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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 to Write a Pitch in 8 Essential Steps

Selling a screenplay or a novel is simple. It's not easy, but it's simple. First: write a great story . Then: get lots and lots of people to read it . You can have the greatest, most commercial, most brilliantly written screenplay or manu...

Read more... | Published: 06/24/16 | by Michael Hauge

A Character's Fatal Flaw: The Vital Element for Bringing Characters to Life

Growth is the by-product of a cycle that occurs in nature; that which flowers and fruits will also eventually wither and go to seed. The seed, of course, contains the potential for renewal, but does not guarantee it, nor does the seed instantly s...

Read more... | Published: 01/08/07 | by Dara Marks

Bulletproof your Script against Reader Rejection

As a produced screenwriter and script consultant, I have had the privilege of interviewing and working with dozens of studio and production company script readers. And what I've discovered are a handful of key things that they look for when judgin...

Read more... | Published: 12/05/06 | by Derek Rydall

View from the Distribution Side

In his new book, Independent Film Distribution , film journalist Phil Hall offers an unflinching look into the world of independent film distribution. In the excerpt below, Phil interviews expert Gregory Hatanaka, who provides a bevy of insider t...

Read more... | Published: 12/05/06 | by Phil Hall

A Script by Any Other Name? The Sale is Just as Sweet

You've dotted all your "i's," you've crossed all your "t's," you've read every book on how to pitch your script in person, by mail, and online. Yet there it continues to sit. Unsold. Unwanted. Unloved. Maybe the problem isn't that it's an unsala...

Read more... | Published: 11/07/06 | by Christina Hamlett

Characters Make the Plot

This year, reviewers have consistently complained about a lack of character emotional development in the movies. At the same time, Hollywood reports a slump in box office sales. Are the two related? Perhaps. Even the top five moneymaking movies fo...

Read more... | Published: 11/07/06 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

Lean and Mean: Using Reverse Cause and Effect to Construct a Tight Script

The work of the amateur screenwriter is often characterized by the Unnecessary. Dialogue and description are often overdone, scenes tend to be overwritten, acts are bloated, and so on. You may have entire scenes that are unnecessary, perhaps even ...

Read more... | Published: 10/02/06 | by Jeff Kitchen

Nature as Mythic Storyteller

Films that last often have a mythic quality. Like great children's stories, we consume these films as we do ageless fables. Unlike lesser stories, the lessons learned in these films carry a universal authority that seems to transcend man. Biblica...

Read more... | Published: 10/02/06 | by Jennifer Van Sijll

The Secret Language of Great Stories

Visual metaphors are the secret language of great stories. In this article, I will discuss what they are and the source of their power. Great stories and dreams are among the more important visual metaphors. They are symbolic languages. And their...

Read more... | Published: 09/06/06 | by James Bonnet

Breaking the Screenwriting Rules

Everybody in Hollywood knows the top three rules of screenwriting: 1. Write what you know. 2. Films must have a happy ending. 3. Films must have three acts. But few people know what these rules all have in common: They are all wrong. Rule #1:...

Read more... | Published: 07/31/06 | by Howard Suber

Goals Define the Plot

In every story plot and movie plot, the protagonist (and for that matter, all of the major characters) has at least one long-term goal in the story, and one small goal or more in every scene. Goals give definition to the overall story that unfolds...

Read more... | Published: 07/31/06 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

Say Goodbye to Writer's Block: Introducing the Moral Premise

I hate writer's block, and I'm sure you do, too. If you're like most writers you have a file drawer full of stories started but never completed. The ideas were great, or so you thought. They kept you awake far into the night pecking them out. Now,...

Read more... | Published: 07/04/06 | by Stanley D. Williams

Using Contrasts to Spice Up an Animation Script

Does your animation script seem a little flat? Be honest. The problem could be that you haven't included enough contrasts in your script. Variety is just as important in a script as it is in a gourmet feast. Characters Build your script around...

Read more... | Published: 06/06/06 | by Jean Ann Wright

13 Things Bad Screenwriters Commonly Do

Having been the director of development for TV/film director Jonathan Kaplan ( Unlawful Entry , The Accused , NBC's E.R. ), I had the unique and special opportunity to read screenplays, as well as fiction and non-fiction books and articles, to s...

Read more... | Published: 06/06/06 | by Brad Schreiber

A Dash of Style - Part Four

In last week's installment of my book, A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation , we began to discuss ways that quotation marks might be misused. In this final installment, we'll examine this issue in depth, and also look at the power ...

Read more... | Published: 05/03/06 | by Noah Lukeman

Cinematic Storytelling: Dynamic Metaphors

Think of the rose petals in American Beauty , the bird imagery in Shawshank Redemption or Leon's beloved houseplant in The Professional . These metaphors stay with us long after the movie. Like the sled in Citizen Kane , they work as visual ...

Read more... | Published: 05/03/06 | by Jennifer Van Sijll

Interview with the "Stranger Adventures" Writing Team

When the first Emmy Award category honoring new media programs was announced, it ushered in unprecedented opportunities for screenwriters. Not since cable television has the industry experienced such a shift. Those willing to write for the Interne...

Read more... | Published: 04/27/06 | by Christie Taylor

How the Great Myths and Legends Were Created

The great myths and legends were not authored by individuals the way stories are today but were evolved naturally and instinctively by unconscious processes in oral traditions. Even if they started out as made-up or true stories, revelations or dr...

Read more... | Published: 04/03/06 | by James Bonnet

Excerpt from A Dash of Style

In last week's installment of my book, A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation , we discussed the power of quotation marks, their ability to accelerate the pace of a work, and to allow a break from prose. They have many additional cre...

Read more... | Published: 03/06/06 | by Noah Lukeman

Character-Driven or Action-Driven?

Most writers have a preference for one style of writing over another. Some writers are more adept at developing complex, interesting, and quirky characters. Others excel at page-turning action. The lucky ones are writers who are good at creating b...

Read more... | Published: 03/06/06 | by Martha Alderson, M.A.

The Lost Language of Story

Acts or Reels? If you're like me, from your genesis as a screenwriter, from the very first screenwriting book you read, you were exposed to three-act structure - or from your first playwriting book, if you come from the theater. And if you're e...

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

Writing Great Dialogue

There is a myth that the ability to write great dialogue is a gift that can't be learned and can't be taught. You're born with it or you'll never have it. One version of the myth goes something like this: you have to have an ear for dialogue in...

Read more... | Published: 02/06/06 | by Rob Tobin

Cinematic Storytelling: Writing for the Unconscious

The Case of The Sixth Sense One has to wonder what Freud would have said, seated in a modern day Cineplex while watching the final credits of M. Night Shyamalan's extraordinary film, The Sixth Sense . It's hard to imagine a greater homage to ...

Read more... | Published: 02/06/06 | by Jennifer Van Sijll

A Dash of Style - a new book

Intellectually, stops matter a great deal. If you are getting your commas, semicolons, and periods wrong, it means that you are not getting your thoughts right, and your mind is muddled. -- William Temple, Archbishop of York, as reported in The O...

Read more... | Published: 02/01/06 | by Noah Lukeman

Your Agent or You - Who's Working Here?

ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER AGENT? It's a New Year - an auspicious time, a time to recommit to personal and professional goals, a time for change. In the last days before the ball drops most of us reflect on the waning year and arrive at a plan for th...

Read more... | Published: 01/16/06 | by Nancy Rainford