So, how do you go about writing a screenplay for a feature length movie? Or any longer story for that matter?
You do one thing: Outline. Outline. Outline…. and… outline.
I know that many big-time novelists and screenwriters don’t outline at all. The Coen brothers have said in numerous interviews that they never outline, but for the rest of us, I truly believe that outlining is the way to go.
The classic books on screenwriting by Syd Field, Michael Hauge, and Christopher Vogler all talk about the need for structure to your story. Here, I’ve tried to summarize their wisdom and mix it all together to come up with a fundamental structure for storytelling.
It has worked really well for me and has always kept my writing on track and moving forward.
Why is structure so important to a story?
Stories, like music, almost always follow some kind of rhythm or harmony. I’m no musician but I can clearly hear if a piece of music is out of tune.
Creativity — music, storytelling, paintings — need to follow some form of structure. There must be a plan to the madness. If there is no structure, everything is muddled together and becomes noise.
Stories that don’t follow a structure often feel rushed, or flat and boring or, as is most often the case, become hard to follow.