Screenwriting - The Value of Structure


Structure in the form of frameworks, work processes and goals enhances creative output:

a) Short term goals (incremental productivity) produce more output than a "do your best" approach. Writing four pages a day completes a words-on-paper first draft screenplay in one month. A "do your best" or "waiting for inspiration" approach can take months or years. Witness the untold number of people with unfinished manuscripts under their beds.

b) Work processes such as separating creative from critical thinking and other techniques help to a) unblock the mind, b) tap into tacit knowledge, c) trigger the mind into working at various cognitive levels and d) apply a) and b) and c) to the areas of problem identification and idea generation and evaluation.

c) Frameworks reduce complex problems into their component intellectual parts. For example, story structure can be reduced to three or four acts or The Hero With A Thousand Faces (Campbell, 1973). Frameworks increase output by reducing complex problems into smaller, more manageable problem solving exercises. Frameworks tell the screenwriter where to start, where to finish, what to write and what should be happening at a particular stage of the story.

Additionally, a structured approach improves performance in a number of ways, including:

a) Structure triggers prolific production and simply being prolific improves performance and quality. The single best creative product tends to appear at that point in the career when creator is being most prolific. Experience refines knowledge and methodology towards optimal levels.

b) Structure triggers engagement and simply engaging in the tasks results in problem identification and stimulates the mind into working on those problems at various cognitive levels, resulting in inspiration. Screenwriters often find that their best ideas come to them when they are in the middle of writing a screenplay.

c) Structure triggers problem identification which in turn triggers incubation. Problems incubate until answers become apparent. Increasing the incidence and frequency of problem identification increases the incidence and frequency of insight.

d) Increased problem identification (coupled with motivation) increases the incidence of solution seeking, through active search for stimuli and intellectual cross pollination through networks and collaboration.

e) Radical shifts (originality) occur through sustained incremental change. By incrementally modifying output, the distance between the original and final versions increases. Radical shifts sometimes result from dramatic events or conditions but the vast number of gains accrue from continuous incremental improvement.

f) Quality gains, measured on many levels, are result of sustained incremental changes.

The Hero's Journey and various story structure templates can be found at http://www.managing-creativity.com.

You can also receive a regular, free newsletter by entering your email address at this site.

Kal Bishop, MBA

**********************************

You are free to reproduce this article as long as no changes are made and the author's name and site URL are retained.

Kal Bishop is a management consultant based in London, UK. He has consulted in the visual media and software industries and for clients such as Toshiba and Transport for London. He has led Improv, creativity and innovation workshops, exhibited artwork in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London and written a number of screenplays. He is a passionate traveller. He can be reached on http://www.managing-creativity.com.


MORE RESOURCES:
RELATED ARTICLES
3 Tips to Achieve Your Writing Goals
1. Make your goals achievable.
Common Writing Mistakes - Are These Holding You Back From Writing Success?
During the years that I've been teaching writing and participating in writers' critique sessions, I've seen some real talent. There are writers who produce such sparkling prose that you know publication is only a matter of time.
How to Publish a Book: Key Differences Between Publishing and Self Publishing
For many authors just starting out, it can be a confusing and overwhelming decision whether to self publish a book or to seek out a traditional publishing house. It is important to know that the decision you make can have a huge impact on the success, or the failure, of your book.
Vary Your Writing Style and Win Readers
First drafts are for getting down the ideas. Anna Jacobs calls the first draft the 'dirty draft'.
Win More Clients, Projects and Freelance Jobs By Making Three Small Changes
Iā??ve spoken to hundreds of editors, employers, and project managers about how they choose a freelancer for a job. Whether they were reviewing job applications or considering project bids, they all had one thing in common.
The Writing Club
Typically when falling asleep in bed at night great thoughts enter the mind, long stringed and meaningful sentences trip over each other to receive attention at the front of the brain alongside all the brilliant findings, results, meanings that speak volumes and hard hitting phrases that are just the ticket to open the door to success. The last thought in the brain before sleep overrides this brilliant future work is, "must use that tomorrow".
Platform Development Tip #1: Switch Writing Hats!
Around eighty percent of nonfiction books today are written by "experts," that is people who have a) earned credentials in the field they're writing about, b) germinated information via articles, live presentations or other media, or c) had extraordinary, unique or memorably told life experiences relevant to their topic.For an autobiographical work, such as a memoir, an author needn't have any special expertise-she is the foremost authority on her own life.
Why I Write Horror
These are some of the snapshots I carry with me: My father coming up to visit me after first being diagnosed with leukemia. The visit was a surprise, and he brought a new computer with him.
A Plan
All writers should use a plan whether written or reflected. This includes the initial idea, the content or main points, and the conclusion whether it is an article, a short story, a chapter, or a complete novel.
The Hard Facts About Editing
Whether you're interviewing for a new job, trying to woo a love interest on a first date, selling your work on the Internet, or submitting a query to an editor, you can never make a second first impression. It's true.
Writing and Self-examination
Good writing requires self-examination. Why is one writing? What part of the writer will be shared with readers? Will it be only information or will it include the essence of the writer? This, then determines what will be written: poetry, essays, articles, short stories, novels, or any other genre of writing.
Top Ten Great Headline Ideas
What Makes a Great Headline?Headlines are far more important than the copy beneath them. If you don't use headlines within your chapter or in your Web site sales letters and article titles, you will lose your audience's attention in a few seconds.
Write With Passion: 4 Steps To Emotionally Charge A Nonfiction Article
You have just completed a draft of an article. It seemsflat, even to you.
Baby Boomers and Booklets - Share and Share Alike
As one of those fabulous Baby Boomers, you now own a lifetime of valuable experiences, experiences that are useful to other people. You've given so much to your family all these years.
Getting the Story Down
Questions and answers on writing life experiences for ourselves and others.Index of Questions1.
The Practice of Writing
Virgil, the great Roman poet, wrote "Practice and thought might gradually forge many an art." From this we can assume that practice comes before thought, and so it is with present day writers.
Pages: Your Book of Life
Many of us dream of writing a book. Why not.
Have You Tested Your Theme Against Your Plot?
Creative Writing Tips -How we usually begin the preparation stage in the writing process is?We think of an idea for a storyWe think of a suitable themeWe plotOnce we come up with a theme and we begin plotting, we have to see how the theme and the plot match up. Sometimes as we plot we find that the theme we had initially chosen won't do.
Is Now the Time for a Play about the War in Iraq?
Everone knows that comedy is mostly about timing. If you hit upon the right nerve (is a funny bone a nerve?) at the right time then, usually, you don't even have to be original or even marginally funny to win laughs.
Create A Dream Diary
How many times have you forced yourself to sit in front of a computer and waited for inspiration to strike?Most of us at some point, whether just starting out or even an experienced published writer, have suffered from the proverbial writers block or have struggled to kick-start their creativity.Sometimes ideas just flow and writing our article or story is easy.

Home | Articles Site Map