A sequence is a self-contained portion of the entire story, usually about 10 to 15 minutes (pages) in length. With a clear beginning, middle, and end, each sequence has its own short-term tension (not the main tension, but related in some way) along with a central conflict that gives shape to the entire 10 -15 minutes.

When breaking down a film’s structure, generally speaking, “The Eight Sequences” framework is the standard: two in Act One, four in Act Two, and two in Act Three.

But the number 8 is only part of the equation. If the sequences are what shape a screenplay’s three-act structure, then the five major plot points are the building blocks behind sequence construction: Inciting Incident, Lock-In, Midpoint, Main Culmination, and Third Act Twist. 

Each analysis of selected features will break the film down to the essential parts of each of the 8 separate sequences (9 in specific genres) and 5 major plot points. 

A History of Violence (2005)

A History of Violence (2005) Screenplay Genre: Crime / Thriller / Drama Movie Time: 96 minutes Synopsis:Tom Stall, mild-mannered small town diner owner, becomes a local hero when he kills two visious criminals in self-defense, but this attracts national media attention, making Tom an overnight celebrity,…


Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Little Miss Sunshine (2006) Screenplay Genre: Indie Comedy Movie Time: 101 minutes Synopsis: A dysfunctional family struggles to overcome numerous setbacks on an 800-mile road trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Redondo Beach, CA in their yellow VW Microbus to get their seven-year-old daughter to the finals of the "Little Miss Sunshine" beauty pageant.…


Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Screenplay Genre: Action / Adventure Movie Time: 115 minutes Synopsis: The year is 1936, and Indiana Jones, a professor of archeological studies and adventuring tomb raider, is commissioned by the United States Military to obtain The Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis do. Aided by ex-lover Marion and long time friend Sallah, Indy races around the world – from Nepal, to Egypt, to the Greek isles – while fighting his archenemy Dr. Belloq and other nefarious Nazi characters to single-handedly prevent Hitler and the Nazis from turning the biblical artifact into a weapon of world conquest and domination.…


Despicable Me (2010)

Despicable Me (2010) Screenplay Genre: Animation / Comedy / Family Movie Time: 95 minutes Synopsis: After the world's newly anointed #1 supervillain, Vector (Jason Segal), steals the Great Pyramid of Giza, the world's #2 supervillain, Gru (Steve Carrell), resolves to pull off the biggest heist in world history: stealing the moon. In order to obtain a shrinking machine to execute his plan, he adopts three orphan girls and exploits them in order to obtain the gun and put his plan in motion. However, slowly but surely, the girls worm their way into Gru's heart, changing him forever.…


Sign up for our newsletter!
  • Screenwriting tips to guide you through your writing
  • Industry news and movie reviews
  • Important updates on screenwriting functions and events
  • Get TSL's Encyclopedia of Screenwriting e-book FREE

Wait! We've got a secret.


Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you TWO of our e-books, completely free:

220 Plot Point Breakdowns (new!)


TSL's Encyclopedia of Screenwriting