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Popular Articles

1. Screenplay Formatting
The critical importance of properly formatted screenplays, how to adhere to that formatting and pitfalls to avoid when putting your concept into script form.


2. Entering Late, Leaving Early I
When I'm talking about scene design, I'm not referring to the furniture in a room or what's hanging on the wall. I'm talking about how a writer structures each scene in a screenplay.


3. The Importance of Three Act Storytelling
Very early in one's screenwriting studies, the beginner will learn how important screenplay structure is. The way a story is put together, its dramatic structure, is one of the very important skills a beginning screenwriter must master.


4. The Role of the Screenwriter
Screenwriting is unlike any other narrative form in two very important ways: screenwriting is collaborative and storytelling is more important than rhetoric.


5. Vertical Screenwriting
In the beginning, screenplays are not read at all: they are skimmed. Vertical writing is easier to read quickly than horizontal reading.


6. The Two Worlds of your Screenplay
When we watch a movie, we enter a world created by the screenwriter. From the very first scene, events and characters begin to define a world, set in time and place, with implied values and social nuances. However, this initial world we see early on is on


7. The Challenge of Act Three
Act Three is so important that many screenwriting teachers advise their students not to begin writing until the final act is clear and perhaps outlined. In other words, know your ending before you begin. I do not tell my students this for a variety of rea


8. Writing Action - Part Two
In this column we'll look at two more aspects of writing action: how to write it and how to format it.


9. Speech as Character II
In his book Stein on Writing, Sol Stein asks four questions of dialogue, establishing the conditions it must meet.


10. Speech as Character I
Screenwriting is the least writerly of writing forms. In no other form will a writer be less penalized for weak writing skills, as long as s/he has strong storytelling skills.


11. Making Sense of Screenplay Format
If you are a student of screenwriting and not confused by screenplay format, then you haven't been paying attention. From the Internet to the public library, conflicting information is everywhere.


12. Script Evaluation
Questions to ask when evaluating your script, incorporating feedback and the importance of re-writing.


13. Character Development
Character and its role in the development of the screenplay. Protagonists, antagonists, the foil and anti-heros and the relationship to story in the screenplay.


14. Premises and Originality
Originality the most powerful weapon of the independent filmmaker, and the only way to beat Hollywood. Your best shot at distinguishing yourself is a creative, original script.


15. Screenplays as Literature
Although today recent movies such as In the Bedroom, You Can Count On Me, The Shipping News, Ghost World and Apocalypse Now Redux all have had their scripts published, screenplays were rarely published when I was a young writer learning my craft in the 19


16. Writing Action - Part One
Writing action in a screenplay involves three decisions: what to write, how to write it, and how to format it. I'll deal with each in turn.


17. Citizen Screenwriter
What responsibilites, if any, does the screenwriter have to the society at large? What does it mean to be a "citizen screenwriter"?


18. Story Structure
Getting started with the screenwriting process and three act structure. The development of script concepts and screenplay premises are discussed.


19. Writing Is Rewriting
Writing is a process and what beginning writers often forget, blinded by their insecure craft and fragile egos, is that "being bad" is a legitimate part of that process.


20. Screenplays as Literature Part 3
The argument in favor of screenplays being literature must begin with a reminder: not all novels or poems or stage plays are considered to be "literature."


21. The Rhythms of Act One
In 3-act filmic storytelling, Act One is probably the most understood because it is most clear what has to be done. This is not so much "good news" as challenging news for the screenwriter because the burden of Act One of a screenplay is to accomplish ver


22. When a Screenwriter Needs an Agent
Almost all of my students want to get an agent long before they are ready for one. While it is true that you WILL need an agent to pursue a screenwriting career, it is not true that you need one when you start out. They are many things you can do, and sho


23. Query Letter - Your Key to the Market
For screenwriters outside of Los Angeles, the query letter is the most important work aside from the screenplay itself. The query letter will open, or close, doors to the market.


24. Resume- If It is Written It is True
People who make hiring decisions at production companies or production shoots like to meet newcomers on paper whether they have met you in person or not, and one of the primary ways of introducing yourself to them is th


25. The Grunt Work of Act Two
Lew Hunter, author of Screenwriting 434, has called writing Act Two the "blue collar" work of screenwriting. It is in Act Two, more than anywhere else, where structural problems commonly invade the screenplay, tilting the entire storytelling venture out o


Recent Articles

1. Script Evaluation
Questions to ask when evaluating your script, incorporating feedback and the importance of re-writing.


2. Premises and Originality
Originality the most powerful weapon of the independent filmmaker, and the only way to beat Hollywood. Your best shot at distinguishing yourself is a creative, original script.


