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Unified Structure: Using Theme to Develop Character and Plot

Writers, screenwriters save YEARS of frustration - learn to brainstorm theme and effectively integrate it in your story
3.9 (7 ratings)
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207 students enrolled
Created by Brennan Smith
Last updated 11/2014
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What Will I Learn?
You will be able to correctly identity theme using foundational screenwriting tools
You will be able to brainstorm your theme using values through a variety of general, specific, odd and literary perspectives
You will be able to build theme into your character's inner journey so that it complements your plot
You will be able to introduce theme into your story in various non-clunky ways
View Curriculum
  • You should already be familiar with the term "protagonist", and have watched various popular movies in the last 70+ years, including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, Groundhog Day, Fight Club, Amadeus, and others.

Unified Structure: Using Theme to Develop Character and Plot takes on the primary screenwriting struggle to make stories resonate.

Have you ever been told one of the following?

  • You story feels like a series of happenings with an ending tacked on.
  • Your protagonist or hero doesn't seem to learn anything.
  • I read your story and, um, so what?

Bren designed this seminar to help writers, especially screenwriters, to create a unified narrative. If you consider yourself an intuitive writer, this will give you a structural perspective without crushing your creative impulses. If you're a plot-driven structuralist, this will allow you to expand your creative tool set to maximize your protagonist's inner journey, so that it connects with audiences.

After assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the three foundational screenwriting texts on theme development, Bren lays out how to identify, brainstorm, and develop your story's theme through character journey and plot.

Using examples from various films, you will learn specifically:

  • How to recognize the weakness in a movie's theme
  • How to brainstorm the values of your story as a means of finding unifying story elements, and the most vehicle for your theme
  • How to integrate your theme into a story without making it sound preachy or tacked on.

The course itself is roughly an hour, but it's packed with information to consider and work through. There are no prerequisites so you don't need to have read anything prior to the course. You may want to go back and watch some of the movies referenced in the course afterward to help solidify the concepts in your mind.

Who is the target audience?
  • Unified Structure is for anyone interested in developing writing fiction, either as screenplay, play or other narrative.
  • Unified Structure is for writers who have been told their story "doesn't gel, or "feels like a series of happenings" or "doesn't have a clear point of view" or words to that effect
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Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 7 Lectures Collapse All 7 Lectures 52:43
1 Lecture 03:18
Developing Theme
2 Lectures 17:01

Grasping the standard texts
2 questions

Brainstorming Theme
Building Theme into Your Story
3 Lectures 28:13


Integrating Through Your Story

Solidifying Integration
1 question
1 Lecture 04:11
Class Example and Summary
About the Instructor
4.2 Average rating
9 Reviews
434 Students
2 Courses
Screenwriter/Story Analyst

Bren is a screenwriter and story analyst with a degree in Communications, a Masters in Education, and has studied screenwriting for over a dozen years.He has written scripts in various genres, provided coverage for production companies and script analysis for nearly 100 screenwriters from around the world, and mentored several towards the completion of their screenplays.

His website,, provides insights into screenwriting, movies and culture.

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