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Advice > Screenwriting Questions & Advice

Every script writer has a burning screenwriting question waiting to be answered. The Gatekeeper is here to answer that call with screenwriting help that can be used by screenwriters, scriptwriters, directors, playwrights, filmmakers, and writers of all genres. Looking for more? Check out the featured tips on screenwriting, expert writing advice, and screenwriting books to help further expand any writer's writing skills.

An Agent, An Agent, My Kingdom for an Agent

Question from Chris Van: I write to you from Johannesburg, South Africa. I have finally completed my screenplay after a six-year haul. Thanks to Writers Store I have used many of your publications on my path to success. I have a powerful email lo...

Read more... | Published: 01/03/03 | by Howard Meibach

How can a great 'non-formula story' get past the Gatekeeper?

Question: How can a great 'non-formula story' get past the gatekeeper? Marisa D'Vari responds: Great question, Stuart. My personal feeling is that several recent events and the national tragedy will pave the way for more personal films. Realize t...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Marisa D'Vari

How DOES a Story Analyst become a Story Analyst?

Question: How does a story analyst become a Story Analyst? Is it worth developing a relationship with a Story Analyst? How crucial can knowing a Story Analyst be to a screenwriters career? Thanks! Marisa D'Vari responds: 'Knowing anyone' in Holly...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Marisa D'Vari

How can I protect my script in the USA?

From a writer living in Turkey:... Question: How can I protect my script in the USA? I mean how can I take the 'all rights reserved' for my script? I am afraid to (have my script) copied and stolen!! What is the best way to protect my script? Ma...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Marisa D'Vari

What is a Query?

Question: What is a query? I have treatments -- is that the same thing? Author Christopher Wehner responds: A query is a communication between a screenwriter and any industry professional, including agents, producers or executives. It can take pl...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Christopher Wehner

Who will buy my Television Script?

Question: I have written a screenplay, which was a Finalist in a respectable contest. I think it would be good for television. While I know how to reach feature producers, agents, etc., I'm not sure how to contact places like Lifetime, Fox Family,...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Hans Tobeason

What's going on in Episodic Television Writing?

The Show Bible: The show bible is created by the creator(s), and usually after the pilot episode has been written. Staff vs. Freelance Writers: It would be very unusual for the creator(s) to write every episode of a series, though it does happen....

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Hans Tobeason

What are the Rules of Adaptation?

Question from Gloria in KS: I would be interested in reading about the process of taking a book that is not your own through the screenwriting process and into a movie format. I understand how to get it into a workable and enjoyable screenplay for...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Linda Seger

My Work has International Appeal! What now?

Question from Nancy in ND: What is the foreign market like for screenwriters? How does a screenwriter approach foreign directors and production companies? Is there a book that talks about the overseas film industry? I'm a business writer who publ...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Karl Iglesias

How do I Format Simultaneous Dialogue?

A Reader's Script Formatting Question: How does a writer denote in a spec screenplay the fact that a character has a double identity and is known to individual characters under two separate identities? Example: a character is known as 'BILL' to o...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by David Trottier

Is Film School Really Necessary?

Question: How valuable/important is film school? I am graduating college in one year, and I want to go into film. Skip Press responds: It's one thing to aspire to write films or act in them, and quite another to know how they are made. Smart writ...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Skip Press

How Much Description is Too Much?

Our reader Sara asks: As a new writer trying to get a handle on what is SEEN ONLY, I find getting my character's feelings and objectives across ... challenging. How much latitude can be taken in such descriptions? What about adjectives and adverbs...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Jeffrey Alan Schechter

What's the Scoop on Writing Contests?

Dear Gatekeeper: Would you recommend entering a screenwriting contest? I have a script I would like to submit, and would appreciate some feedback on what they have to offer and any other advice on contests you can give me. Thank you. Janice, Wash...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Larry Brody

Can I Keep the Rights to my Characters' Images?

Duane Eaders of WA asks: Is it possible to retain the rights to your characters -- names, appearance, etc. -- once you have sold your screenplay? For example, what if you have developed a character/person/creature that you intend to expand into a ...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Dina Appleton

Where Does My Story Fit - TV or Big Screen?

~~ Patrick O. asks: How will I know whether my script idea is better suited for television, independents or a major studio? I've seen coverage comments that one idea may be suited for a MOW [Movie of the Week], but how does a writer know this in a...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Larry Brody

Creative Rights of Writers

~~ Question by Melana: 'I've read a lot of articles in the trades about battles between screenwriters and directors and/or producers (and sometimes actors) about changes in the script. Can you tell me how much control can a writer expect to have o...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Ron Suppa

Deal Terminology: What's 'Against' Mean?

Dollars and Sense ~~ Monica P. asks: What does it mean to be offered $XX 'against' $YYY, for your screenplay? For example, does one price 'against' another mean that the writer is paid $XX now, with an additional $YYY later if the film is actuall...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Skip Press

Frustrated Selling My Spec Script

Dear Gatekeeper: I've finished my spec script, entered a couple of contests and sent out a zillion query letters by mail and email. The only response I received was from an agent who will represent me if I shell out $25 for every submission. I'm w...

Read more... | Published: 05/31/01 | by Howard Meibach