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Mastering Setups and Payoffs

Storyteller OS users: Clip this video into your Knowledge Base and categorize it under Storytelling Essentials

In this video, you'll learn about the power of setups and payoffs in storytelling, and how they can make or break your screenplay. From Chekhov's gun to motifs, this video covers the key elements of effective setups and payoffs, with examples from popular films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Up. Whether you're a seasoned screenwriter or just starting out, this video will give you practical tips for incorporating setups and payoffs into your screenplay to create a more engaging and meaningful story.


  • Setups and payoffs make a story feel intentional and interwoven.
  • Reusing an element that has already been established will always be more satisfying than introducing a brand new one.
  • A reminder tells the audience that what they have seen is important.
  • Motifs are a meaningful symbolic story that is told throughout a larger story.
  • Avoid Exposition dumps through setups and payoffs.
  • Put your setups in the first half and your payoffs in the second.