Screenwriting : Plot Structuring by Daure Marchea Stinson

Daure Marchea Stinson

Plot Structuring

does any one have a nice solid formula for structuring your plot before you start writing, and keeping it consistent when you start writing?

Kerry Douglas Dye

Since no one has responded, I'll jump in with something. I mentioned the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet in an earlier thread... while I'm no Blake Snyder acolyte, it's a decent starting point. IMHO, it's a fairly accurate -- if incomplete -- representation of traditional cinematic story structure. If you're unfamiliar, Google it and you'll find plenty of explications out there. But I'd also read widely. There are lots of good ideas out there that may help you develop your own personal beat sheet.

Eric Pagan

One word.. Outline, Outline, Outline. How deep you outline is up to you. I do a rough outline for ever ten pages I expect to right to keep me focused.

David Rountree

Check out the book Save the Cat. It's a great guide.

Cherie Grant

I now OUTLINE as well. i simply write one sentence to describe what's meant to happen in each scene. Sometimes i'll flesh it out to a paragraph and that becomes a treatment.

CJ Walley

Here's a few for consideration, although really they're all very similar;

Rebecca Schauer

I completely agree with you, Alle. You cannot really "structure" a plot in a one-size-fits-all manner. I also feel that many writers will adhere so religiously to their outline as to not stray from a "properly structured" screenplay that they fail to let their work develop organically. This can lead to jagged transitions, a general lack of flow, and perhaps even missed opportunities. Structure is something that should constantly be re-evaluated once you have already started writing, as stories often take on different paths than we originally planned for them. In this respect, writing is much like growing a bonsai tree: you always want to start out with a structure in mind, but it is a living, breathing art that must be allowed to grow in the way that suits it best.

Marty Wolff

I recommend doing a general outline - like what the story is about from beginning to end. You could even do a scene breakdown, like write 1 sentence about every scene and summarizing it. I learned this from Christopher Keane's book Romancing the A-List, very helpful.

Daure Marchea Stinson

thank you everyone for you comments. A lot of good info. provided. I will take everything said here into consideration

Kerry Douglas Dye

@Alle, I don't think your definition of "plot" is the generally accepted one, at least from Aristotle on. But whatever works for you.

Kerry Douglas Dye

BTW, great link CJ. That's really fascinating.

Claudette Walker

I use a story board early on. As I write it becomes ingrained. I run regular checks using the FIND key and a key word search, like Jason, explosion, core or maybe type of gun or two or three word together. Words that I know play a key part in the novel. Hope this helps.

Kerry Douglas Dye

BTW, speaking as a structure nerd: remember, it's a structure, not a straitjacket. An architect designs a structurally sound house that comports with the laws of physics. But the Empire State Building looks nothing like the Sydney Opera House, you know?

Lisa Kovanda

I use the Syd Field paradigm, myself, but also plug in elements from Snyder. I just finished reading Pilar Alessandra's "Coffee Break Screenwriter," and she has some wonderful ideas for plotting out a script.

Demiurgic Endeavors

I'll just add knowing the ending will help you plot your script. You don't have to keep the original ending but at least you'll have a destination of where you're going.

Susan Walker

Get or read Vogler's "The Writer's Journey" based on Joseph Campbell's "The Hero has a 1000 faces". It's the basic structure of ALL stories.

Rebecca Schauer

The "Glove and Boots" video is hilarious, Chad! An excellent intro for college aged writers. I'm glad someone else is calling out Adam Sandler for making such crappy movies these days, as well!

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