Writer Anne Beattie said this: “People forget years and remember moments.” I believe this is nowhere more true than in movies. In terms of a movie or screenplay, moment has a precise meaning:
A specific point in time, the present time, that is of particular importance in the overall series of events in a story.
Let’s parse that out:
- A specific point in time: A moment can be constituted by a scene, but most often it is a sliver or slice, if you will, of a scene, a matter of mere seconds.
- The present time: Whereas an entire screenplay is written in the present tense, therefore creating a sense that what is happening is happening now, a moment represents an intensification of that experience. What is happening now is really happening now. Time seems to slow, even stand still for the characters – as well as the reader.
- That is of particular importance in the overall series of events in a story: Why does what is happening in a moment seem to be really happening now? Because what is happening is something significant, something influential, something that impacts character and plot.
It should not be surprising then that what we most often and most vividly remember about a movie is its key moments. It should also not be surprising that moments are almost always imbued with a story’s themes, one of the reasons they are memorable.
Where to find those significant moments? Zero in on the major Plotline points. That’s a good start. Since a Plotline point is an important event that hooks into the plot and spins it in another direction, chances are quite good there will be some sort of concomitant emotional or psychological ‘thing’ going on.
Movies are made of moments. Find them, study them, and use them to source your story’s themes. Remember:
I encourage you to head to comments to discuss today’s questions. And for a related discussion on The Black Board, check out these topics:
- Breathtaking moments
- Standout moments in film
- Writing exercise: The most surprising thing
- Writing Excercise: Trailer Moments
The Quest” has entered Week 21! And so did Go On Your Own Quest, an opportunity for anyone to follow the structure of “The Quest” to dig into screenwriting theory [Core - 8 weeks], figure out your story [Prep - 6 weeks], and write a first draft [Pages - 10 weeks]. It’s a 24-week immersion in the screenwriting process and you can do it here – for free!
Today and every Monday through Friday for 10 weeks, I’ll use this slot to post something inspirational as GOYOQ participants pound out their first drafts.
Why not use the structure of this 24-week workshop to Go On Your Own Quest? That was an idea that gathered energy among many members of the GITS community which I described here.
For more information on Go On Your Own Quest, go here.
Plus you can join The Black Board, the Official Online Writing Community of the Black List and Go Into The Story, another free resource to help keep you inspired and on target at you Go On Your Own Quest from FADE IN to FADE OUT on the first draft of your original screenplay.