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How to Use a Script Analysis Worksheet to Bulletproof Act 1

Rewrite Your Logline, Map It to the Protagonist's Key Turning Points and Tighten Up Act 1

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October 7, 2010 8 comments
script analysis worksheet

How to Use a Script Analysis Worksheet to Bulletproof Act 1

Writing a logline based on the actions of your protagonist in Act 1 is one of the best ways to make it tight and compelling. Use this script analysis worksheet to find out how.

It can be really helpful to form a great logline before writing a screenplay. If you have a vague and/or uninspiring logline, your script will likely be vague and uninspiring too.

This script analysis worksheet, however, will ensure that all the plot points are in the right places for the logline. And hence the first act.

Script Analysis Worksheet Part 1: The First Half of Act 1

A screenplay logline should encompass what your story’s about in a short sentence or two. It should spell out the main conflict (often with irony.) It should say what’s at stake for the protagonist and how the antagonist gets in their way.

You can read more about how to write a logline. For now, though, let’s start by dividing our script analysis worksheet in two. This also means dividing the logline and Act 1 into two parts. 

How Act 1 Is Divided into Two

♦  Part 1: Sequence A (Ends with a call to action / approx min 12.) This sequence should introduce the protagonist and end with a crisis of some sort in their life. Some people call this the inciting incident but we prefer the term call to action as it better describes its nature.

♦  Part 2: Sequence B (Ends with Act 1 turning point / approx min 25.) This sequence should end with the decision they, or the antagonist makes about this crisis. This decision sets up the core conflict the protagonist will have to solve over the course of the movie.

If you’re not already approaching screenplay structure using sequences, you should definitely check this method out. Sequences divide a script up into seven or eight “mini-movies” rather than just three big acts.

How This Fits Together in a Logline

To create a great logline, you simply put both sequences together. Now you’re setting up Act 1 and creating a sense of intrigue as to where the story might go.

Sequence A makes up the first part of the logline. Sequence B makes up the second part. You’ll then end up with two major crises in the logline: the call to action and the protagonist or antagonist’s decision at the end of Act 1.

Script Analysis Worksheet Examples 

Let’s take a look at some real-world examples of loglines from famous movies.

Stranger Than Fiction

An IRS auditor realizes he’s a character in a novel that’s still being written. Then, he has to stop the author from killing him off.

Harold Crick’s realization that he’s a character in a novel is the script’s call to action and occurs ten minutes into the film. This marks the end of Sequence A in Act 1.

The second part of the logline indicates the decision Harold makes regarding the crisis: to prevent the author from killing him off. This marks the end of Sequence B in Act 1 and occurs about twenty-five minutes into the film.

It’s this turning point that propels him into Act 2 and whets our appetite in the logline to find out what happens next. Here are two more script analysis worksheet examples:

Jaws

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

After being exposed as a virgin, a  40-year-old man takes up the challenge set by his work buddies to sleep with a woman for the first time.

In both of these examples, we have a crisis facing the protagonist (the call to action at the end of Sequence A) and a decision (the Act 1 turning point at the end of Sequence B.)

Notice how big stakes are attached to all of these examples.

The two major plot points that you add to the script analysis worksheet should both either literally or figuratively put the protagonist’s life in jeopardy.

script analysis worksheet

Writing a Script Analysis Worksheet

For Sequence A, write down the name of your protagonist. Next, write down what’s interesting about the world of your story. Then add the major crisis—the force of antagonism—that spins the protagonist’s life out of control.

Always keep in mind that this plot point refers to the screenplay’s call to action around 12 minutes in. It’s the antagonist’s surprising major strike that gives a logline (and Act 1) its “oh no!” factor.

Brainstorm all the very worst things that could possibly happen to your protagonist here at the call to action. Then add it to the script analysis worksheet.

Alternatively, you could also add a beat here that appears to be the very best thing that could happen to them, but later turns out to be the worst.

For the second half of Act 1, you need to ask yourself, What decision does the protagonist (or antagonist) make regarding this crisis? This is your script’s Act 1 turning point and signals the goal they hope to achieve by the climax.

It’s only once you know the answers to these questions and have added them to the script analysis worksheet, you can begin to write a compelling film logline.

Script Analysis Worksheet Example

You’ll want to end up with a sheet that looks something like this:

My Epic Screenplay by Joe Writer

Act 1: Sequence A

[Fill out this section with the following details]

♦  What’s the story world?

♦  How are the protagonist, antagonist and stakes character introduced?

♦  What’s at stake for each of them?

♦  What do they want?

♦  How do these goals conflict with one another?

♦  What’s the call to action around 12 minutes in that spins the protagonist’s world out of sync?

Act 1: Sequence B

[Fill out this section by brainstorming the following ideas]

♦  What’s at stake for the protagonist now they’ve been hit by the call to action?

♦  How does the protagonist react to the trauma?

♦  How do the antagonist and stakes characters react?

♦  What huge decision does the protagonist take to try and put their world back in order?

♦  Alternatively, how does the antagonist really sock it to the protagonist at the end of Act 1/Sequence B so the protagonist is forced to do something?

Finally, take your call to action and Act 1 turning point from all of these notes and use them to craft your logline.

Script Analysis Worksheet: Conclusion

Make sure whenever you’re writing a logline you first apply this script analysis worksheet to the idea. Take your call to action and Act 1 turning point and brainstorm how you can put the protagonist under as much pressure as possible.

Next, take the two major plot points at the end of Sequence A and Sequence B to create a rocking logline.

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How do you go about creating a logline? What do you think about our script analysis worksheet? Let us know in the comments section below!

script analysis worksheet

[© Photo credits: Unsplash]

8 Comments
  1. Dionne Fields says:

    I love this site, how it helps screen writer to create a better logline.
    most of all I like, the examples that they have as well. This is such a great site for all script and screen writers all across the globe.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the feedback, Dionne!

  2. Petra Fyed Forrest says:

    This is soooo helpful. Thanks for putting this together, I feel like my concept will be so much easier to write now.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome 🙂

  3. amani hamisi says:

    thank you very much i have learnt alot

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Amani. Glad it helped.

  4. Prajod says:

    Thank you

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome, Prajod.

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