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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.

Excerpt from "Your Screenplay Sucks!: 100 Ways to Make it Great"

I've been doing exactly what you do, writing, for a long, long time. I've taught and critiqued screenwriters for almost that long, and, lo and behold, I discovered that all beginning writers make the same mistakes. So I wrote a book, a checklist...

Read more... | Published: 11/05/08 | by William M Akers

Can Movies Make a Difference?

In 1994, Quentin Taratino wrote a fictional story about Mickey & Mallory Knox, a honeymoon couple who, as a perverse aphrodisiac, randomly shot and killed over 50 people. Oliver Stone directed the film and the week it opened, a real young coup...

Read more... | Published: 10/06/08 | by Catherine Ann Jones

Musings on the Art of Cinematography

Imagine being able to learn about something as complex as the Art of Cinematography in only half an hour or a weekend. Isn't that what we all want today, in our new millennium, instant gratification world of the Internet, High Def, GoogleEarth and...

Read more... | Published: 10/06/08 | by David Worth

Hell is Other People: A Look Back at Goodfellas

I admit I'm something of a contrarian. I don't believe that all good scripts follow the same three-act structure, and I don't believe we have to like our protagonists. A film like Goodfellas (written by Nicholas Pileggi and Martin Scorsese) offe...

Read more... | Published: 09/02/08 | by Robin Russin

Why Based on a True Story Movies Repeatedly Unravel

Based on a true story is one of those unfortunate catch-phrases that usually has the opposite effect in courting a producer's enthusiasm than most writers assume. Of the several hundred projects a year I review as a script consultant, nearly 20% ...

Read more... | Published: 09/02/08 | by Christina Hamlett

Connecting with Audiences Through Character Emotions

Moviegoers and readers identify with stories through the characters. The most powerful way to reach an audience is through the characters' emotions. For only when we connect with the characters on an emotional level, does the interaction become de...

Read more... | Published: 08/04/08 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

How to Write a Query Letter the Right Way

A great query letter is your key to unlocking an executive's door. Take your time and be as thoughtful about your query as you were when writing your screenplay. Industry professionals view query letters as a reflection of the writer's screenplay ...

Read more... | Published: 08/04/08 | by Susan Kouguell

Breaking In - Through Hollywood's Back Door

When you write your first screenplay, the path to glory seems clear: find an agent who will get you a six-figure deal. A hundred and fifty query letters later, you're languishing at Hollywood's front gate. You've received a lot of encouragement, b...

Read more... | Published: 06/30/08 | by David Trottier

Choosing the Right Idea for a Film or Book

When Dorothy Fadiman agreed to be a poll watcher in the U.S. presidential elections of 2004, she thought she was only volunteering to work on Election Day. She had no idea that what she saw would trigger the idea of making a movie about U.S. elect...

Read more... | Published: 06/30/08 | by Tony Levelle

Finding your Mentor

This year I began a mentorship program through my website. After a few years of building up students who knew my methods and can speak my language, there's finally a tiny community of like-minded souls that believe in the way I learned to do thing...

Read more... | Published: 06/02/08 | by Chris Soth

Filmmaking: A Mutual Adventure

"Whether he likes it or not (and as a rule he does not like it much), the man who wants to express himself on celluloid is part of a group. If individual and personal self-expression is what he wants, he is in the wrong business." -Alexander Macke...

Read more... | Published: 06/02/08 | by Richard D Pepperman

The Lure of the Dark Side

What is it that lures people over to the Dark Side? Your audience wants to find out how people and things go bad, so in your story, be sure to reveal some of how the characters become the way they are -- not to excuse their behavior but to get ...

Read more... | Published: 05/05/08 | by Pamela Jaye Smith

Taking the Mystery Out of How to Write a Mystery

If you saw the season-ending episode of Monk , do you remember the clue that helped catch the killer? Me, neither. In the recent thriller Fractured , what was the mistake Anthony Hopkins made that proved he killed his wife? You got me. My po...

Read more... | Published: 05/05/08 | by Dennis Palumbo

Writing is Rewriting

As a screenwriter, you may use other script consultants to critique your material, but inevitably you'll need to master the ability to analyze your own work. This can be a difficult task, somewhat akin to trying to look at your own face (without a...

Read more... | Published: 03/31/08 | by Derek Rydall

Narrative Structure and Infinite Creative Possibilities

In my previous articles - The Essence of Story, Beyond Theme: Story's New Unified Field, The Metaphor Is King , and The Tragedy, Mystery, and Romance of Genre , I pointed out that all great stories have the same underlying, universal structure -...

Read more... | Published: 03/31/08 | by James Bonnet

Paring Down your Script

I can absolutely guarantee you, based on more than twenty years experience, that the second thing a reader (be she a script reader, development exec, agent, producer, or studio head) will do when she gets your script, is thumb through to the end t...

Read more... | Published: 03/03/08 | by Paul Chitlik

How Little Red Riding Hood Made Me a Writer

A story that made a big impression on me was "Little Red Riding Hood." I was ten and my mother said to me, "Who's the main character in the story?" I thought for a moment, and said, "Red Riding Hood." "How so?" "The story is called that," I sai...

Read more... | Published: 03/03/08 | by Christopher Keane

How to Get Your Script Read

The phone rang. It was a big shot producer from a major studio. "Hey, Ken, I love what you've done! What a great idea! I'm gonna steal it from you." Was he talking about one of my scripts? No. What he was talking about was - well, read on. Let'...

Read more... | Published: 03/03/08 | by Ken Rotcop

Moral Storytelling

The run-up to Oscar season has produced a surprising development in the ecology of ideas that underlies our popular culture. Hollywood storytelling has long been dominated by a high-speed linear form that packs as many thrills into two hours as po...

Read more... | Published: 02/11/08 | by John Truby

Genre Blending: The Romance of Adventure, and the Adventure of Romance

One of the most valuable skills for a writer to have is a command of genre. Whether you choose to specialize in a single genre, or want to platform your talent across several, understanding the conventions of genre can strengthen and deepen your w...

Read more... | Published: 02/04/08 | by Stuart Voytilla

Preparations & Consequences: Ways to Incorporate Emotion into the Plot

When characters share emotions with the audience, it deepens the experience of the story. Viewers are made available to the storyteller through emotion: writers seek an emotional connection with their audience the same way actors and directors do....

Read more... | Published: 02/04/08 | by Linda J. Cowgill

How to Write for Television: 4 Rules of Series TV

Break out of the box of traditional screenwriting assumptions! In this excerpt from Writing the TV Drama Series: Second Edition , Pamela Douglas gives you some new rules for writing television that have changed significantly in just the past co...

Read more... | Published: 02/04/08 | by Pamela Douglas

The Use of Flashbacks in Movies

At this moment in time, I think we're in the middle of a screenwriting revolution, a time where screenwriters are pushing the form and craft in new directions. I firmly believe that the traditional way of "seeing things" has changed, and we're loo...

Read more... | Published: 01/28/08 | by Syd Field

And the Best Screenplay Goes To: An Excerpt from Dr. Linda Seger's New Book

What makes an Academy Award-nominated script? As I wrote my newest book on three Academy Award-nominated films - Sideways, Shakespeare in Love, and Crash - I wondered if it would be possible to find patterns that seemed to be true for most of ...

Read more... | Published: 01/07/08 | by Linda Seger

How to Use Shot Headings

We've all heard the warning against overwriting our screenplays by including too much camera direction or too many slug lines. We worry about getting it wrong, because we're professionals. Or at least we want our scripts to make us look that way. ...

Read more... | Published: 01/07/08 | by Christopher Riley