Most books on screenwriting explain story structure but the best ones break down how a story functions. For instance, in Save the Cat, you learn that a script is broken up into three or four acts. In the first act your character gets a “Call to Action”, in the second act they embark on a journey full of obstacles, in the third act they reach a Climax or “All is Lost” point, and in the fourth act (if this is one) is the Resolution.
This is all very helpful, but structure is just one piece of the puzzle. New writers also need to understand how and why stories unfold the way they do. In other words, writers need to understand how stories work.
What is a story anyway? Ultimately, stories are about growth and change. They’re about taking a specific character (or characters) with a particular flaw, on a specific journey, that changes them in a specific way.
The following books unpack the how and the why of story. If you’re able to grasp the concepts, you’ll come out on the other end not only understanding how a story should be structured, but how to use story to take your reader and your character on a unique journey.
Over time, you’ll be able to organically generate stories for TV and Film that center around compelling characters who drive stories about the human condition.
#1 The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
#2 The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lagos Egri
#4 The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting by Jill Chamberlain