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Plan Your Journey - You Can't Make the Trip if You Don't Know How to Get There
Why Do Sceenplays Have Three Acts?
David Silverman



Writers, screenwriting teachers, guru’s, historians, storytellers and countless others have been debating the merits of the three act dramatic structure as it’s applied to plays, novels and screenplays. A little research reveals that Aristotle may have been the first to call it a three act structure. Apparently he pointed out that a drama needed to consist of a beginning, middle and an end.


Aaron Keene


If you’re just getting into filmmaking — and by “just getting into filmmaking” I mean “in your first ten years of filmmaking” — the most important thing you need to realize is this:​ NOBODY WANTS TO MAKE YOUR FUCKING MOVIE!

The 10 Best Places to Find Your Favorite Screenplays Online

Jon Fusco

No Film School


The best way to learn to write a screenplay is to read the movies you love.

After years and years of telling myself there is no correct way to write a screenplay, I may be ready to finally give up the fantasy. In undergrad, as a theater major, I was constantly taught that there were many outlets for creative writing, thus no formula for what makes a successful screen or stage play. Once released from the bonds of academia, I embarked on a long and exhausting journey to create some wholly original "experimental work." 

Why Save the Cat Didn't Destroy Screenwriting

The Bitter Script Reader


This is a replay post from a couple of years ago, but recent events have convinced me that it merits spotlighting again.  My buddy J.J. Patrowdid an excellent comparison that placed the screenwriting philosophies of several leading "gurus" side-by-side.  One of these gurus was Blake Snyder, whose book Save the Cat was recently eviscerated in a Slate article that targeted it as the reason that Hollywood movies suck.

7 Deadly Sins of Writing

William Akers

Your Script Sucks


Search for and change these words (about 90% of the time) in whatever you write and the results will be tighter and more clear. Okay, so it’s twenty five deadly sins. So sue me.
Screenplay Review – Bright


HUUUUUGE spec sale reviewed today folks. And from the most controversial screenwriter working today. Days like this are what Scriptshadow was made for.


Note: Just hours after this review was posted on Scriptshadow, Netflix bought the rights in what will be their largest movie production to date.

10 Steps To Writing A Movie Pitch: A Case Study

Stephanie Palmer


Would you like to see how a movie pitch gets developed? A screenwriting client of mine gave me permission to use his project and his draft of a movie pitch as an example.


What you’re about to see is the first phase of researching and developing a movie pitch, using my client’s feature film idea as a case study.  This process will not only help you to improve your movie pitch; it will also build your expertise in the genre so that you are the kind of writer executives want to hire.

How to Master Screenplay Structure Using Sequences

ScriptReader Pro



Traditional three-act screenplay structure basically goes like this: a protagonist is landed with a problem in Act 1, (the set up) attempts to solve it in Act 2, (the confrontation) and fails or succeeds in Act 3, (the resolution.)

What’s wrong with it? It’s too broad and it’s too vague. There’s actually much more going on in screenplay structure than just three big acts, and that’s what this ultimate guide is all about.

Novice To Master Screenwriter; Stages Of Growth – Part 1

David Silverman

Hollywood Therapy on PsychCentral

Stanley Kubrick, arguably, has never made a bad film, as a director, or as a screenwriter.  Kubrick wrote the screenplays for A Clockwork Orange, The Killing, and co-wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, Paths of Glory, and Full Metal Jacket.

How do you get to be that good as a writer in Hollywood?  Nobody starts out like that, it’s a process.  Everybody starts out as a novice.

Manic Pixie Dream Girl Teams Up With Other ‘Underwritten Female Characters’ In Trailer For Fake Movie

Kate Halliwell


While diverse roles for women in film have made some progress in the last few years, certain female character tropes are seen again and again. A new trailer for fake movie “Underwritten Female Characters” puts a spin on some of the most worn out female roles, spoofing everything from the Bechdel Test to the treatment of Asian and black women in movies.

9 Screenwriting Truths I Learned the Hard Way in Hollywood

Ken Miyamoto

Whether it be through screenwriting books, panels, seminars, Youtube videos, or blogs like ScreenCraft’s very own here, screenwriters are often bombarded by words of wisdom, declarations about the film and television industry, and stories about this or that successful screenwriter and how they got to where they are today. So that’s what I’ll be doing here in this post. Many of these truths you’ve heard or read many times, but here I’m offering the personal experiences — successes and failures — to back them up in hopes of helping help you, the screenwriter, adapt the lessons learned to your own situation.

WRITERS ON BREAKING IN: 6 Tips from Max Landis

Zack Gutin

I’m sitting in a tree right now, a carved-out tree in the forest-like section of an eclectic cafe in Hollywood. I’m with Max Landis, the screenwriter who metaphorically laughed in the face of Hollywood’s spec sale drought by selling not one, not two, but three specs inside a six-month span.

