Free Storytelling Learning Resources

November 08, 2020 - 5 min read

Although Storytelling is natural for humans it requires learning. We do it for entertainment, education, persuasion - anytime when we need to tell a story. Of you want to write a book, make movies, either short or long, animated or live-action, you need a story first. The story can be real or fictional but you always (almost) need a structure, a way to make it engaging and satisfying. And like anything else, it can be learned.

On the Internet you can learn almost anything for free. Although there are many courses, books and tutorials, it takes time to find good ones. We made a list of free resources to get started with film making with machinimas as an example. Now it's time to tell you how to learn storytelling and screenwriting. For free. Welcome to the list of hand-picked resources from all over the internet.

Courses

Online courses not only give you the information in a structured way but keep you disciplined and consistent in your learning journey. I found four courses for you. Content and covered topics may overlap so there is no need to finish all of them.

  1. The art of storytelling by Pixar. It's a great free course on Khan Academy by the famous animation studio. It is perfect for beginners and covers six topics.

  2. Intro to storytelling. What makes a great story.

  3. Characters. How character development drives storytelling.
  4. Story structure. How to lay the foundation for your story.
  5. Visual Language. Basic principles of perspective, colour and shape.
  6. Film grammar. The terminology of cinematography.
  7. Pitching and feedback. How to present your story and get feedback.

  8. Writing the Short by John Warren.  A 6-module course designed to help you go from idea to a ready script in 5 weeks.

  9. Writing a logline and pitching your idea.

  10. Structuring your story into three acts and discovering story beats.
  11. Writing and formatting your script.
  12. And some bonus sections.

  13. Write A Feature Length Screenplay For Film Or Television by Michigan State University. In 20 weeks you will get a full-length, feature film screenplay.

  14. Creating The Idea and Logline

  15. Creating characters
  16. The Three Act Story Structure
  17. Screenplay formatting and Software
  18. A lot of practice

  19. An Introduction to Screenwriting by the University of East Anglia. You will learn basic theory and key principles, script analysis and practical exercises.

  20. Story basics and development of a storyline

  21. Different kinds of story structure - from three-act to alternatives
  22. Characters development
  23. Scene construction and dialogue
  24. Writing a first draft and screenplay formatting

Books

There are many books on screenwriting. And many lists of the best books on screenwriting - 1, 2, 3, 4... Alright, this is not a completely "free" section. But buying a book is one of the best investment you can make. I will recommend you my favourite one to get started.

The Anatomy of Story by John Truby. This is the most comprehensive book on storytelling and screenwriting. The author provides a simple and detailed approach to story creation, outlining, development of all aspects - from characters to plot and dialogues. You can learn:

  1. What is a story
  2. Premise - finding and developing your story idea
  3. 7 Key Story Structure Steps - an alternative to a three-act structure
  4. How to find your best character and define a character web
  5. A moral theme of your story
  6. Story World
  7. Defining Symbol Web
  8. Plot and Scene Weave
  9. How to build a scene and dialogue

And much more. This is really a very information-dense book. I would recommend reading it slowly, doing all the practical exercises and then continue to the next chapter. Your goal is not to finish the book, but learn the concepts and become a better storyteller.

To keep promises, there's also a list of 12 free eBooks with 1000 pages in total. They are the blog posts distilled into a few books of different size. You can learn about screenwriting, theory, practice, characters, story types and business side. Enjoy.

Blogs and other resources

Blogs are a great learning resource. I bet you also think so since you're now reading one. The disadvantage is that information can be unstructured. But if you look for something specific it's not a problem.

Some resources we use (in random order):

Any many many more. There are a lot of great resources on the internet - blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos. There are many great non-free resources as well. It's your choice which path to follow. My general advice is to balance how much you consume and how much you produce. You are what you consume.  But spending days and weeks reading and watching only won't make you a successful storyteller.  You may want to start writing straight away without finishing any courses or reading books. It's absolutely fine. If you want to become a writer - write. If you want to become a storyteller - tell stories. If you want to become a filmmaker - make movies. The key is practice. And I wish you all the best on your journey.

← Back to the index