Breaking Free of Genre

Genre is a much discussed, often little understood, idea.

What genre essentially means to you, the writer, is a set of conventions and tropes that define a particular kind of story and storytelling format.

For screenwriters, genre can either be a blessing or a torturous curse. I continually advise new … More

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The Basic Outline

After you’ve come up with what you feel is a workable premise for a story, the very next action you will want to take is often the basic outline. This is a skeletal structure for the working body of the film, and is simpler than a step outline, … More

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Anatomy of a Scene

King KongOne of the least discussed, least understood components of a screenplay is also, ironically, one of its main units of story measurement, character development, and plot information: the scene.

Too many beginning writers unfortunately seem to think that most scenes are throwaway moments, and that somehow the overall story structure … More

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The Smell of Fear: New Wave Horror

New Wave Horror

What is the Horror New Wave? And how did we get there? Research on the topic reveals that the “New Wave” moniker is often bandied about with little justification. Yet careful application of the term can be enlightening rather than obfuscating.

Suspension of disbelief is not the only criteria for … More

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More Human than Human: Robots, Cyborgs, and A.I. in the Movies


“Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.” Thus speaks replicant Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982), having turned the tables on his would-be executioner, Deckard, while neatly summarizing the predicament of creatures created to serve mankind. As Deckard clings to … More

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Screenwriting Glossary

act | A finite block of story action, its conclusion leading either a new direction for the story’s conflict, or to a resolution. An act is like a story all unto itself. It, too, has a beginning, middle, and end. Acts should be treated not just as parts of a … More

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Variations in Screenplay Format

Screenplay FormatScreenplay format is at times straightforward, at times confusing. Yet beginning screenwriters often assume that rules of format are set in stone, which is not true. Script format evolves, mutates, and varies from writer to writer. Learning when and how you can alter format to your needs will make your … More

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Steal This Idea!

CopypastaEverybody does it. What are Hollywood screenwriters and producers if not a sleek band of rapacious idea-highwaymen and -women, constantly on the prowl for the unpillaged concept, the unpludered notion?

Now it’s your turn.

Yes, you, too, can join this elite cadre of concept-ninja, and obtain ideas the old-fashioned way; … More

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An Actor’s Perspective

Kirk!It’s essential for a screenwriter to understand a script from the perspective of an actor. Acting, being the major component of performed drama, overlaps and interlocks with screenwriting in some very important and integral ways.

Thus, a great way to better understand the role that character plays in your own … More

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Know Thyself, or How to Avoid Becoming a Hack

SocratesSomewhere, in the midst of all of this talk about format, plot, dialogue, pitch meetings and million-dollar deals lies the real core of our profession — the story.

What are your stories, why do you choose to tell them, and what do they mean to you? If any of your … More

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