Scriptnotes Episode 257: Flaws are Features (podcast)

John August with Craig Mazin

Craig and John look at unforgettable villains, screenwriter billions, and a parallel world with two Nathan Fillions. (The last part is not true.) We also dig into more about magical dad transformation comedies and why there isn’t a female equivalent.

Screenwriting: Tricks to Jumpstart Your Creative Mind

Jason Buff

Indie Film Academy

The most important part of getting started is writing. This doesn’t mean writing your actual screenplay. It means you need to start taking notes on your ideas as they present themselves. It’s good to have your notebook with you at all times. Always write your ideas down. You will be amazed at how quickly you’ll forget things. Write anything that comes to mind.

Pitch Meeting Structure Used By Hollywood Pros

Stephanie Palmer

Good in a Room


Let's go back in time . . . when you wanted to become a professional writer, you started learning about screenplay structure. You realized that all movies, all stories, have similar structural features. There is a similar structure to pitch meetings–and it’s used by top writers, directors, and producers. Just as screenplays are structured in three acts, pitch meetings have five stages.

115 Words for “Walks” and 90 Words for “Looks”

Scott Myers

Go Into the Story


Did you know that in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, there is no dialogue in the first 25 minutes, nor in the last 23 minutes. Indeed, there are around 88 dialogue-free minutes in the movie. That’s a good reminder of perhaps the most fundamental fact regarding cinema: It is primarily a visual medium. Therefore as screenwriters, we need to think visually… and write visually.

MasterClass: Aaron Sorkin Teaches You Screenwriting

Alex Ferrari

Indie Film Hustle

So a little while ago I became super excited about MasterClass’s new online course by legendary director Werner Herzog (see article here) and now they announce that they have another Oscar Winner teaching screenwriting, Mr. Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Steve Jobs). The Aaron Sorkin Masterclass will be available in late summer 2016. MasterClass is accepting preenrollment for $90 and promising early access in exchange.

The Top Screenwriting Terms for Novice Screenwriters

Jason Hellerman

Knowledge is power and it’s always good to know your trade terms. Below are the top screenwriting terms and their general definitions.In regards to the more technical format terms, remember that they should be used only when necessary. Screenwriters should always avoid directing the camera within the script. Sometimes you’ll need to be CLOSE ON something important in the script, or a sequence may require you to utilize CONTINUOUS within the scene heading. However, in the end, always use anything beyond location, scene heading, and dialogue sparingly.

The Building Blocks of Story

Joe Gilford

Creative Screenwriting


Workable story ideas can, though, be developed into a solid, industry-ready script—a combination of creative impulses, and the harnessing of those impulses into a structure. The following action structure sheet will give you an overview of the building blocks of story: the major actions and events, and most importantly, the “human value”—what it is that your main character discovers at the end that changes his or her life, or at least offers a recognition of the need for change.

H.P. Lovecraft’s Advice to Aspiring Writers: Timeless Counsel from 1920


Brain Pickings

In January of 1920, iconic science fiction and fantasy author H. P. Lovecraft published a short guide titled“Literary Composition” for United Amateur Press Association — a grassroots literary education collective that dubbed itself an “exponent of amateur journalism,” an early version of today’s blogs and citizen journalism. Found in the anthology Writings in the United Amateur (free downloadpublic library), the essay offers aspiring writers technical tips and big-picture wisdom on the art and craft of the written word.

3 Examples of Single-Location Short Films to Inspire You

Courtney Hope Thérond

Lights Film School


We often must ask ourselves two questions when beginning to brainstorm new project ideas: how can we create stories with what’s already available to us, and how can we maximize those resources? While such questions may seem like a restriction, there are ways to use what you have to your advantage – to reframe a limitation as a creative challenge as opposed to a road block. Shooting in a single location is one way you can keep your film contained in scale without necessarily constricting the story. Some stories lend themselves quite naturally to the confines of a single space. Others are even augmented by it, making the location its own character and player in the drama.

Screenwriting 101: 5 Tips for Writing Better Characters into Your Screenplay

Noam Kroll



Writing a screenplay is a balancing act, and while all the components need to work together in harmony, the one component that can really make or break the script (in my opinion) is the character. In other words, you could have the most beautifully written story arc, and perfect structure to your script, but if your lead character is dull and flat then everything else falls to pieces.

Meet the Reader: 12 Signs of a Promising Spec Script

Ray Morton


Professional script readers will often claim that they can tell if a screenplay is going to be good or not after reading just a few pages. This is true – for me, anyway.

Granted, I can’t assess every single nuance of a script’s story in just five or ten or pages, but by assessing twelve specific elements, I can tell if the story, characters, and dialogue have potential and if the writer has the ability to pull off whatever it is she/he is attempting. Here are those twelve elements – those twelve signs of a promising spec...

