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u/MichaelRHouston · 9 pointsr/Screenwriting

Welcome to the community! Happy to see a new face join in; I'm a little new to reddit myself, but, I've got a few places and lessons that have helped me develop my craft in a major way.

  1. You don't need film school to be a filmmaker. Period. The only things you need are an idea, the ability to make the time develop it, and the passion to see your project through to any kind of distribution. Actually, coming from an IT background might put you in a better position than many of us; some of the more customizable screenwriting tools like Scrivener could benefit from an understanding of coding so as to make the program truly your own. Never feel like just because someone has a degree in the field that they are somehow more qualified to tell a story than you; write, write honestly, and write often. Those are the only prerequisites.

  2. I recommend two books as primary sources: Story by Robert McKee and The Screenwriter's Bible by David Trottier. The former is for actual story development and the latter is the only formatting book you'll ever need. These books were very formative for me, but, it still takes a lot of practice to master the craft; above all things said in these books, nothing replaces sitting down and just writing. That first draft will be rough, because it is for everyone. To keep yourself grounded when it feels like it's impossible to save your current draft, I read Stephen King's On Writing. This book, while not directly related to screenwriting, is one of the most inspiring books I've ever read. It's so much more than just instruction, it's an honest memoir that is meant to speak to the writing process and its tribulations. I cannot recommend it enough.

  3. For free blogs, I recommend for anything screenwriting. His prose is fantastic, and always a joy to read, and most of his blogs actually center on aspects of screenplays oft neglected by theory and craft books.

  4. Video Essays are a mixed bag. Some channels are fantastic and consistently informative, like Lessons From The Screenplay (YouTube). Others are designed to hook you in to a watch loop; which is dangerous when you're starting out as a writer. It's recommended to disengage and recharge your batteries with these between writing sessions, but, be careful not to over-indulge. The worst thing you can do is get caught up in criticisms of other works and neglect creating your own.

  5. There are dozens of legitimate options for screenwriting software, each with their own merits and drawbacks. Final Draft is the (expensive) industry standard, Fade In is an emergent favorite among some circles, Celtx is web-hosted freeware, and Scrivener is a robust and intimidating toolbox with nigh-infinite possibilities. At the end of the day, it will not matter what you use, just the efficiency at which you write with it. Experiment. Try each one when you have the ability to use their trials. Decide for yourself, because no one can be certain they'll love any particular software over another.

  6. Finally, read screenplays! It is so under-spoken how much reading produced speculative scripts (meaning scripts that were sold for production) will help your writing. My personal favorite screenplay is Bill Lancaster's second draft of The Thing (1981 for the draft, 1982 for the final film). Study how the characters interact with one another, the situations their own paranoia brings them to, and how the author creates mystery through ambitious writing. Just as in the final film, Lancaster is able to evoke unease in the reader by scene set-up and bare-bones character conflicts. It differs wildly from the film at many points, and arguably would have been a worse film had it been produced verbatim. It's a perfect example of how the first, or even the second, draft will not be the end of things; you will ALWAYS rewrite, and that is a god send! Your script may become a classic in the third or fourth draft, but you'll never know if you're satisfied with the first.

    Welcome to the craft. If you want some coverage on your draft, I'd love to give feedback once you're ready. Cheers!
u/geegee21 · 7 pointsr/Screenwriting

There are a TON of books out there about writing television and comedy in particular and they can be really helpful, but the best way to learn is really to read scripts. Second to that is what I and my colleagues like to refer to as daring to fail (just write your story), if you have a great story, structure can always be taught and worked out.

If you're working on writing a spec, the best thing you can do is collect as many copies of scripts for the show you're planning to write a spec for and use them as a map - those scripts will inform you about how that particular show is structured because even though there are industry standards, all shows are unique. Depending on length some shows might be 5 acts and a teaser (if it's a one-hour) or 3 acts and a teaser (most half hours), or any other combination of acts and teasers and kickers.

When you're reading these scripts pay close attention to the act-outs to see how the writers typically like to end each act and where the beats fall.

As for books, Show Me the Funny is a good resource. The Hollywood Standard is a staple. Writing the TV Drama Series is one of my favorites, and even though you're looking to write comedy, it is an excellent resource. I haven't read Inside the Room, but I've heard great things about it and it's on my list, so it might be worth a look.

One other thing I will point out is that when you're looking for books that are specifically to be used as resources for writing television, I would steer clear of most books published prior to 2009. I only say that because television more than film has really evolved in a very short amount of time and you want to make sure you're getting the most up to date information.

Other resources to take a look at would be Jon August's Blog, Jane Espenson's blog (though she hasn't updated it in quite awhile), Ken Levine's blog, The Aspiring TV Writer, and The Artful Writer.

I also HIGHLY recommend subscribing and listening to the Nerdist Writer's Panel with Ben Blacker. It's chock full of amazing advice, tips, and great stories from a ton of current television writers.

Hopefully some of this will be helpful! Good luck in your writing endeavors!

u/120_pages · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

Boy, I disagree strongly with most of these comments.
You go write a script every four weeks, and more power to you.

TL;DR: Learn to write fast, here are tools and best practices.

I encourage you to pursue your goal to become more prolific and write a feature every four weeks. That's 90 pages a month, which is slower per page than a TV writer gets to write an hour-long drama.

Learning to write quickly and productively actually improves your writing. Producing more work, with the emphasis on finishing, rather than quality, ultimately produces better work in the long run. This is true of all art. Read this quote from the book *Art & Fear:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot -- albeit a perfect one -- to get an "A". Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes -- the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.


Do not listen to the naysayers. Learning to write prolifically will improve the qaulity of your writing, and give you a competitive advantage over other writers. You will get more specs out per year, you will hand in more rewrite drafts. You will be attractive for production rewrites, and you will be able to perform under tight TV deadlines.

Most writers don't have the grit to pursue the path you have chosen. Be proud and write like mad.

>Are there any tips on how to be more prolific as a screenwriter?

Sure - here are my suggestions:

Set Up A System To Capture And Review Your Ideas. Every writer gets a ton of ideas when they are away from the keyboard. Prolific writers set up a system to capture those ideas and review them later. The method you use isn't as important as choosing a method that you will use all the time, and you will review later to make use of the ideas. For example, I have two apps on my iPhone: one is DropVox, which records voice memos to DropBox. The other is a notetaking app in case I don't feel like dictating. I also keep a pad and pen handy in case my phone has a problem. By my bedside as well. Waterproof notepad in the shower.

If capturing your ideas and reviewing them is a new idea, consider looking into Getting Things Done. (no link because I want to stay on topic.)

Buy Scrivener And Learn How To Use It. Scrivener is a $50 wordprocessor that will make it much easier for you to write prolifically. It's designed to help organize your thoughts and turn out pages faster. It has built-in screenplay formatting, index cards and more.

