Comments (0)

Story Structure for Screenwriters

Part One

It's hard to believe that just 40 years ago  a modern screenwriting manual didn't exist until really Syd Field came along.  Since then we've seen a proliferation of manuals and experts present their take on proper screenwriting structure and form.  Even if you do not believe in the idea of consciously thinking about story structure as you write, having structure in mind as you conceptualize your story and frankly when you outline (if you outline) is probably something you do subconsciously if not with intention.  

There is no formula to writing, only guidelines and principles perhaps.  Take the following with a grain of salt, but we highly recommend you consider structure at some level in the writing process!

Probably have to start with:

18 Stages of the Hero’s Journey (from “The Hero With 1000 Faces” by Joseph Campbell)


1. The Call to Adventure

2. Refusal of the Call

3. Acceptance of the Call

4. Supernatural Aid

5. Crossing of the First Threshold

6. Entering the Belly of the Whale


7. Road of Trials

8. The Meeting with the Goddess

9. Woman as Temptress

10. Atonement with the Father

11. Apotheosis

12. The Ultimate Boon


13. Refusal of the Return

14. Magic Flight

15. Rescue From Without

16. Crossing of the Return Threshold

17. Master of the Two Worlds

18. Freedom to Live

The Classic 3-Act... Basic

6-Stage Plot Structure (Michael Hauge)

  1. Setup – Living fully within identity
  2. New Situation – Glimpsing, longing or destiny; glimpse of living life in Essence
  3. Progress – Moving towards Essence without leaving identity
  4. Complications & Higher Stakes – Fully committed to Essence but growing Fear
  5. Final Push – Living one’s Truth with everything to lose
  6. Aftermath – The Journey complete, Destiny achieved

5 Beats of the “Story Spine” (from “How to Make a Good Script Great” by Linda Seger)

  1. Set-Up
  2. First Turning Point
  3. Second Turning Point
  4. Climax
  5. Resolution


PART 2 coming next week!


More recent articles in Articles


Only logged-in members can comment. You can log in or join today for free!