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

Maurice Vaughan

Thanks for sharing, Cynthia. I try to write action descriptions in my scripts that paint pictures and don't take up a lot of space.

Steve Mallinson
Securing-a-Pitch Etiquette

I'm a noob and unknown in this industry, but ended up creating a TV series and writing 8 episodes which, by a stroke of luck, secured the interest and support of a freelance producer with impressive credentials. With the scripts, a pitch, and his name as assets, the next step is to find a production...

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John Ellis

What Dan Guardino said.

And, Steve, to your answer to Dan's comment: here's a hard truth - as a beginner ("noob" by your own words), while it's exciting to have a "freelance producer with impressive cr...

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Dan MaxXx

I think show biz people call this phase, "sweat equity."

Barry John Terblanche

Well said, John Ellis

Dan Guardino

Steve. You might ask that producer if he can help you attach a well-known actor then he would be bringing something to the table that might convince someone to fund the project. Just a thought.

Steve Mallinson

Thanks for the input - appreciate the insights and good point about attaching actors.

Luciano Mello
Screenwriting Masterclass with Paul Schrader

Hi, I just want to share this amazing 90-minute presentation by the screenwriter and filmmaker whose credits include Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and First Reformed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0358lJ7Zhbo&t=34s

J R O'Hara

Wow! Thanks!

James Welday

Shrader is a legend. Thanks for posting this!

Johan Moya Ramis

Thanks!

Karen "Kay" Ross

Fantastic find - thank you for sharing!

Jerrell Camper
The last chance

Had this idea stuck in my head, just a rough description.

After a series of unfortunate events, Malcolm is broke, unemployed, and Heartbroken and has decided to give up on his life but before it’s too late his guardian angel makes a deal that in three months he can show him the good in life but if he can’t Malcolm gets to give up.

Alexander Perry

Try reading Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell, or at least the Wikipedia plot summary. It has no guardian angel. Otherwise, there is It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. Both stories give the lead something to lose, even if they did not know it at first.

Jerrell Camper

What if instead the angel is visiting earth to see how its doing and weather its ready to rapture and has decided its not worth saving but he has to convince the angel or whoever that the world is worth saving that there is good left in the world

Alexander Perry

A sort of reverse Wonderful Life? Give it a go! I know that there are specialist producers who go for that kind of thing, mostly in the USA.

Gary Floyd

I like that new angle a lot. Is there a reason only your protagonist can convince the angel? Like, was there a previous suicide attempt that allows him to view the celestial plane?

Jerrell Camper

the angel sees himself in our protag

Ruchika Agarwa
Series or Films based on books.

Hi all,

I am a writer. I have beautiful series concept and story, that is based on a published book. How do i go about pitching it? At what stage does a producer or the network buy the rights from the book author?

Please suggest.

Thank you.

Nick Assunto

Hi Ruchika, yeah you can't pitch it without the rights yourself, as far as I know. If you find out who owns the rights, and it's a production company that doesn't have a writer attached, you can maybe...

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William Martell

YOU have to buy the rights to the book before you write the script.

Novel adaptations are assignments.

Production Companies buy the rights to novels in galleys. Anything that looks like it might be a...

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Ewan Dunbar

All the other comments on this are correct. You need to have the rights from the author/publisher to adapt their work as well as their permission to represent the rights to any adaptation of their wor...

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Ruchika Agarwa

Thank you all for your help and suggestions. Much appreciated :)

Jill A. Hargrave

Hi Ruchika and welcome to Stage 32. Yes. You need to option the published novel first. I optioned a self-published novel from the author last year for a two-year exclusive term. I didn't start writing...

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Adrianna Agudelo
2nd act blues?

I feel like my 1st and 3rd acts flow with ease and are consistent… but maaaaaan do I get lost in the 2nd. What’s y’all’s experience and are there any tips to overcoming 2nd act blues?

Matthew Parvin

My experience has been that, if I try and focus on character building moments; more specifically, making sure each character of importance gets moments to shine and that contribute to furthering the p...

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CJ Walley

A lot of people are good at intros and finales as it's all world-building and plot solving.

The middle is where all the character development and theme tends to be. It's the real meat and potatoes of t...

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Matthew Parvin

Also, Sean laFollette's "The Failed Filmmaker" class has a great tool on second act development and reaching your "50% goal". Check him out. He really helped me!

Nick Assunto

If you're feeling it's lagging it might be that you're not making things hard enough on your protagonist. You may just be coasting towards your finale. What can you put them through to make the end al...

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Barry John Terblanche

There are no act 1,2,3 rules... as much as there is no script format police. Just write your story. What I do if I get stuck halfway through, is to work backwards to where I got stuck. Hope this makes sense?

Alan Anderson
Scheduled my first pitch

First off I apologize if this is in the wrong forum. I've scheduled my first pitch. I'm excited and nervous. I've never done something like this, but I realize an opportunity isn't going to just fall out of the sky for me. I have to make it happen. So that being said what exactly can I expect? Anyon...

