Plot = Structure

August 19th, 2013 by

A screenplay is a unique literary form. It both tells a story and serves as a blueprint to make a movie. As such, understanding structure is a critical component to the craft. Check out the observations of these screenwriting veterans:

“The reality is that the single most important thing contributed by the screenwriter is the story structure.”

– William Goldman  (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, The Princess Bride)

“The construction is the most important thing. It’s like building a house–you have to build the outside properly before you put the bits and pieces inside afterward. Get your story, get your architecture right, and you can always add your dialogue afterwards.”

– Charles Bennett (The 39 Steps, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea)

In the Core content of The Quest, we work with eight screenwriting principles, and the very first one is this:

Plot = Structure

On Monday, August 26, I will be starting a new cycle of Core classes, eight of them in all, beginning with Core I: Plot. In this 1-week online course, you will learn the importance of Plot = Structure as well as:

  • Key theoretical concepts from Aristotle, Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung
  • The reality of Hollywood and the “Whammo chart”
  • The External World and Internal World of a screenplay universe
  • Metamorphosis: Screenplay structure grounded in character
  • Analysis of movies including Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Silence of the Lambs, Shakespeare in Love, The Verdict, The Sixth Sense, Up, and others

And much more.

The course consists of four components:

  • Lectures: There are six lectures written by me, each posting Monday through Saturday.
  • Writing Exercises: These optional exercises offer you the opportunity to workshop one of your own loglines and receive feedback from class members and myself.
  • Teleconference: We will have a Skype teleconference call to discuss course material.
  • Forums: The online course site has forums where you may post questions / comments.

For those of you who have not taken an online class, the interface is extremely easy. Plus online classes can be an amazing experience. Most of the activities you can do on your own time — download and read lectures, review and respond to forum discussions, upload loglines and track comments. In addition, I’ve been teaching online for over a decade and it never ceases to amaze me how much of a community emerges in such an environment.

If you’re new to screenwriting, have intermediate experience, or you’ve read it all, but want to learn the basics of what I teach in The Quest — character based screenwriting — here is your chance to learn the foundation of screenplay structure that goes beyond formula.

Core I: Plot is one of eight classes in the Core curriculum. Here is the schedule for all of them this fall:

August 26: Core I: Plot

September 2: Core II: Concept

September 9: Core III: Character

September 16: Core IV: Style

September 30: Core V: Dialogue

October 21: Core VI: Scene

November 4: Core VII: Theme

November 18: Core VIII: Time

Choose one or two depending upon your interests and needs. Or if you’re really serious and want to save some coin (nearly 50% off), consider The Core Package which gives you immediate access to the content for all eight Core classes which you can go through at your own pace, as well as the option of taking each 1-week online course.

Go beyond formula and learn a character-based approach to screenwriting and screenplay structure.

For information on Core I: Plot, go here.

For The Core Package, go here.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

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