Scrivener can improve your productivity quite a lot. You do need to spend the time to learn how they have laid out the controls. Once you get used to it, you will love it. Look at the pro screenwriters and book authors who endorse it on the website.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, I strongly recommend buying the $20 iOS version as well. The iOS and desktop versions talk to each other over sync. You can jot something on your iPhone, and it appears in your desktop project automagically. I may start using Scrivener iOS as my note capture software.

Learn A Method To Break The Story Rapidly. Coming up with your outline, known as "breaking the story" is the hardest part of writing. Writing is easy and fun; figuring out the story is the hard part. Writers like Jim Cameron, JJ Abrams and Joss Whedon all talk about how tough it is to break the story. You need a method to go from idea to outline in the most efficient way. To start with, I recommend The Writer's Journeyand Save The Cat. These two books give you a quick start on structure that covers 75% of commercial Hollywood films.

Ignore the redditors who will squawk about these books. Use the books to break your story faster and write more scripts. The redditors will still be looking for inspiration when you are signing your union card.

Build Your Story Around A Theme. I recommend reading this book for a useful approach to theme. It's really about making a philosophical argument, which is really the purpose behind storytelling. Audiences like stories that are held together by a philosophical point of view.

More importantly, using the method in that book will allow you to structure your story faster and with more emotional resonance. Once you understand your philosophical argument, you can rapidly build other subplots that explore it.

Build Your Characters From Contradictions. Instead of writing lengthy character biographies, describe them with a broad, bold stroke, and then add one or two major contradictions. Tony Soprano is a tough, ruthless criminal who it tender to his family, and he's seeing a psychiatrist for anxiety attacks. Hannibal Lecter is a cannibalistic serial killer who is also a genius, and artist and a wine connoisseur.

Make sure to figure out how the character reconciles their contradictions internally. (Tony Soprano never thinks he's a bad guy, even when murdering people -- they had it coming.) Also, try to figure out how to turn their contradictions into a dilemma; a choice they don't want to make. Like choosing between his family and his crime business.

Outline Your Scenes Before Writing Them. This is important. Before you write a scene, figure out why it needs to be in the script, which character's intention is driving the scene, what forces resist them, how it resolves, and plot out the major beats of the scene. Go over the outline a few times and make tweaks and corrections. Make sure the shape of the scene is right before you start writing it. This single technique will speed up your daily productivity dramatically.

If You Feel Resistance, Write The Twitter Version. If you outline the scene, start writing it, and still feel resistance, try rewriting each beat of the scene outline as though it were a tweet. You have 140 characters to write the first beat, and so on. You'll end up with a brief sketch of the scene that's a little more than a rearticulation of the outline. From there, you can rewrite it over and over, fleshing it out a little more each time. The Twitter Version gets you to keep writing and continue making progress.

Capture Notes While Writing. You'll come up with all kinds of ideas while writing a scene. Many ideas will be about other scenes or even other scripts. Have a mechnism to jot down those ideas and then forget about them while you go back to writing the scene. Keep your eye on the ball; don't get distracted.

Write The Ending First After you know the story, write a rough draft of the last 10 pages or so of the script. Know where you're going. Realize that you will be rewriting the ending, this is just to plant a flag at the ending destination.

Make A Chart And Make Your Quota. Make a wall chart, get a calendar, use an app -- keep track of your daily page count. Make it visible, to remind you how you're doing. Two pages a day is doable. Five if you're disciplined. Ten if you're a monster. I'd say start at two and see what's comfortable for your schedule and personality. Mark off every day with your page count. Don't try to make up for short days or missed days. Just write you quota the next day. Feeling you're "in debt" on your page count can grind you down. You job is just to make your quota every day.

Remember The Real Purpose Of Your Job. Your job is not to write a great draft. Your job is to get a draft done, so you can improve it later. Your drafts can get great by draft 10 or draft 20. Just worry about getting them down on paper.

Have Fun.** Part of the joy of writing prolifically is that you don't need to worry about being perfect. Concentrate on being productive. Have fun, don't be too hard on yourself, and remember that you'll fix it in the next rewrite.

Good luck, write fast, and don't expect to be any good until you've written 1000 pages.

u/letsbeB · 4 pointsr/Screenwriting

In no way do I want to understate the importance of reading scripts, but when do you write?

Will you, at some point, shift from indulging in something you like as a reward for reading to a reward for writing?

As an olympic level procrastinator myself, I struggled with something similar. I've been playing piano for 25 years. I love it and am able to play challenging repertoire that's really fun. A few years ago, I'd play piano to "warm my brain up" before writing. Or I'd play piano to "let ideas gel" after outlining. Or I'd play piano after reading a script to "get out from in front of the screen" before I started writing.

And I was getting really good... at piano. I realized that while I wasn't "wasting time" (reddit, clash royale, etc.), I wasn't writing either. My procrastination had outsmarted me by having me do things that benefitted me, that didn't feel like time wasters. But I still wasn't writing. It had moved beyond simple procrastination to Resistance with a capital R. If you're unfamiliar with the term, please please please read Steven Pressfield's magnificent book The War of Art. It's less than $10 on amazon. It's short, some chapters are only a paragraph or two. It's more of a daily devotional than a novel.

Sooo... not to say that this is what you're doing. I don't know your life. And in no way do I intend to wag my finger at you or anything like that. Just some of the language you used in your post sounded familiar and I'll pretty much look for excuses to plug a book that kind of changed my life.

u/nunsinnikes · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

Nope! Writing a novel or long fiction is a completely different experience than writing a screenplay. If the end goal is a finished screenplay, a novel is procrastination. Plus it's a hard transition. I moved from long fiction to screenwriting, and there's a learning curve.

Screenwriting is an entirely visual medium. Absolutely everything that you write should amount to instructions to the director as to what should be on the screen. The long-winded, descriptive nature of prose holds you back in a script, where you have 90-120 precious pages filled with more white space than words. Every last sentence has to count.

The best "intro" book to screenwriting I've read is Writing Movies for Fun and Profit. It's a realistic look at what the experiences, expectations, and challenges of a successful screenwriter will be. It has everything you need to know about formatting and story, but won't turn you into a Save the Cat robot. You'll also get the perspective of the "gate-keepers," and exactly what they're looking for in a screenwriter and his/her work.

I had to work on conciseness, too. Shane Black is the king of that, so reading his scripts might help. Something to remember is that paragraphs of action should be broken up at a MAXIMUM of every four lines, but readers will appreciate more often than that when you can.

People judge your writing based on dialogue and overall structure. If your action lines are simply instruction, no one will think you don't know how to describe a man getting shot as well as Faulkner, they'll be thankful you gave them three words to convey the same idea that 15 words would have done.

If you're thinking about writing a novel just so you have a better hold on the story, screenwriting has a lot of fun processes for getting to know your story. I'd suggest writing your story out as a treatment before you touch your script, and writing one page about the arc of each main character (feeling free to include details about the character not present in the script).

Unlike a novel, a movie doesn't give us all the information. It gives us the bare minimum it possibly can to tell a complete, enthralling, interesting story. Start the story and all scenes as late into the narrative as you can, and end everything as soon as you can.

