NonFiction ~~- The 10 Commandments Of ScreenWriting

CENTRAL DRAMATIC QUESTION

Creativity 1879 Characters =~1.9Min. Reading Time
Will Eliot be able to keep his friendship with E.T.?

At about 2/3 of the way to your story's resolution, all of the setup and backstory has been finished, and the audience begins to focus on nothing besides the very specific, obvious central dramatic question:
who will "die."

This is the "this universe is not big enough for the both of us" moment.
There is no question: there will never be redemption for the bad guy now.
The bad guy will either win, destroying all that is good and holy, or he will die.

Strip your story down to two people (or a person vs. a force) going head to head in a kill-or-be-killed struggle.

The Central Dramatic Question is that question which your audience is asking at the high point of suspense.
It IS the strength of your story.

Both sides have a strong argument to justify their desire,
but one actor's argument is dangerously flawed, and he must be stopped at all costs.

Everything in the script is there to make that central dramatic question more interesting.

Antagonist makes aggressive action.
Protagonist makes justified retaliation.
Complications inflame the conflict.
The protagonist commits a precipitating action which makes inevitable the final one-must-die showdown, so the audience sits on the edge of their seats wondering what will be the answer to the central dramatic question: who will win.

At your point of no-return, freeze-frame your audience and ask yourself:
on a scale of 1-10, how mesmerized are they?
That's the measure of the power of your central dramatic question.
Brutally evaluate the power of your central dramatic question early on in the writing and story-design process.
Test the central dramatic question now, before you're spending money in production.
Because the strength of your story IS the strength of your central dramatic question.