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Classical Storytelling and Contemporary Screenwriting by Brian Price

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Twenty-SixStepping Stones

Building the Great Pyramids

“Narrative … should have for its subject a single action, whole and complete, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It will thus resemble a living organism in all its unity, and produce the pleasure proper to it.”

(Poetics, Part XXIII)

Now that we’ve followed Aristotle’s advice, determining the general shape and then filling in the episodes, we have an even clearer sense of the solid structure of a successful movie story.

It contains events that take us from one equilibrium to another, with everything in between connected through the laws of probability and necessity. And the biggest structural moments, the Stepping Stone beats, often follow an observable pattern.

Those beats are: ...

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