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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.

When All That's Left Is Writing: Turning Anxiety Into Creativity

An old deodorant commercial once proclaimed, 'If you're not a little nervous, you're really not alive.' Pretty sage advice, even though the only thing at stake was staying dry and odor-free. But there is something to be said for accepting -- and ...

Read more... | Published: 05/12/03 | by Dennis Palumbo

Can Sinatra Get Me Into Trouble?

Patrice from Los Angeles asks: I'm currently writing a screenplay that I'll be directing myself in about 10 months. I would like to use a Frank Sinatra look-alike to sing 3 ORIGINAL songs in the STYLE of Sinatra. Is that a copyright violation? Do ...

Read more... | Published: 05/12/03 | by Larry Zerner ESQ

The Myths of Writer's Block

Claude Lévi-Strauss, the social anthropologist, believed that all myths are true and all versions of a myth are the true version. There's a reason that people tell conflicting stories about the volcano god -- did he marry the sea goddess, or did...

Read more... | Published: 04/12/03 | by Bruce Holland Rogers

Are You Ready for the Marketplace?

1. Your First Five Scripts One of the most frequent questions I am asked is Is my script ready? Whether or not a specific script is ready is open to interpretation, based on who is reading the script. However, here are some guidelines I have de...

Read more... | Published: 04/11/03 | by Donie Nelson

Writers Guild of America-West Registration vs. Copyright Registration

WGA REGISTRATION vs. COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION For screenwriters who use the latest version of Final Draft ® to help write their script, one nifty feature is the ability to register the screenplay with the WGA-West Intellectual Property Online Regis...

Read more... | Published: 04/11/03 | by Larry Zerner ESQ

How The Great Story Does Its Work

The purpose of story, as I see it, is to guide us to our full potential and the nature of story is to conceal that purpose in an enticing sugar coat (the entertainment dimensions) that lures us into the experience. But if the purpose is concealed,...

Read more... | Published: 03/28/03 | by James Bonnet

Comedy's Greatest Wish

Comedy has always taken a supporting role to the more serious Hollywood genres. During this awards season, it's easy to recognize the year's great dramas and epics; however, 2003 was a good year for well-written comedy and romantic comedy. And the...

Read more... | Published: 03/14/03 | by Stuart Voytilla

Gangs Of New York - Truby On Technique

Gangs of New York may be the most ambitious film of the last few years. Its production design and cinematography are among the best I have ever seen. Unfortunately, its story structure cannot support the film's ambition. The main structural elem...

Read more... | Published: 03/13/03 | by John Truby

Adaptation - Truby on Technique

I'm sitting here struggling with how to write a critique of this highly praised yet flawed screenplay. Besides my feeling of it not being good enough - in spite of being highly successful in Hollywood - what I really want to do right now is have a...

Read more... | Published: 02/27/03 | by John Truby

Action vs. Dialogue

Question: The first five pages of my script contain a lot more movement than speech. Because of this, it's exceeding the one-page-per minute rule . It just seems to take me more pages to describe action than it does for dialogue. Is this a common...

Read more... | Published: 02/14/03 | by Jeffrey Alan Schechter

My Big Fat Greek Wedding - Truby on Technique

Truby's Breakdown -- 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' Breakdown: an analysis of story techniques and structure as viewed through the eyes of the Seven Steps and 22 Building Blocks contained in Truby's Blockbuster story development software. ~~ My Big ...

Read more... | Published: 02/13/03 | by John Truby

Sneaking Emotional Depth into 'Shrek'

In The Simpsons , Toy Story , A Bug's Life , and Shrek we see film and television which can be enjoyed equally by kids and adults. There are a number of ways to create this kind of cross-demographic appeal. Here I will discuss a few of the t...

Read more... | Published: 02/13/03 | by David Freeman

Writing a Script or Book Outline and Beyond

Building Your Story Yes, this is where I invoke the often-dreaded "O" word. Outline I continue to be amazed by the number of screenwriters and working, published novelists I meet who do NOT outline. And at the risk (one from which I have rarely...

Read more... | Published: 02/11/03 | by Thomas Sawyer

Are Sequels Fair Game?

I am interested in writing a sequel to someone else's movie. I was wondering, do I need permission from the original filmmakers, or can I just write the screenplay and market it as one of my own spec scripts? Margaret C., Far Hills, NJ Dina Appl...

Read more... | Published: 02/04/03 | by Dina Appleton

The Entrepreneurial Screenwriter: Selling Yourself in Hollywood

Agents aren't really necessary as you begin your screenwriting career. Although agents are sales representatives with contacts that new screenwriters don't have, they also do many things writers can do for themselves. Agents, for instance, submit ...

Read more... | Published: 01/31/03 | by Peter W. Smith

Plotting Along

For most people, the terms story and plot are synonymous. People read a book or go to a movie and come away saying, What a great story! But the reason the book or film is so affecting is generally because the story has a great plot. (Don't t...

Read more... | Published: 01/17/03 | by Linda J. Cowgill

Who'll be Reading my Script?

Question: Can you tell me what the process is once I've submitted my screenplay to a production company? Where does it go once it's been delivered? Who reads it first, who next, and what exactly happens to my script next? Leticia R., Toronto, Ont....

Read more... | Published: 01/17/03 | by Larry Brody

Conquering The High Concept

In Hollywood and New York, the concept is king. To succeed as a writer or filmmaker, you need more than a skillfully constructed novel or beautifully directed film. You need an idea that will be talked about, generates excitement and compels the r...

Read more... | Published: 01/12/03 | by James Bonnet

Secrets of Blockbuster Movies Part III - Obstacles

In past articles, we've talked about the story elements found in most blockbuster films. But what about the obstacles that prevent us from writing a hit film? I'm referring to the misconceptions many writers carry with them that make it almost imp...

Read more... | Published: 01/12/03 | by John Truby

Secrets of the 3-Minute Pitch

by Michael Hauge The opportunities in Hollywood for 20-minute pitch meetings are fairly rare, especially for newer screenwriters. But as soon as you complete your first screenplay, you'll repeatedly face the challenge of having less than 60 secon...

Read more... | Published: 01/12/03 | by Michael Hauge

Magnolia: An Appreciation

Screenwriting is a craft that occasionally rises to the level of an art. An art because there are times when it taps directly into the human heart, transcending time, place, language and culture. A craft because it depends upon form, concept, char...

Read more... | Published: 01/12/03 | by Syd Field

A Storyteller's Resolve in the New Year

The Roman god, Janus, is often depicted with two opposing faces. His name gave us January and, nowadays, symbolizes our need to look back at the old and look forward to what our futures hold. But more importantly, Janus served as god of doorways a...

Read more... | Published: 01/10/03 | by Stuart Voytilla

Unlocking The Power of Story Within You

What is the source of our creativity? How can we communicate with that source and use it to unlock the natural storyteller that resides in us all? Carl Jung called the source of our creativity the collective unconscious. Joseph Campbell, in his b...

Read more... | Published: 01/03/03 | by James Bonnet

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

Bringing Real People to Life in Memoir

In many ways, we memoirists have it made. Our plots present themselves to us wholly realized; our characters come to us fully formed. By using our own lives as subject matter, we are spared the hard work of imagination that fiction writers must br...

Read more... | Published: 12/20/02 | by Kathleen Finneran