The structure of a screenplay has nothing to do with mythology or rescuing a cat; rather, it consists of the writer’s core decisions regarding how the tale will be told. If you know what kinds of structures you can manipulate, it’s actually quite simple. We present ten universally applicable screenplay structures based on Cinefix’s video on film structure.
I think it’s time we told the truth. Despite the numerous experts who preach their own theories on organization, everything has a beginning, middle, and end when you strip it down to its barest essentials. This is the classic story arc that people have been following since they first started telling stories over the campfire or painting them on cave walls.
Despite what gurus and pundits might say, the majority of films adhere to the tried-and-true three-act framework. Each story has three parts: the introduction, the conflict, and the conclusion. There are many variations on the basic three-act structure, including but not limited to four-act, five-act, and seven-act forms, and even more.
The following nine screenplay structures are presented. However, even they may be boiled down to three acts, albeit depicted in different ways. Using the tried-and-true three-act framework, writers can provide viewers with a familiar and effective plot blueprint.
That’s why every scene counts. There is a seamless transition from one scene to the next, which keeps the story moving forward at a good clip. The character and their world are introduced, then a dilemma arises that the character must solve (or choose to solve on their own), and finally, the problem is solved.
Other scripts depict their storylines in a continuous stream, as opposed to fragmenting them into only the most crucial parts, as in the three-act format. In real-time, the reader sees the chain of events that leads to the various conflicts that befall the characters.
There are no pauses, skips in time, flashbacks, or anything else of the type. There are no pauses or editing in this telling of the tale. Screenwriters that try to use this framework must recognize the significance of each and every scene. In the real-time structured TV show 24, Jack Bauer is never shown using the restroom in a single day since every second counts.
It’s important to find a means to propel the plot and give the characters a reason to behave in screenplays like these, which can provide some unique challenges. Perhaps the best tool for this is the ever-present time clock.
MULTIPLE TIMELINE STRUCTURE
Among screenwriting structures, this is among the most intricate. You combine several stories that would normally be told in sequence.
The stories are often intertwined and share the same themes, emotions, and messages without being directly related to one another. A chain of events that begins in one narrative does not necessarily have to result in every other story being affected by the same chain of events.
Beyond production choices like reusing actors for many roles, showing the same locales in different eras, etc. The only common ground they share is a set of recurrent themes and feelings. This structure’s power lies in its ability to make listeners feel as though all life in the cosmos is interconnected.
Creating a screenplay can be challenging, especially when the writer feels lost and doesn’t know what type of story structures will fit the story that they are going to write a screenplay about. These are some of the story structures that can be a great help in creating a screenplay of different stories writers might encounter.