Don't let your characters ramble. Don't make your characters sound the same. Don't make all your characters smart and funny. Real people do swear and say unsavory things, but in a movie you have to remember that every word and sentence should serve a purpose. I'm the one rambling, now. Happy to shine more light where needed, if you'd like!

u/Seshat_the_Scribe · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

Here are some resources I’ve found interesting and/or useful.


There are over 10,000 results for “screenwriting” when you search for books on, and at least one new screenwriting book is published every week.

Here are some “how to” books I recommend:

u/HeyItsRaFromNZ · 12 pointsr/Screenwriting

> I don't want to make money off of [short films]

Well, great news! You're very unlikely to make any money off any given short film. However, it can be a great calling card for something else (features, ads, music videos).
It's a lot faster to see the rewards than a feature (which is a long hard slog to be honest). And shorts are a great introduction to the medium without being overwhelming (and weighed down by structural considerations).

> I'm immensely interested in shorts. What I lack is a story. I mean, I've no idea how to structure a short. I'm assuming it's the same as the feature one? The three act structure?

I advise to watch as many shorts as you can (you are spoiled for choice on Vimeo, YouTube and/or Short of the Week). Make a note of which ones you love and why.
Personally, I like shorts that have a 'sting in the tail,' some sort of revelation at the end that alter your perception of the rest of the story. However, a short can be a slice-of-life or a character study or
just plain experiment.

The structure of a short can be fairly fluid and still enjoyable and consumable. You don't have the time to establish a lot beyond one or two characters or an intricate plot (at least, without being confusing).
Very often, great shorts are two acts. A set-up and a pay-off. Or three acts, but the third act can be extremely short.

> An idea which has a beginning, a mid point, and an ending. How do I get an idea for a short?

So the great thing about a short is that it is often an exploration of one or two key themes or ideas. It can be based around a single joke ("The Furry Chequebook").
You really can just think of "what if... " and explore just that idea, without having to worry about fleshed-out characters or a B-story etc. What if a guy had control of a small Black Hole?
What if Cape Town was riddled with monsters?

Regarding getting ideas. Observe things around you. Write down thoughts that occur to you. Things that are important to you and you think worthy of exploration.

> My last question is, please suggest me a good book on formatting?

The usual reference for this is the latest edition of David Trottier's The Screenwriter's Bible. This is a great resource for beginners
as well as a reference if you've forgotten a good way to format some element.

u/theredknight · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

Yeah no worries happy to help, definitely PM me. I'm happy to offer you suggestions if that's useful to you.

If you're at all curious about the mechanics of what you're trying to work with your audience, it might help you to understand it based on brain science. The problem with forcing a symbol onto a character or a character into a symbol sets up a battle between your right and left hemispheres of the brain.

The right hemisphere lacks language so it largely works in meaning, symbols, images, and lives in the moment. The left hemisphere (specifically the portion behind your left eye) is constantly trying to generate a story of what it's seeing and make predictions of what will happen next based on what happened before. It also seems to contain language primarily.

So, in my opinion, symbols ideally should be generated by your right hemisphere which is responding to reality but unable to coin it words. From there, your left hemisphere should gather that up and codify it into a storyline. However, by trying to craft the symbol first, that's likely how you got a blockage. You're telling your left hemisphere to create the symbol which is disconnected by meaning because the left hemisphere doesn't really care if things are meaningful or not. It just wants to generate a story to cover it's ass.

There's a good writeup about how they learned all of this mentioned in Jonathan Gottschall's book The Storytelling Animal. Basically, in the early 1960s, a man's corpus callosum (the median between his two hemispheres) was severed and so his hemispheres couldn't talk to each other. Then, they gave the man a divider and began to show each of his eyes different things. So they might show his left eye a picture of chickens and his right eye a field of snow. They'd offer him objects and his immediate reaction came from his right hemisphere, so he'd grab a snow shovel. However, his left hemisphere had to justify why it had done that and so when questioned why he went for the snow shovel, he said "To pick up the chicken poop!"

The point is the right hemisphere is the center you want to trigger deeply in your audience. That's why peculiar symbols and mythic motifs stir people in deep ways. It's the right hemisphere that wants to swing a light saber for example, or responds to conversations in Tarantino films about food. The problem with a lot of screenplays is there's a lack of understanding of these core ideas and as a result, some people just let their left hemisphere generate story thread garbage that doesn't really make sense or work.

Now that's not to say that you have to have an insane understanding of symbolism to write a good screenplay. You don't. We all understand these things deeply in our own right hemispheres. You should, however, be aiming to be inspired by your own deeper meaningfulness but also willing to share your ideas with others to polish your storytelling. This is why oral storytellers are constantly re-working their stories.

The shortcut of course, is to utilize standard mythological motifs. However, there's problems with this as anyone who learned Joseph Campbell's Hero Journey can see. Just because you're using a mythological motif doesn't mean you're utilizing meaningful symbolism. The Hero's Journey is a collection of 12 or so motifs that Campbell saw. Well those aren't the only motifs out there. Vladimir Propp's version has about 31 core motifs (he calls functions) and Stith Thompson's collection has over 46,000 motifs and are quite useful for story generation if you develop an eye for updating old storyforms. (I've done quite a few story creation experiments using Thompson's stuff).

If you don't work from an understanding of meaning and symbolism, it's like creating a person whose bones are all dislocated from each other and therefore can't move. If your story can't move, it definitely can't move your audience. You need meaningful symbolism to pull that off, and it doesn't take much to be honest. Stanley Kubrick would write his films around 6 to 8 meaningful symbolic ideas, which he termed "non submersible units" and then craft the story around that. Ray Bradbury in his book Zen in the Art of Writing describes hiding meaningful moments from his childhood into his stories in order to give them soul as well. You get the idea.

u/[deleted] · 7 pointsr/Screenwriting

I certainly won't discourage you from learning the craft of screenwriting. There are a ton of great resources available to you that will help you understand the format, the structure, the art, and the industry including:

  • Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
  • The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri

    ... as well as the other books and script databases suggested by redactors in other comments in this thread.

    However, I suggest you finish writing your story as a novel before you dive into the screenplay version.

    You see, even though you have an outline, you may learn new things about your characters and story as you write it out.

    Additionally, you say that you "haven't had much motivation" to finish the book. What makes you think that you'll have the motivation to both start and complete a screenplay, then? Please please please trust me when I say that writing is 0% having the best idea in the world and 100% working your ass off to shape that idea and build it into a story. It takes creativity, sure. But it also takes a shit-ton of determination and hard work. It takes the will to work even when you don't feel like working, even when you're lacking inspiration, even when you've just worked a 10 hour shift, your girlfriend broke up with you, your dog puked on the carpet and all you want to do is get drunk with your buddies and play MarioKart.

    And when you've finally finished your story, you'll look back on everything you sacrificed for your art and understand how beautiful it really is to create something.

