PRE-PRODUCTION

CLASSROOM: The Only Screenwriting Rule Worth Following – Plant and Payoff

17 May 2019

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CLASSROOM: The Only Screenwriting Rule Worth Following – Plant and Payoff

Writer and producer Jason Hellerman writes:

The only thing I really hate about writing is how everyone tries to tell you what’s important. There are so many “rules” out there that if you wind up following them you’ll get a garbled mess.

There’s only one rule in all of screenwriting: If you plant an idea you need to pay it off.

That’s it.

Now let’s learn why that matters.

What are plant and payoff?

Plant and payoff is a simple concept. It means that if you introduce a story detail you need to make sure that detail matters later. So the plant is the introduction, and the payoff is what happens later. The idea comes from planting a seed and watching it grow. It also comes from this guy Anton Chekov, who preferred the gun metaphor.

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