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Advice > Best Writing Advice from Writing Experts

Soak up knowledge as writing experts divulge insider secrets and tips to help screenwriters, playwrights and filmmakers everywhere with expert writing advice needed to help hone the craft of writing. Whether it be novel writing advice, writer interviews, screenwriting advice articles, or general screenwriting help that is desired, these writing experts are focused on helping writers everywhere further their skills in every facet of writing.

How to Write a Logline that Sells

Have you ever been stuck listening to a friend tell you a joke that seems to go on without ever reaching the punch line? Your mind starts wandering and you stop paying attention as the joke painfully loses its momentum. Pitching your ideas effect...

Read more... | Published: 08/29/03 | by Jonathan Treisman

Finding the Right Writing Partner

Some of the greatest movies and TV series have been written by script partners, from Billy Wilder's legendary collaborations with Charles Brackett and I.A.L. Diamond to the Academy Award-winning work of the Coen Brothers. Each year the list of scr...

Read more... | Published: 08/17/03 | by Claudia Johnson

Hero is a Four-Letter Word: The Villain

Reader response has been overwhelming on this article series - impatiently awaiting our second installment. We're glad to present today: Part Two Equally well known as the Hero is the Villain. And just as the Hero is actually made up of severa...

Read more... | Published: 08/17/03 | by Melanie Ann Phillips

Clint and Meryl vs Matt and Cameron

You wake up one morning with a great idea for a movie about a guy in his late sixties-to-early-seventies. The concept pours out of you like a dream. You go to your computer. Before lunch you've done a rough outline of the first act. By dinner you...

Read more... | Published: 07/31/03 | by D.B. Gilles

Hero is a Four-Letter Word: Unmasking the Hero

Part One Introduction Perhaps the best-known character type is the Hero. But if you ask a thousand different writers to define a Hero, you'll get a thousand different answers. That's because the term has been used so indiscriminately it has ...

Read more... | Published: 07/18/03 | by Melanie Ann Phillips

The Emotional Pattern of Plot

When we think of plot we usually think in terms of action. Action is driven by what the characters want and the conflict that stands in their way. So the basic parameters of plot give a story direction and meaning: characters act on their desire, ...

Read more... | Published: 07/04/03 | by Linda J. Cowgill

Characterization - The Inner Life

I would never write about someone who is not at the end of his rope. --Stanley Elkin Many writers mistake the outer life of a character for the inner life, assume that by offering a physical description and a few surface details, they have c...

Read more... | Published: 06/06/03 | by Noah Lukeman

Truby on Structure: About Schmidt

About Schmidt does something that is rare in movies, especially from Hollywood. It depicts a lone man. That is both a blessing and a curse. There is a very good reason films don't usually depict a lone man. Film is drama. It is public. We need s...

Read more... | Published: 06/06/03 | by John Truby

From Mailroom to Oscar(R) Winner - Marc Norman

This sound familiar? You take a thankless job to pay bills for six months while you write the next great screenplay. Ten years and 20 jobs later, that great script still eludes you. Thinking about giving up? Marc Norman was. Fortunately, he decid...

Read more... | Published: 05/19/03 | by Frederic T. Dray

Who Killed Salinger Movies?

We know J.D. Salinger's views on movies and writing for Hollywood by reading the second page of The Catcher in the Rye. Speaking of his brother, D.B., the hero, Holden Caulfield, says "Now he's out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there'...

Read more... | Published: 05/19/03 | by John Truby

When All That's Left Is Writing: Turning Anxiety Into Creativity

An old deodorant commercial once proclaimed, 'If you're not a little nervous, you're really not alive.' Pretty sage advice, even though the only thing at stake was staying dry and odor-free. But there is something to be said for accepting -- and ...

Read more... | Published: 05/12/03 | by Dennis Palumbo

The Myths of Writer's Block

Claude Lévi-Strauss, the social anthropologist, believed that all myths are true and all versions of a myth are the true version. There's a reason that people tell conflicting stories about the volcano god -- did he marry the sea goddess, or did...

