Story and Plot: Screenwriting 101 - Online
Story and Plot
Screenwriting Classes in Texas, Los Angeles and Online
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Despite its name, Screenwriting 101 is geared to both new and experienced screenwriters alike. The focus of the 7 weeks is an understanding of story structure well beyond the three act paradigm. The class will push the writer to structure their story through scenes and sequences rather than independent "plot points" so to maximize dramatic momentum and emotional resonance.

STRUCTURE does not limit you. It LIBERATES you. It allows you to put more of your attention where it belongs: THE STORY.

This 7-Week class pushes the writer to structure their story through scenes and sequences rather than independent "plot points" so to maximize dramatic momentum and emotional resonance.
This approach gets writers away from screenwriting book 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. My 7th produced film, WINCHESTER, was released worldwide in February and is now available online. 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.

Is this the same Screenwriting 101 you teach in Los Angeles?
It is! I have been teaching online for years and find that it works just as well as teaching in person. There are some drawbacks, of course, but there are things it does even better (working on student's pages, for example) so it seems to all even out. The class is LIVE and interactive and the same kind of communication style that the Los Angeles class has.

How long is the class?
2.5 hours each week.

What are the dates?
The online class begins August 16th, 2018.

All times, 7-930pm, CST.

Week 1 — September 6th
Week 2 — September 13th
Week 3 — September 20th
Week 4 — September 27th
Week 5 — October 4th
Week 6 — October 11th
Week 7 — October 18th

What's up with parking?
Don't need no parking. It's an online class.

What online software do you use?
I use Cisco's WebEx. I find it does pretty much anything I need it to do. You will need a web camera, microphone and speakers. Seriously. You cannot do the class without those things.

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