How it is ironic? (direct contradiction with flaw)
How does his flaw prevent him from seeing that its not really what he needs?
Why is there no going back now?

Act II:
Questions to Answer
Brave New World:
How has everything changed for the better? (at least for now)
How does MC manage or embrace the catch? (denial, thinks he can handle it, lying, etc.)
What sub-plots will start now?
What love interest will show now? (not always a person)
Fun & Games:
How is MC enjoying and exploiting the current situation?
What is the films title? (comes from this part of the script)
What will make a great trailer? (comes from this part of the script)
Why did people come to see this film? (promise of the premise)
What is MCs highest point?
Why is this heaven for the MCs main flaw?

Act II:
Questions to Answer
Bad Guy Returns:
What little things occur and increasingly become unmanageable?
What unexpected conflicts arise?
Why does MC still think he can handle it?
How does MCs flaw start to work against him?
How can bad guy be even worse?
How do these events put MCs flaw to the ultimate test?
What is the lowest point the MC can have?
Can the lowest point be even lower? (what about suicide, death, etc.)
Is this exactly opposite of the initial want? (MC must not want it anymore)

Act III:
Questions to Answer
Dilemma / Decision / Change:
MC is beaten, how does he show that he knows it?
How does he contemplate his options?
Why does he change? What subplot injects or encourages the change?
How is the change opposite from what he initially would have done?
How is this decision a symbol of overcoming the flaw?
What extreme behavior does he take as part of the change?
Evidence of Lesson Learned:
What lesson was learned?
Why was the catch not worth embracing?
How has the flaw been cured or overcome?
How is the original want shown to be not important?
How is his real need fulfilled?
How does MC show he learned his lesson?
How is everyone elses life better also?
Why was this journey the only way MC could have overcome the flaw?

Preparing your Spoonful

When and how to use it

1. Become familiar with the process

1. Spoon-out 3-5 movies you know, use a timer
2. Apply the spoon to your idea
3. Double check it against itself
1. Rework until all questions are answered and all blanks are completed
4. After writing first draft compare the spoon to the script