Writing a Screenplay

Writing a screenplay can be both exciting and lonely. It's challenging to explain the process to non-writers. And you'll probably get sick of being asked "Say,how's that script coming?" Here's a screenwriting tip sheet to keep handy on your desk, or on your laptop if you're working at your neighborhood Starbuck's. [Tip#1: Don't be jealous when other writers at the coffee shop are typing furiously while you're staring out the window. An hour of daydreaming can be more productive than two hours of typing.]



• Just when your main character is nearing their goal, yank it away, raise the stakes, and make life for your character even more difficult.

• Screenplay structure is everything. Because scripts are tightly focused works of art, and movies are expensive to shoot, your script should follow dramatic guidelines that have proven effective since Aristotle.

• Adhere to the three act screenplay structure: beginning, middle and end. If you are a new writer, this will help to keep you on track.

• Scenes are not random. They should build into a sequence, as one scene triggers another in a chain of dramatic cause and effect. They all need to advance your story.

• The essence of drama is conflict. No one wants to see a movie or television show in which everyone gets along.

• Every scene is like a mini-play, with its own internal drama and entertainment value.

• Kick off your script with a compelling incident that makes the reader sit up, startled, horrified or curious.

• Give your main character a clearly defined goal that is difficult, seemingly impossible to achieve. Tie this goal to the stakes of our common humanity – love, survival, loneliness, guilt and atonement, career success, self-actualization.

• Film is a visual medium, so show rather than tell.

• Characters are revealed in screenplays through their behavior, not their thoughts.


Because we writers love our story and our characters, we become so close to them that it's easy to overlook areas that can be improved. That's why a fresh, unbiased and experienced set of eyes is essential before presenting your screenplay to the market place.

Get your first critique early. The more drafts you write, the harder it becomes –both psychologically and creatively – to make revisions.

I can help you develop your script no matter where you are in the writing process. Together, we will hone and refine your screenplay from FADE IN to FADE OUT, so that it reaches its maximum dramatic potential. When we are done working together, your screenplay will be ready for the commercial and artistic tastes of producers, executives and agents. The film business is competitive. The market place can be a mercurial, moving target. But ALL studios, agents and producers are hungry for unique, exciting scripts written by passionate, committed writers. Never forget – they owe their industry to you, the screenwriter.

"Once you crack the script, everything else follows." – Ridley Scott


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