Why winning screenplays win

Recently, Max Adams posted an item on her timeline. (For those of you who may not know who Max is, she runs The Academy of Film Writing and has several produced studio films to her credit.) Anyway, Max shared a letter home from a Marine boot. We had a bit of discussion over it that I wanted to share. But it's important that you read it here here first.
  Have you read it yet?... I'll wait...
  Okay... What I loved about the this was how great it is when you totally don't see the twist coming, but it is totally organic to the story! In this case, you're thinking you're seeing the twist, because the humor is in how easy the basic training is for someone from the country. And it's truly funny. But then, you get hit with it at the end, signed "Your loving daughter, Alice". And that just rachets it up a whole two levels!
  I have read for a number of competitions and generally keep track of how scripts I liked progressed. And I've noticed how this type of twist seems to characterize many of the winning scripts. You set expections, you deliver in a unique way, you keep the reader engaged with the world you're presenting...
  Then, BAM! Right at the end you turn it upside down or on its ear - and the reader realizes that things WEREN'T as they seemed. When you do it right, and it fits perfectly with the world, it's definitely a winner. The difficulty is in doing it right. If it feels forced, or out of jibe with what you've already laid down, you've disappointed the reader... and your chances.


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