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Story Development and Outlining

George Yanok
The most intelligent and intriguing premise in the world is only thatjust a
premiseuntil its been given a shape that draws an audience in and keeps its
attention and investment. Until its given a protagonist through which the audience
understands the premise in concrete terms, and feels the clearly-defined stakes,
someone with whom they can identify and for whom they can cheer. In other words,
until the premise has become a story. This course will examine plotting a screenplay
from premise to story. You'll learn how to take your screenplay from the early stages
of building idea into a full story to structuring the story to keep tension and
investment high in the audience to considering how to build not only structure but
texture in the world of your filmhow to build an experience of the world, what the
events and the world of the story mean for characters and audience alike, not just
building up point-by-point plot.
In online lectures, supplemental readings, and written assignments and
exercises, well consider plot and character arcs and what makes them work; the scene
as the essential, powerful unit of story; how a writer might use multiple genres in
crafting story, and the degree to which one ought to push back against, rather than
merely accepting, genre expectations; the difference between story and discourse and
the function of each; best practices in plotting out a story; and more. Well also
referenceand occasionally take cues fromsuch seemingly disparate films as Jaws,
Silence of the Lambs, 8 , Annie Hall, Inglorious Basterds, and Boogie Nights,
among others.
What You'll Learn:

How a protagonist is driven by both external and internal motivations

How to useand go beyond3-Act structure
How the scene is the essential unit of film storytelling, and how each scene
contains its own arc
How a writer builds not just structure but the texture of story and world
How to ratchet up tension and re-raise stakes throughout a screenplay
The importance of making unexpected movesto keep the writer surprised
and invested as much as the audience

Who Should Take This Course:

Writers wanting to get from initial concept to full story in just four weeks
Writers who want to understand how primary and secondary genres suggest
structure and arc
Provide tools for writers to ratchet up tension and re-raise stakes throughout a

Session One: From the Foundation Up

Initial Ideas and Conflict

Protagonist and Character Arc
Internal and External Motivation
Primary and Secondary Genres

Session Two: Building Structure

3-Act Structure
Building the Basic Outline
Identifying Set Pieces
The Arc of the Scene

Session Three: Building Texture

The Power of Scene

Pacing, Expectation, and Payoff
Subplots and their Function
Story and Discourse

Session Four: Anticipating Obstacles

Avoiding 2nd-Act Fatigue

Re-Upping Tension and Stakes
Subverting Expectation/Subverting Structure
Accounting for the Unexpected

George Yanok has written for television variety series, situation comedies,
hour dramas and motion pictures. Nominated numerous times, he has won two
EMMYs and the Writers Guild of America Award. His credits include The Bob
Newhart Show, Sanford & Son, Welcome Back, Kotter and The Ted Knight
Show, series for Lynn Redgrave and Stockard Channing and television movies such
as A Time To Triumph starring Patty Duke and Go West, Young Girl.