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Screenwriting Tips, Help & Advice

Find expert screenwriting advice articles, industry leading interviews with writers, expert writing advice, screenwriting tips and answers to commonly raised questions from screenwriters, scriptwriters, filmmakers, and writers of all types. A little insider screenwriting help can go a long way toward improving the writing craft and working with screenwriting software.

How to Write a Screenplay: A Guide to Screenwriting

It's easy to feel intimidated by the thought of writing a screenplay. The rules! The formatting! The binding! Don't let the seemingly endless parade of screenwriting elements scare you away from writing your first script. Since a familiarity with ...

Read more... | Published: 03/09/10 | by The Writers Store

Writing Successful Query Letters

A great query letter is your key to unlocking an executive's door. Take your time and be as thoughtful about your query as you were when writing your screenplay. Industry professionals view query letters as a reflection of the writer's screenplay ...

Read more... | Published: 08/04/08 | by Susan Kouguell

10 Story Techniques You Must Use to Sell Your Script

The key question that all screenwriters should ask themselves is: how do I write a script that Hollywood wants to buy? Most writers mistakenly think that success is all about connections and star power. Not so. The real trick to writing a script t...

Read more... | Published: 10/28/09 | by John Truby

The Top 10 Reasons to Write a Spec Pilot

Whether you're an established film/ TV writer or an aspiring one, you've heard it - everybody in town has said it - you should write a spec pilot. Didn't used to be that way. Up until about five years ago, it was considered crazy or just plain clu...

Read more... | Published: 01/04/10 | by Ellen Sandler

Character Emotion Makes the Plot

Some writers excel at pithy banter. Others create dramatic action. The writers I most admire are the ones who in their own natural style convey a character's emotional personality in scene through active, non-verbal communication with just the rig...

Read more... | Published: 02/01/10 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

Tales From the Script: 5 Things I Learned Interviewing Screenwriters

Sitting down for intimate conversations with dozens of Hollywood's best writers was a transformative experience. Although I've been a professional screenwriter for many years, most of my work has been in the independent realm, so collecting materi...

Read more... | Published: 03/01/10 | by Peter Hanson

Write your Screenplay in 10 Minutes a Day

I know you’re busy. Trust me, I’m with you. You’ve got work, school, kids, you name it. Family counts on you, friends need you – someone’s probably e-mailing, texting or instant messaging you right now! So how in the heck are you going to find ti...

Read more... | Published: 08/03/10 | by Pilar Alessandra

Don’t Break the Chain - Jerry Seinfeld's Method for Creative Success

When it comes to making New Year's resolutions, we writers aren't exactly the norm. Most people resolve to lose weight, dreaming of the day they can hold up their "fat jeans," as if in a weight-loss commercial. We want to hold up a few freshly p...

Read more... | Published: 01/01/14 | by The Writers Store

5 Keys to Writing a Summer Blockbuster

It used to be that summer was the season for blockbuster movies. Now it’s a year-round phenomenon. Hollywood is in the business of selling films to a worldwide audience, which means they are always looking for a script with blockbuster potential. ...

Read more... | Published: 06/13/11 | by John Truby

Final Draft 9 News & Release Date

Final Draft 9 Updates Final Draft 9 released on January 6 with a new look and feel, plus a myriad of new features! All of your favorite Final Draft features are still there, and your writing will benefit from some colorful new additions. If you'r...

Read more... | Published: 10/23/13

For Writers: The Importance of Being a Multi-Hyphenate

George Clooney, Ben Stiller, Jon Favreau; just a few of Hollywood’s actor-writer-director multi-hyphenates whose careers offer the lesson that to prosper in show business, not to mention fully express your creative vision, it helps to be a “triple...

Read more... | Published: 03/19/12 | by Jonathan Leigh Solomon

The Types of Monster Movies

The Monster story is one of the favorite types of Myth Archetype: the main character goes through an Outer Story, and that Outer Story symbolizes an Inner Story of emotional change.  Monster stories have been popular for centuries. Initially...

Read more... | Published: 01/10/12 | by Sandy Frank

6 Lies of Film Distribution

One of the major Achilles’ heels for film producers and directors is the distribution game. Once you’ve made your movie, what do you do? How do you play the game? What strategies do you employ? Is there even a strategy? Well, there’s good news an...

Read more... | Published: 01/10/12 | by Jerome Courshon

Now Write! Mysteries Excerpt: Planting a Seed

Reading a great mystery novel is a lot like horseback riding. Sometimes, you’re cautiously slow-walking on unfamiliar turf. Other times, you’re head-bobbling-wobbling trotting. Then there are those times when you’re whooshing along on a take-your-...

Read more... | Published: 12/19/11 | by Gerard Bianco

The Internal Drive of the Story

Understanding the internal side of your story conveys to your audience the depth that is felt emotionally and spiritually. Two authors, Jennifer Grisanti and Kim Hudson, offer insight into how to write the internal story into your screenplays and...

Read more... | Published: 12/06/11 | by Jen Grisanti and Kim Hudson

Why It's Great to be a Storyteller

Let’s just say it ain’t for the faint of heart. Storytellers work exhausting days, ever searching for that gem of an idea or character or plot. Never settling for the almost-right word. Spitballing, outlining, writing, rewriting, rewriting. And...

Read more... | Published: 12/06/11 | by Eric Edson

On the 10th Anniversary Edition of "The 101 Habits of Successful Screenwriters"

Ten years ago, I wrote a little book called The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters and it literally changed my life. When I set out to write it, I just wanted to learn from successful writers. I wanted to pick their brains and mod...