How to Cut the Fat from Your Screenplays

Ken Miyamoto


Cutting the fat from your script will save you pages, better the script’s pacing, and make it easier for the reader to do what they need to do while reading your script — see it through their own mind’s eye as if each and every line of scene description and dialogue were a frame of film on a rolling reel within their mind. That’s the secret to writing a page-turner, which we’ve covered previously in 4 Keys to Help Screenwriters Write Page-Turners.

Even if you think you have a solid draft and are set to market it, go through it again and utilize the below actions to cut it down to the most lean piece you can.

Eight Screenwriting Scams to Avoid

Ray Morton

Script Magazine


Screenwriting is an art and a craft, but it is also a profession – one that takes newcomers a while to get the hang of. Fortunately, there are a lot of good folks out there willing to help and guide and mentor up-and-comers. Unfortunately, there are also some not-so-good folks out there looking to take advantage of aspirants’ naïveté and inexperience. To help you avoid falling victim to these exploiters, here is a list of eight screenwriting scams to avoid.

The Most Common Reasons Why Scripts Are Rejected

Corey Mandell

Film Independent


Whenever a script is submitted in the industry, it is passed off to a reader for analysis. The reader will give the script a “recommend,” a “consider” or a “pass.” And unless it gets a recommend, probably no one else is going to look at it. So how many scripts get a recommend? About two percent. Which means roughly ninety-eight percent of spec scripts are dead on arrival. Many of these scripts make the same mistakes. Here’s my take on the ten most common mistakes reported by the studio and network readers who recently visited my UCLA class.


Michelle Goode

Write So Fluid


As a script reader I write a lot of reports. Naturally, the script notes/observations I make will be unique to the writer and their story, making it hard to give in-depth advice in a blog post, but there are definitely some common notes that appear time and time again in reports which writers might find useful as a way of checking over their work before rewriting/submitting scripts. So without further ado, here’s 9 common script notes and ways to tackle them…​

The 15 Best Screenwriting Books



A Martian Wouldn’t Say That ~ Leonard B. Stern

Adventures in the Screen Trade ~ William Goldman

Conversations With My Agent ~ Rob Long

Creating Unforgettable Characters ~ Linda Seger

Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics ~ Michael Rabiger


The New Spec Script Style for Tomorrow

Dave Trottier

GAPF BLOG - ScriptFest


Is there a new spec style out there?  I hear this question all the time.  If one exists, is it different from the old style?  Is it something I have to learn or can I use the old style?

Many established writers including Alan Ball, Jeff Lowell, Scott Frank, and Shane Salerno are using a variation of standard spec formatting style.  It is not an entirely new style, nor does it change any of the basic rules.  It’s more of a stylistic preference, which I will explain in a moment.

What Screenwriters Can Learn from Hollywood’s Dismal Spec Market

Ken Miyamoto



Every so often, the screenwriting world is rocked by some dark days within the film industry. In these contemporary times, we’ve seen the Writers Guild of America strikes (1960, 1988, 2007) — the worst of which was the one two-punch of the 2007-2008 strike followed by the Economic Crisis of 2008.  This week, the screenwriting world felt an aftershock of that dual 2007-2008 event with the release of the often anticipated Scoggins Report, which is an analysis of the feature film development business based on information assembled from a variety of public and non-public sources.​

Master of None Co-Creator And Parks and Rec Writer Alan Yang On Breaking a Story

Joe Berkowitz

Fast Company


The opening credits on most TV shows often come with a side order of lies. The main offender is the "written by" credit. It's a suspiciously narrow designation that suggests one or possibly two story-artisans painstakingly handcrafted every plot-point, and every string of sparkling banter that make up the episode all on their own. Barring some exceptions, what actually happens is an entire writers room full of interlocking personality types forms like a comedy Voltron to pitch and polish ideas until one or two writers have enough material to go off and write up a draft. It's a process that's known as breaking a story, and it is incredibly difficult to do.

8 Tips For Screenwriters

Darious Britt


Actor, Director and Writer Darious Britt offers his 8 tips for screenwriters in this video from his YouTube channel D4Darious.

John August Scriptnotes: David Mamet and the Producer Pass

John August


In this episode of John August's blogcast, consisting entirely of answers to listener questions, John and Craig discuss David Mamet, internet trolls, post-credit scenes and English actors attempting American accents.

I Get It...but What Is It? How to Define Your Original Television Pilot

Daniel P. Calvisi


There are SO many shows out there, on SO many platforms, that it’s getting harder and harder to find the truly great stuff that you want to devote hundreds of hours of your life to watching. And that’s just your burden as a consumer.  As a writer, although there may be more buyers now, there are also more creators pitching and submitting to these buyers. It’s become much harder to make your pilot script stand out in such a crowded marketplace.