3. Screenplay Formatting
The critical importance of properly formatted screenplays, how to adhere to that formatting and pitfalls to avoid when putting your concept into script form.


4. Resume- If It is Written It is True
People who make hiring decisions at production companies or production shoots like to meet newcomers on paper whether they have met you in person or not, and one of the primary ways of introducing yourself to them is th


5. Vertical Screenwriting
In the beginning, screenplays are not read at all: they are skimmed. Vertical writing is easier to read quickly than horizontal reading.


6. Screenplays as Literature Part 3
The argument in favor of screenplays being literature must begin with a reminder: not all novels or poems or stage plays are considered to be "literature."


7. Screenplays as Literature
Although today recent movies such as In the Bedroom, You Can Count On Me, The Shipping News, Ghost World and Apocalypse Now Redux all have had their scripts published, screenplays were rarely published when I was a young writer learning my craft in the 19


8. The Two Worlds of your Screenplay
When we watch a movie, we enter a world created by the screenwriter. From the very first scene, events and characters begin to define a world, set in time and place, with implied values and social nuances. However, this initial world we see early on is on


9. Query Letter - Your Key to the Market
For screenwriters outside of Los Angeles, the query letter is the most important work aside from the screenplay itself. The query letter will open, or close, doors to the market.


10. When a Screenwriter Needs an Agent
Almost all of my students want to get an agent long before they are ready for one. While it is true that you WILL need an agent to pursue a screenwriting career, it is not true that you need one when you start out. They are many things you can do, and sho


11. Citizen Screenwriter
What responsibilites, if any, does the screenwriter have to the society at large? What does it mean to be a "citizen screenwriter"?


12. Speech as Character II
In his book Stein on Writing, Sol Stein asks four questions of dialogue, establishing the conditions it must meet.


13. Speech as Character I
Screenwriting is the least writerly of writing forms. In no other form will a writer be less penalized for weak writing skills, as long as s/he has strong storytelling skills.


14. Writing Action - Part Two
In this column we'll look at two more aspects of writing action: how to write it and how to format it.


15. Writing Action - Part One
Writing action in a screenplay involves three decisions: what to write, how to write it, and how to format it. I'll deal with each in turn.


16. Entering Late, Leaving Early I
When I'm talking about scene design, I'm not referring to the furniture in a room or what's hanging on the wall. I'm talking about how a writer structures each scene in a screenplay.


17. Making Sense of Screenplay Format
If you are a student of screenwriting and not confused by screenplay format, then you haven't been paying attention. From the Internet to the public library, conflicting information is everywhere.


18. Writing Is Rewriting
Writing is a process and what beginning writers often forget, blinded by their insecure craft and fragile egos, is that "being bad" is a legitimate part of that process.


19. The Challenge of Act Three
Act Three is so important that many screenwriting teachers advise their students not to begin writing until the final act is clear and perhaps outlined. In other words, know your ending before you begin. I do not tell my students this for a variety of rea


20. The Grunt Work of Act Two
Lew Hunter, author of Screenwriting 434, has called writing Act Two the "blue collar" work of screenwriting. It is in Act Two, more than anywhere else, where structural problems commonly invade the screenplay, tilting the entire storytelling venture out o


21. The Rhythms of Act One
In 3-act filmic storytelling, Act One is probably the most understood because it is most clear what has to be done. This is not so much "good news" as challenging news for the screenwriter because the burden of Act One of a screenplay is to accomplish ver


22. The Importance of Three Act Storytelling
Very early in one's screenwriting studies, the beginner will learn how important screenplay structure is. The way a story is put together, its dramatic structure, is one of the very important skills a beginning screenwriter must master.


23. The Role of the Screenwriter
Screenwriting is unlike any other narrative form in two very important ways: screenwriting is collaborative and storytelling is more important than rhetoric.


24. Character Development
Character and its role in the development of the screenplay. Protagonists, antagonists, the foil and anti-heros and the relationship to story in the screenplay.


25. Story Structure
Getting started with the screenwriting process and three act structure. The development of script concepts and screenplay premises are discussed.


Knowledge Base

1. Counting Off-Screen Characters
If I have a character that has one line in one scene and a second line Off-screen (O.S.) in a different scene - how do I count that on the cast report in reference to Character/Dialogues/Speaking Scenes/Total Scenes?


2. Treatment Format
One of my associates and I were discussing what a treatment entails and its format. We are both novices when it comes to movie scripts. If possible, could someone please E-mail me as to what is the correct format for a treatment, what does it include, etc.?