Screenwriting

From structure to content to representation to industry trends, this is the place to discuss, share content and offer tips and advice on the craft and business of screenwriting

What is YOUR journey to becoming a writer?

I'm participating in the Master Class taught by Aaron Sorkin and one of the things I enjoyed was hearing his journey to becoming a writer, but also the young student who shared his journey. So I know I would love to hear the journey of other authors. I think what struck me the most was how we all ma...

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John German

Dear Arial Burnz: Have you always been a writer?: Always been a writer? No; Always been a thinker? Yes. So, I have always had the mindset to write, just didn't always put it down to paper. What happene ...

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John Hunter

I wrote short prose for many years as a form of self-amusement. More recently, I became fascinated with the challenge of storytelling within the generally accepted and rigid scriptwriting format. Unde...

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Hmmm is less on page necessarily better?

Yo guys, I was just reading this and found it interesting: http://www.scriptmag.com/features/columns/story-development/articulating... Here's a couple of screenshots from the article. From what I read and learnt so far, I've been under the impression that less is better, like if you can articulate s...

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Owen Mowatt

Please, please, please stop saying, Mexican girl!
It was a silly line to begin with, it's still silly now.

Dan MaxXx

What's the scene lesson here? Re-editing? That's Monday morning QB, like youtube movie Critics nit-picking and analyzing why certain movies suck. The craft & experience is doing it first on the page, t...

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Owen Mowatt

...have all that in place, then need to wait for the sun to come from behind a cloud.

Anthony Cawood

Dan M, the challenge from Doug was specifically to re-write this particular scene, I think a bunch of us did it as he kinda called out the regs on here, suggesting we wouldn't (couldn't?) re-write it....

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Dan MaxXx

anthony
agree. lots of talkers, Monday morning Critics, and book theories. Still waiting on Doug to post his scene. It was his idea. But not sure what's the lesson other than editing.

If you want to become a great writer... LISTEN... take the criticism.... LEARN! This industry takes no prisoners... and an MA in screenwriting isn't going to save you!!

Today I received an email from a new client who did not like the analysis I did of their script. I'm really clear on my website that I am a 'straight shooter', I pull no punches. My passion is to help writers become great writers, to actually get their scripts into production.... not to simply keep...

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Dan Guardino

I agree with Doug. Screenwriting isn't exactly rocket science.

Jeff Lyons

I consult, I teach, I speak, I do what I have to to pay the bills (since it's impossible to sell a script) ... and what Lara is describing is unbelievably common and unbelievably predictable. MA/MFA p...

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Dan Guardino

Jeff. I used to read screenplays and try to help aspiring writers for free and it didn't bother me if their scripts were bad because those are the kind of people I was trying to help. What bothered me...

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Owen Mowatt

Personally, I don't agree with the softly, softly, walking on egg-shells approach to consulting, which is NOT to say you have freedom to be rude and dismissive. I think Lara has every right to express...

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Dan MaxXx

it's just tacky for paid Consultants to slam and shame clients, MA student or hobbyists.

Patrice Thomas - Author/Writer

So I got another rejection letter. This one said my script was "incredible" but it didn't make it to their final decision. How does that work? I really need an agent. But I'm finding the more I try, the more I find it's a catch 22....to get an agent you need to be recommended; to be recommended you need to be in the business. Good grief!

Seta Majkia

Keep your head up Patrice! It's going to happen when it happens. The more you work the more opportunity you have for it to happen. Also, sometimes those rejections are because they're the wrong people. Some late night inspiration might point you to the RIGHT person! Hang in there!

Travis Sharp

Writing is life....life is pain.

Patrice Thomas

Thanks to all for your strong words of encouragement. They me the world to me.

Seta Majkia

we have to support each other! Have a great night & looking forward to hearing your success!

Arial Burnz

Great articles, Anthony! Not much different than the publishing industry, which is where I came from. And many people are giving the same advice I received in that arena...Keep on writing!

Late main character intro

I'm writing a script and don't plan on introducing my main character until after page 10. The beginning focuses on the antagonist. Is that ok? Or will it seem like my antagonist is really my main character? And will the switch later throw everything off?

C Harris Lynn

Did he say "yoots?"

Eric Ladon Cox

Are you writing a Horror Script, Drama, Action and Adventure, Sci Fi?

A. S. Templeton

Jenny: please elucidate.

Doug Nelson

A.S. - is elucidation legal in all 50 states?

A. S. Templeton

Only between consenting adults...

Ted Westby

Woof! If that isn't a depressing read for hopefuls like yours truly I don't know what is.

Dan MaxXx

New Boss same as Old Boss. There is an abundance of scripts; just a shortage of bankable Talent in front and behind productions. The Big 3 agencies (CAA, WME, ICM) control about 70% of all TV. They'll figure an algorithm plan to divide up $$.

Bill Costantini

No gluts, no glory!

Dan Guardino

A good reason to avoid the big agencies and television. I got roped into writing a one hour pilot and I will never do it again. Don't want anything to do with them unless I am looking for a specific actor and even those people are hard to take.