    (Then you'll realize that you need to do a rewrite and you'll want to shoot yourself!)

    Most importantly -- at least in my opinion -- a book is a finished product, while a screenplay is a blueprint for an expensive, difficult production and post-production process.

    If you have a book, you can self-publish it. You can send it to literary agents and publishing houses. You can put it up on iTunes or Amazon and throw a few hundred dollars against some internet advertising to drive readers to it. You can give it to friends and family as a holiday/birthday gift.

    If you have a screenplay, you can ... uh ... well, it's going to be tough. Yes, you can still submit it to agents and production companies. Or you can try to produce it yourself, which will take a cast and crew and most likely a lot of money and time. And yeah, it's totally valuable to dive into that world, but producing is a completely different skill that will take you years and years and years to master.

    But if you've completed that book and experience some success with the story you've told, it will make it a LOT easier for people to see the value in investing in your story. And, having already completed telling your story in prose, you may find it a lot easier to translate your book into a screenplay.
u/hereaftertime · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

I have two different pieces of advice but I am no professional by any means, I've only done scriptwriting properly for 3 years now and still learning a lot as I go.

Firstly, I would just say write, keep writing and as you write, you learn and develop your skills, but don't neglect the essential parts of what creates a script: Logline, outlines, character description profiles, beat sheets and so on that help hone and give your script depth.

Another is to start working on smaller-length scripts first before pursuing any feature length script and practice the different narrative structures, but this in a way contradicts what I previously said about just writing. I'm writing my first feature length this year after 3 years of short pieces and glad I took that time, but at the same time, nothing helps than to just write over and over.

One thing I would say is to definitely develop the story you want to create with the planning stages before writing (unless you have scenes in mind that you can write down, then go for it), but everyone has a different process and I take bits from everything I have mentioned here.

It's entirely up to you and what helps you at the end of the day, and if you're new to the scene I would recommend a couple of books:

Save the cat and Screenplay are both useful books for all levels and have helped me when it comes to writing. Both fairly popular books so should be easy to purchase/access depending on your region.


Good luck with your writing journey!

u/bentreflection · 5 pointsr/Screenwriting

I'd start with Save the Cat because it's a fun read and does a great job of laying down the basic structure without over-complicating things.

After you've got that down I'd move on to something a bit more theoretical. I would highly recommend The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri. It's about playwriting but the structure is similar and it really impressed upon me the importance of structuring a plot around a character and not the other way around.

I'd also recommend The Sequence Approach as a supplemental structure to the traditional 3 Act structure. The book basically breaks a screenplay into a number of goal-oriented sequences that help guide you towards a satisfying resolution.

I'd keep Story by Robert McKee and Screenplay by Syd Field around for references, but they are more like text books for me and not really inspiring.

One of my professors in grad school wrote a book called The Story Solution based on his own interpretation of story structure. Similar to the sequence approach, he breaks out a screenplay into 23 'hero goal sequences' that keep your story grounded and moving forward, while ensuring that your hero is making progress and completing his character arc.

Also, in answer to your beat question: A beat is the smallest block of measurable plot. a collection of beats make a scene, a collection of scenes makes a sequence, a collection of sequences make an act, a collection of acts make a narrative. Every beat of your screenplay needs to serve the premise in some way or you end up with a bloated script that will drag. Many times writers will actually write 'a beat' into their script to show that there is silence or a pause that is significant to the plot. An example might be a brief pause before a character lies to another character.

u/TotalTravesty · 14 pointsr/Screenwriting

There's nothing to it but to do it.

Well, there is a little more to it. Start by watching movies or TV shows or whatever it is you'd like to write. Watch them with a focused, critical eye, in a way you never would have thought before you considered screenwriting. Watch them as if they were pieces carefully constructed by deliberate, talented professionals--they are. Then read up on it. Most writers swear by Save The Cat but a little shopping around will show you all kinds of good material. Go back to the stuff you watch and see how closely it matches up with what you read.

Then, go about outlining your idea. Figure out the essential plot points (there's always debate as to just how many there are and where they belong in the story) and make sure they apply to your idea. Then get some free screenwriting software and get to work.

It's important to always stick to the conventions of screenwriting when you're a beginner. It's a medium that allows a great deal of creativity, but there are so many things that are industry standard for a reason (not just formatting but the placement of inciting incidents, second act turning points, resolutions, character arcs, etc.). Don't go thinking you'll change the industry by breaking all the rules. You're more than likely to end up with a bad script. It's art, but there are rules.

Since you're 15 you have plenty of time to go about it on your own for a few years. Hopefully you'll figure out if you really want to pursue it when it's time to consider schools and internships and the like. But whatever you do, have a blast!

u/TheUberaspch · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

For a broad and comprehensive overview with less technical information, go for Screenwriting 101 by Film Crit Hulk, along with any of his wonderful articles.

For the technical specifics of modern screenwriting, The Hollywood Standard by Christopher Riley is solid, though it's really not that complicated and I wouldn't worry too much. Just use a program like Celtx to do your formatting and you're sweet.

If you want to blow your mind with dogmatic but largely correct info on the structuring of effective stories in general go for The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri, written about playwriting but incredibly relevant.

I also recommend you learn the basics of filmmaking. I personally believe it's vital to properly writing screenplays (rather than generic writing dressed in screenplay clothes). The stuff's got to be shootable, designed for a reasonable budget, and more importantly, suited to the film medium itself.

A great book for that is On Film-Making by Alexander Mackendrick.

I also highly recommend In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch, written about editing and invaluable. Editing is the essence of film as we know it, so it's in your interests to know it intimately.

u/DrSnagglepuss · 14 pointsr/Screenwriting

I'm floored that you wrote this at 14. Bravo OP, it's pretty funny stuff. My only critique/advice would be regarding formatting (how to label characters speaking with subtitles/voice over etc...)

That's the stuff that can be really small or seem unimportant at first, but it pays off to learn now rather than when you get a chance to pitch your work and a producer kicks you to the curb simply because you didn't label something correctly.

My girlfriend bought me this guidebook a few years ago when I started learning how to do this, maybe you'll find it useful too: Hollywood Standard

Final note, it's VERY impressive you came up with something like this at your age. Do not stop, it's making me both incredibly jealous and driven to continue my work. Best of luck brotha!

u/ScreenPockets · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

Below is a link to a good book. It won't teach you how to be a storyteller, but it will teach you how to format a script. For grammar, purchase The Elements of Style. For screenwriting software, purchase FinalDraft. Yes FinalDraft is expensive (you may have to save up) but it will make your writing journey a lot easier than it probably is now. Best of luck.


u/tpounds0 · 1 pointr/Screenwriting
  • The Eight Characters of Comedy: A Guide to Sitcom Acting and Writing by Scott Sedita
  • As I said, I read it but wouldn't put it on my recommend list. I think it's more applicable to actors in a Sitcom than as a writing tool.

