Steven, you’ve contributed a new term to the screenwriting lexicon: Template Guru. I’ve been dealing with this for the 11 years I’ve hosted this blog and before that just being a screenwriter interfacing with the public. I’ve witnessed the explosion of screenwriting gurus who have contributed to the perception that Story Structure = Plot. That is only *half* the story. Yes, Action and Dialogue stitched together into a series of events / scenes is an obvious component of a screenplay, the story Physical Journey.
But what about the characters? What about their Psychological Journey? If there is Dialogue, there is Subtext. If there is Action, there is Motivation.
Nothing happens in the Plot without characters engaging in their own psychological journeys.
Indeed, I would argue the Plot emerges from the Characters. Forget templates. Engage the Characters and see where that process takes you. After all, it’s their story.
I understand the allure of Template Gurus. They reduce the complexity of Story to a set of markers: Break into Act Two on Page 25, and so forth. They create a formula which enables readers to think, “I’ve got this map, hit the page count marks, and bingo, I’ve got a hit screenplay.”
Not so with lifeless, thin, stereotypical characters.
Engaging characters in a compelling plot with a solid Beginning — Middle — End structure… that’s worth more than anything a Template Guru can offer.
BTW, Template Guru is not a bad name for an alt-rock band!