ABSTRACT

Since we first arrived on the planet, we’ve been telling each other stories, whether of that morning’s great saber-tooth tiger hunt or the latest installment of the Star Wars saga. And throughout our history, despite differences of geography or culture, we’ve been telling those stories in essentially the same way. Why?

Because there is a RIGHT way to tell a story, one built into our very DNA.

In his seminal work Poetics, Aristotle identified the patterns and recurring elements that existed in the successful dramas of his time as he explored precisely why we tell stories, what makes a good one, and how to best tell them.

In Classical Storytelling and Contemporary Screenwriting, Brian Price examines Aristotle’s conclusions in an entertaining and accessible way and then applies those guiding principles to the most modern of storytelling mediums, going from idea to story to structure to outline to final pages and beyond, covering every relevant screenwriting topic along the way.

The result is a fresh new approach to the craft of screenwriting—one that’s only been around a scant 2,500 years or so—ideal for students and aspiring screenwriters who want a comprehensive step-by-step guide to writing a successful screenplay the way the pros do it.

Acknowledgments

Preface: Some Obligatory Backstory

SECTION I: A PROLOGUE

Chapter 1 – Introduction: What You Hold in Your Hands

Chapter 2 – Aristotle’s Poetics: It’s All Greek to Me

Chapter 3 – Motivating Factors: Why We Tell Stories

Chapter 4 – Starting the Journey: Defining the Road Ahead

SECTION II: A BEGINNING

Chapter 5 – Story: And I’m Sticking To It

Chapter 6 – Ideas: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Chapter 7 – Conflict: People Who Write Should Throw Stones

Chapter 8 – Wholeness: We Need Some Closure

Chapter 9 – Magnitude: It All Boils Down to One Thing

Chapter 10 – Loglines: Putting It All Together (Part 1)

SECTION III: A MIDDLE

Chapter 11 – Plot: Let’s Stay Connected

Chapter 12 – Reversals and Revelations: Pieces of the Action

Chapter 13 – Change of Fortune: Covenant of the Arc

Chapter 14 – Fatal Flaw: And the Plot Thickens

Chapter 15 – Structure: The Shape of Things to Come

Chapter 16 – The Three Acts: Let’s Break It Down

Chapter 17 – Anchor Points: A Pattern of Design

Chapter 18 – Character: The Agents of the Action

Chapter 19 – Defining Traits: What’s Good and Appropriate

Chapter 20 – The 5 Ps: They Help Build Character

Chapter 21 – Motivating Behavior: Goooooal!!

Chapter 22 – Structure Revisited: Filling in the Gaps

Chapter 23 – Set-Up: Stepping Stones of Act One

Chapter 24 – Complications: Stepping Stones of Act Two

Chapter 25 – Resolution: Stepping Stones of Act Three

Chapter 26 – Stepping Stones: Building the Great Pyramids

Chapter 27 – Beat Sheets: Putting It All Together (Part 2)

SECTION IV: AN END

Chapter 28 – Scenes: The Building Blocks

Chapter 29 – Description: What You See Is What You Get

Chapter 30 – Dialogue: What You Say is What You Get

Chapter 31 – Dialogue Continued: Still More Left to Say

Chapter 32 – Formatting: Ah, the Lovely White Space

Chapter 33 – Pages: Putting It All Together (Part 3)

Chapter 34 – First Draft: And You’re Finally Done

SECTION V: A RESOLUTION

Chapter 35 – Rewriting: Ha! You Thought You Were done

Chapter 36 – Theme: What’s It All About, Ari?

Chapter 37 – Conclusion: Bringing It All Back Home

APPENDICES

Aristotle’s Guiding Precepts

Assignments

Recommended Reading

Recommended Movies

Attributions

About the Author

Index