Author Topic: Basics - Story structure  (Read 1205 times)

Writer Arena

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Basics - Story structure
« on: August 21, 2013, 09:51:10 PM »
This is a thread containing information related to story structure.

Alex

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Re: Basics - Story structure
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2013, 10:59:47 AM »

Story Structure would have to be one of the most critical parts of screenwriting.

You can have the best Writing, Formatting, Characters and Dialogue though without the correct execution and structure, your story won't work.

I find the best way to create story structure in and screenplay is to create the film in your head. Create a vision of how the film will play out and amend any parts to make it work before you put pen to paper.

It is much easier to write a great screenplay if it is well thought out.

Regards Alex
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Mo

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Re: Basics - Story structure
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2013, 10:52:17 PM »
Yeah, structure I do believe is one of the most important parts of a screenplay. Most people like to follow the three act structure, and writers who claim they don't, probably do subconsciously, the beats will always be there whether they intended it or not.

There are two huge ones I always look for and I believe they're critical in any feature. The first point is at the midpoint, this is the most important part of a screenplay IMO. Halfway through, something should happen, something real big, something that changes the story up and adds more stakes, urgency or heightens the goal. Readers begin to get antsy around this point so it's always crucial that your midpoint shift is a good one. The problem I usually see is that after the midpoint, the story becomes tedious unless the writer changes things up. That's why you see the usual midpoint twist in some films. This is also the part where the story gets back on track and everything becomes serious.

The second one I look for is the shift to the third act/all is lost moment. I really do think it's critical that this is present or else the reader/viewer feels the story didn't progress enough for them to realize something had changed. And that's the thing really, something has to change here, usually where the character's flaw is resolved, where everything comes together and all the subplots are fulfilled.

Structure is just a confusing business, there's a lot of information to learn here. Whenever I watch a film, I always pay very close attention to see how the writer laid out his story, when the beats occur and at what points certain things happen. It's undoubtedly helped me become a better writer. And then there's the sequence approach, which is another exercise all together, although it does share the act breaks.

Mr. Blonde

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Re: Basics - Story structure
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2013, 01:31:16 PM »
I, honestly, don't believe in structure. I mean, I adhere to it because there's virtually no way to sell your script without it, but if I thought I could land a sale with an unstructured script, I most certainly would. I don't think having structured scripts paints people in a creative corner, but I do think people would take a lot more chances if they didn't have to worry about whether or not someone would throw your script in the trash because your protagonist died on page 37.
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Alex

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Re: Basics - Story structure
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2013, 09:55:53 PM »
Here's a link to a thread I started on WA that does relate to structure and the outlining of screenplay.

http://forum.writerarena.com/index.php/topic,4459.0.html

You will notice I attached file part way brought the thread of an excel spreadsheet that I use that really is critical to the process I use to achieve an outline and hence structure for features that I write.

I use it then as a guide though do use my creative flair to alter it as I write due to being bombarded with additional ideas.

I would highly recommend any screenwriter that suffers from writers block during the writing process uses it to plan things out.

I found with the recent feature I completed that I spent a few months planning and outlining and then the actual writing only took a few weeks to put pen to paper on a first draft of around 100 pages.

Try it!! Nothing to lose.

Alex
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 10:00:58 PM by Alex »
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Writer Arena

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Re: Basics - Story structure
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2013, 02:36:48 PM »
There are tons of suggested structure formulas for stories.  However, in actuality, story structure means just one thing,  consistently raising the dramatic tension of your story.

I believe we all have our own ways of telling stories and that many of us automatically fall within the realm of one of the suggested structure formulas - whether you think you're following them or not.  The reason is that we have learned how to tell our stories through the way stories have been told to us.  And that's what the structure formulas do, they qualify the way stories have been told.   So, it's no surprise both the audience expects that from a story and the people that want to buy scripts expect that from a story.  You, as a writer, and as an audience member have that innate structure in you.  You already know it. 

So, don't worry too much about following any particular plan - because you will be close to one automatically.  Remember as you move your story forward to raise the dramatic tension and you'll be fine.