In essence all artists, and writers specifically, are world creators / builders. While some scribes excel at coming up with clever scenarios, penning effective and realistic dialogue, relaying complex emotions, setting a specific mood, or are adept at general character development, beyond this lays insightful and methodical structural plotting, progressive inter-related character arcs, and the comprehensive world building of a reality. In my opinion this is the most essential element for immersing the reader or viewer in the suspension of dis-belief. Thus, the term story-architecture is perhaps the most appropriate way of referring to the core elements of world building.
I think I should start by pointing out that world building goes far beyond just adhering to one or the other philosophies of act structure or organizing scenes within those acts. However, without a solid act structure, generally, all is chaos, and so, a brief mention of general script architecture should be noted before moving on.
The rule of thumb for act structure (going back to the ancient Greeks) is that the first act is "set up", the second is "conflict", and the third is "resolution" or "climax". Overlaying this, in the most traditional terms, is the "hero's journey" - which can aid in the development of the protagonist in an archetypal manner - paralleling his or her movement through the act structure. In tandem to act structure and the hero's journey are the emotional "beats" or "notes" that occur within the acts. These emotional setups and resolutions are usually referred to as being part of "Freytag's Pyramid".
Most plays, films, novels and series episodes rely on a three act structure, though a short play or film might be encompassed in a single act and larger works might opt for a five act layout. It is much rarer to find a "two act", "four act", or "six act" work of fiction. In ancient and Shakespearean tragedies the five-act structure was king and generally presented the final act as the ultimate "catastrophe" (as in Hamlet). However, in the twentieth century J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Ring's fame added an element called a "eucatastrophe", which allowed for an inexplicable unraveling of tragedy into an unlikely happy resolution. I mean, hey, who doesn't like a happy ending, especially when it seems all but impossible.
In the modern milieu, the five-act structure of teleplay scripts exists simply due to the historical placement of advertisements on commercial television. Structurally these scripts really are still three-act plays, with a teaser (setup) at the beginning and a coda at the end. Obviously, the teaser occurs prior to (and sometimes following) the main title sequence of the show, and the coda returns just before the end titles / production credits - often to establish a new element, set up the next episode, or merely to insert a cliff-hanger. Within reason, the coda of an episodic script is synonymous with Freytag's "denouement", or the "tying up loose ends". For me, I personally tend to prefer a five act structure, simply because I gain great artistic satisfaction from writing scripts which are part of an ongoing arc within an episodic series.
Regardless, adhering to your chosen philosophy of act structure is, in my opinion, an invariable necessity - as crucial as choosing the tense in which you are writing your novel in and sticking with it all the way through. But in terms of overall creativity, a good screenplay writer must move beyond just depicting an interesting scenario or holding to an act format and become a world building architect. Arguably, it is the most important aspect of "larger" works. So let's jump right in, shall we.
NARRATIVE ARCHITECTURE IN THE REAL WORLD
As an example of effective world building architecture, one must intuitively, and intimately, understand the reality one is creating. If the architecture works, then all the characters you create will occupy their niche within the structure, and their place in that reality supplies them within the parameters by which their interactions with other characters function within that architecture.
The bottom line is that you must start to think like an architect, or at least a literary one, in order to build an effective and believable universe through which your characters navigate. Obviously, the more fantastic the reality, the more you must think it out, because if the audience picks up on contradictions (consciously or not), or starts to feel that the internal logic of the reality is not sacrosanct, they will inexplicably "fall out of love" with the otherwise amazing world you have created.
In order to explain what I'm talking about, I'd actually like to start with a few real world examples of successful and flawed architecture in non-literary systems, for, what better way to sort out fiction than to dwell on real life architecture - especially if you want to get your own "created" architecture down. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that you can't present a character, or group of characters in your film or episodic scripts that possess imperfect rationales for their actions, or that take incorrect or surreal actions which don't match their rationales, but for the most part even the most doltish viewer or reader will be thrown out of the suspension of dis-belief by a nonsensical disconnect from the linear "jenga" of logic and structure.
Therefore, witness Marxism / Socialism / Communism as a belief system. Clearly, for all the truly optimistic, utopian elements of Marx's theory, the installation of global Communism as true to Marx's vision as it is presented on the printed page has yet to have been implemented in the real world. In fact, it has panned out as quite the contrary, and has instead proved at every instance to engender authoritarianism and oligarchic hierarchies rather than the "equality" the philosophy promises. In fact, even Socialism (or as I like to term it: "Communism lite") generally requires a healthy dose of watering down in order to make it work within a democratic framework, which should stand as no surprise, since when Marxism is implemented as full Communism, invariably a large death toll is somewhere creeping over the horizon or lurking in the past.
Of course a die-hard Socialist or Communist will insist that the failures of Socialism or Communism was due to human error - and that the reason it failed to institute Marxism as written, was that it was not implemented properly. As they see it - the next time they'll get it right. One would think after seeing a system fail so many times it would be sort of like building a house and watching it fall down over and over, and never realizing that the blueprints are flawed. But since this is a religious, yes, religious belief system - powered by the rocket fuel of human emotions and idealism, true believers have a hard time admitting that the actual cause of the failure of Marxism is that the architecture developed by Marx is innately flawed.
The origin of these flaws are simple, and were ingrained from the start, and have persisted, simply because good old Karl believed that human nature could be changed by economic policies, and thus, the implementation of his architecture from book to real life proposed a "mortar" that in no way is able to hold the bricks of his philosophy together. You might wish to argue the point, but from the first American and French communes in the 18th and 19th centuries, to Marx, to Russia, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Venezuela, to the CHOP in Seattle, none of those endeavors have arrived at the end vision of their ultimate creator. No need to mention the Faux-Socialist Nordic Capitalist varieties, as well as apparently frequent mutations from Globalist Socialism into Ethno-National Socialism; which gave us nifty authoritarians like Hitler, Mussolini, Milosevic, and Ba'athists like Saddam and Assad.
Unlike the flawed architecture of the Socialist umbrella philosophies, the religion of Islam possesses a near perfect architecture - at least for what it is designed to achieve. Every element, such as a negative prohibition on apostasy, the simplicity of the creed, a tax levied on non-believers implemented whenever Muslims exceed 50% of a population, and the faith being seamlessly integrated with political and ethno-cultural elements, enabled Islam to spread to twenty-two nations in under a century, and to become dominant in every one of those lands within the next three hundred or so years after that.