After Concept, Structure is the most important building block for a script. This doesn’t mean that character is any less important. Not at all. Your characters will live and make an attempt to obtain their goals, fulfil their inner needs and struggle with opponents inside your structure.

All movies have a structure.

We are familiar with the three Act structure which contains 9 story beats or 15 beats. It’s extremely popular. However, there are many different ways of constructing a story. Which structure you use depends on how you wish to tell the tale or depending on its genre.

For instance, if a movie is plot driven, often those films could use the three or five act structure. Five Act stories often show up in ‘thrillers’ or ‘action adventure’ movies. Four Act films can use the ‘halfway point’ as a an Act break

If your script is character driven wherein the audience sees a character fight internal battles as well as external opponents, many times a Classic Structure is utilized. There are seven standard beats in this form and no act breaks. ‘Boyhood’ uses this form as does ‘Birdman’.
Then there are a host of irregular structures that a writer could use.

Let’s say a writer wishes to tell three short stories in one film. That would be an anthology. The structure here would have a ‘wrap around’ and a ‘hub’. Pulp fiction is a good example of anthology structure. The ‘hub’ is Marcellus’s bar. The wrap is the restaurant robbery scene at the beginning and end. In this example, if you select the three stories Pulp Fiction tells, each has a beginning middle and end and each story has three acts.

Another nonstandard form is ‘vortex avenue’ structure. This appears most often in ‘road movies’
The characters are on a journey and stop off at various locations throughout the story. ‘Apocalypse Now’ is a great example of a ‘Vortex Avenue‘ structure. Star Wars, Episode 4 is another. Lord of the Rings uses this structure in a powerful way.

There are also several other irregular structures that writers can employ.

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Next time ON LOCATION – Three major mistakes to avoid in your pitch.