Matt Lazarus

The Story Coach


I once worked with a writer “Dante” who hated unfilmables beyond reason. He proudly told me the story of a time he was working with a partner who wanted to describe a character as angry. Dante changed the line to “his brow furrows” because a furrowing brow is literally filmable, and he didn’t think angry was. Dante was surprised when I came down on the side of the writing partner, because anger is a universal emotion that you can read in body language, and “brow furrowing” could represent anger, confusion, arousal or anything else. In the pursuit of avoid an unfilmable, Dante made the script harder to follow, not easier.

7 Scripting Tips from Oliver Stone, Mark Duplass, Cassian Elwes and David Seidler

Matt Brennan



At this year's Sun Valley Film Festival, writer-directors Oliver Stone ("Snowden") and Mark Duplass ("Togetherness"), screenwriter David Seidler ("The King's Speech") and producer Cassian Elwes ("Dallas Buyers Club") offered blunt advice to screenwriters and independent filmmakers based on their years of experience in the industry.

7 Screenwriting Secrets From the Masters of Great Dialogue

Ken Miyamoto



You don’t strive to write more eloquent and poetic scene description. Beyond those words in a screenplay lies the dialogue. And yes, the dialogue is what screenwriters often obsess about most — and rightfully so.


Great dialogue can take a small concept and make it big. A conversation between two characters during a dinner (My Dinner with Andre). Bank robbers stuck in a warehouse (Reservoir Dogs). A teenager dealing with a pregnancy (Juno). These are all examples of otherwise small concepts that were elevated by their dialogue.

Active Voice vs. Passive Voice

Max Adams


You can’t write scripts in passive voice.  Scripts have to be written in active voice.  But I think sometimes when I tell a student he or she cannot use passive voice, there is a disconnect.  I’m talking a grammar thing.  And the student thinks I am talking a stylistic tonal “writer’s voice” thing. 

Unwritten Hollywood Rule: Don’t Be Too Original

David Silverman

Hollywood Therapy

Of course you want to be original when you’re writing your screenplay. But don’t be too original. While saying it out loud sounds like a terrible idea, consider what’s going on in Hollywood. Think about the prequels, sequels, remakes of older films, remakes of TV shows, and movies based on comic strips. How many Star Wars movies are there now? How many Star Trek movies? How many Alien, Terminator, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, James Bond, Mission Impossible, Batman and Hunger Games movies?

'The Script Reader's Checklist: 60 Things That Will Land Your Screenplay in the Trash



If you ever manage to get your script in front of a script reader, you're kind of lucky, but you're also kind of screwed. Readers are notoriously known for dismissing scripts, tossing them for having a boring first paragraph, poor formatting, or less. So, how do you better your chances of getting a pass from one of these gatekeepers? Well, screenwriter Terry Rossio has put together a 60-point checklist to help you do just that.

Watch: 9 Minutes of Screenwriting Advice That Screenwriters NEED to Hear

Ken Miyamoto



Screenwriting advice is everywhere. It’s become a secondary industry since the screenwriting boom of the 1990s with blogs, books, podcasts, classes, seminars, and workshops. Much of it focuses on story and structure theory. A screenwriter could read for years about such things before they realize that there is no one true answer to the now age-old question — What does it take to write a great screenplay?

MEET THE READER: Linear Equations – Non-Linear vs Linear Narrative 

Ray Morton

Script Magazine


Over the course of the last decade or so, screenwriters both professional and aspiring have become increasingly fond of telling their stories in non-linear fashion:

  • Using an excessive amount of flashbacks and asides

  • Employing mosaic construction

  • Starting the story in the middle, jumping to the beginning, advancing to the middle, then proceeding to the end

When Is Your Script Ready To Shop?

Tony Folden

The Dialogue Architect


I’m writing this blog because a lot of beginning screenwriters think that once they’ve finished writing their first draft that they can send it out to producers or agents or any number of famous people and get it sold. This can actually do you more damage than good. With all do respect to all of you newbs out there, your first draft is shit!

How To Write A Screenplay You Can Sell

American Film Market

Stephanie Palmer


Have you been struggling to write a screenplay or sell a screenplay you’ve written? This post is for you.

I’ve worked with many screenwriters to help them make their first sale. I’m not talking about selling the first thing you write – I’m talking about writing the first thing that you actually sell. In my experience, screenwriters need to take four important steps before they can sell a screenplay for the first time. Today I’m going to explain the four steps and give you specific things you can do to learn how to write a screenplay you can sell.

