Screenplay Structure For Beginners – Shannan E. Johnson

Writer/Instructor and Script Consultant Shannan E. Johnson (The Professional Pen): Oh, let me tell you what happened last weekend!…and you know that this particular cousin or friend is just going to talk on and on and on and on and never get to the point of what happened.

Film Courage: What is screenplay structure? 

Shannan: Very big question but I would look at screenplay structure as how you tell a story and depending upon the kind of screenplay you’re writing the structure is different. In general we’ve all learned about three-act structure in some way shape or form. That three-act structure can then be broken down into just two acts if you’re writing a half-hour multi-camera comedy. It can be spread out into four or five or six acts if you’re doing a one-hour drama but your half-hour single camera and your features are usually told in three acts. If you want to break it down and make it as simple as possible your first act is your setup. It’s giving me all the information I need to know of why I am here. Your second act is the journey to reach the goal and then your third act is what happened now that I reached the goal, it’s your resolution. You have your setup, your journey and your resolution. If you can understand that any time we hear a story…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

 

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About Shannan:

After grad school I became a junior creative executive at NBCUniversal at the Syfy Channel. I was there for the rebrand. Remember Sci Fi? Yeah, not really. Anywho, it was my job to help writers and producers take their ideas from pitch to production. I co-exec’d on Alphas, Being Human, Haven, Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, and more Syfy dramedies. This is how I honed my skill in all stages of the screenwriting process…(read more here).


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