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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 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

Capturing the Reel Racist - A Debate

A Reader Asks: I have read your book REEL PEOPLE on developing psychologically sound characters. I am working on a character who has to transition from being somewhat of a racist into being a full-blown racist with murderous intentions. Can you g...

Read more... | Published: 10/12/03 | by Howard Gluss

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

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

I Want My Rights Back!

A Reader Asks: I sold a five-year option to my screenplay three years ago, and it appears that we're going nowhere with the company that bought it. I recently "pitched" my story to a well-heeled friend in the film business, and he showed interest,...

Read more... | Published: 07/31/03 | by Larry Zerner ESQ

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

Taking the Leap to Playwriting

Our Reader Asks: I'm currently doing research for a creative nonfiction book but the more I delve into the subject and characters, the more I feel it should be written as a stage play rather than a book. It has a fascinating story, a strong femal...

Read more... | Published: 07/04/03 | by Jonathan Dorf

An Industry Interview with Manager/Producer Andy Cohen on Selling Books to Hollywood

Andy Cohen is the President of Grade A Entertainment, a production and management company representing writers, directors and authors in feature films, episodic and long-form television. Before founding Grade A, Andy spent ten years as both an exe...

Read more... | Published: 06/20/03 | by Howard Meibach

Do I Need to Obtain Rights to Portray the Ex?

A Reader Asks: I have the rights to do a screenplay on the life of a person, but how do you handle the rights to include other people in life, like an ex-wife and others who may be important to the story. Do you need get their rights also? Larr...

Read more... | Published: 06/20/03 | by Larry Zerner ESQ

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