Advanced Plot Construction Technique

10 Week Intensive Working Writers Lab
Taught by Jeff Kitchen


On Demand Class - For immediate download. Unlimited access for 1 year.

Rating   | Read reviews

Start Learning

Please make sure you use the same email address as the one you use to sign in to Stage 32
apply Your coupon will be applied after you agree to terms below.

- or -

Overlay Icon

This Next Level Education class has a 92% user satisfaction rate.

Class hosted by: Jeff Kitchen

20-Year Screenwriting Expert & Advanced Screenwriting Teacher

Full Bio »


Learn directly from Jeff Kitchen, 20-Year Advanced Screenwriting Teacher who has taught Development Executives at all of the major Hollywood Studios!

This course was previously recorded. All sessions now available on demand.

It's for seasoned writers and development executives; Beginners are absolutely welcome, but please be aware this will be high-impact and fast paced.

Dramatic writing is considered the most elusive of all the literary disciplines, and plot construction is notoriously tricky. You must weld together a seething amalgam of ideas, actions, characters, and powerful moments—and the finished product has to roll out one scene after another in a specific order to create maximum dramatic impact. The story has to move ahead crisply and grip the audience in a powerful transformative experience, in any genre. Even seasoned pros struggle with this.

Stage 32 Next Level Education is thrilled to bring you our first ever Advanced Screenwriting 10 Week Working Writers Lab! This lab is taught by Jeff Kitchen, who has taught his three-step process, Sequence, Proposition, Plot, to development executives from all the major Hollywood studios—and they consistently say it’s the most advanced development tool in the film industry. Now, for the first time anywhere, Jeff is doing a high-intensity training program on this remarkable tool, an exclusive for Stage 32!

In this lab, Jeff will train you in the detailed mechanics of how to work with reverse cause and effect and sophisticated conflict structuring to strip your story down to its absolute essentials and make it work. Then once you got your core story solid, you use Sequence, Proposition, Plot to systematically build out each of the acts, then all the major sequences, and finally all the scenes, writing each scene as you structure it. This gives you a remarkably solid working draft of your story.

The lab will be a high-intensity training program, focusing entirely on technique, so you learn how to turn a fairly developed idea into a structured outline that gradually knits all your story elements into a coherent script, developing details as they becomes necessary, and creating gripping conflict that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Sequence, Proposition, Plot enables you to take all the energy that goes into rewrites and engineer your script properly before you write it.

Because this is a highly intensive, hands-on format, Jeff will use a mix of lecture, drills, analysis, class work, and homework. Each person should be familiar with the movie, Training Day, starring Denzel Washington. The last hour of each class will be spent building an original story as a class, with each person constructing their own version of the practice story as they learn the detailed mechanics of using this tool fully and properly. The last two sessions will be devoted entirely to intensive work with the demo script that each person is building, structuring scenes and writing dialog based on the deep structure that you’ve developed and constructed. You will emerge with a powerful mastery of this tool, and the habits of mind of the trained dramatist.

Class Breakdown:

Session 1: Introduction and Instruction on Sequence

  • Work backwards to create a tight chain of cause and effect
  • Separate the necessary from the unnecessary
  • Find the spine of your story, unencumbered by unnecessary detail
  • Get the big picture working, then gradually develop the details
  • Apply reverse cause and effect (Sequence) to the overall story for the practice script

Session 2: Instruction on Proposition, Plot

  • Build the core conflict and get the audience on the edge of their seat
  • This works in any genre
  • Test for power and amplify conflict where needed
  • Set up a potential fight and touch off a fight to the finish
  • Apply Proposition, Plot to the overall story for the practice script

Session 3: Dramatic Action

  • Create continuous, coherent, compelling dramatic action
  • Work from the macro down to the micro
  • Gradually develop and weave in detail as it becomes necessary
  • Break the overall story down into acts
  • Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I of the practice script

Session 4: Writer’s Objective vs. Protagonist’s Objective

  • Learn the difference between the writer’s objective and the protagonist’s objective
  • Create structural unity, with each part serving the whole
  • A sense of proportion orients you in the proper use of this tool
  • Find the holes in your story and create solutions as you flesh the story in
  • Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act II of the practice script

