Yes, Screenwriting Structure Matters (8 Books To Help)

Updated: Oct 14

I have noticed lately there has been a push against screenwriting structure within the community. Those who push against structure as non conformists boast about breaking the rules of convention and creating from the heart. They argue that structure is stifling and limits their art. They encourage other writers to shirk away from structure. That they don't need it and there are no rules. Are they right? Well, it depends.

Telling a new writer they don't need structure is irresponsible

Here's the thing. To tell a new writer that there are no rules and to just go ahead and write whatever they want ends up leading them astray. As an instructor I work with writers whom have never been formally taught screenwriting and read on some fb post or reddit thread that they could just write what's in them. Structure free. Encouraged they hit the keys. Do you know what they end up with?

A meandering script which spans the lengths of hundreds of pages. Yes, hundreds. This unfortunately mislead screenwriter is totally lost. Completely alone. No one will read the 200-300 plus page script they've written because it's gone so far off the rails. They can even become ostracized by a community as they can't find any help, which then leads them to become desperate, and easy pickings for the money grubbing predators out there. Do you see the cycle? All of this from a simple social media post.

I know what you're thinking. Well that's ridiculous that couldn't happen. I can assure you it's all too common and I find it heartbreaking to see someone lost like that by being mislead whether intentional or not.

Now if a screenwriter is seasoned. That's a different story. Perhaps they need to push beyond their comfort zone. Try to break free from what they are used too as far as structure is concerned in order to birth something truly original or even groundbreaking.

That writer is intimately familiar with structure so they already know the rules which can be broken. They are ready for it. So when someone asks if structure matters. The answer isn't a simple yes or no. It depends on where they are in their own personal screenwriting journey.

Below is a list of books that have helped me on my path over the years and I believe in them. You'll recognize a few classics but there are some newer one's as well which I recommend you check out.

-Geoffrey D. Calhoun (Best Selling Author of The Guide for Every Screenwriter #7)

1. The Writer's Journey

The Writer’s Journey details a twelve-stage, myth-inspired method that has galvanized Hollywood’s treatment of cinematic storytelling. Vogler’s comprehensive theory of story structure and character development has met with universal acclaim, and is detailed herein using examples from myths, fairy tales, and classic movies. This book has changed the face of screenwriting.

Amazon 4.8 ⭐'s


2. The Nutshell Technique