REVERSE CAUSE & EFFECT: The Secret to Making Scripts Work

Screenplay plot construction and story development tool that turns your meandering story into riveting dramatic action.
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31 students
How to use Reverse Cause and Effect to construct and develop a script. Once you've sketched out your story's basics, you start at the ending and work backward, chaining back from each effect to its cause, creating a tight forward progression such that A causes B which causes C. It enables you to stitch together the spine of your story with just its major building blocks. Working from the general to the particular, you gradually develop more detail as it becomes necessary. The ability to separate the Necessary from the Unnecessary is a crucial skill for the dramatist, freeing your from the profusion of unnecessary detail. This is a complex, specialized skill that requires training and this class will give you that know-how. The ability to strip your plot down to its core is like radically pruning a tree, exposing its trunk and main branches, allowing you to get at the script's essentials and make them work. Aristotle said that in constructing a plot, a writer "should first sketch its general outline, and then fill in the episodes and amplify in detail."


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This is one of the top-rated scriptwriting tools in Hollywood. By constructing your story backwards, you stitch together a tight sequence of cause and effect which gives you the spine of your story. It separates the Necessary from the Unnecessary which is a crucial skill for a scriptwriter because the Unnecessary bogs down scripts and kills them. It gives you an objective look at what you’ve created so far, not easy when you’re immersed in a story. It helps you fill logic holes in your story as you chain backwards through its cause and effect. And it allows you to gradually develop the story's detail as it become necessary, freeing you from the profusion of unnecessary detail that’s always threatening to flood in. Reverse Cause and Effect is a daily workhorse of plot construction and story development that enables you to help dramatize your story as you build an increasingly-detailed outline, starting with the overall story, then down to the act level, the sequence level, and the scene level which enables you to write each scene. By constantly separating the Necessary from the Unnecessary, you assemble your story from only that which is Necessary, while constantly excluding that which is Unnecessary. In this way you get a tight forward flow to your story which is central to making a script work. To deepen your training you can get my free 23 page eBook on Reverse Cause and Effect at my website

Who this course is for:

  • Screenwriters, TV writers, playwrights. Anyone who wants to master the craft of the dramatist so that they can consistently make scripts work.

Course content

1 section7 lectures1h 10m total length
  • Part 1: Introduction to Reverse Cause and Effect
  • Part 2: We Sketch Out a Story & Stitch it Together with Cause & Effect
  • Part 3: We Assemble the Complete Chain of Cause and Effect and Work With It.
  • Part 4: We Expand One Section of the Cause and Effect Layering in More Detail
  • Part 5: We Expand the Cause and Effect Even Further and Layer in Final Detail
  • Part 6: We Write a Scene Based on our Detailed Outline and Read that Scene
  • Part 7: I Give You an Exercise to Utilize Reverse Cause and Effect on Your Own


Training writers how to make scripts work dramatically
Jeffrey W Kitchen
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  • 31 Students
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Jeff has taught thousands of students from Broadway to Hollywood. He was classically trained as a playwright, worked as a dramaturg in New York theater and taught playwriting on Broadway. A top-rated teacher, he taught for thirty years and wrote the book, Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting. For the past three years Jeff adapted his training program into a comprehensive digital apprenticeship. Scriptwriting Mastery is the result.