Script Analysis: “Hell or High Water” — Part 2: Plot

Read the script for the acclaimed indie crime drama and discuss this week.

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this bi-weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Plot.

In every scene, something happens. A plot point is a scene or group of scenes in which something major happens, an event that impacts the narrative causing it to turn in a new direction.

A relevant anecdote. Years ago, I was on the phone with a writer discussing a script project. My son Will, who was about four years old at the time, must have been listening to me talking about "plot points" during the conversation because after I hung up, he asked, "Daddy, what's a plop point?"

That's in effect what a plot point is. It's an event that 'plops' into the narrative and changes its course. So when you think Plot Point, think Plop Point!

The value of this exercise:

  • To identify the backbone of the story structure.
  • To examine each major plot point and see how it is effective as an individual event.
  • To analyze the major plot points in aggregate to determine why they work together as the central plot.

This week: Hell or High Water. You may download a copy of the script here.

Written by Taylor Sheridan.

IMDb plot summary: A divorced father and his ex-con older brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family's ranch in West Texas.

Writing Exercise: Go through the scene-by-scene breakdown of Hell or High Water and identify the major plot points. Post your thoughts in comments and we'll see if we can come up with a consensus.

Major kudos to Andrew Lightfoot for doing this week's scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for Hell or High Water, go here.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

Tomorrow we shift our focus to the script's key characters.

So seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week's script: Hell or High Water.


Script Analysis: "Hell or High Water" — Part 2: Plot was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

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