  • Into The Woods by John Yorke
  • I pointed out how it wasn't for me, because it is a focus on Five Acts, while American Television's acts are decided by the number of commercial breaks.

  • Story by Robert McGee
  • It's recommended so often that it doesn't make sense on my list. My list is normally a comment on other's posts asking for book suggestions. I assume someone will reference this book.

  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) by Joseph Campbell
  • I didn't say anything about the book. Just my belief in the protomyth. I say later in the thread that ultimately reading anything will help you, as long as it doesn't distract you from writing.


    I don't find my list derivative and pedantic. But you're very well entitled to your thoughts.
u/thebloodybaker · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

EDIT: You said "it seems it should be a lot easier locating beats and acts in a series where commercials doesn't mess everything up." -- I'd say the opposite is true for television. You literally have act breaks on the page for network shows. It really doesn't get clearer than that.


I struggled with this a lot because I attempted TV pilots after writing features. While simon2it's approach makes a lot of sense, I'd also recommend keeping a few other things in mind:

In network television, commercial breaks DO equal act breaks (at least, that's the norm). And that does mean up to seven acts as opposed to the traditional 4/5 because the number of breaks are on the up. So for studying television structure, broadcast shows (1 hr dramas and 1/2 hour sitcoms) are the best point of entry for newbies, or writers who're trained in features. Watch as many pilots as you can (as these typically lay the structural foundation for episodes to follow), and READ as many pilots as you can. You'll find act breaks on the page. These are available online, but if you struggle to find them, drop me a PM with your e-mail ID and I'll send you a few. I just checked the pilot script for ABC's American Crime, and it has five acts (maybe I'll watch the pilot in a couple days and let you know how this reconciles with the commercial breaks). Mr. Robot doesn't have act divisions on the page.

Next, I'd advise against approaching television structure using Save The Cat or any similar paradigm. I suppose it's theoretically possible, but in my experience, you need to shed "feature thinking" if you really want to understand television structure, which is more liberal and allows you to just focus on telling a really good story. For instance, sitcom episodes are often not goal-driven (as is the norm in features), but tend to build towards a future event which serves as a third-act set piece. Network procedurals might be comparable to features, but things will get really muddy if you use a feature lens to understand cable and streaming.

In sum, to understand television structure: watch tv pilots, and read tv pilots and episodes. Everything you can get your hands on. That's the best education you could possibly have. If you'd like to complement this with theory, I'd recommend these books:

Writing the TV Drama Series, by Pamela Douglas

Future of Television, by Pamela Douglas

Into the Woods, by John Yorke

u/EnderVViggen · 5 pointsr/Screenwriting

I can't recomend or say this enough.

You need to read three books:

  1. Save The Cat. This book will give you the basics of how to write a script, and what points to follow.

  2. Here With A Thousand Faces. This is the same information you would get in Save The Cat, however, it's way more involved. This book isn't about screenwriting, it's about story/myth and how we tell them. READ THIS BOOK!

  3. The Power of Myth. Another book by Joseph Cambell, which explains why we tell stories the way we do, and why you should write your stories using the 'Hero's Journey' (see Hero With A Thousand Faces).

    It is important to learn these basics, as you need to learn to walk, before you can fly a fighter jet.

    Happy to answer any and all questions for you!!! But these books are a must!!! I read them all, and still have Hero & Power of Myth on my desk.
u/ThankYouMrUppercut · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

Good points, thanks!

We use the formatting specified in the Hollywood Standard v.2, hence all the CAPS and such. Not that it's the end-all-be-all of screenwriting formatting, but we prefer to stick with just this one written guide. I know there are others that recommend other techniques. Any suggestions are certainly welcome!

Everything else (formatting-wise) we've found to be consistent with scripts on the market today (Re-Up by Ian Schorr, Rothchild by John Patton Ford, Autobahn by F. Scott Frazier). All that said, we're trying to make this readable for YOU. So anything to that effect that you find jarring we will examine further.

Thanks for the feedback. You rock!

u/saywhenhuckleberry · 0 pointsr/Screenwriting

I'll definitely echo that you want to exercise and get out a little.


"Save the Cat" is a tremendous book if you're looking to write a screenplay.


You may also want to try "How to Write a Movie in 21 Days". I haven't read the later but a few friends who have and said it was phenomenal.

Cheers and enjoy your writing.


u/Baryshnikov_Rifle · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

Michael Bay, is that you? huehuehue

As far as format goes, The Complete Screenwriter's Manual covers everything. I mean, you say you know format. Everyone says they know format. A fraction of those claimants actually have command of format, though. This book covers just about everything.

Read/watch anything you can find on storytelling in general; not just movies. Structure, theme, the writing process, whatever. You'll find that the authors, writers of tips and lists, etc., are repeating each other and drawing from the same sources.

Much/most of modern screenwriting is informed by the works of mythologist Joseph Campbell. George Lucas was a student of his, and Robert McKee (book here) relies heavily on Campbell, as well.

Truby's 22 Steps is much the same, but he goes back to Lord Raglan's Hero Scale--Lord Raglan was one of Campbell's predecessors/influences--and secularized/generalized it, since it had been focused mostly on divine/mythological figures like Jesus and Krishna. He basically just reworded it to have an Everyman bent.

Pick up A Brief History of the Movies, and watch the films as you go through it. That'll give you a primer on the development of the artform.

Do you have a buddy to tackle all this writing bidness? Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg had their first draft of Superbad done at your age. Kenny and Spenny wrote an episode of Ninja Turtles when they were, like, 11 or 12.

Oh, as for actually getting gear and filming stuff: if you're in a bigger city, there might be a film/TV co-op or a filmmaking camp for the teenagers...with the hippin n the hoppin n the bippin n the boppin...

u/FlailingScreenwriter · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

So, you’re doing literally everything wrong, and I didn’t even read it, but it’s obvious from just the sight of the page without reading a single word..., but that’s ok, you want to learn to do it right..., good...

For one, download Celtx, it’s like Final Draft but free..., then watch a dozen “screenwriting 101” videos on YouTube...

And if you want a solid guidebook, this is worth more than any other ten screenwriting books combined...

Also, find three movies you already love and know well and read the scripts...

u/anteris · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

Keep in mind that unlike a novel, you don't need to get too specific with the little details like one would with a novel. Only include things that are important to the story, ie: don't bother mentioning a green dress unless it has meaning to the over all story. Learn the inner workings of story structure.
Write often, make sure to set aside some time everyday to practice.
Book that might help:

Pretty close to what I am learning in school.

u/SincerelyEarnest · 14 pointsr/Screenwriting

I'm in the same boat. I've found countless books on feature structure/writing, but hardly anything about how to write/plan a damn tv show lol So far, I really like Crafty TV Writing, it gives you a general run-down about what makes a good tv series, coming up with episode ideas, different approaches to the pilot, and a bunch of other cool stuff. It seems more geared towards sitcoms than dramatic TV, but I still think it's worth checking out.

u/Daver2442 · 5 pointsr/Screenwriting

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder - usually criticized for taking a one mind ultimate approach to structure. He provides basically qa formula for screenwriting which people often say is the completely wrong way to go about it.

