Writing the Psychological Thriller

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How To Build Your Suspense From The Ground Up And Craft A Twist Ending No One Sees Coming!
Hosted by Steve Desmond

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Steve Desmond

Webinar hosted by: Steve Desmond

Professional Screenwriter

Steve Desmond is a Chicago native, a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and a working screenwriter living in Los Angeles. Last year, he sold his thriller spec screenplay with an Academy Award nominated producer attached to it. The script is now out to directors and is slated to shoot later this year. Steve was also recently hired to write a treatment for a mini-series on infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, being produced Discovery Networks, Giant Pirates, and Trigger Street. Currently, Steve is writing a new thriller for Davis Entertainment (Chronicle, The Blacklist), inspired by actual events. He is also in post-production on his Twilight Zone-esque short film that he directed, after raising nearly $30K on Kickstarter. His screenplays have appeared on the 2011 and 2013 Hit List, honoring the best spec screenplays of the year, the 2013 Blood List, honoring the best genre screenplays of the year, and he was voted for inclusion on the Young and Hungry Writers List in 2012. Over the years, he’s written or developed projects with Imagine Entertainment, Level 1 Entertainment, Blacklight Transmedia, Preferred Film & TV, The Walt Becker Company, Dreamworks Animation, and (shockingly) The Disney Channel. Steve is represented by APA, The Gotham Group, and Eclipse Law Firm. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Learn directly from Steve Desmond, professional screenwriter who has worked on projects with Davis Entertainment, Imagine Entertainment, Treehouse Pictures, and more!

In this Stage 32 Next Level Webinar, host Steve Desmond will help you build your suspense from the ground up. Together, you’ll study some of the masters of psychological thrillers, and he’ll share what he’s learned in the trenches from working with other writers, producers, and executives. From the anatomy of a suspense scene, to how to build compelling characters, to how to hook the reader’s attention early, to the power of murder in a story, all the way to crafting a twist ending that no one sees coming, this will be a fully immersive experience that will leave you excited, inspired and ready to tackle your next project.

Steve Desmond is a professional screenwriter represented by APA, The Gotham Group, and Eclipse Law Firm. Recently, Steve sold a thriller screenplay with an Oscar nominated producer attached, and has several other thriller projects in the works with major companies. Steve was also recently hired to write a treatment for a mini-series on infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, being produced Discovery Networks, Giant Pirates, and Trigger Street. Over the years, he’s written or developed projects with Imagine Entertainment, Level 1 Entertainment, Blacklight Transmedia, Preferred Film & TV, The Walt Becker Company, Dreamworks Animation, and (shockingly) The Disney Channel. Steve has repeatedly proved that he knows what it takes to write a great psychological thriller, and he is here to share his knowledge with Stage 32!

What You'll Learn

  • The difference between a thriller and a mystery.
    • Both genres are great but they follow different rules.
    • Do you want to create intellectual suspense? Or emotional suspense?
  • The Hitchcock Ticking Clock Method – Surprise vs. Suspense.
    • Do you want to make an audience jump in their seats? Or squirm in their seats?
  • How to hook the reader’s attention early.
    • Why the first scene in so crucial in a thriller and can make or break your script.
  • How to create a compelling protagonist.
    • If an audience doesn’t care about your character… they won’t care about what happens to your character.
  • How to create an enticing villain.
    • Imagining the story from the villain’s point of view.
    • Most villains aren’t crazy or evil. They think they’re the good guys.
  • How to use backstory and character confessions.
    • Creating secrets for your characters to unearth about each other.
    • Redemption as a theme in thrillers.
  • The power of murder in a story.
    • A Hitchcockian study on how to create murder on the screen.
    • The fewer characters that die, the more each death will matter.
  • The art of the twist ending.
    • You need a compelling story first before you can have a twist.
    • The fine line between planting enough seeds to make your twist work, and not planting too many scenes to give it away.
  • Visuals – Making the style match the substance.
    • Choosing the perfect setting and mood.
    • How to direct the film with your writing.
  • Anatomy of a Suspense Scene.
    • A study of some of the best suspense scenes of all time.
  • How to write for a producible budget.
    • The more contained your story is, the better chance it has of getting made.
    • Learn how to use budget limitations to your creative advantage.
    • A quick analysis of found footage – when it works and when it doesn’t.

About Your Instructor

Steve Desmond is a Chicago native, a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and a working screenwriter living in Los Angeles. Last year, he sold his thriller spec screenplay with an Academy Award nominated producer attached to it. The script is now out to directors and is slated to shoot later this year. Steve was also recently hired to write a treatment for a mini-series on infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, being produced Discovery Networks, Giant Pirates, and Trigger Street.

Currently, Steve is writing a new thriller for Davis Entertainment (Chronicle, The Blacklist), inspired by actual events. He is also in post-production on his Twilight Zone-esque short film that he directed, after raising nearly $30K on Kickstarter. His screenplays have appeared on the 2011 and 2013 Hit List, honoring the best spec screenplays of the year, the 2013 Blood List, honoring the best genre screenplays of the year, and he was voted for inclusion on the Young and Hungry Writers List in 2012. Over the years, he’s written or developed projects with Imagine Entertainment, Level 1 Entertainment, Blacklight Transmedia, Preferred Film & TV, The Walt Becker Company, Dreamworks Animation, and (shockingly) The Disney Channel.

Steve is represented by APA, The Gotham Group, and Eclipse Law Firm.

FAQs

Q: What is the format of a webinar? 
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer 

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the webinar. If you cannot attend a live webinar and purchase an On-Demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A. 

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of a live or On-Demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the audio recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like for a whole year! 

Questions?

If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.
 

Reviews Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Super helpful. Information that you don't find in books.
  • Very useful information - well structured and clearly presented.
  • This webinar was AWESOME!!! I just finished a thriller and now as a result of listening to Steve Desmond, I am ready to do a re-write which I believe will be one of the best screenplays I have ever written. Let's see what happens. Remember the name, "Home Bound."
  • This was a great webinar on thrillers in general though I do wish there was a bit more discussion about the sub-genre of psychological thrillers.
  • Very clear, succinct instruction on Character & Story Development. I enjoyed this and found it helpful.
  • Very qualified speaker who gave great insights across multiple types of subgenres
  • What a thrilling and insightful podcast, excellent!!

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