Joe, I talked about this in yesterday's post, the distinction between "formula" and "structure." One of the concerns I have with the overall tenor of discussion in the online screenwriting universe is the tendency to reduce 'structure' to 'plot.' That is only *half* the story. The events in what I call the Plotline -- Action and Dialogue (External World) -- is what we see and hear. But there's a whole other 'realm' of experience the audience / reader has that is 'below' the Plotline. Where we hear Dialogue, we interpret Subtext. Where we see Action, we intuit Intention. What does a character *mean* by what they say or do? What is going on psychologically in any scene, any given moment. This is the Internal World (Themeline) and without it, a story lacks meaning.
Hence, my comment in today's post: Rather than starting with a pre-fixed idea of the plot per some sort of designed set of story beats, an 'outside-in' approach to crafting a story, best to do an 'inside-out' approach: start with the characters, immerse yourself in their lives, and see how the plot emerges, the physical journey of the Plotline infused with the psychological journey of the Themeline.
I agree with you, Joe, that story structure is a *huge* consideration, especially with regard to screenwriting, both film and TV. How we *get* there is the main concern. Three-act structure... four-act structure... five-act structure... whatever... as Joseph Campbell said of the Hero's Journey, the fundamental point is about *transformation*. If we as writers are dialed into the Protagonist's journey and track that character arc, we will, I believe, organically tap into the story's narrative drive. My language system for the most popular arc -- Disunity | Deconstruction | Reconstruction | Unity -- suggests that flow. The events of the Plotline and characters with whom the Protagonist intersects are all tethered to the character's psychological journey.
So again, story structure is critical. How one gets there is my main point. As opposed to reducing structure to a plot formula, better in my view to begin with characters... end with characters... and find the story in between that process.