Read more... | Published: 11/22/11 | by Karl Iglesias

What is a Treatment, and why do I need one?

If you’ve ever asked those questions, you aren’t alone. In the world of synopses, one-pagers, beat sheets, outlines and drafts, treatments can get lost in the shuffle. Writers often forego the treatment process altogether – which is a huge mista...

Read more... | Published: 11/20/11 | by Micki Grover

"Toy Story 3" Save the Cat! Beat Sheet

The 15 beats to the Disney Pixar hit are provided by Master Cat! Ben Frahm. Printed with the Permission of Blake Snyder Enterprises, LLC. Opening Image (1) We’re reintroduced to all of our favorite characters, Woody, Buzz, and friends, in an...

Read more... | Published: 11/01/11 | by Save the Cat! Press

Something Startling Happens (The Missing Chapter)

When The Writers Store asked me to write a "missing chapter" for my book, I immediately knew what I wanted to cover! You see, in Something Startling Happens: The 120 Story Beats Every Writer Needs To Know , I focus on the minute-by-minute bea...

Read more... | Published: 11/01/11 | by Todd Klick

Interview with John Truby

Question: What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style? John Truby: Voice and style are among the most misunderstood of all elements in storytelling. Voice and style aren’t simply a unique w...

Read more... | Published: 10/17/11 | by John Truby

Sure. Fired!

Aspiring comedy writers spend years grinding away as P.A.s, pounding out spec script after spec script and dreaming of TV’s holy grail: a staff writing job. Then finally, they get the job! On staff of a prime time TV show. And something happens...

Read more... | Published: 10/17/11 | by Ellen Sandler

I Wrote, I Worried, I Pitched

You’ve been practicing your pitch for weeks: You’ve established a unique protagonist, given him a something he wants with a passion and even better, you’ve created a compelling antagonist. You’ve practiced making eye contact. You know this story b...

Read more... | Published: 10/04/11 | by Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis

The Real Objective

Screenwriters do not write movies. Screenwriters write scripts. And scripts are not movies. Movie audiences are people sitting in a theater, or at home, having a visual experience complete with actors, music, directing, editing and perhaps di...

Read more... | Published: 09/21/11 | by Corey Mandell

Excerpt from "Hire Me Hollywood!" - David Janollari, Head of Programming - MTV

David Janollari Head of Programming, MTV David Janollari grew up in Rhode Island. He was a popular guy who had a lot of friends. He went to Boston College for two years then transferred to NYU film school. He turned his sights on Hollywood, and...

Read more... | Published: 09/22/11 | by Keith Fenimore and Mark Scherzer

What's More Important: Character or Story?

Doesn’t it seem as if a new screenwriting book is published every twenty minutes? I bear no small portion of the blame, as my third such tome burdened bookstore shelves just last year. What’s left for me now to write except a book about writing ...

Read more... | Published: 09/06/11 | by Richard Walter

A Missing Trick from The Bag of Tricks: How Writers Can Meet Their Characters Before They Write Them

My recently released book, The Film Director’s Bag of Tricks: How to Get What You Want from Writers and Actors , was obviously designed for directors. But this book is only one leg of the triangle. How about: Actors getting what they need from ...

Read more... | Published: 09/06/11 | by Mark Travis

They Shoot Screenwriters, Don't They?

How many screenplays do you have to write before you throw in the towel and delete your screenwriting program from your computer? 17? 12? 3? It depends on how seriously you take your screenwriting career--even if you don’t technically have a care...

Read more... | Published: 08/16/11 | by D.B. Gilles

Future of Story Interview Series: Michael Weise

Michael Wiese is a producer, director, author, and publisher. After producing the highly popular “Hardware Wars” (a Star Wars parody), Michael was an entertainment executive with Showtime and later Vice President of Vestron Video where he launche...

Read more... | Published: 08/02/11 | by Ann Baldwin and Michael Wiese

Future of Story Interview Series: D.B. Gilles

D.B. Gilles has taught comedy writing in The Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for nearly 20 years. He also taught comedy in The Dramatic Writing Department at NYU, the Graduate Fi...

Read more... | Published: 08/02/11 | by Ann Baldwin and D.B. Gilles

Future of Story Interview Series: Pamela Jaye Smith

Pamela Jaye Smith is a world renowned mythologist, speaker, consultant, writer, award-winning producer/director, and the founder of MYTHWORKS with over 30 years of experience on features, TV series, commercials, documentaries, corporate an...

Read more... | Published: 08/02/11 | by Ann Baldwin and Pamela Jaye Smith

Future of Story Interview Series: Kathie Fong Yoneda

Kathie Fong Yoneda has over thirty years of successful experience working in film and television. She has held executive positions at Disney, Touchstone, Disney TV Animation, Paramount Pictures Television and Island Pictures, specializing in deve...

Read more... | Published: 08/02/11 | by Ann Baldwin and Kathie Fong Yoneda

Five Great Reasons Why Writers Should Consider Reality Television

The reality of reality is that the genre may be the most often overlooked option when it comes to careers in storytelling. While the debate about whether or not reality television is “written” rages on, the real skinny is that story is story, and ...

Read more... | Published: 08/02/11 | by Troy DeVolld

The Future of Story Interview Series: Pilar Alessandra

Pilar Alessandra is the director of the Los Angeles-based writing program On The Page and a highly sought-after speaker and script consultant. She’s worked as Senior Story Analyst for DreamWorks and Radar Pictures, trained writers at ABC/Disney a...

Read more... | Published: 07/14/11 | by Ann Baldwin and Pilar Alessandra