Recently, I have taken up an interest in screenwriting and the intricacies of the art form. And while the idea isn’t altogether new in my mind, I have finally begun to devote time and effort into learning the craft. So I decided to blog a bit of what I’ve learned.
Aristotle’s 3-Act structure
Many screenwriting courses and books will begin with Aristotle’s Three Act Structure as the bases for screenplay structure. And in many cases, that pattern of assembly is valid. However, that isn’t always the case. The three-act structure is an easy way to formulate one’s story. Think about it, every story has a beginning, middle, and end, and that in it’s purest form is your three-act structure.
As I have begun to craft my own stories, I have thought about the simple structure pattern. John Truby, the author of The Anatomy of Story, has stated in many interviews that the three-act structure is a useful tool for new screenwriters. But that it is also a sign of a novice writer, not someone genuinely experienced in the craft. So I’ve begun to seek out a more advanced form for the structure of my newest project. And I understood that process started with an outline, which leads me to point number two.
To Outline or Not to Outline; That is the Question
Depending on whose interview you listen to, outlining in the screenwriting process is either of the utmost importance or a complete waste of time. Some writers begin with several iterations of outlines to work out all the details before they start writing. Some screenwriters forgo the outline in favor of getting out all the ideas on paper as quickly as possible. What I have found in my time researching the art form of screenwriting is that the use of an outline is as subjective as the art form itself.
During this quarantine, my circle of friends began laying in the groundwork for a short film. And while things did not work out to film the short, the foundation or the spark was reignited in me to study this craft. That project began with several hours of research and outlining. I feel the outlining process ultimately lead to a more fluid approach when I sat down to write the screenplay.
Just the Beginning
There are a great many more principles that can be learned when studying the art of screenwriting. These are just a couple of the things that I have learned in a short time. I will continue to research and learn as much as I can about screenwriting and continue to work on the projects that I have begun to map out. As well as providing my thoughts on different films that impacted me or that sparked curiosity, like Joker. So if anyone has any interest in the topic of screenwriting, reach out because a good way to learn and grow in any field is to practice it. But also to discuss it with others and learn and share. And during these troubling times, we need to share good things with one another.