In the old days, movies came on film reels. Each reel was about 15 minutes long. The idea of breaking down the story into mini-movies matches up with that. If you have 8 mini-movies that add up to a 2-hour feature-length script. The mini-movie theory also matches up fairly well with the Save The Cat Beat Sheet. Certain beats in a story happen at certain points, which is how humans digest a story. Chris Soth, who teaches this concept, uses the acronym W.R.I.T.E.N.O.W as a simple way to remember the beats for each mini-movie.

W (ordinary world)

R (reluctance)

I (initial attempts)

T (try harder)

E (eye opener)

N (Nadir)

O (Overcome)

W (Winning)

Ordinary World.

The first movie is the introduction. We know that to sell a movie script, you need a great first 10 pages. Most script readers won’t read past that unless it’s amazing. As I always like to say, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” I would argue that your first page has to be great. These days they probably look at the first page and decide if the script is worth reading. But something important happens after those first ten pages and we call it the inciting incident in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat. This is what happens between the ordinary world and the next mini movie. You want to make sure to introduce all your important characters in this first mini movie. We meet our protagonist and learn about their life before that inciting incident happens. This propels them into a journey.

Reluctance

This mini-movie is where our characters are not sure. Is it worth getting involved or maybe they don’t have a choice and they are looking for a way out. If you are familiar with Alfred Hitchcock, he always had innocent heroes who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and, in most cases, not equipped with the skills.