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Best Screenwriting Tips, Writer's 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.

The Five S's of Screenwriting

Working with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Jason Miller and the legendary Tennessee Williams offered me a tremendous entrée into the magical world of storytelling. As American icons, their extraordinary talent inspired the world; and as screen...

Read more... | Published: 08/16/04 | by Kate Wright

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

Writing Effective Query Letters

Our reader Sanborn from Costa Rica asks: Why is there so much fuss about writing query letters? I always thought it's my story or script that counts, not my cover letter. Please advise. Marc Hernandez, Managing Partner and Literary Manager wit...

Read more... | Published: 06/21/04 | by Marc Hernandez

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

Collaborating on Documentaries

Our reader David Moepeng (from Botswana, Africa) asks: I am an upcoming documentary producer - currently working on a history documentary. [I've] identified someone very good [who] has knowledge of the issue I am covering to help write the script...

Read more... | Published: 05/08/04 | by Sheila Curran Bernard

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

Literary Manager or Agent: Which is Right for Me?

Our reader Seth from Colorado asks: What's the difference between an agent and a manager? Marc Hernandez responds: That's a good question, Seth. After all, writers need to understand the business of representation in order to maximize their po...

Read more... | Published: 03/14/04 | by Marc Hernandez

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

Pop Culture to the Rescue

Our reader, Kathy from West Hollywood asks : How I can hold the executive's interest who's already read a million screenplays? By now, most probably hate to read! Richard Walter replies: Place yourself in the mind of the reader. That's what you...

Read more... | Published: 03/14/04 | by Richard Walter

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

Moving on from Square One

Our reader Tim Kessler asks: I have developed an idea into what needs to become a film treatment. Can you suggest how I can take what I've got into a piece of work that can be properly used to apply for funding for the expedition/ documentary? Do...

Read more... | Published: 03/01/04 | by Steven D. Katz

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

Winning Spec Scripts

Our Reader Allen Ventura from Springfield, IL writes: I am a professional writer who has recently turned his hand to screenwriting. Can you give me the insider's view of "spec scripts?" Is this a sound way to proceed or are there better ways to g...

Read more... | Published: 02/15/04 | by Richard Walter

Hang Out With Writers To Succeed!

Our Reader Mark McC from Canyon Country (not too near Hollywood), CA writes: Coming to L.A. has not at all been what I expected. I've tried to follow the experts' advice, like get a job in a production company , but that was impossible. My borin...

Read more... | Published: 02/01/04 | by Richard Walter

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

Quirky or Plain Crazy - Where Do I Draw the Line for My Character?

Lynn, a Writer/Producer from Palm Springs, CA Asks : In your book REEL PEOPLE you talk a lot about characters that seem to be quite disturbed. Can the theories of personality types apply to characters that are just quirky or eccentric rather than ...

Read more... | Published: 01/05/04 | by Howard Gluss

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

Interview with: Shawn Lawrence Otto - Screenwriter of HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG

WS: You graduated magna cum laude AND Phi Beta Kappa from a small, private liberal arts college, Macalester in St. Paul. What was your major and did it have any impact on your careers as house painter, apartment house owner, and prize-winning s...

Read more... | Published: 12/19/03 | by The Writers Store

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