CRAFT: Writing the Commercial Screenplay

Michael T. Kuciak


No one has to go see a movie. But they do, anyway. So often, and among so many different groups of people, that billions of dollars are generated by an industry capable of doing only one thing: creating something that doesn’t exist. Films are dreams converted into a reality that, in turn, become dreams that can be shared with others. And all of these dreams begin and end as a story that is shaped into a form—a screenplay—that can be translated into cinema—otherwise known as writing the commercial screenplay. Why should anyone buy yours?

SUBMISSIONS INSANITY: How To Get Your Writing Noticed 

Lucy V. Hay


This is the thing. Submissions-wise, part of the battle of getting OUT of the spec pile and through someone’s door – either by actually selling your screenplay, or as a writing sample so you can be a writer for hire – is getting NOTICED. We all know this.What’s more, every single one of us *knows* that our writing simply cannot get noticed if it’s the SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE’S. So how do we avoid SAMEYNESS?

Logline Cliches to Avoid

Michael Kim

Ink Tip


When you read logline after logline, patterns emerge. These patterns are sometimes exact copies of each other, clichés based on expressions that are hammered into our heads in taglines we’ve seen on movie or show posters, or in voiceovers we heard in trailers by the late, great Don LaFontaine.

Here are clichés to avoid in loglines and how you can overcome them. Keep in mind that using these can scream “novice writer” to a reader.

The Screenwriter's Simple Guide to Formatting Television Scripts

Ken Miyamoto



What’s the difference between a feature film script and a television script?


With film, you’re generally telling a story that is contained within the time frame of ninety minutes to two hours plus. Such a story usually follows a basic three-act structure — or a variation of it. With television, you’re creating a world with a cast of characters that will hopefully continue on for upwards of 10-24 episodes (give or take) for multiple seasons, thus the main story will not be resolved by the end of each teleplay or television script.

Why Your Script Pitch Must Involve Conflict

Michael Kim

Ink Tip


If your logline is missing a central conflict, then it’s possible your story is missing one as well. At least that’s what a reader will assume about your script. Think about trailers. We complain about trailers giving away too much of the film: “They just showed the whole movie.” Despite this annoyance, trailers still have a big impact on marketing.

How to Do the Twist (& We Don't Mean the Dance)

Justin Morrow

No Film School


A satisfying twist ending is one of the most difficult things to pull off. A regular ending, as anyone who has tried to write one will acknowledge, is difficult enough. But have no fear, we're here for you with these twist tips. (Or are we?!)

The Hateful Eight Screenplay Download

Christopher Boone

No Film School


In January 2014, the script for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eightleaked, and Tarantino vowed he wouldn't make the film. Then, he decided to host a staged reading of the script since he wasn't going to make the film. Now, just shy of two years from the script leak, the film is set to arrive "in Glorious 70mm" in roadshow format in select cities and a slightly shorter digital format for the masses.In anticipation of its release, The Weinstein Company has officially released the final script for The Hateful Eight, so you can now legitimately download a copy of the script. Even before the film's release.

The Social Network Script Analysis - Audio Podcast

Chris Huntley, Moderator

Dramatica Users Group Podcast


The Dramatica Users Group presents a podcast analysis of The Social Network utilizing the story techniques built into the Dramatica story theory software program.

How to Make the Best-Structured Show on Television

Rowan Kaiser



You’re the Worst’s renewal yesterday was a happy surprise — a surprise because its ratings aren’t great, but its fans will be happy because it’s turned into one of the best shows on television. So what makes for good structure? How did You’re the Worst incorporate so much good across a dozen episodes?

Robert McKee Says These 4 Things Keep Bad Writers from Being Good

V Renée

No Film School


Does your plot make sense? Are your characters dimensional? Does your story structure work? Really, the list of criteria is virtually endless, so maybe looking at what makes a screenwriter bad is a little more helpful. In the video below, screenwriting guru Robert McKee details four things that he thinks keeps bad screenwriters from being good. Check it out.


Matt Warren

Film Independent


So there you sit. Final Draft is open, the tea is warm, and you’re ready to write your screenplay. You’ve blocked out your plot to the tiniest detail, returning to Staples two, three, even four times for notecards and pushpins, until your office corkboard looks like an abstract art project. You know (or think you do) where your story is headed. The structure is there. You have the house. But who’s going to live there?You guessed it—characters.

MEET THE READER: Ten Spec Script Musts

Ray Morton

Script Magazine


A successful spec script is one that is fully realized creatively and that motivates a producer or studio to either buy it or to hire the writer to pen other projects. Based on my observations in and around the business, I’ve identified ten things a spec must do in order to be successful.

How to Be a Better Writer: 6 Tips From Harvard’s Steven Pinker

Eric Barker

Time Magazine


Good writing is often looked at as an art and, frankly, that can be intimidating. No need to worry. There are rules — even science — behind writing well.  Our brain works a particular way; so what rules do we need to know to write the way the brain best understands? To find out the answer I gave Steven Pinker a call.


