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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.

Scenes to Cut, Those to Save

Most writers end up writing at least twice as many scenes as needed to produce a compelling story. One skill that defines a good writer is the ability to know which scenes to keep and which ones to kill off. As a plot consultant, I developed two v...

Read more... | Published: 12/03/07 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

The Tragedy, Mystery and Romance of Genre

In my previous articles, The Essence of Story , Beyond Theme: Story's New Unified Field , and The Metaphor is King , I pointed out that all great stories have the same underlying, universal structure - namely, there is a threat, either ag...

Read more... | Published: 12/03/07 | by James Bonnet

Writing in Restaurants 2007

It's been more than two years since the last Writing in Restaurants, and in that time I've come across many new writing-friendly venues. Today, I'll be serving a five-course meal of writing tips as I introduce you to some of my latest favorites. U...

Read more... | Published: 12/03/07 | by Jonathan Dorf

The Character Web

Have you ever noticed whom the actors thank when they win an Oscar? They profusely thank the director for "getting the performance out of them." They thank their agent, their husbands, wives, extended family and distant ancestors, the crew, the st...

Read more... | Published: 11/13/07 | by John Truby

How NOT to Enter a Screenwriting Contest

When I founded the Mona Schreiber Prize for Humorous Fiction and Nonfiction in 2000, I did it to honor my mother, who wrote articles for magazines and newspapers, and taught writing in San Mateo County in Northern California. When I formulated th...

Read more... | Published: 11/13/07 | by Brad Schreiber

The Moment of Clarity

I was listening to a speaker talk to a group of us the other night and 45 minutes into it, I was looking for the door. The subject was the speaker's life and I have to tell ya, it wasn't grabbin' me. Incident after incident was unveiled, stories...

Read more... | Published: 10/08/07 | by Blake Snyder

Going Beyond Just Writing

I recently sat on a panel with four other veteran TV writer/producers at the 2007 UCLA Writer's Faire. Our panel's topic was, Writing Funny TV: The New World of Sitcoms and Spec Pilots. What is this new world of sitcoms and spec pilots? I'm no...

Read more... | Published: 10/08/07 | by Sheldon Bull

Dreams on Spec

I was sitting in a well-furnished office on the 20th Century Fox lot, asking James L. Brooks ("Terms of Endearment," "As Good as It Gets," "Broadcast News") about the art and craft of screenwriting. "I never knew anybody," he was saying, "who eve...

Read more... | Published: 09/10/07 | by Daniel Snyder

The Way of Story

We are taught many things in school, but all too often, this is linear learning, textbook learning. I can remember sitting in classrooms as a child staring aimlessly out of the window at passing clouds. The teacher's verdict was I was wasting my t...

Read more... | Published: 09/10/07 | by Catherine Ann Jones

Plot Reversals Shown in Scene

In real life, some people skate from one success to the next. Others hit a flat-line long before they ever actually die. Unlike people, all story characters suffer both ups and downs throughout the entire story. These reversals play out in three ...

Read more... | Published: 08/06/07 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

Finding and Developing New Ideas

How many times have you heard someone say, "I have a great idea for a movie," and then never do anything with it? They don't remember it later or they never actually put words on paper. On top of that, there are many people who think they have a g...

Read more... | Published: 08/06/07 | by Rona Edwards & Monika Skerbelis

Your Mind is the Key to Your Success

Henry Ford said, "If you think you can, or if you think you can't, you're right." He knew that the mind is a key component to success. Are you using your mind to fund your film? My job is to read hundreds of film proposals for the Roy W. Dean fil...

Read more... | Published: 07/09/07 | by Carole Lee Dean

A Dash of Style: The Period, Part 4

In last month's excerpt from my book, A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation , we discussed a few of the dangers of underuse of the period, as well as the role that context plays in punctuation. In this, the final installment, we'l...

Read more... | Published: 07/09/07 | by Noah Lukeman

Interview with Jeffrey Stepakoff, Author and TV Writer

Jeffrey Stepakoff has been writing professionally in Hollywood since 1988. He has credits on shows including The Wonder Years, Sisters, Major Dad, Beauty and the Beast , and Dawson's Creek . Stepakoff has also created and developed pilots for ma...

Read more... | Published: 07/09/07 | by The Writers Store

A Little Confession is Good for the Soul: An Interview with Writer/Director Stefan Schaefer

Every script can (and should) be a learning experience for the writer. The more we write, the more we experiment and stretch, and the quicker we learn what works and what doesn't. We take these learnings to our next script, where we build on them ...

Read more... | Published: 06/06/07 | by John Gaspard

A Dash of Style: The Period, Part 3

In last month's installment of my book A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation , we discussed a few of the potential dangers of overusing the period. In this month's installment, we'll examine a few of the dangers of under use, a...

Read more... | Published: 06/06/07 | by Noah Lukeman

The Metaphor is King

All great stories have the same structure (see my articles on The Essence of Story and Beyond Theme: Story's New Unified Field ) which, for the purpose of this article and in its simplest form, can be summarized as follows: A threat, either...

Read more... | Published: 06/06/07 | by James Bonnet

Why You Don't Need an Agent - Yet

Trying to wedge a toe-hold in Hollywood as a screenwriter or TV writer is exhausting, frustrating, maddening, heart breaking, humiliating, confusing, and not just a little bit scary. I know. During the blastocyst period of my career, I was trying...

Read more... | Published: 05/07/07 | by Sheldon Bull

Creative License vs. Creative Arrangement

A teacher of screenwriting emailed me recently because he'd been asked to write a documentary. He didn't know where to start, and was trying to locate some completed scripts to study. While these might prove useful, I knew they wouldn't adequately...

Read more... | Published: 05/07/07 | by Sheila Curran Bernard

A Dash of Style: The Period, part 2

In last month's excerpt from my book, A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation , we discussed different ways to use the period. This time, we'll examine a few of the dangers of overuse. There is a major distinction between using p...

Read more... | Published: 05/07/07 | by Noah Lukeman

Special Effects: The Swiss Army Knife of Filmmaking

Special effects have evolved in the last several years into the "Swiss Army Knife" of filmmaking. At one time, special effects were only used for "physical" needs such as rain, smoke, wind, explosions, breaking glass, bullet hits, etc. With the ad...

Read more... | Published: 04/03/07 | by Michael Slone

Finding Inspiration in the Cookie Aisle

The arrival of Daylight Savings Time three weeks early this year heralds the approach of a long stretch of summer for you to finally get cracking on that screenplay you've always wanted to write. There's only one obstacle: Where to find a fresh s...

Read more... | Published: 04/03/07 | by Christina Hamlett

A Dash of Style: The Period

In celebration of the paperback release of Noah Lukeman's seminal guide to punctuation, A Dash of Style , The Writers Store is pleased to present a four part series of excerpts from the book. Some authors, like Camus, Carver and Ernest Hemi...

Read more... | Published: 04/03/07 | by Noah Lukeman

When a Scene Just Won't Do

Most of a writer's genius comes in the art of the finesse. How finely you craft your project before you let it go is up to each individual writer. As a plot consultant, I developed the Scene Tracker Kit to help writers finesse their scenes. A...

Read more... | Published: 03/05/07 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

Opening Your Art

As conscious artists and enlightened-entertainers-in-training, we have to fight a never-ending battle for our art. Or so it seems. Our implements of war are not guns and bombs, but awareness and attention. And the only enemy we ever truly have to ...

Read more... | Published: 02/05/07 | by Derek Rydall