Get an Instant Migraine with the Story Diamond

There are lots of screenwriting techniques and infographics out there. Some work better than others. And some melt your brain. 

Everyone wants to write the best screenplay possible. They want their ideas to hit the page, and the screen, and bring them financial security, fame, riches, and probably a Tesla. You want this. I want this. But I am here to tell you there are no shortcuts to getting it. There are no hidden secrets of the trade. 

I'm starting off saying this because I see a lot of people pedaling expensive fixes or tools and it drives me nuts. We've tackled story structure before and one of my favorite blogs ever from Bitter Script Reader actually compiled the most famous story structure tools into one infographic to show how they're all the same. 

Today, I want to show you something different.

We've gone over some terrible writing advice before, and in that article, I said the only important thing is to write a great script. 

This morning, I saw this hilarious tweet and clicked on the image and got an instant migraine. 

Video is no longer available:

So I clicked the link and went down the Story Diamond rabbit hole. 

What is the Story Diamond? 

The Diamond is a structure tool written by a PHD. It takes all sorts of theories and mashed them into one "helpful" shape that allows you to trace your story's beats. It's a cluster of ideas that I could see overwhelming someone looking for answers. 

I don't know anything about Dr. Stanley Williams, the inventor of this maze of death, I think he did this for noble reasons - and maybe the result got more convoluted than he expected. It's my job at this website to work on similar things, so I totally get the idea and intention. You read all these theorems and try to compile them. 

But there's a danger here of selling shortcuts. 

At the end of the day, writing from a theme is all that matters to Hollywood. So use whatever gets you there. 

If you want to, download the Story Diamond here!


Credit: Dr. Stanley D Williams

It's right about now that most other websites would try to sell you their much more simple product. And If you read No Film School regularly you know that we give stuff away for free, mostly because most of the people who write here are still in debt from Film School. 

My general advice to you is not to spend money on anyone selling writing secrets. You can learn formatting, outlining, beats, and everything else online for free. There are fabulous websites that give you actual A-list writer advice. 

But as I mentioned, at the end of the day, it's all on you.

Don't pay someone else to give you the same advice. 

Don't look for the best tool.

Just sit and write. 

The structure is a guideline, not a rule. 

Just make the reader want to keep turning the pages. 

What's next? Join our Free Screenwriting Seminar

Come with me on a ten-week journey. I walk you through each page of your script and we talk about what usually happens on each, without pressuring you to follow a formula or a diamond. Also, this course is free. So you can hate it and have zero financial repercussions. You can hate me and troll me on Twitter. It would be mean but you can do it. 

I just hope you sit and write. We need better stories out in the world. 

Click the link to learn more. 


Your Comment


"Just sit and write. The structure is a guideline, not a rule."
Couldn't agree more. Reading books and watching films is the main source of cinema knowledge. I've never heard of Schechter's archetypes before but that's exactly what I've been using for my feature film script. Things come naturally when you're curious and eager to learn.
Although complicated that diamond is still interesting as a summary of different ways of storytelling.

July 16, 2019 at 1:49AM

Vincent Galiano
Filmmaker / Screenwriter / Photographer

Where the fuck do you even look first?

July 16, 2019 at 6:01PM


Well, sometimes ruining the archetypes might be a better solution than following the structure. You should try experiment, since if you're stuck in a pattern you won't create something original in the end.

July 17, 2019 at 2:02AM

Joseph Walker

Yeah, maybe you should do 10 seconds of research - like looking up Stan's actual blog where he explains why he created the Story Diamond - not as an outlining tool or formula, but to show that all of the formulas and approaches have similar coinciding sign posts - places where natural storytelling has a structure, but everyone's put their own name on it. I mean, I don't know much, but Will Smith thought that Stan's point of view was relevant to add to his team of story consultants that he runs every movie through (back when he was making more of them). But who knows. Considering your work with Ford, you might have even met Stan...

For what it's worth, I agree with the rest of what your article says, I just find it irritating that you didn't take the time to finish the research on something you chose to criticize before writing it. Especially since we have the Internet now.

May 18, 2020 at 7:29PM