TAG: screenwriting tips

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Making an Image or Action Crucial to the Scene


Liking an image is not enough. No one cares what you want, what you like. They care if the story is pulling them forward, interesting them, confusing them in interesting ways. In my years of teaching screenwriting, the most frequent response given by a student to the question “Why did you do this or that?”…


You Need a Logline


Screenwriting Tip #12: If you don’t know your own logline, you probably don’t know what your script is about. Some writers will tell you they don’t have a logline. Their screenplay is “too complex” or “too character-driven,” or they just didn’t bother to think of one before they started writing. These writers are either idiots…


The Key Stages of Script Development


There are a number of stages in the evolution of a screenplay, and each stage usually requires various drafts. Each stage has a specific purpose as you proceed, step-by-step, from a general outline of your story to a script that contains the full dimensions of your film, including locations, actions, dialogue, sounds, movements, etc. This…


Deciding What to Write – 5 Factors that Make a Script Attractive to Buyers


As writers, we like to think a well-written and compelling story should be enough to sell a script. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true. In fact, it’s rarely true. Sure, selling a script requires a well-told story, but there are other, equally important factors that make a script attractive to buyers. Perhaps the five most important…


Top Ten Reasons to Write with a Partner


A former screenwriting student, Tom Kurzanski, e-mailed me one day: I just wanted to thank you for planting the seeds of writing with a partner.  The seeds took root and I partnered up with a good friend and colleague of mine (Michael Young).  Now here I am with a TV pilot that, I feel, is…

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Screenwriting Tip #100: The Three Acts of Writing a First Draft


Screenwriting Tip #100: The point of a first draft is just to exist. Nobody should ever spend more than three months on a first draft unless they’re hand-chiseling it on a stone tablet. The psychological process of writing the first draft follows a predictable arc. At first it feels like love in the springtime –…


Screenwriting Tip #78: Action Before Dialog: If there’s a way for a character to act instead of talk, write it!


Actions speak louder than words… It’s cliche’, but it doesn’t make it any less true.     Action is just inherently more interesting than dialog. Arguments are interesting, but fights are better. Sexy talk is interesting, but sex is better. Hearing about a fifty-foot-tall, man-eating dinosaur is interesting, but…well, you get the idea. Cinema is…

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Screenwriting Tip #69: The Clueless Villain


Screenwriting Tip #69: When designing your antagonist, remember: evil doesn’t know it’s evil. Evil gets out of bed in the morning and goes to work with a song in its heart, knowing that what it’s doing is right. Is there anything cooler than a really nasty villain? There are the skin-crawling monsters in human form…

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Screenwriting Tip #132: Your Ideas are Precious Snowflakes


        Screenwriting Tip #132: When pitching a bunch of ideas at once, don’t short-change any of them. Sell every single one with absolute conviction… even the ones you just made up on the spot. While we’re talking about pitching, see if this sounds familiar: Somebody asks you to pitch them a whole…

How to adapt a book into a script

Adapting A Screenplay from Literature


There is a constantly growing supply of plays, novels, and short stories that might adapt well to the screen. Good literature can however be a quicksand if you assume that the story will make an equally fine film. Effective adaptation may actually be impossible if you can find no cinematic equivalent for the author’s writing…

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