Story by Robert Mckee - a book that delves into a little bit of everything.

Syd Field - A well known author with a fairly large catalog.

The issue a lot of people have with these books is that they often preach a step by step or formulaic process for writing a screenplay. Something people argue kills the art/creativity of it and makes it boring. Personally, I don't they will hurt you much. I'd advise if you read anything don't take it as rules, just what works for someone else and might help you some along the way. Don't read Save the Cat and feel like you have to hit every mark on the exact page. Like you probably want to have an act 1 break into act 2 but don't force it to land exactly on p30. Look at everything you read as basic guidelines, the great thing about writing is there are NO rules.

As for formatting, don't worry about it. If you aren't yet, use screenwriting software. Use SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE. USE SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE. It does everything for you and there are a lot of great free alternatives(I really like Fade In right now). Seriously these days formatting should be at the bottom of what you are worrying about.

u/TheWolfbaneBlooms · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

Pro-tip: When you post a short for feedback, put that it's a short in the thread title. You'll get more looks.


It's a first draft, so I'll try to control the painful twitching I'm getting looking at the grammar & sentence structure here. twitch -- Whoops.

First, let me suggest... buy a copy of David Trottier's Screenwriter's Bible. It's the most efficient $20 you'll spend. This book is oft-overlooked for other SW books, but it is my favourite to learn the fundamentals (and a lot of in-depth things).

Moving on... beyond the nuts & bolts of your poor grammar & lack of screenwriting structure (twitch -- damn it!), you still have many issues here. The action is very clunky and offers very little to the visualization of your scenes.

For example:

> A car pulls up outside and the horn Honks two or three times.

  • You're the writer. What do you mean "two or three times"? It's your choice! Is it two or three?

  • Describe the car a little bit more. It's a teen, right? Or young person? How about "A beat-up Camry rolls to a stop outside the cookie-cutter suburban home. BRIAN (19) honks the horn a couple times. His buddy, KEVIN (18), appears through the front door, still buttoning his plaid shirt."

  • You need to set up scenes so readers can see what you're seeing. You know what the car looks like. You know what the house looks like. You know what Brian & Kevin look like. We don't. We're readers. We're not in your mind.

    Your dialogue is very "Kevin Smith wannabe" which is fine. He's a great idol to have when it comes to this kind of dialogue. However, it doesn't work that well. My tip to you: read it out loud. Every time you get that little tingle of embarrassment (even if you're reading alone to yourself), that means your dialogue is jacked up.

    These are vital elements to the script. I know first drafts are first drafts, but you need to at least put some effort into the basics before you can get a serious opinion.

    Good luck.


u/Jimjamm · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

Understanding the three act structure is imperative. If you can think of something that you've written in the past and can apply it, or at least place the details and events in the structure, that should help a lot. McKee is a good read. It should answer a ton of questions.

The Writer's Journey is great too. But if you can write and you understand the structure that is looked for in visual media, you should be good.

u/captaingoodnight · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

I like Blake Snyder's (Save the Cat) take on the logline:

> A logline is like the cover of a book; a good one makes you want to open it, right now, to find out what's inside.

  • Irony: Irony gets my attention. It hooks your interest. It's the single most important element of a logline.
  • A Compelling Mental Picture: You must be able to see a whole movie in it.
  • Audience and Cost: A built in sense of who it's for and what it's going to cost
  • A Killer Title: Title and logline are, in fact, the one-two punch, and a good combo never fails to knock me out.
u/JustOneMoreTake · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

O.C. means OFF CAMERA. It basically means the character is nearby but out of view from the camera. For example in another room speaking through the wall. If you want a good guide on format you can buy a book like
The Hollywood Standard: The Complete and Authoritative Guide to Script Format and Style (Hollywood Standard: The Complete & Authoritative Guide to) by Christopher Riley

Other than that I would recommend reading A LOT of screenplays and then looking up on Google each thing you don't understand.

u/CD2020 · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

Cool. Glad to help.

Here's the two books that I was referring to. It's definitely a trap to start buying screenwriting books or writing books -- however, there are couple of key nuggets I've only recently uncovered.


u/CutNSplice · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

Oof, yeah, the baby is going to make life unpredictable. Maybe look into a B vitamin complex or some non-caffeine energy drinks, try to make those naps more effective by not being strung out on caffeine.

Or "caffeine naps," where you slam a drink of your choice then immediately nap for half an hour, might work for you too.

My writing partner and I have known each other for nearly 15 years, family friends through his younger brother who prefers being a lighting/sound tech for live theater. There were some growing pains, arguments over earlier work, but we've hit a nice stride where we can work relatively fast and not really have an ego about things; it's all about the quality of the final product.

This book was a big benefit to us, we follow their strategy: split the story up, write it, and constantly iterate over each other's work.

u/takeheed · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

Only 1 period (.) in a slug, unless it's ext./int.


The only time you ever use one - dash (hyphen) is in a slug, everywhere else use two--.

If you have a scene that is both exterior and interior, like inside a car and a man on the sidewalk, do this:


Here's a flashback slug (underline FLASHBACK):


Not using a dash at all is also fine.

(EXT.(1 space)JOE'S(1 space)CRAB SHACK(3 spaces)DAY)

Just make sure you're consistant.

A very good book with script formatting is called Your Screenplay Sucks, I strongly recommend it to everyone because it provides the logical reasons for certain formatting and why it is necessary.

u/Secret_Work_Account · 14 pointsr/Screenwriting

It was an off-hand comment in another thread, but this thread seems to be a bit more dedicated to it

It's by no means my favorite or most helpful book, but having someone tell me to write a specific page count helped me get it out in 7 days. I'd just stay after work and not leave until I hit the page count. So in that sense, it made the difference between having nothing and something. I'd rather have a ROUGH draft than an idea teasing me for another 10+ years.

Here's a link to the book on Amazon

u/ninzorjons · 5 pointsr/Screenwriting

Boy, I couldn't wait for Andrew to kill himself. Glad it paid off. Could see it coming a mile away -- It's a sure sign of an amateur script.

I think you need to ask yourself what story you're trying to tell. Ask yourself why you want to tell it, and why it needs to be told.

My advice is to hit the books, kid. You need to learn the basics of storytelling, and structure in screenwriting.

I highly recommend Syd Field's book:

Best of luck.

u/malcomp_ · 5 pointsr/Screenwriting

Since format is not cut-and-dry- you may read five scripts that handle the same thing five different ways- the best education is to just read a whole lot of screenplays.

However, you'll want to pay special attention to those featured on the annual Black List, as most of them originated as 'specs'; such scripts are often a writer's first introduction to the professional side of the business, earning them their first manager and/or agent.

