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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.

Excerpt from A Dash of Style

In last week's installment of my book, A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation , we discussed the power of quotation marks, their ability to accelerate the pace of a work, and to allow a break from prose. They have many additional cre...

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

Character-Driven or Action-Driven?

Most writers have a preference for one style of writing over another. Some writers are more adept at developing complex, interesting, and quirky characters. Others excel at page-turning action. The lucky ones are writers who are good at creating b...

Read more... | Published: 03/06/06 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

The Lost Language of Story

Acts or Reels? If you're like me, from your genesis as a screenwriter, from the very first screenwriting book you read, you were exposed to three-act structure - or from your first playwriting book, if you come from the theater. And if you're e...

Read more... | Published: 02/06/06 | by Chris Soth

Writing Great Dialogue

There is a myth that the ability to write great dialogue is a gift that can't be learned and can't be taught. You're born with it or you'll never have it. One version of the myth goes something like this: you have to have an ear for dialogue in...

Read more... | Published: 02/06/06 | by Rob Tobin

Cinematic Storytelling: Writing for the Unconscious

The Case of The Sixth Sense One has to wonder what Freud would have said, seated in a modern day Cineplex while watching the final credits of M. Night Shyamalan's extraordinary film, The Sixth Sense . It's hard to imagine a greater homage to ...

Read more... | Published: 02/06/06 | by Jennifer Van Sijll

A Dash of Style - a new book

Intellectually, stops matter a great deal. If you are getting your commas, semicolons, and periods wrong, it means that you are not getting your thoughts right, and your mind is muddled. -- William Temple, Archbishop of York, as reported in The O...

Read more... | Published: 02/01/06 | by Noah Lukeman

Your Agent or You - Who's Working Here?

ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER AGENT? It's a New Year - an auspicious time, a time to recommit to personal and professional goals, a time for change. In the last days before the ball drops most of us reflect on the waning year and arrive at a plan for th...

Read more... | Published: 01/16/06 | by Nancy Rainford

How to Keep Your Story From Stalling

Telling a great story has always been the key to writing a saleable screenplay or a play that everyone wants to produce--and it's always been the hardest thing to get right. No matter how many car chases or dramatic screaming matches your script m...

Read more... | Published: 01/08/06 | by Jonathan Dorf

The Man who Yelled 'Save the Cat!'

I was at a screening of Cinderella Man when it happened. In an early scene in that film, Russell Crowe, who portrays '30s prizefighter Jim Braddock, gives his daughter his only slice of bologna. "I had a dream last night where I ate a big steak...

Read more... | Published: 12/01/05 | by Blake Snyder

Teens Can Make Films - Can You?

See that kid over there? The one with the video camera. She's trying to tell you something. That kid is in the process of shooting her first short over the next three days with the help of a handful of classmates and a useful book or two. What is...

Read more... | Published: 12/01/05 | by Troy Lanier

Formatting Scripts to Sell: Advanced format and style tips that can turn a good script into a great read

Before a film or television script can fulfill its destiny in front of cameras and on screens around the world, it must first succeed as a piece of literature, a document that captivates the reader before it delights the viewer. Since film and tel...

Read more... | Published: 10/31/05 | by Christopher Riley

Cinematic Storytelling and Directing the Director

Let's assume you have a great story. You've got a great hook, premise, structure, theme and characters. Despite these necessary qualities, it's still anyone's guess if you've got a great screenplay. Why? Because having a great story is only half t...

Read more... | Published: 10/31/05 | by Jennifer Van Sijll

Writing Screenplays vs. Novels: A Tough Love Guide for Writers

This article can be appreciated by all writers and filmmakers but will be of special interest to writer / storymakers who are trying to decide where to best invest their creative energies and talents - the novel or the screenplay. I'll begin with ...

Read more... | Published: 10/10/05 | by James Bonnet

Taking the Stage

The truth of the matter is that actors and writers have to be their own best friend. After the delight of discovering that one is indeed an artist, the real work of survival sets in. There is financial survival. Waiting tables, waiting in general...

Read more... | Published: 09/06/05 | by Susan Merson

What's Hot in Hollywood?

Our reader Lauren from Memphis, TN asks I have a quirky movie that does not fit into any standard genre. How do I sell it? Reader Bryan from Wausau, WI asks What's hot in Hollywood now? What's selling? Screenwriting Expert Michael Hauge re...

Read more... | Published: 09/06/05 | by Michael Hauge

How to Make your Pitch Stand Out

Our reader Loretta from Roseville, CA asks I only have a short time to pitch my idea. How do I make my screenplay idea stand out from the rest? Script Consultant Pilar Alessandra answers "Hook them" with your big idea right away. At a pitch...

Read more... | Published: 09/06/05 | by Pilar Alessandra

What's Your Sign? Selling More Scripts Through Personality Typecasting

"Cardboard characters!" writes a story analyst, putting the finishing touch in the comments section of his story report. "No tension!" writes another gatekeeper, check marking the dreaded word "pass" on her studio coverage form. Lack of real, emp...

Read more... | Published: 08/15/05 | by Marisa D'Vari

5 High Concept Requirements Defined Once and For All

High Concept is a term that's been confused, misunderstood and misused by writers for decades. The common belief is that it's any movie that can be pitched in one sentence. A man who battles his wife for custody of their children is one sentence, ...

Read more... | Published: 08/15/05 | by Steve Kaire

Minor Characters Don't Need Major Introductions

EXT. - DUSK - CHICAGO STREET In a traveling shot, we see JOSEPH TAMBERLIN, a homeless man of 47, asleep between two garbage cans in a trash-littered and stinky alley. He has long, dirty blond hair streaked with grey and pulled back in a ponytai...

Read more... | Published: 08/02/05 | by Christina Hamlett

Create Scenes That Sizzle - 7 Essential Elements

Every story spans a period of time. Story can be defined as conflict shown in scene, meaning that most writers will treat time in scene rather than in summary. An example of a partial scene from Rick Bragg's memoir: Ava's Man : "Charlie felt th...

Read more... | Published: 08/02/05 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

Five Reasons Why Writing Plays Can Make You a Better Screenwriter

What do such movies as The Hours , Shakespeare in Love , Empire of the Sun , Wag the Dog and The Untouchables have in common? Here's a hint: their authors are David Hare ( The Hours ), Tom Stoppard ( Shakespeare in Love and Empire of the ...

Read more... | Published: 07/18/05 | by Jonathan Dorf

The Three Paragraph Rule - An Excerpt from "How to Write a Great Query Letter"

"It seems important to me that beginning writers ponder this--that since 1964, I have never had a book, story, or poem rejected that was not later published. If you know what you are doing, eventually you will run into an editor who knows what he/...

Read more... | Published: 07/18/05 | by Noah Lukeman

The Powers of Myth

Myths are the stories we tell ourselves to explain the worlds around us and within us. Is your story mythic? Well, it should be. And it can be, if you tap into the timeless and powerful tools of storytelling that make some tales so universal yet...

Read more... | Published: 06/20/05 | by Pamela Jaye Smith

The Middle: Meddlesome or Mythical?

The toughest part of any writing project is crafting the middle. Why so daunting? The Middle of most projects makes up a whopping 1/2 of the entire page count or scene count. The moment the main character leaves the Beginning and enters the heart ...

Read more... | Published: 06/06/05 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

The High Concept Advantage to Selling Screenplays

In my twenty years plus as a screenwriter, I've heard thousands of pitches at pitch festivals, my seminars and in my writing classes. I'd say that 90% of the screenplays, treatments and ideas I've had pitched to me had a weak premise and probably...

Read more... | Published: 06/06/05 | by Steve Kaire