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Jill A. Hargrave

Congratulations on submitting your first pitch. As it is a written one, you don't have to do anything once you upload the written pitch. You will receive a report from the Executive after they've read...

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Alan Anderson

I appreciate all the feedback guys!

Alan Anderson

Pattana - I wouldn't say I'm delusional lol. I would think that would be a common fear as I'm guessing most everyone's pitch is an idea/topic that they've put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into. But, I do understand what you're saying.

Pattana Thaivanich

Yep, it’s just a tease not really delusional. I know you know what I mean. Relax and good luck with your idea for the script.

Dan Guardino

Like Dan M said do it for practice, education, feedback and don’t make this a "sell or bust" portal. Unfortunately Stage 32 does not make it very clear that this is supposed to be for educational purposes. Anyway good luck!

Rhonda R Deskins
Script PDF

Hey Everyone!

Would anyone happen to know where I can find a PDF of the Monster-in-Law script? I've search all of the places I could think to no avail.

James Welday

Hi Rhonda, I just checked my favorite script source, Script Slug, and they don't have it listed unfortunately.

Rhonda R Deskins

Thanks for checking!

Rebecca D Robinson
Podcast Production

Man, this is fun!! Turning a script into podcast episodes is very satisfying. A few months from now, I'll be going live!

Rebecca D Robinson

I will. And you'll see my post when I'm ready to share:)

Thom Reese

Sounds good.

Dan Guardino

Rebecca. It does sound like you are having fun. My co/producer/director is going to be shooting a trailer in the next couple of weeks and I am anxious to see how it turns out.

Rebecca D Robinson

This is the most fun ever, Dan!!

Barry John Terblanche

You go girl... have fun.

Karen "Kay" Ross
Showing Off with a Cover Letter

Maybe because it's being read by Benedict Cumberbatch (less than 2-minute watch), or maybe because they spend the majority of the time legitimately having fun with their language, but I thought this was a fantastic example of an inquiry letter or cover letter. What did you think?

What cover letters h...

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Pidge Jobst

Thoroughly enjoying more of these letter reads. I didn't know "Letters Live" existed. Super-entertaining! Really! While I enjoyed the Cumberbatch cover letter and it soars with this audience and mysel...

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Karen "Kay" Ross

I could see that, Pidge Jobst. The real question is - what WOULD we send? Hmm...

Kiril Maksimoski

Without Benedict those are just words on paper. But...If those words weren't put is such a written manner I guess Benedict would have a rather dull performance....so, all is connected...

Evelyne Gauthier
Do you think that working remotely is an issue?

Hi guys! I was wondering... I know that many jobs, even for screenwriters, are based in the US, sometimes in UK. As a screenwriter, I was wondering if leaving in Canada might pose a problem. Can working remotely (or at least partially remotely) is possible, according to you? I'm wondering because te...

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Christiane Lange

Evelyne Gauthier The market may be smaller, but for Canadian productions backed by government funding, they want Canadian writers.

CJ Walley

I'm not sure I fully understand the question.

You can write on assignment or sell specs from wherever you wish. I live in the UK but the movies I write get made in the US. I produce too.

Writers aren't...

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Evelyne Gauthier

Christiane: yes, I know but from what I heard, if you're not already in the business and if you didn't go to film schools, the doors are pretty much closed. CJ Walley: Actually, you answer my question perfectly. Thanks! :)

Christiane Lange

Evelyne Gauthier Gotcha! Although I think that might be shifting some.

Nick Assunto

I don't think so. And I think many series are learning they can do their room via zoom though I'm sure it does take away some of that magic for a comedy as comedy writers really like the energy of pla...

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Daniel Smith
My scripts are too short. Any help is a greatly appreciated.

Hi everyone

I'm new to screen writing and I find myself writing scripts that are just far too short. I've often written the whole thing in 30 pages and just hit a total brain lock. Sure I've got 3 or 4 subplots, 4 main characters, I try showing different sides of my characters in various scenes but s...

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Ali Joumaa

Sounds to me like you are more fit for scripted writing in television or maybe even a short series. I say this because, whenever a screenplay has four main characters, that tells me that each main cha...

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Daniel Smith

This is abit of an old post but I did eventually over come this. I got my first script up to 121 pages and trimmed it back to 108. I managed it by thinking of the broad goal of the character then thou...

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Craig Parsons

Maybe bring in a second antagonist that has a common relationship/motive with the first that isn't known to the primary? This could provide you with two characters competing for different outcomes and...

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Robert Sacchi

I have a similar problem. Your stories do they have a complete end or could what happens next be part of the story.

Tristan Hutchinson

I have similar problems except on the other end of the spectrum, too many pages. In my opinion it's easier having less pages than more. Many productions companies would favor less pages then more. Add...

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