Session 5: Cause and Effect

  • Find the cause of an effect, not what came before it
  • If the big picture doesn’t work then the details do not matter
  • An argument actually consist of two opposing arguments
  • Do Sequence, Proposition, Plot for Act III of the practice script

Session 6: The Central Dramatic Question

  • Going on the offensive—a declaration of war
  • The central dramatic question does not occur in the middle of the script
  • Break each act down into sequences
  • Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 1 in the practice script

Session 7: Create Order From Chaos

  • Chaos is crucial to story creation. Order is crucial to plot construction
  • Learn to stay on track with reverse cause and effect, and not follow false trails
  • Know that your storytelling has to be top notch because well-structured crap is still crap
  • Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Act I, Sequence 2 in the practice script

Session 8: How To Engineer Your Script Before You Start Writing

  • Engineer your screenplay before you write it and save many rewrites
  • Attack the audience
  • Be the master of the tools, not their servant
  • Break down sequences into scenes
  • Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 1 in the practice script

Session 9: Work On Practice Script

  • Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script
  • Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 2 in the practice script
  • Then write the dialog for that scene
  • Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 1, Scene 3 in the practice script
  • Then write the dialog for that scene

Session 10: Wrap Up

  • Total work session using Sequence, Proposition, Plot on the practice script
  • Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 1 in the practice script
  • Then write the dialog for that scene
  • Apply Sequence, Proposition, Plot to Sequence 2, Scene 2 in the practice script
  • Then write the dialog for that scene
  • Keep going until we drop

About The Instructor, Jeff Kitchen:

Jeff Kitchen has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. He worked as a dramaturg and taught playwriting in New York theater, and is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. Jeff has taught development executives from all the major Hollywood studios and they consistently say that he teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry. You can read more about him on his website:

Testimonials About Jeff Kitchen:

I've worked with Jeff one-on-one for many of my projects. His tools and insights push me to explore the material in a deeper way — and find the dramatic core of the situation. I know he's made me a better writer and made my process more organized and more effective. I highly recommend his book, his classes, and his personal attention.” - Jessica Sharzer - Writer/Producer - American Horror Story

Jeff Kitchen’s writing techniques and teaching have been invaluable tools in my own creative work. His attention to character, process, and form have informed all of my work and will continue to do so. I start every script with the simple question that Jeff asks daily, “What do you want to leave the audience with?” The question and Jeff’s teaching form the foundation for compelling, honest work.” - Ted Melfi - Writer/Director - St. Vincent

Your seminar for Development Executives was by far the best seminar I have ever taken. I have found the tools you discussed to be very instrumental in my analysis of scripts on a day to day basis. Your class is the most comprehensive one offered as far as making people understand how to apply the tools and make them work. This was one class that I can honestly say has helped me to become a stronger executive. I am very grateful to you. I recommend your seminar to anyone in the entertainment industry who wants to know what it takes to make a strong script.” - Jen Grisanti - Story/Career Consultant at Jen Grisanti Consultancy Inc.; Writing Instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge; former 12-year studio executive

I found your class to be user-friendly and very informative. I especially enjoyed your technique of working backwards from the climax--it really helps to streamline a screenplay and strengthen the throughline. I highly recommend this class to screenwriters of all levels of proficiency.” - Debra Meringa - Sony Pictures

Having taken virtually every screenwriting course in existence, I found Jeff Kitchen's workshop to be the most valuable in town. His techniques and tools guide one through the entire process of screenwriting: from basic concept to general script structure and further down to the scene level. Jeff is a master teacher who truly understands the art and technique of the screenplay. His course is worth its weight in gold.” - Chris Brancato - Writer - Hannibal, Law & Order: Criminal Intent

From within the swarm of gimmicky screenwriting seminars and trendy new how-to's, it is Jeff Kitchen's approach, relying heavily on the classic principles of dramatic structure and logic that emerges as truly innovative. His technique is the answer for anyone seeking practical tools with which to diagnose script problems, generate effective solutions, or transform story ideas into compelling drama. Jeff's seminars are aggressive; they are work sessions that produce real results immediately. Come with your sleeves rolled up”. - Erin Quigley - Producer, Development Exec., 23 Red Prods.