Here is a link to 2014's Black List scripts; this document details their ranking and provides a logline of each so you know what you're getting into. I'd recommend you read ALL of them- yes, all 71- because they run the gambit from bizarre yet captivating concepts to simple yet well-executed stories. You'll likely encounter something from every genre and will get a taste for what "voice" is (re: Brian Duffield's THE BABYSITTER).

In terms of books, a couple of stand-bys are Robert McKee's Story and Blake Snyder's Save the Cat.

u/DGM6000 · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

Anytime. I'd be more than happy to read through your script and send you notes via message, if you'd like. If you want to pick up a good book for formatting, check out the Screenwriter's Bible. Trottier knows his stuff.

u/talkingbook · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

It's a pretty awesome book. Got that's where fiber was drawing from (they recommend it!) Wasn't sure if it was in irony or not:(

u/Quimbymouse · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

This book helped me a great deal when I first started out. It's certainly one of the better books about the craft out there.

u/dafones · 4 pointsr/Screenwriting

>I've only very recently decided that I wanted to go into film making for a career ...

Start with the basics then. Read Save the Cat, Story, Screenplay, and The Screenwriter's Bible.

Ask yourself what your five favorite films in the world are, that you could watch over and over again. Buy them on Bluray, and find a copy of their shooting script. This website is a good start, although you may have to buy them from somewhere. Watch the movies, then read the scripts, then repeat.

Then, with both the theory and the execution in your mind ... start to think of conflict, of drama, of characters and themes and story arcs.

Bluntly, it sounds like you're putting the horse well before the cart.

u/cubitfox · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

You really need to learn screenplay format. It's fairly easy to learn. Here's a great, comprehensive resource.

u/hattmouse · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

There's a few ways you could do it. The previous commenter's suggestion was fine. For really basic stuff like this, I want to recommend The Hollywood Standard. It's good to have handy.

u/Psyladine · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

Adventures in the Screen Trade

Page 163-165 -

"Cliff Robertson got me into the movie business, in late 1963."

TL;dr: he was blocked writing Boys and Girls Together, came across the Boston Strangler story, thought what if there were two, then threw it together as an experiment in fast writing while he worked on B&GT. It was published and Robertson approached him about the treatment, mistaking the brief style of the book for a rough screenplay form.

"None of this is important, except to note that I entered the movie business on a total misconception." pg 165

Which Lie Did I Tell

Apologies; he describes himself as the world's greatest spit-baller, but a mediocre pitcher. (pg 161 -162):

"But what I do better than anyone else on Earth is spitball."

Which is like half of all pitching.

u/brainswho · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

The Writer's Journey is a pretty standard text. It isn't specifically focused on comedy or screenwriting, but the lessons are applicable. It is based on "The Hero With A Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell (the link has the entire text on google books). Dan Harmon's "story circle" is also based on this work.

u/AnnoyedScriptReader · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

Yes. A thousand times this. The one major advantage of being a reader (it's certainly not the money) is that I have HAD to do this. Lots and lots and lots of scripts good and bad...mostly bad. It is soooo eye opening and has ultimately been of MORE use to me then just about anything else.

The one book I will recommend to you is Your Screenplay Sucks by William Ackers.

Why I like this guy is his emphasis is on training your eye to eliminate fat, be as clear and specific with your word choice/sentence structure as possible, and how to arrange the words on the page to make them as effective as they possibly can be.

Non pro writers just don't know how to do that kind of stuff (mostly cause they don't bother to read pro scripts...or worse they think what pros do is off limits for some stupid reason) and I just can't tell you how important it is.

u/quietwriter101 · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

Yeah, man. Believe me, I’ve bought all the books, starting with Syd Field’s VHS tapes (God! I wish I still had that gem!) and then I bought his books, too. Twenty years ago, I was a newbie screenwriter looking for the answers just like you are today. I’ve bought over fifty screenwriting “how to” books in paperback and I don’t know how many others on my Kindle. All of them have something to offer, a nugget or two here and there, but the two I recommended have the most bang for the buck to a neophyte screenwriter.

There’s no formula as Syd Field and Blake Snyder pretend. There are some accepted standards that are expected of you, and that’s why I recommend “The Screenwriter’s Bible” by David Trottier. It will answer tons of questions you’ll have that those other books will only generate. William Akers’ “Your Screenplay Sucks” was born of his college course on screenwriting that he teaches. It will teach you something, too.

You’ll learn almost everything you need to get started by reading those two books. Sure there are books, too, but almost every neophyte screenwriter recommends those terrible “beginner books” to every other neophyte screenwriter. It’s a self-perpetuating sin. You can buy them later if you want to do so, but not now. Get off to a good start instead.

u/banduzo · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

Wouldn't hurt to read a few books on screenwriting to get the lay of the land.

Decide if you want write features or television pilots.

Learn the structure of a screenplay (which is different for a feature and a television pilot)

Read scripts that are similar to what you want to write about. (i.e same genre) or any script that's highly recommended.

Some people start with a character and build a story, some people start with a story and add characters. Find what works best for you.

Dialogue will come with practice. It's going to be on the nose and full of exposition right off the bat. But it gets better as you write more. And no one every really masters it. I compare aired versions of shows to written screenplays and at least 10% of the dialogue overall is always cut.

Know what you're talking about. Want to write about cop? Read how a police organization works and how investigations work. Want to write about doctors? Know the medical terms and procedures you will be exploring. This also goes for areas of expertise such as science. For example, I am sure Vince Gilligan did some research into chemistry before writing Breaking Bad.

u/screenwriter101 · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

Two books that I found very helpful:

[The Anatomy of Story by John Truby](

(Also look him up on Youtube: Anatomy Of Story: The Complete Film Courage Interview with John Truby)


Three Uses of the Knife by David Mamet

u/Picnicpanther · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

I've really enjoyed Truby's The Anatomy of Story. I think why it's more valuable is it's part Campbell's "hero's journey", and part dissecting not just other scripts, but how they're condensed into a synopsis, what a spec treatment should look like, all while not being too prescriptive.

u/venicerocco · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

I read through the comments on this page and you basically need to read "Your Screenplay Sucks" - its an excellent book that will help you see why you shouldn't do the things you are doing.

u/billiemint · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

haha it's fine. If you're willing and able to invest a little bit of cash, I do recommend getting the Screenwriter's Bible. It helped me a bunch with all of the basics, and even now I still refer to it from time to time.

u/BreaphGoat82 · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

I've studied the Dan Harmon's embryos it's a really good one. You can also try [Save the Cat] ( Probably the most popular "outlining" book out there.

u/slupo · 11 pointsr/Screenwriting

This is normal. I always wonder about people who "love" to write. So don't beat yourself up over it.

I'd try reading these two books:

Good luck!

u/Meekman · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

This book helped me out when I first started. However, I used the 3rd edition, so not sure how much has changed in the 5th version to keep it updated. The screenwriting process keeps evolving, but the basics should still be there.

