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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.

4 Ways Documentary Filmmaking Can Capture Real-Life Drama

Documentary filmmakers, no less than dramatic screenwriters, strive to tell strong, often character-driven stories that have a beginning, middle and end, with something at stake, rising tension, and a narrative arc that keeps viewers actively enga...

Read more... | Published: 07/19/04 | by Sheila Curran Bernard

The Theft of Time

A particularly arrogant film producer once said to me, "I could be a writer, too, if I only had the time." Which implied, I guess, that if he didn't have to attend meetings, deal with studios, manage production budgets--in other words, if he didn...

Read more... | Published: 06/28/04 | by Dennis Palumbo

Did You Hear The One -- ?

-- About The Screenwriter Who Decided To Write A Comedy? There was a moment in your life when you acknowledged to yourself that you were funny. Maybe you were trying to be funny. Maybe you weren't. Maybe it just slipped out. But somebody laug...

Read more... | Published: 06/21/04 | by D.B. Gilles

Gatsby: The Great American Story

The Great Gatsby is a true Great American novel. What is even more amazing is that F. Scott Fitzgerald did it in little more than a short story. How did he do it? Essentially, he wrote a Great American Story. Fitzgerald was able to create what m...

Read more... | Published: 06/07/04 | by John Truby

StoryWeaving - Avoiding the Genre Trap

A common misconception sees genre as a fixed list of dramatic requirements or a rigid structural template from which there can be no deviation. Writers laboring under these restrictions often find themselves boxed-in creatively. They become snared...

Read more... | Published: 05/25/04 | by Melanie Ann Phillips

Writing in Restaurants Revisited

I wrote the original Writing in Restaurants for the eZine nearly two years ago. But dining out is still one of my favorite things to do. And, of course, so is writing. So it seemed only fitting to revisit Writing in Restaurants with some new r...

Read more... | Published: 04/27/04 | by Jonathan Dorf

Truby on Structure: Cold Mountain

Warning : If you haven't seen Cold Mountain , this article contains spoilers which may impair your viewing pleasure. The myth-drama is one of the most powerful story combinations that we have. Myth gives us the hero's journey and the epic scope....

Read more... | Published: 04/27/04 | by John Truby

Expert Article: The Art of Plotting

For many people plot is the same thing as structure. Both deal with designing the story, creating relationships between its elements and developing how action builds to a climax. When you structure a film story, you're working out the plot to disc...

Read more... | Published: 04/12/04 | by Linda J. Cowgill

Top Ten Reasons to Write with a Partner

Want to double your chance for success in this business? If so, we strongly suggest you write with a partner. Yes, you have to find the right person, and when you start selling your scripts, you'll split the money, but we, and the successful scrip...

Read more... | Published: 03/14/04 | by Claudia Johnson

Approaching Character: The Circle of Being

Henry James, the great American novelist, in an essay entitled The Art of Fiction, asks a rhetorical question about the nature of character: "What is character," he writes, "but the determination of incident. And what is incident but the illumin...

Read more... | Published: 03/01/04 | by Syd Field

PASSION: Without It, Forget It

For a new screenwriter, the only way to tear down the Hollywood barriers is to burn them down with your passion. Your passion for the story and for the characters who drive it. Without Passion, your script is no more than a tinker toy network of r...

Read more... | Published: 02/15/04 | by Christopher Keane

Getting Started in L.A.

Each year hundreds of screenplays become feature films. And each year thousands of teleplays become television episodes. Opportunity-wise, televisions's got feature films beat. TV's got the heat. The magic. The glitz. All that's missing is you. H...

Read more... | Published: 02/01/04 | by Larry Brody

Beyond Theme: Story's New Unified Field - Part III

To read Part I of this Series, click here. To read Part II of this Series, click here. In the first two parts of this series I began an examination of the true source of unity in a great story and how that unity can be achieved. I introduced...

Read more... | Published: 01/18/04 | by James Bonnet

Character Emotions & Psyche: How They Shape You and Your Characters

" Only connect the prose and the passion,and both will be exalted. " - E. M. Forster Emotions are the lifeblood of characters and of stories. Without emotional characters, you are just writing events, but you're not drawing your audience into ...

Read more... | Published: 01/05/04 | by Rachel Ballon

Be a Story Weaver - NOT a Story Mechanic

Too many writers fall into the trap of making Structure their Story God. There's no denying that structure is important, but paying too much attention to structure can destroy your story. We have all seen movies and read novels that feel like "pa...

Read more... | Published: 12/07/03 | by Melanie Ann Phillips

The Power And Importance Of Human Connection To A Great Screenplay

For years I gently browbeat my students. "Dig deeper," I said. "The best stories are about the human heart." I wasn't quite sure what I meant. I knew I didn't mean that old Hollywood saw -- throw in some love interest! I meant something closer ...

Read more... | Published: 11/21/03 | by Claudia Johnson

Truby On Structure: Mystic River, Runaway Jury & Intolerable Cruelty

Warning: If you haven't seen these movies, the following article contains spoilers which may impair your viewing pleasure. Mystic River Mystic River is a classic example of what is referred to as an "actor's movie." Big monologues, gnashi...

Read more... | Published: 11/21/03 | by John Truby

Beyond Theme: Story's New Unified Field - Part II

In Part I of this series ( read Part I here ), I began an examination of the true source of unity in a great story and how that unity can be achieved. I introduced you to four of the elements that can influence that unity and add significantly to ...

Read more... | Published: 11/06/03 | by James Bonnet

Story Weaving - Story Structure for Passionate Writers

We all know that a story needs a sound structure. But no one reads a book or goes to a movie to enjoy a good structure. And no author writes because he or she is driven to create a great structure. Rather, audiences and authors come to opposite si...

Read more... | Published: 10/26/03 | by Melanie Ann Phillips

Richard Walter's Greatest Hits Or The Reader's Backflip

When I speak to screenwriters they remind me of rules I wrote in my first screenwriting book. The following rules - principles, actually - come from my 27 years chairing the graduate Screenwriting program in the film school at UCLA: 1. It's quite...

Read more... | Published: 10/12/03 | by Richard Walter

Why Story Structure is the Key to Success

There is a system of thought known as the As-If Philosophy. In a nutshell, the As-If Philosophy says: We know we will die, but we act "as if" we will live forever. The ironic result is that our lives are not nearly as fulfilling as they could be. ...

Read more... | Published: 10/02/03 | by John Truby

Beyond Theme: Story's New Unified Field

What is the true source of unity in a great story and how is that unity achieved? According to the dictionary, unity is the state of being one. And today it is generally agreed that a story should be about one thing - but what is that one thing? I...

Read more... | Published: 09/14/03 | by James Bonnet

Hero is a Four-Letter Word

Part Three: Hero and Villian Mix It Up We've seen how both Hero and Villain are actually composed of several different qualities. And, we've seen that for every quality the Hero possesses, the Villain has a counterpart. When these qualities are ...

Read more... | Published: 09/14/03 | by Melanie Ann Phillips

Structure and Character - Excerpted with Permission from the Book "Story" - Part One

Plot or character? Which is more important? This debate is as old as the art. Aristotle weighed each side and concluded that story is primary, character secondary. His view held sway until, with the evolution of the novel, the pendulum of opinion ...

Read more... | Published: 09/08/03 | by Robert McKee

Structure and Character - Excerpted with Permission from the Book "Story" - Part Two

Character Arc Taking the principle further yet: The finest writing not only reveals true character, but arcs or changes that inner nature, for better or worse, over the course of the telling. In The Verdict , protagonist Frank Galvin first ...

Read more... | Published: 09/08/03 | by Robert McKee