Jeff Kitchen’s technique and his dedication to the art of screenwriting taught me writing skills that took my script to a whole new level. I’ve never seen anything like what he teaches, and it works better than anything out there. After taking his course I got top representation and sold a script to New Line Cinema.” - Sam Brown, Screenwriter

I recently attended Jeffrey Kitchen's screenwriting seminar and cannot praise it too highly. He is one of the best teachers I've ever had. His attributes are that rare to find. First, he is clear and concise and is a master of the techniques he teaches. Secondly, he has infinite patience and instinctive generosity so that everyone feels that their project is worthwhile, even as he uncovers its flaws. The technique he teaches is truly extraordinary and Jeffrey, it turns out, may be the only person in the world using it in this particular way. I have taken other screenwriting courses and his is head and shoulders above them all. As a result of Jeffrey's course I feel much more secure in my writing. I finally feel that my script will have the best possible structure.” - Mira Tweti, Screenwriter

Jeff Kitchen teaches the most powerful and practical screenwriting tools in the business. I’ve studied numerous techniques, but Jeff is the first person I’ve met who presents a fully developed craft that screenwriters can actually use. His expertise unlocked, energized, and structured a script that I was completely stumped on and now a major studio is considering it for an A-list actress.” - Jon Van Dyke, Writer-Director

Years ago, I was fortunate to begin my ongoing training with the generation of masters that first wrote for stage, then live television, and then film. Jeffrey is one of the few contemporary writer-teachers with a grounding in those ageless techniques of good drama, a tradition rarely passed to current generations.” - George Higginson, Screenwriter

Jeff Kitchen is the best screenwriting teacher in the world.” - Tom Huckabee, Executive Producer, Frailty


To read Jeff Kitchen's book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting click here!

About Your Instructor

Jeff Kitchen has been one of the top screenwriting teachers in the film industry for twenty years, and is a sought-after script consultant. He worked as a dramaturg and taught playwriting in New York theater, and is the author of Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. Jeff has taught development executives from all the major Hollywood studios and they consistently say that he teaches the most advanced development tools in the film industry. His website is


Q: What is the format of a class?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 2 to 4 week ongoing broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the class software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The class software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer 

Q: Will I have access to the class afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand class, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year!


If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Other education that may be of interest to you:

How To Find Distribution For Your Indie Film

When making an independent film, finishing the film is only half the battle. You need people to actually see the film you’ve worked so hard on. When it comes to distribution, it’s important to know how to get your film into the worldwide marketplace. Once it’s there, you need to know how to generate interest toward it so the film can make its money back for the investors and back-end participants. Distribution comes in all shapes and sizes, but what kind of distribution is right for your indie film? Sometimes it means getting your film distributed by a studio; sometimes it’s creating a self-distribution path. Sometimes —- most typically — the distribution lands somewhere in between. Every film is different and therefore requires a different marketing plan, release strategy, and team behind it that have the passion and drive to get the most out of its release amongst the myriad other movies available. In this on-demand Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Tiffany Boyle will get into the details of what the independent distribution process looks like. She will go over how to get the right representative, foreign sales agent, and domestic distribution, and the different options for each based upon the size, genre and execution of a film. She will also discuss what the key points are to look at when reviewing a foreign sales agent and/or domestic distribution deal. Filmmakers should be making an informed decision when choosing who will be handling the licensing of their film for the next 3-25 years, and Tiffany is here exclusively for Stage 32 to help you navigate the ever-evolving world of indie distribution. Tiffany Boyle is the President at Ramo Law and works with producers, financiers and writer clients to bring their new material to life. Having been a Director of Sales at Crystal Sky Pictures, Tiffany has an extensive background in foreign sales. She now works with the attorneys to review, collaborate, develop, submit and supervise creative materials on behalf of clients within the firm. Tiffany has worked on over 100 features including, Stuck In Love, Pawn, Gimme Shelter, Maladies, and I-Lived. She has been to AFM, Berlin, Tribeca, TIFF, Sundance, and Cannes and is constantly expanding her knowledge of how to match films with production and distribution companies.