For Your Consideration: Read 2016 Awards Season Screenplay Hopefuls

Rich Drees


It’s that time of year, as awards season heats up the studios start putting out copies of the screenplays they hope will be getting award nomination consideration online. And that means any folks who like to read screenplays get a bonanza of titles to pick from as the season progresses. All the scripts are in .pdf format and will probably only be available through the awards season, so click and save if you’re interested in having a copy to read later on down the road. Here are the initial offerings, which we will continue to update as more become available.

5 More Award-Winning Screenwriters Discuss How They Approach Their Craft

Christopher Boone​

No Film School


Back in March, we posted five award-winning screenwriters discussing how they approach their craft. Personally, I find great value in hearing from successful professional screenwriters, learning about their strengths and weaknesses, finding out what works and doesn't work for them as they work on their screenplays. After originally posting about five award-winning screenwriters, we naturally had to follow that up with five more award-winning screenwriters discussing how they approach their craft

Wil Wheaton is right: Stop expecting artists to work for free — or worse, for “exposure”

Scott Timburg​


Do artists, writers, photographers, musicians and others deserve to be compensated for their work? The debate over working for free goes back a while now. But there are still people who haven’t heard the argument and think that “exposure” of creative work is reason enough for people to give away their labors.

Storytelling Master Robert McKee Discusses Story

Ken Miyamoto



Robert McKee occupies a unique position in modern storytelling. His teachings have spread beyond the screen to influence all media. Marketing professionals and business leaders from all over the world read McKee’s works and attend his packed international seminars for an exclusive deep dive into the narrative potential of their company’s content.​

Why Story Structure Formulas Don't Work

Corey Mandell

Film Independent


I did a script coaching session for someone I’ll call Lisa. Lisa had spent the past four years pursuing her dream of becoming a professional screenwriter. She had written six scripts with nothing to show for it. No agent, no manager, no meetings, no nothing. Lisa was obviously discouraged. Her husband was obviously discouraged. They decided she’d write one last screenplay, and if it didn’t sell, that was it, she would quit. She wrote the script then hired me to help her with it.

Writing your Spec to Formula? Nah.

Bob Sáenz

Bob's Take/


Formula. Food for babies so they get all the nutrients they need. A blending of chemicals to make a drug. A specific path to follow to make beer or wine. A way of rating race cars. In Mathematics, a rule or principle, frequently expressed in algebraic symbols. A formal statement of religious doctrine.

A way to write a successful spec script? Not so much.

Meet the Reader: What I Look For

Ray Morton

Script Magazine


When assessing a screenplay for a producer or a private client, there are a number of specific elements that I look for. If I find them and they have been executed well, then the chances that I will give the script a CONSIDER or a RECOMMEND. If they are missing or poorly executed, then that increases the script’s chances of receiving a PASS.

With that in mind, here are the things I look for:

Getting Smart with Story Structure: Open Water

Light Film School


A breakdown bares a story’s mechanics. It reveals screenwriting principles you can apply to your own projects, sharpens your command of visual language, and trains you to watch films actively – every film is, after all, a lesson that rewards study. Lights Film School examines the story structure of Chris Kentis' Open Water.

For Fact-Based Films, Is Scrupulous Accuracy the Ultimate Goal?

Kristopher Tapley



It’s perhaps appropriate that a film called “Truth” is gearing up for this year’s awards race, with other movies on the circuit already weathering the usual criticisms regarding the dramatization of real-life events. At the Telluride Film Festival, “Steve Jobs” screenwriter Aaron Sorkin got out in front of the fact that the Danny Boyle-directed biopic doesn’t necessarily present things accurately. “Art isn’t about what happened,” Sorkin said at the time. “You can see a very good piece of journalism about him.” The goal, he said, was to make a “painting” rather than a “photograph.”

Ken Miyamoto


Stephen King’s On Writing is one of the best writing resources that any writer can get their hands on — even screenwriters. Yes, King’s wise words are written primarily in reference to writing literature, however, many of his now famous quotes from the book can be easily applied to screenwriting. From a screenwriter and former studio script reader/story analyst’s perspective, here’s how the master’s words can help any and all screenwriters.

Go Into The Story Movie Analysis: The Martian​

Scott Myers

Go Into the Story - The Blacklist


Scott Myers, for The Blacklist's blog Go Into the Story, begins a week-long analysis of the script for the blockbuster hit The Martian. The schedule for discussion for the week includes:

Monday: General Comments

Tuesday: Plot

Wednesday: Characters

Thursday: Themes

Friday: Takeaways

Screenwriting: Avoiding Cliches

Watch Indie


Clichés are not just confined to a particular movie industry. Be it Bollywood , Kollywood or the supposedly intelligent Hollywood , where there are movies -there are clichés. It is essential to steer clear of clichés in order to write a compelling screenplay.