Doug Nelson

John - the takeaway is not more unsolicited spec scripts but fewer better quality scripts. I'm out of the reader rat race but I do recall having ten scripts to read over a weekend after a 50+ hour week in the writer's room.

Comedy - Its not funny.

As I write my comedy series and putting out the pilot I am having unusually good and polite feedback from agents but I received a response from one agent in London that it was not funny in the slightest. In fact his scathing email was so insulting it made me laugh. So I am watching many comedies to...

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Jenny Masterton

Y'know...everyone will have a different point of view comedy-wise. A good way to be comedy-confident is to do some standup, you get a feel for what/how things work and don't, but even that is arguably...

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Ryan Rodriguez

A good comedy makes its audience laugh. If the audience is suburban men in their teens to late twenties or mid-life rural housewives, aging hipsters, or people who are comforted by sitcom laugh-tracks...

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Doug Nelson

Comedy comes in all styles and flavors. You must first learn the screenwriting craft for your intended market, then understand what is viewed as comedic in your that market. Comedy in Bulgaria is entirely different than in the US, UK or Japan...

Dan Guardino


An Agent told me after reading my first screenplay I had zero talent and should quit wasting my time. He is no longer in the business and I am so I am glad I didn't listen to the moron.

Doug Nelson

Dan - it takes talent to be a successful agent too - or a Director, an Actor, a DP, a Writer or a whatever. Sounds like he didn't have it.

Finding Your Protagonist

As strange as it sounds, many writers have a hard time finding the best protagonist for their stories... well, there is a nice way to find out who your protagonist is—ask these three questions: Who is in the most pain? Who has the most to lose? Who changes the most? And bingo... instant protagonist. Thank me later. :)

Should he have a beautiful girlfriend?

My character He has no money, he's shorter then her, a jerk and very abusive. He comes from a broken family and his life is pretty shitty I wanted to at least give him an attractive girlfriend but I'm still debating on if he deserves one or not...

Dan Guardino

Why not just tell the story and not worry about the character's looks.

Max Adams

Well hot girlfriends are not objects. She's a character too. Why would she date a broke, short, abusive guy from a crap family? "Helping someone out" doesn't mean, to put it bluntly, pity f--king them. It means loaning them fifty bucks so they can eat.

William Martell

What is the character's purpose in the story? By the way, we just write the scripts - we don't cast the movie - so I have no idea how tall my characters are or how "pretty" they are or anything else u...

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Jenny Masterton

This reminds me of The Other Guys, where Will Ferrell is married to Eva Mendes.

JD Hartman

11 Month old Zombie thread......

Question on formatting

Hi all - looking for advice for a scene I'm working on; I have someone "on stage" delivering a lengthy speech, and I am cutting away for backstage dialog between two other characters while the actor on stage continues under throughout the sequence. "Duel Dialog" feature on Final Draft doesn't quite...

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Fleurette M Van Gulden

Doug, you're right on O.C. I'm figuring Jerry could present from the point of view of an aerial shot INTERCUT: THEATRE INT. STAIRS/STAGE/ BACK STAGE - SAME Jerry comes to the edge of the stage, faces a ...

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Fleurette M Van Gulden

Great insights guys. I'll check if the script NORMAN is available to read.

C Harris Lynn

Thanks, DanG!

Dan Guardino

You are welcome C Harris.

Pidge Jobst

As a general rule, Dan is right -- Intercuts are for characters in two separate scene locations or phone convos. I have read scripts, however, where the writer wanted to have the reader fly down the p...

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Celtx FREE Basic Scriptwriting Tool

Has anyone used this tool? How does it compare to more costly programs like Final Draft? Would anyone recommend Celtx? Thanks, everyone! ; ) https://www.celtx.com/pricing.html


Anthony Cawood

@Richard - I'd be careful with that old desktop version, CeltX don't support it at all, so when I lost a couple of short script when it didn't save them properly they were no help.

John Hunter

My early $100 version of Final Draft 8 writes the shorts I give away and all the features I can't sell.

Dan MaxXx

i have final draft on my Ipad & iphone and free Celtx on my microsoft surface laptop.Both softwares do and look the same on the page/computer. PDF conversions look slightly different..
i use celtx more because I don't have a keyboard for my Ipad.

Ryan Rodriguez

I like to write in fountain. It's a screenwriting language (super easy). I use Slugline, Fadein Pro or Highland. The most expensive of the three is $80. Plenty of pros write in fountain. And it's real...

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Eric Ladon Cox

I like Celtx Kelly. However if Final Draft is within your Budget, I would use that as well.

Beginner Question: What to Write?

Hi! I'm new to screenwriting and the site, but as my profile says, I'm no stranger to scripts. My question is more about sale-ability than techniques or mechanics. I am a huge fan of fantasy and paranormal. I'm a romance novelist and I write paranormal romance Arial ducks, but I know many producers a...

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Arial Burnz

Thank you, Doug!!!!

Arial Burnz

Welcome back to Stage32, Jorge! And thank you so much for the encouragement!

Chris Thomas

Write what you know or what you're passionate about.

Doug Nelson

Arial - I just sent you some brief notes, let me know if you got then and if they are helpful, thanx, Doug

Dan Guardino

Arial. Which one of your book was a best seller?