Constructing Your Screenwriting Career: A Breakdown Of Breaking In

Most screenwriters who have been at it for any length of time know the mechanics of writing a screenplay. But not everyone knows the specific steps one must take to go from screenwriter hitting the keys in off hours to become a working screenwriter working within the industry structure. Utilizing knowledge gathered over years in the industry working both in development and directly with emerging and professional writing clients, as well as insights from countless industry sources, during this 3-week session we will set correct expectations for the construction of a screenwriting career, and identify the various paths and opportunities available to writers eager to break into film or television.

Writing Action - Hell or High Water, The Nice Guys, John Wick

Writing action isn't easy! It takes nuance and skill. We’ll break down the action on the page for the heavy-hitting JOHN WICK, the action-comedy THE NICE GUYS, and the slow-building action of HELL OR HIGH WATER.  

They Said "No" - Why Did They Pass On My Material?

Stage 32 Next Level Webinars is extremely excited to bring you They Said “No” – Why Did They Pass? hosted by Dan Wiedenhaupt, former Creative Executive at Atlas Entertainment (Wonder Woman, Justice League, Suicide Squad, American Hustle, The Dark Knight Trilogy). Many filmmakers and writers look forward to that exciting moment when they get their work in front of executives. Once in front of an executive, it's exhilarating waiting for the decision makers to view a reel, hear a pitch, or read a script. Then, when the call comes and the decision has been made, sometimes it's a "pass" or "no" and the only question left on a filmmaker or writer's mind is "Why?" Why did they pass on my material? Says Dan, "After reading thousands of scripts and hearing hundreds of pitches, I found that there are many common problems and red flags in scripts and presentations that nearly everyone makes - problems which will immediately make me, or another executive, pass on the script or idea. This is something that affects every single director or writer at any stage of the process - whether you're a first-time filmmaker or a Hollywood veteran. I have spent several years working in all aspects of film, television, and commercials - from both a physical production and development angle. I've seen the best of the best and I've seen some of the worst. After this time of cultivating my taste and my thick skin, I'm ready to pay the wisdom forward. I will be brutal, direct and to the point, and hopefully a little funny, pulling back the curtain of the development process." We are thrilled to bring you an executive of this caliber to be able to teach you directly about what you can do to help that crucial moment once you get in front of an executive. In this webinar, Dan will bring you a fun and informed approach to what it's like from the executive side of the table.

13 Steps to Nail Your Feature Screenplay Structure

Literary Manager Jon Hersh has read thousands – yes, thousands – of screenplays in his career. Starting at CAA he was a story analyst covering screenplays, manuscripts books and television pilots, which helped him get a crash course on effective structure for a project. He moved on to be a development executive at Broad Green Pictures and helped develop feature material for their slate. Being around so much material Jon learned one thing – you MUST have solid screenplay structure to get past development and get your project greenlit. In this exclusive webinar Jon is going to show examples and break down beat by beat what needs to be in your outline, plus go in detail on the 13 steps you need to follow to nail your screenplay structure.

How to Get Representation-Ready as a Writer or Director

In this exclusive Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, manager Antionio D'Intino from Circle of Confusion, will teach you the best strategies to obtain and work with representation as a writer/director. The webinar will cover what you need before you approach representation, how best to reach out to representation and most importantly what to do once you’ve obtained representation. Getting an agent or manager is only the beginning and this aims to prepare you for the working relationship with your respective agent or manager in terms of communication, time management and mutual expectations. This will help demystify the representation landscape and give you the tools to approach potential reps with confidence and a clearer understanding of what appeals to them. This webinar is for writers and directors at any stage in their career in both film and television. It is designed to benefit anyone that plans on pursuing a career as a working creative in the entertainment industry and emphasizing the lesser-discussed topic of what to do once you’ve broken in.

register for stage 32 Register / Log In