The Writing Process: 6 Awesome Videos Of Screenwriters Sharing How They Work

Stephanie Palmer

Good In A Room


Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall to hear how a successful screenwriter works through the writing process? I’ve selected six short films (produced by Academy Originals) so you can see the writing process and inner-workings of successful screenwriters. Not only will you see inside the offices, bedrooms, dining rooms, yoga rooms, backyards, and other spaces where these writers work, you’ll see that they still struggle each day to make incremental progress.


Exclusive Bonus: Download the 8 screenplays you must read to learn how to write a screenplay

STORYTELLING STRATEGIES: Sicario’s Vanishing Main Character - See more at:

Paul Joseph Gulino

Script Magazine


Writing a movie with passive main character is a challenge; the conventional storytelling wisdom is that a main character needs to be active, needs to want something and pursue it. The hero on his journey, the character who wants something badly and is having trouble getting it. If the character is sympathetic, his or her struggle against obstacles creates tension within the audience that keeps us glued to the screen and inspires us to tell our friends to go see it.

Zero Draft Thirty: Write a Script in a Month Challenge
Scott Myers
Go Into The Story


Did you know the NANOWRIMO folks used to sponsor a screenwriting challenge? They called it Script Frenzy and it ran from 2007 to 2012. But no more. It’s dead. RIP. So here’s what I’m thinking: Why the hell shouldn’t we resurrect it? Let’s stake out November here at Go Into The Story and kick out the creative jams.

Scriptcat’s Tips to Survive When You Await Feedback on Your Screenplay

Mark Sanderson

My Blank Page


Every screenwriter goes through the “waiting game” after you submit your script to someone for a read. It’s that horrible period when the lack of any reply can fester inside a screenwriter’s head and the fear of rejection and failure can fuel negative thoughts. 

Creating Characters: On Villains

Michael T. Kuciak

Script Magazine


There are only two important characters in every story: the hero and the villain. Every other character serves them whether the story is a tale from myth or the studio tentpole opening on Labor Day weekend.

Every writer’s best buddy in the whole world, Joseph Campbell, spent several books exploring the structure of the Hero’s Journey. Joe’s got it covered, so let’s talk about the other side of the equation.


Screencraft Staff



Tolkien was a notorious procrastinator and look at what he accomplished! It’s all too easy to find excuses to procrastinate on writing. This was true even in college creative workshops, where the structure and deadlines were meant to guide students into finishing projects. But I remember deadline mornings were synonymous with baggy eyes, the stench of black coffee, and still unstapled, freshly printed paper. Many students didn’t heed advice to allocate work. Outside of workshop settings, with nothing to steer us away from the grinds of everyday life, creative projects often get pushed aside. As Tolkien said, we’ve got to figure out what to do with the time that’s given to us — from finding inspiration, to now, figuring out ways to be more prolific.

The Avengers Director Tells You The 5 Things Your Script Has To Have

Allanah Faherty



Joss Whedon was part of a roundtable discussion hosted by actress Lily Cole forImpossible. It's a website and global community which aims to help people out by sharing ideas, objects and - more importantly - time, by matching an individual's skills to someone who needs them. Considering Joss it one of the hardest-working guys in the business it's so awesome he was able to take time out of his busy schedule and share his wisdom about screenwriting. This time it was five aspiring writers who benefited and got to hear Joss's enlightening words.

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

Emma Coats

Pixar Story Artist

Aerogramme Writers' Studio


These rules were originally tweeted by Emma Coats, Pixar’s Story Artist. Number 9 on the list – When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next – is a great one and can apply to writers in all genres.

Female Protagonist: Whoa, Man. . .You're Writing Her All Wrong 

Robert Piluso

Script Magazine


At some point, many male screenwriters throw up their hands and surrender. They stop bothering to imbue the same blood, sweat, bones and guts into their female characters that they do with their male characters. Instead, male-written screenplays feature the following pantheon of poorly conceived familiar character stereo/archetypes.

SCRIPT NOTES: A Final Reflection on Major Character Types

Michael Tabb

Script Mag


In this batch of articles about the five major character types, I am going to contradict a lot of the conventional wisdom regarding them. We last left our readers on the cliffhanger of promising to redefine the understanding of this final piece of the character-purpose puzzle, the reflection character. My twist on the reflection character will be my final break from the traditional theories on these character types before I recap them. 

Screenplay Writing Explained In 7 Infographics

Stephanie Palmer



Screenplay writing is a visual art form, so let’s approach the topic visually. Here are 7 of the most succinct and compelling infographics about screenplay writing.

Podcast: Screenwriting for Studios with Corey Mandell

Corey Mandell

Indie Film Academy


IFA talks with screenwriter Corey Mandell. Corey got his start when he was still in school and ended up pitching the script for Metropolis to Ridley Scott. IFA aska Corey what it’s like to write at the studio level and how other screenwriters can break in.

