The Most Useful Question In Screenwriting

The most useful question you can ever ask yourself about the events of your story is – why now?

If you’re writing about an adopted child searching for their real parents, why did they start searching at this moment, and not last year, or in ten years time?  If terrorists are trying to kill the president –  why did they choose today, this speech, this location?  Why does the bank robbery have to happen this week?  Why is it imperative that the hero and heroine realize how much they love each other before the end of the movie?

Why are these events happening within this timeframe?

There is no plot that can’t be strengthened by finding a meaningful answer to this question, and no character that won’t be more interesting once you put a time limit on their actions.

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