Read more... | Published: 04/12/03 | by Bruce Holland Rogers

Are You Ready for the Marketplace?

1. Your First Five Scripts One of the most frequent questions I am asked is Is my script ready? Whether or not a specific script is ready is open to interpretation, based on who is reading the script. However, here are some guidelines I have de...

Read more... | Published: 04/11/03 | by Donie Nelson

Writers Guild of America-West Registration vs. Copyright Registration

WGA REGISTRATION vs. COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION For screenwriters who use the latest version of Final Draft ® to help write their script, one nifty feature is the ability to register the screenplay with the WGA-West Intellectual Property Online Regis...

Read more... | Published: 04/11/03 | by Larry Zerner ESQ

How The Great Story Does Its Work

The purpose of story, as I see it, is to guide us to our full potential and the nature of story is to conceal that purpose in an enticing sugar coat (the entertainment dimensions) that lures us into the experience. But if the purpose is concealed,...

Read more... | Published: 03/28/03 | by James Bonnet

Comedy's Greatest Wish

Comedy has always taken a supporting role to the more serious Hollywood genres. During this awards season, it's easy to recognize the year's great dramas and epics; however, 2003 was a good year for well-written comedy and romantic comedy. And the...

Read more... | Published: 03/14/03 | by Stuart Voytilla

Gangs Of New York - Truby On Technique

Gangs of New York may be the most ambitious film of the last few years. Its production design and cinematography are among the best I have ever seen. Unfortunately, its story structure cannot support the film's ambition. The main structural elem...

Read more... | Published: 03/13/03 | by John Truby

Adaptation - Truby on Technique

I'm sitting here struggling with how to write a critique of this highly praised yet flawed screenplay. Besides my feeling of it not being good enough - in spite of being highly successful in Hollywood - what I really want to do right now is have a...

Read more... | Published: 02/27/03 | by John Truby

My Big Fat Greek Wedding - Truby on Technique

Truby's Breakdown -- 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' Breakdown: an analysis of story techniques and structure as viewed through the eyes of the Seven Steps and 22 Building Blocks contained in Truby's Blockbuster story development software. ~~ My Big ...

Read more... | Published: 02/13/03 | by John Truby

Sneaking Emotional Depth into 'Shrek'

In The Simpsons , Toy Story , A Bug's Life , and Shrek we see film and television which can be enjoyed equally by kids and adults. There are a number of ways to create this kind of cross-demographic appeal. Here I will discuss a few of the t...

Read more... | Published: 02/13/03 | by David Freeman

Writing a Script or Book Outline and Beyond

Building Your Story Yes, this is where I invoke the often-dreaded "O" word. Outline I continue to be amazed by the number of screenwriters and working, published novelists I meet who do NOT outline. And at the risk (one from which I have rarely...

Read more... | Published: 02/11/03 | by Thomas Sawyer

The Entrepreneurial Screenwriter: Selling Yourself in Hollywood

Agents aren't really necessary as you begin your screenwriting career. Although agents are sales representatives with contacts that new screenwriters don't have, they also do many things writers can do for themselves. Agents, for instance, submit ...

Read more... | Published: 01/31/03 | by Peter W. Smith

Plotting Along

For most people, the terms story and plot are synonymous. People read a book or go to a movie and come away saying, What a great story! But the reason the book or film is so affecting is generally because the story has a great plot. (Don't t...

Read more... | Published: 01/17/03 | by Linda J. Cowgill

Conquering The High Concept

In Hollywood and New York, the concept is king. To succeed as a writer or filmmaker, you need more than a skillfully constructed novel or beautifully directed film. You need an idea that will be talked about, generates excitement and compels the r...

Read more... | Published: 01/12/03 | by James Bonnet

Secrets of Blockbuster Movies Part III - Obstacles

In past articles, we've talked about the story elements found in most blockbuster films. But what about the obstacles that prevent us from writing a hit film? I'm referring to the misconceptions many writers carry with them that make it almost imp...

Read more... | Published: 01/12/03 | by John Truby