15

WHERE ARE WE GOING WITH ALL THIS?

Pay Off the Setups

Screenplays are all about setups and payoffs. What's obscured in the setup will now come to light in the payoff. This will also include resolving the central mystery (see Chapter 17), providing the punch line to the running gag, and capping off the leitmotif in an ironic, meaningful, resonant way. Many of these larger plot payoffs will occur at the climax. But there are also smaller, yet significant payoffs that accumulate along the way. For a brilliant examination of this, check out the Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, in which the entirety of the protagonist's life provides the answers to the multi-million-rupee question on India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? ...

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