It’s a whole new world: Shifting gears to the “B” story

Okay, so the day has been going along fairly smoothly–by that I mean my writing. But, as with any story, there is a time when you need to shift gears a bit, and transition to the “B” story.


Why would anyone want to move in another direction when things are going so well?

Well, according to Blake Snyder, author of Save The Cat, something BIG should happen on page 25.  It’s an ACT BREAK where we leave the old world behind.  The “we” is your protagonist.  The hero is about to embark on a journey, and it is precisely when he or she steps into ACT TWO. It’s the valley of decision.  Something has to occur, arrive, happen, etc., that prods the hero into a life-altering decision.  Snyder says, “The hero makes a decision for himself…he is proactive.”

Remember Legally Blonde?  The “B” story happens when Elle Woods goes into the salon and her relationship begins with the manicurist Paulette Bonafonte.  In the first few minutes of the screenplay, Elle, who revealed to the audience her goal to marry Warren, her college sweetheart, has been royally dumped.  In her fight to restore the relationship, she works her butt off to get into Harvard Law, but when she arrives she finds that Warren has not only gotten back together with a former girlfriend, the two are ENGAGED!  OOPS!  The “B” story provides the perfect setting for Elle to grow and become strong, and the nurturing relationship with the manicurist is a big part of that process.  It enables Elle to move into ACT THREE and transition into her triumphant finale!

So, the “B” story is a very important element.  Frequently, it’s the love story of the film, and a lot of new and fun characters are introduced at that time.  The “B” story also explores the THEME in a much different way.  Don’t forget the theme must be stated throughout your screenplay, and the “B” story is no exception.  It actually draws attention to the theme of your story, but in a much different way.

At about page 23 you want to take a hard look at your story, and make sure that you’re in a good place to transition into Act Two with the “B” story.

It’s a whole new world!

Screenwriting Coach

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