As far as screenwriting software, speakingofsegues has it right. CeltX is the one you want to use if you're looking for free software, but you will probably have to learn Final Draft at some point if you continue in this field. They do offer a demo to try it out.

u/Vincent-Amadeus · 4 pointsr/Screenwriting

Save the Cat. It’s a good beginning book for screenwriting and it’s thin. A simple read with some good information.

u/Scriptfella · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

On Filmmaking by Alexander McKendrick, who was a Brit director who transitioned to teaching at UCLA. His book only has a couple of chapters on screenwriting - which you can read in half an hour - but hands down, they contain the most useful nuggets of screenwriting advice that I've ever read.

I will be reviewing Mckendrick's storytelling system on Scriptfella in the near future.


Screenwriting. Storytelling. Hollywood.

u/tensouder54 · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

Hi there /u/DetMills

Reddit has removed your comment as the URL is too long. Please replace it with this ^[1] shorter URL. Then we (the mods) can look to approve it.

Have a nice day!



[1] -

u/tomhagen · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

Watch your favorite movies and break down the structure. Define the external and internal goals that move the plot forward. What is the movie saying (theme)? Strive for great subtext in your dialogue. Get in a scene as late as possible and leave as early. Use Final Draft. Don't put camera angles or shots in your script: don't direct!


u/dedb0x · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

I read Robert McKee's Story and found it super insightful.

u/ceedge · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

If you want a book, Writing the TV Drama Series is pretty well respected around here. I've got it but have yet to read it. I've been too busy writing.

u/PhoenixFarm · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

"On Film Making" by Alexander Mackendrick.

This is actually a book on directing, however, his philosophy and lessons on dramatic structure are incredible and very useful for a writer. You wont find too many screenplay structure lessons though. So it depends on what you want.

u/lonewolfandpub · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

I'm a big fan of The Anatomy of Story. It's got applications outside of screenwriting as well.

u/1ManCrowd · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

Save the Cat is a fun-ish, semi-informative screenwriting book that has some interesting ideas and is usually loved or hated with little in between. It's big thing is structure - it tells you basically how to write a movie with 15 "beats," or story moments - elements that should be on this certain page and do this certain thing. A lot of movies have some or most of these elements, and while the author's two scripts that have been produced (Stop or My Mom Will Shoot and Blank Check) aren't really that good, he does have some decent advice, especially for newcomers, or those struggling with structure.

The downside is he's teaching you a formula, like screenwriting is akin to putting thing X in slot Y. A lot of people are turned off by that, not to mention his approach is basically to write highly commercial films. He kind of shits on Memento while lauding Legally Blonde. So there you have it. Still, worth a read.

Many other books or websites have their own ideas of beats, how many, where they should go, what they should do, etc. Some are loved, some not, but most are interesting enough to read, if not learn a thing or two now and again.

u/the_eyes · 1 pointr/Screenwriting
u/brooklyngreen · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

The best thing to do is take a class so you get all the basic info and guidance and get sent on the right track. Too many bad screenplays out there. Don't be one of them.

I recommend the following places

If you specifically are talking about format check out

u/magelanz · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

I got more out of The Story Solution than both of those put together.

I'll also save wrytagain the hassle and add The Screenwriter's Bible.

u/RoboHobo9000 · 5 pointsr/Screenwriting

Well, the biggest issue -- the first thing that jumps out at me -- is that you're not writing in standard screenplay format.


Read up on how to format a screenplay. How to write scenes. How to write dialogue. Sluglines. Action. Transitions.


Read: The Screenwriter's Bible

Visit: for basic Q&A


  • Better Scene Description
  • Entering a Scene
  • Writing Better Action


    If you want some specific criticism:

  • Your parentheticals are long. If you need a character to be taking action, write it as action.
  • You have typographical errors and potentially misspelled names.
  • You don't have sluglines.
  • Your tense shifts between present and past. Should be written as present.
  • You don't really introduce your characters. A single line would suffice.
  • Your dialogue is too on the nose. Try making the characters only say what's necessary. Have them speak "to move the scene forward".
  • Avoid extra ellipses (...) in dialogue.


    Good luck!
u/jstarlee · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

They have to go thru so many scripts a day - if something looks remotely different than the standard format, it goes into the trash can.

This book is very helpful.

u/NativeDun · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

To answer your question: yes.

Read this book. One of the only screenwriting guru books I return to often.

u/MapOnFire · 5 pointsr/Screenwriting

Using the sequence approach can help with loose pacing. Traditionally the sequence approach will divide the script into 8 chunks of ~15 minutes screentime, but the number of sequences is arbitrary (usually betweeen 4-12). Each sequence should be a mini-movie addressing some sub-goal of the main dramatic question.

Also, start the script with existing conflict. Let the first sequence end with some disturbance/opportunity at page 10-15. Then introduce the main dramatic question at the end of the second sequence.

This book is a good starter:

u/writerlike · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman

Amazon Link

u/walkoffaith · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

This. In Blake Snyder's Save the Cat! he talks about THIS EXACT TITLE as being overused, overly generic and gives virtually no insight into the film.

u/dashzed · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

Yep, now rewrite your logline and make it about the protagonist. Also, if you haven't already go ahead and buy this:

u/bluesxman5 · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

The Hollywood Standard has been invaluable to me as an amateur writer. It's all about format and structure. Can't recommend it enough as a beginner.

Also one called the Writers Journey I think? Can't remember. Helps you learn how to create characters and story.

Some may tell you to read Save the Cat. That book teaches you how to write a formulaic screenplay that big budget movies follow. It's also often pointed at as the reason movies are so predictable and also as causing real storytelling to be sucked out of movies these days. If you're doing this to become a good writer with substance and thinking of it as art then I would avoid it.

u/curious-scribbler · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

This approach made life really easy for me.

I read somewhere that Spielberg also uses the Sequence Model/Approach.

Start with [Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach by Paul Gulino.] (

He analyses a bunch of movies using the approach.

[This] ( Script Lab Article will run you through the nuts and bolts of this approach.

That's all you need.

u/steed_jacob · 3 pointsr/Screenwriting

I believe that it's Screenplay by Syd Field. I read it but it doesn't hold a candle to Robert McKee's Story or John Truby's The Anatomy of Story. Field's reliance on 3-act structure is problematic for me, while Truby's 22 steps are a lifesaver.

CYA: No, these are not affiliate links, and no I am not being paid to sell you stuff. I'm currently reading McKee's Story and currently it's my favorite book on storytelling in general.

u/zulu_tango_charly · 2 pointsr/Screenwriting

If you're looking at TV drama, Writing The TV Drama Series by Pam Douglas isn't bad.

u/SlowNSensible · 1 pointr/Screenwriting

if you want a professional advice, there is a book, Read this in few hours and start writing.

u/trevorprimenyc · 0 pointsr/Screenwriting

Formatting. You're talking about formatting. not structure. For anything other than a shooting script, use Spec script formatting.