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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.

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

Interview with Dave Hackel: Creator and Executive Producer of the TV Show 'Becker'

Dave Hackel's producing credits include such long-running hits as Paramount's comedy series 'Wings' and 'Dear John.' Hackel's first writing assignment for a series came in 1978 for the 'Barney Miller' spinoff, 'Fish,' starring Abe Vigoda. While wr...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by The Writers Store

Interview with: Vickie Patik - Writer/Director/Actor

Vickie Patik has enjoyed success in nearly every facet of entertainment, first as a singer/dancer in Los Angeles civic light opera and Broadway productions and actress on soap operas, then as a screenwriter of numerous movies for television. A fr...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by The Writers Store

Interview with: Lewis Colick - Award Winning Screenwriter

Lewis Colick: Script Tips Lewis Colick estimates that he's been writing for 25 years and 'making a living at it for about 18.' His critically-acclaimed 'October Sky earned him the 1999 Humanitas Prize for Best Feature Script and a Writers Guild n...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by The Writers Store

Interview with: Donald Spoto - Biographer/Historian

Biographer and historian Donald Spoto believes the goal of the biographer is first and foremost to tell the truth. 'Our purpose,' he said, 'is to set the record straight, celebrate lives, and set forth certain aspects of history and human behavio...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by The Writers Store

Interview with: John Wirth - Television Writer/Producer

John Wirth is writer and executive producer of 'Nash Bridges' starring Don Johnson and Cheech Marin. He serves on the board of the Writers Guild of America west on its Television Writers Council. He graciously took time out to tell us about his ca...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by The Writers Store

Interview with: Lenny Ripps - Comedy Writer

It's hard to imagine television without the situation comedy, perhaps the most intrinsically American form of comedy today. From 'I Love Lucy' to 'Friends' the genre has taken many twists and turns, going from one-camera to three-camera setups, fr...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by The Writers Store

Interview: Karin Howard - German/American Writer

Karin Howard has written for nearly every medium: she's written film scripts and TV shows in English and German, she has several novels to her credit, she has a degree in journalism and has worked as a journalist and even hosted a television magaz...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by The Writers Store

Interview: Bob Holman - Screenwriters' Agent

Kathryn Knowlton, Literary Manager and President of Creative Script Services talks with Bob Holman of Holman, Maybank and Live, a 'boutique' agency that represents screenwriters. Kathryn Knowlton: Bob, I know you've worked at both large agencies ...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Kathryn Knowlton

Interview: Ray Gideon - Screenwriter

Originally an actor, Ray Gideon first took the turn into writing 20 years ago with fellow actor Bruce Evans, and the two of them have been working together ever since. It's a partnership that has yielded some impressive credits, first with short f...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by The Writers Store

Focusing on the Use of Symbols in Film: Why 'American Beauty' Works

There are many ways symbols that can be used in a movie. Today I will examine one of them. Alan Ball, the screenwriter of 'American Beauty,' makes riveting use of the color red throughout the film. The first time we see Annette Bening, she's cutt...

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

Pacing in Writing Techniques You Need to Know

Pacing, as it applies to fiction, could be described as the manipulation of time. Though pacing is often overlooked and misunderstood by beginning writers, it is one of the key craft elements a writer must master to produce good fiction. Best-sell...

Read more... | Published: 12/31/01 | by Gerry Visco