Story and Plot: Screenwriting 101 >>
Story and Plot
Screenwriting Classes in Texas, Los Angeles and Online
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STRUCTURE does not limit you. It LIBERATES you. It allows you to put more of your attention where it belongs: THE STORY.

This sequence approach gets writers away from analytical and more academic methods and closer to how cinematic stories are actually told. It makes the blank page far less intimidating and makes the job much easier for the writer that may be starting with just a bare bones idea.

This class allows the rare opportunity for the student to have their project guided by a professional screenwriter adept at story development from concept to outline. The student will be advised on all facets of their project, from the marketability of the concept, the structure of the story, character growth, and much more.

While the class is not specifically geared to improvisors and sketch writers, there is a shared vocabulary that many people with that background will find extremely useful.

Classes usually consist of one part lecture, one part critical examinations of films and screenplays and two parts the individual work of those attending. Homework consists of watching movies, reading scripts and writing exercises.

By the end of the six weeks students will have a base outline for a feature or short film as well as a better and much more practical understanding of story, sequence and scene structure.

There is more information on Mr. Vaughan's philosophy in the blog post "
On Teaching Screenwriting.” Other posts there can offer even more insight into the value system of this approach.

The goals for Screenwriting 101 students are:
  • Learn beyond just the vocabulary and buzz words of story structure and understand the why of story structure.
  • Begin to identify the story structure of other films.
  • Learn to visualize a story and outline it in beats and sequences rather than "plot points" so to decrease the intimidation factor as well as maximize narrative momentum and emotional resonance.
  • Begin to write for the visual medium and to evoke emotion from the reader, the primary commodity of story telling.
You can read some testimonials from both students and professionals alike HERE.


Week 1 - Basic Structure - 5 Points, 4 Acts and 8 Sequences
Week 2 - Concepts, loglines and the quick pitch.
Week 3 - Sequences and story beats.
Week 4 - Finding the fun and exploiting the scene
Week 5 - Putting it all together: your own outline
Week 6 - Scenes: writing visually / finding the emotion
Week 7 - Writing The Scene


Outside of class, students will read a script or watch a film each week and break down its story structure.

The goal of the class is to do much of the "hit and miss" work on the beat sheet and the outline so the student will not go to script with a fundamentally flawed structure.

Is is the philosophy of this class that there is more value in preparing well for a solid first draft than in simply doing a first draft quickly. While learning from one's mistakes is an essential part of anyone's education, a good teacher can and should help to minimize them.


With all the screenwriting books and teachers out there, what makes you any different and how do we know you are even qualified to teach this?
Fair question. I have been writing professionally for 20 years and teaching for about 10. I love teaching and spend a lot of time thinking about how to do it better. My day job is writing screenplays. While this class is going on my 7th film will be in production down in Australia starring Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke. I have both the experience as a writer and a teacher to create what I think is a very unique and practical approach to feature length storytelling. I would say about 50% of it is just basic principles of storytelling explained in an easy to understand way, 25% is borrowed from great teachers but perhaps refined a bit more, and the last 25% are elements that perhaps only I bring to a classroom. More about me HERE.

How long is the class?
3 hours each Tuesday night for 7 weeks!

What are the dates?

May 29th, 7-10pm
June 5th, 7-10pm
June 12th, 7-10pm
June 19th, 7-10pm
June 26th, 7-10pm
July 10th, 7-10pm
July 17th, 7-10pm

All classes are at
The Space Station, 950 Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038

What's up with parking?
There is street parking and usually no need to pay for meters.

What can/can't I bring to the event?
Something to help take lots of notes. Pad and paper or laptop is fine. If you are one of those loud typers that really abuse the keyboard, a pad and paper might be better.

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?
Email me HERE.