The Art of the Opening Shot

Joe Marine

No Film School


The first frames of a movie can stay with us a lifetime. While not every film starts off with something immediately memorable, some of the greatest films of all time have opening shots that are seared into our memory, and no matter where we are and when, if we see these shots, we're going to know exactly where they come from.

The Notes Behind 'Network'

Sheryl Garratt

New York Times


Thirty-five years after the release of “Network,” the unpublished notes of the writer Paddy Chayefsky document the angst and animus that he channeled into the film’s Academy Award-winning screenplay. View some of these documents below and click on the highlighted areas for notes that provide a closer examination.

Notes of a Screenwriter, Mad as Hell

David Itzkoff

New York Times


LAMENTING the lack of “satirical clarity” in the screenplay he was laboring on in the early 1970s, Paddy Chayefsky was mad at himself and American television viewers at large. He was seeing the venomous spirit of the era of Watergate and the Vietnam War infiltrate every program the broadcast networks offered, from their news shows to their sitcoms, and he concluded in a typewritten note to himself that the American people “don’t want jolly, happy family type shows like Eye Witness News”; no, he wrote, “the American people are angry and want angry shows.”

Go Into The Story Script Reading & Analysis: Looper

Sheryl Garratt



Go Into The Story's Scott Myers takes an in-depth look at the script for Looper, giving a detailed scene-by-scene breakdown, analyzing major plot points, identifying themes and creating a list of takeaways for screenwriters.

Can You Really Teach Screenwriting?

Richard Walter

Movie Outline


Years ago I was invited to lecture at a screenwriting craft conference sponsored by the Writers Guild at the UCLA Conference Center at beautiful Lake Arrowhead in the mountains high above Los Angeles. There were several practitioners and educators offering presentations. The guy preceding me, an under-loved, overfed, burned out and embittered used-to-be successful TV writer told the audience that screenwriting cannot be taught.

How To Write A Professional Screenplay: Tips From the Chair of the UCLA Screenwriting Program

Richard Walter

Movie Outline


When I speak to screenwriters they remind me of rules I wrote in my first screenwriting book. The following rules - principles, actually - come from my 27 years chairing the graduate Screenwriting program in the film school at UCLA: 

4 Storytelling Lessons We Can Learn from the Giant F**kup that was True Detective Season 2

Cath Murphy

Lit Reactor


Then there was True Detective and for a while things got a little brighter. But for those of us who have been hate-watching our way through True Detective Season 2, that light has slowly faded in a welter of confused plotting and Colin Farrell in a handlebar mustache.

An Oral History Of That Ultra-Sophisticated ‘Silicon Valley’ Dick Joke

Chloe Schildhause



As fans of the show can attest, Silicon Valley ended its first season (now available on Blu-ray) with the greatest dick joke in TV history. Not only was the whole elaborate thing brilliantly hysterical, but it was also mathematically sound thanks to the show’s technical advisers

How to Conquer Your First Act

Carson Reeves



It surprises me that people have trouble with the first act because it’s easily the most self-explanatory act there is. Introduce your hero, then your concept, then send your hero out on his/her journey. But I suppose I’m speaking as someone who’s dissected a lot of first acts. And actually, when I really start thinking about it, it does get tricky in places. The most challenging part is probably packing a ton of information into such a small space. So that’s something I’ll be addressing. Also, I’ve decided to include my second and third act articles afterwards so that this can act as a template for your entire script.

Who Is Keyser Söze? A Deep Dive Into the Mind-Blowing Final Twist in 'The Usual Suspects'

Gwynne Watkins



Who is Keyser Söze? It’s the mystery that drives 1995’s The Usual Suspects, until all is revealed — or is it? — in the film’s iconic final scene. In the two decades since Bryan Singer’s modern noir classic premiered, that ending has become a pop culture touchstone, inspiring countless parodies and imitators. As we approach the 20th anniversary of The Usual Suspects, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how the film pulled off its startling twist.

TV Legend Norman Lear Tells a Story ABout How He Beat Writer's Block

Teressa Iezzi

Fast Company


When Norman Lear appeared on The Daily Show at the end of last year, Jon Stewart spoke for just about all of the show’s more grizzled viewers when he greeted the famed TV producer with the words: "I want to thank you for raising me."

Top 10 Screenwriting Books You Need to Read

David Flores

Indie Film Hustle


1) Screenplay by Syd Field

The first book I ever read about screenwriting. Field is the forefather of the how to for screenwriting. He cracked the code of the three act structure and paved the way for all others screenwriting gurus that would follow. As far as I know he created the terms like “turning points,” and “pinch”, and much of the language that screenwriters use to describe elements and devices used in their scripts.

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