Want to Learn How to Write a Screenplay? This Slideshow Gives You a Great Crash Course

Writing a screenplay is one of the most challenging areas of filmmaking you'll ever undertake, which is why it's always nice to have a resource to guide you as you make your way through the wilderness.

Big Spaceship's Victor Pineiro provides a crash course on how to write a screenplay in an easy-to-follow slideshow, covering everything from how to flesh out your hero to the breakdown of the different units of measurement (beats, scenes, sequences, acts, etc.). Check it out below:

There's really no right or wrong way to write a screenplay, but there are certainly ways to make the process a little easier if you're just starting out. If you're looking for a standard, there are many out there that different screenwriters and screenwriting gurus swear by, like Joseph Campbell's Monomyth (the Hero's Journey), Robert McKee's Aristotelian concepts, and Blake Snyder's plot points, but one of the most well-known models is the Three Act Structure, a paradigm endorsed by one of the great gurus of our time, Syd Field. This is used in the guide.

It's by no means the be-all end-all structure in screenwriting, but again, if you're looking for something that will help get you through the complicated process, at least for the first go-around, this will most likely help you. However, if you want to branch out and try different paradigms or even just make up your own, I'd certainly encourage that as well. As the great Pablo Picasso said, "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist."     

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Your Comment


its an excellents brief for crash course..
for further more, the following book is the script writing Bible fore everyone seeking writing a professional screenplay for film.
The Anatomy of Story / JOHN TRUBY
one of the best scriptwriting books outhere.

February 15, 2015 at 6:32AM

Ammar Quteineh
Director|Cinematographer |||France|||

Good article.
Another thing you can do to better your script writing is to simply read other scripts.
That always helps me.

February 15, 2015 at 7:36AM


You are quite correct. Elliott Grove said to me that no-one became a classical musician without listening to someone else play classical music first. Many screenwriters begin writing without having read a screenplay. That said, he also sold me the book "The Last Word" by Tom Lazarus. This contains correspondence between the author and wannabee scriptwriters that he was advising. This sounded irrelevant because they were not my screenplays, but upon reading, it opened up a valuable insight into what makes a script "work" and just as importantly, what makes a script "stink".

Tarrantino said that screenplays should be readable and complete in themselves, hardly needing to be made into a film. The screenplay for "Pulp Fiction" starts with an unfair description of the smoking habits of we British which has no relevance to any film that could be made from it.

March 4, 2015 at 3:40PM

Julian Richards
Film Warlord

For French readers, I also recommend "La Dramaturgie" by Yves Lavandier (Le Clown & l'enfant, publisher).

February 15, 2015 at 8:08AM

Cédric Jouarie
Director, Writer, Producer

thanks Cédric excellent book La Dramaturgie..
I found this link that compares the difference between Yves Lavandier and John Truby method of writing..
I think both books are on the edge of the top books on this subject.

February 15, 2015 at 8:36AM

Ammar Quteineh
Director|Cinematographer |||France|||

Two great books that you didn't mention on slide 64:
a) Writer's Journey, Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
b) 2100 stage Hero's Journey / Transformation / New World by Kal Bashir

and a great website you didn't mention on slide 65:
a) http://www.wordplayer.com/

February 15, 2015 at 3:46PM


This is an excellent guide... everyone should read it... even if you arent that much into script writing.. its invaluable.

February 16, 2015 at 10:07AM

Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op

Watching the slides I thought, "...this reads like mash up of McKee w/ Snyder and Trottier focused on action hero movies".

Then voila, on slide 64 it respectively noted their books (and others).

For me, reading McKee while contrasting w/ Snyder opened the flood gates to both personal enlightenment and story craft form.

February 16, 2015 at 11:47AM

Daniel Reed
Hat Collector

I'm a novice and learning how to write a screenplay. However, I think Mr. Victor's gift of summarization of the arts is the best ever I encounter on the Net and a few books I owned last 7 years. So much thanks to Mr. Victor Pineiro and nofilm school.

February 19, 2015 at 6:39PM


You are a savior, thank you so much for sharing and thank you to Victor Piñeiro for your work, much love and peace man :)

March 8, 2015 at 9:58PM


This slideshow screenwriting crash course is a great tool for new writers, especially those who get stuck. Even for veteran screenwriters, this is a wonderful way to brush up on old writing rules to follow. I'll definitely be sharing this.

April 30, 2015 at 11:49AM

Chelsea Lupkin
Director / Director of Photography / Screenwriter

This blows!!!! That whole powerpoint is representative of everything wrong with all the movies that are coming out today. I'm sick of seeing this 3 act structure, "hero needs to wake up one day and everything clicks, he knows what he must do with his life", structured, hero's journey bullshite. It's time for a change, why can't we see something that goes against this? Breaks the 3 act structure? This powerpoint went over everything I was taught my first semester at flick school this past year, yet this website is called no film school. "The hero" to everyone's fantasy doesn't always have courage and doesn't always make it, get out of your fantasy word and experience reality. We should be encouraging more neorealism, minimalism, and documentary style film making as well as a different approach to screenwriting. Christ

May 8, 2015 at 1:20AM


I TOTALLY AGREE! Thanks for saying it. x

February 13, 2017 at 7:13AM


The slide show does not work. :(

August 25, 2015 at 6:21AM, Edited August 25, 6:21AM

Miso Orepic
cinematographer/director of photography

Nice and helpful into you start showing the 3 act structure. An act break is where the main character makes a decision that changes and propulses the story forward, so a film will in most cases have a lot more than 3 acts.

The Midpoint? From how it's described it sounds like that's an act break in itself. Limiting it to that chart and explaining how far through that massive chunk you call Act 2 certain things fall into place just doesn't make sense. It's damaging to new writers who try to fit their work into this structure.

Your film can have as many Acts as it needs, heck even character's have their own Acts and Act breaks, that's how you make things feel organic and evolving, not forced. A whole 80% of the film just going in one direction, that's how films drag to a slow slog and lose their audiences attention.

Apologies for the rant, it's just not helpful, but you know what is? Hulk's screenwriting book (cheap as chips on amazon digitally), everyone who wants to learn some great ideas and concepts on writing and pick up some basics, I recommend there, it helped me a lot.

November 13, 2016 at 4:13PM

Henry Brown