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Story Development & Outlining

At a Glance

  • An Instructor-Led Online or Self-Paced On Demand Course designed to help screenwriters develop their story and outline their screenplay
  • Learn tools for writers to ratchet up tension and re-raise stakes throughout a screenplay
  • Understand how primary and secondary genres suggest structure and arc

The most intelligent and intriguing premise in the world is only that—just a premise—until it’s been given a shape that draws an audience in and keeps its attention and investment. Until it’s given a protagonist through which the audience understands the premise in concrete terms, and feels the clearly-defined stakes, someone with whom they can identify and for whom they can cheer. Until the premise, in other words, has become a story. This course will examine all of the above, from the early stages of building idea into a full story to structuring the story to keep tension and investment high in the audience to considering how to build not only structure but texture in the world of your film—how to build an experience of the world, what the events and the world of the story mean for characters and audience alike, not just building up point-by-point plot.

In lectures, supplemental readings, and written assignments and exercises, we’ll consider plot and character arcs and what makes them work; the scene as the essential, powerful unit of story; how a writer might use multiple genres in crafting story, and the degree to which one ought to push back against, rather than merely accepting, genre expectations; the difference between story and discourse and the function of each; and more. We’ll also reference—and occasionally take cues from—such seemingly disparate films as Jaws, Silence of the Lambs, 8 ½, Annie Hall, Inglorious Basterds, and Boogie Nights, among others.

This workshop is offered in two formats. The budget-friendly On Demand option (which is for sale here) gives you the option to work on the same great workshop materials as the Online option, only without instructor feedback. You'll immediately receive our comprehensive course in PDF format, which provides instructions and exercises on specific skills you will need to succeed as a screenwriter. You can purchase the On Demand option here. To get the Online option with instructor feedback and online discussions with other students, please click here.

In this online writing course you will learn:
  • How a protagonist is driven by both external and internal motivations
  • How to use—and go beyond—3-Act structure
  • How the scene is the essential unit of film storytelling, and how each scene contains its own arc
  • How a writer builds not just structure but the texture of story and world
  • How to ratchet up tension and re-raise stakes throughout a screenplay
  • The importance of making unexpected moves…to keep the writer surprised and invested as much as the audience

Course Outline

Session One: From the Foundation Up
  • Initial Ideas and Conflict
  • Protagonist and Character Arc
  • Internal and External Motivation
  • Primary and Secondary Genres
Session Two: Building Structure
  • 3-Act Structure
  • Building the Basic Outline
  • Accounting for Everyday Logic
  • The Arc of the Scene
Session Three: Building Texture
  • Identifying Setpieces
  • Pacing, Expectation, and Payoff
  • Subplots and Their Function
  • Story and Discourse
Session Four: Balancing Inspiration and Structure
  • 3 Ways of Seeing Your Story
  • Subverting Expectation
  • Subverting Structure
  • Accounting for the Unexpected

Product Details

  • Publication date: 09/20/2013
  • Return policy: This item is not eligible for return.

Return Policy

Your satisfaction is our top priority. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, please return the item(s) for an exchange or refund within 30 days from the purchase date, unless otherwise noted on the product page.

Ship the item(s) to The Writers Store via a traceable and insured method. You will be responsible for return shipping fees.

Please include a completed Return Form with your shipment. Refunds take up to one week to process once we have received the item(s).

Software returns must be deactivated and uninstalled from your computer before a refund may be issued. Please contact the software manufacturer if you need assistance uninstalling or deactivating your software.

The following items are not returnable: Hollywood Creative Directories, DVDs (opened), and Gift Certificates.

$99.99