How to Write a Screenplay

A moviegoer has certain expectations of a film’s journey, whether conscious or subconscious. The execution of the concept has to deliver. Besides simply “good writing,” producers are looking for scripts with proper format and stories that follow a three-act structure. Discover the essential techniques that grab an executive’s attention and make the execution of your story as good as the hook, all while taking the audience on an emotional ride. Learn outlining, writing dialogue, crafting memorable scenes, proper screenplay format and more.


ScriptMag Archives: Using Juxtaposition

One is the loneliest number, but two makes for a story! Put one thing next to a contrasting thing, and tell a tale. Juxtaposition: Meaningful placement of one element in close proximity to another element, and it is an essential aspect of successful, effective screenwriting that ranges from plot to characters to setting. The...


Column D: Should You Take Him Back? (When to use Flashback)

I want to talk to you today about one of the more controversial tools in the screenwriter’s toolbox – and that’s flashback. Like voice-over, flashback is “frowned upon” by screenwriting gurus, professors and so-called purists. The reason for all that frowning is that flashing back slows the forward momentum of the film and “takes...

obsession as motivation

Writer’s Edge: Obsession as Motivation

Obsession is one of the strongest motivators in human interaction. It compels a character to forge ahead regardless of the consequences usually in a blind reckless manner that often results in the characters demise. There are parallels to the following two films regarding the same obsession. In “Moby Dick,” Captain Ahab has lost his...

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

The Two Types of TV Stories

I used to lament the fact that so many network series focus on cops, lawyers, and/or doctors. I tried pitching and developing multiple series about other kinds of workplaces. I felt, like many aspiring television writers do, that there are many different kinds of job challenges that could make for compelling television. But in...


Breaking In: No Commercial Concept For Your Script? No Problem!

Most aspiring screenwriters hope to write a script that will make them more money than the combined box office takes of Avatar, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hangover, and Godzilla.  So they come up with what they think is a sure-fire “high concept” (“catchy” and obviously commercial) idea, then write their spec script....


Short Circuit: Stop Chasing Your Screenwriting Dream!

Years ago, I had an agent and spent a lot of time “chasing” a screenwriting career, and I never got anywhere. Today, I no longer have an agent, don’t live in L.A., am writing to please myself… and the work just kind of magically appears… not that I am buying my own private island or anything yet...