Story Structure Is A Form Not A Formula – Pat Verducci

Pat Verducci, Writing Coach, Teacher and Mentor: And I think writers should challenge themselves like what’s hard for you? Make yourself do that thing, make yourself do it even if you’re scared of doing it.

Film Courage: When you are writing a story, what type of structure do you use most often? 

Pat: Hero’s Journey. I use that structure probably the most because again it helps me  track the emotions of my character. What are they afraid of? What do they want? How do they have to face that fear? I’m writing something now and I decided to do something I should probably not have done, which is like I’m going to go free! I’m just to just start writing this thing and I just barfed it out which is actually good for me because I need to actually do that because I tend to be over here in my left brain a lot. I barfed this thing out and it’s like 70 pages. I’m not even really sure what it is except it is a detective themed thing. But I read through it again and now I’m going Oh, okay I think this is what it is. This one little part over here, that’s where the juice lies and so now I’m taking that little juicy thing and going Okay, how can I sort of approach the rewrite with more of a map and a view to what I think it’s about? Usually I make a very loose outline. It’s not detailed, it really just says the major action beats. What happens in the inciting incident or the call to adventure and whether the person pushes away from it out of fear. Then what happens next to pull them in but I want to leave it not detailed because then that leaves things for me to discover when I’m writing. 

Film Courage: Is it harder for you to not be organized and invested in structure? 

Pat: Yes, it’s very hard for me to be free. That’s why I think I gave myself that challenge of just Pat step away from the outline, step away! I needed to just go blah. When I did that I actually found really interesting things happening that I didn’t expect and again that’s where I found that little spark that was like Oh, this is what it’s about. For me (and I think writers should challenge themselves) what’s hard for you? Make yourself do that thing, make yourself do it even if you’re scared of doing it. Make yourself do it and then get more comfortable with it because there’s something in there that’s scaring you and that’s good. You need to go there, you need to go into your own approach to the cave as a writer. 

I work with a lot of people who are writing memoir books (I work with authors as well).  A lot of the times…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).


Writing Coach, Teacher, Mentor and Screenwriter Pat Verducci teaches two Advanced Screenwriting courses at UCLA TFT. She has written scripts for Touchstone Pictures, Witt-Thomas Productions, and Walt Disney Animation Studios. She has also worked as a story consultant for Disney/Pixar. She wrote and directed the feature film True Crime, starring Alicia Silverstone, and her writing credits also include documentary shorts for HBO and Showtime. She co-produced Somewhere Between, a feature documentary about four teenaged girls transracially adopted from China, and served as a story consultant on the Tinkerbell franchise for Disney. She is currently the script editor on several feature film projects for Film Victoria and Screen Australia, and is writing Citizen Bella, a documentary on the life of modern dancer Bella Lewitzky. Verducci serves as a mentor at Cinestory and the Meryl Streep funded IRIS/New York Women in Film and Television’s Writer’s Lab for Women. She’s a member of the Writers Guild of America.







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