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What You Need to Know About Story Structure

Glenn M. Benest breaks down screenplay structure into three acts in is three-part webinar series. Sign up for one or all three to learn tips to get your screenplay outlined like a pro.

by Glenn M. Benest

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The structure of a screenplay is the backbone of what makes your story work. Like the foundation of a house, if the story is not solid nothing else that comes afterwards will function correctly. It doesn’t matter how good your dialogue or your characters are, the screenplay (and thus the movie based on it) will not be successful if the story structure is not sound.

After many of screenwriting, teaching and studying what story structure is all about, reading Syd Field, Joseph Campbell and Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, along with others, it is clear to me that the fundamental problem most screenwriters make when constructing their screenplays is that they believe structure is plot. It is a formula that you can follow step-by- step and end up with a great story.

But that is far from the truth. Story structure is basically what the movie is about emotionally. Great screenplays of movies we love affect us and stay with us not because of their plots but because they grab us on an emotional level. The plot is simply there to service the characters, not the other way around.

So you construct your stories based on the emotional growth of your characters. You don’t come up with a plot and then try to figure out what characters you’re going to stick into that plot. That’s not thinking emotionally or organically.

Join me for my three-part webinar taking place on January 13th, 20th, and 27th where I will take apart each act of a screenplay separately and give you an easy to understand roadmap of exactly what goes into each act, how you devise your outline, and how you know you have enough material for each section of that story.

We will discuss the inciting incident, plot points, the midpoint and other structural devices that will keep your reader and your audiences hooked by the movement of the characters and the story.

We will take the best of what Field, Campbell and Snyder have to offer as well as using many examples of great screenplays; so you can see in concrete form what works and what doesn’t. If you’ve ever been stuck in the middle of a screenplay or not understood screenwriting terms or fundamentals, this three-part webinar will give you the tools to make story structure something you will never agonize over again. I hope you can join us. To learn more, click here.

Glenn M. Benest is an award-winning writing/producer with seven produced screenplays, including two that were directed by Wes Craven. His independent film, HUNGRY HEARTS, was nominated for numerous awards at film festivals throughout the country and is being distributed internationally by Shoreline Entertainment. Mr. Benest is a celebrated lecturer and instructor and his professional screenwriting workshops have launched six feature films, including SCREAM and EVENT HORIZON.

Writer’s Series: A Pro’s Guide to Screenplay Structure