Web Links: How to write a screenplay

No matter what stage of your writing career you are in, there are ample articles to help you in everything from Fade In to Fade Out. We’ve listed a few standout articles here to refer to as needed, whether you need advice on coming up with your idea to writing a logline to building character arcs. We’ll add more as we come across them.

Reading

One of the best ways to learn how to write a screenplay is by reading screenplays. Before long, you’ll learn formatting tricks, dialogue techniques, and more. There are ample places on the internet to find scripts. Many screenwriting contests also seek readers to help evaluate their entries.

8 Reasons to Read Screenplays – ScreenwritingU Magazine

How to Read A Screenplay – Go Into the Story

Blacklist Scripts: The Complete Guide – Script Reader Pro

Script Index – LA Screenwriter

Read the Best Screenplays from the 1950s– Shore Scripts

Genre Screenplay Collection – Shore Scripts

20 Best Comedy Scripts to Read and Download – Script Reader Pro

TV Pilots to Read – Shore Scripts

Getting Started

Before diving into your script, take time to prep. We’ve listed numerous articles here to help you test your idea, craft a logline, and much more.

48 Ways to Becoming a Productive Screenwriter – Script Reader Pro

How to Become A Screenwriter: The Ultimate Guide – Script Reader Pro

Screenwriting Rules, Guidelines & Expectations – Screencraft

What screenplay should you write next – ScriptFirm

The Ultimate List of Story Development Questions – Screencraft

101 ‘What If?’ Story Writing Prompts – Screencraft

5 Proven Ways to Unlock Original Movie Ideas – Script Reader Pro

3 Steps to Take Before Your First Draft – Script Reader Pro

The 3 C’s of Screenwriting – ScreenCraft

How to get started with your screenplay – Creative Screenwriting

What Makes a Great Screenplay – The Guardian

How long should it take to write a screenplay? – The Script Lab

Sun Tzu’s Art of Screenwriting – Screencraft

How to raise the stakes in your plot – Go Into the Story

How to write a killer first draft – ScriptMag

10 Steps: How I Write A Script – Scott Myers / Go Into the Story

Vomit Your Screenplay in 5 Weeks – The Script Lab

Why Your Outline Could Kill Your Screenplay – Creative Screenwriting

Outlines, Treatments and Scriptments, Oh My! – Screencraft

How to Write a Script Outline – Script Reader Pro

What is an Inciting Incident in a Screenplay? – Script Reader Pro

How to Write A Screenplay – ScriptNotes podcast with Craig Mazin

Michael Hauge’s Blueprint for a better script – Creative Screenwriting

Learning from the First Great Screenwriting Book: Part 1 – Screencraft

Learning from the First Great Screenwriting Book: Part 2 – Screencraft

Learning from the First Great Screenwriting Book: Part 3 – Screencraft

The Differences Between Traditional and Archetypal Storytelling – Screencraft

The Screenwriter’s ABC’s: An Alphabet of Screenwriting Advice – Screencraft

Top Script Writing Tips Every Screenwriter Should Own – Script Reader Pro

Agents and Managers

How to Get an Agent or Manager – Script Reader Pro

Characters

What your hero wants: Outer Motivation – Michael Hauge

What your hero wants: Inner Motivation – Michael Hauge

What your hero wants: Longings & Needs – Michael Hauge

What your hero wants: Preliminary Goals & Ultimate Objectives – Michael Hauge

What your hero wants: Sameness – Michael Hauge

What your hero wants: Revealing Your Hero’s Desires – Michael Hauge

How to Develop Your Characters – No Film School

4 Ways to Approach Desire in Your Main Character – LA Screenwriter

3 Ways to Make Characters More Dynamic – The Script Lab

4 Steps for Making Peculiar Characters Believable – LA Screenwriter

Children Don’t Think Like Little Adults – Creative Screenwriting

5 Ways to Write Better Female Characters – Screenplay Readers

3 Ways to Create Bad-Ass Characters – The Script Lab

VOTE Method: How to Write Super-Powerful Characters – Story Into Screenplay

Creative Ways to Conjure Character Names – Screencraft

What’s your character’s ultimate deal breaker – Script Magazine

The Ultimate Screenplay Character Development Hack – Script Reader Pro

How to Create the Perfect Character Arc Using Structure and Theme – Script Reader Pro

Concept

What is High-Concept and How Can I Write it? – Standout Books

How to Write and Pitch High-Concept Movies – Movie Outline

5 Questions to test your story concept – Go Into the Story

Contests

How Nicholl Fellowship readers judge a script – Go Into the Story

Getting Past the Reader – Shore Scripts

What Are Script Readers Looking For – Indie Wire

Conflict

3 Ways to Increase Conflict in Your Story – ScreenCraft

Description

How to write minimal description to maximum effect – Go Into the Story

Screenplay Exposition: How to Write it Lean and Mean – Screenplay Readers

Improve your writing style by comparing it to the pros – Script Reader Pro

Writers: Know your place – Creative Screenwriting

5 Secrets to Writing Memorable Character Descriptions – ScreenCraft

Editing / Polishing / Rewriting

35 Quick Edits to Improve Your Script – Script Reader Pro

Dialogue

6 Essential Tip for Writing Better Dialogue – Studio Binder

Writing Good Dialogue and Description – BlueCat

How to write dialogue between two characters – Script Reader Pro

10 Things to Eliminate from Your Dialogue Scenes Right Now – ScreenCraft

How to Avoid Writing On-the-Nose Dialogue – Screencraft

The Ultimate Screenplay Dialogue Audit – Script Reader Pro

Show Don’t Tell: How to Avoid Relying on Dialogue – Script Reader Pro

Endings

7 Ways to Master Endings to Your Screenplay – ScreenCraft

Formatting

How to Format a Screenplay – Screenplay.com

How to Format Your Screenplay Title Page – Script Reader Pro

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due – ScreenCraft

The Screenwriters’ Guide to Formatting TV Scripts – ScreenCraft

35 Common Writing Style Mistakes in Spec Screenplays – Script Reader Pro

Texting in the Movies – David Trottier

How to write a phone conversation in a screenplay – Script Reader Pro

Genre

How to Choose the Right Movie Genre for Your Concept – ScreenCraft

How to Write Four-Quadrant and Animated Scripts – ScreenCraft

10 Steps to Writing a Micro-Budget Screenplay – ScreenCraft

How to Write a Coming of Age Movie – Industrial Scirpts

50 Best Coming of Age Movies with Writing Tips – No Film School

Writing Horror Screenplays: How to Write Occult Horror – Industrial Scripts

Thriller vs. Horror: Why the Subtle Differences Can Save Your Script – Industrial Scripts

How to Write a Whodunnit or Detective Movie – Industrial Scripts

Legal

How to Copyright Your Script – Script Reader Pro

Loglines

Creating your logline and synopsis – ScriptMag

How to Write A Logline for a Character-Driven Drama – Go Into the Story

The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Logline – Script Reader Pro

101 Best Movie Loglines to Learn From – ScreenCraft

Pitching your script

Writing the perfect query letter for your scripts – Screencraft

4 Keys to Writing a Strong Synopsis – Script Reader Pro

How to master the elevator pitch – Screencraft

How to submit a screenplay like a pro – Script Reader Pro

Selling your script

The Ultimate BS Detector for Screenwriters – Screencraft

How to Write a Screenplay Treatment That Gets More Requests – Script Reader Pro

How to Write a Synopsis – Script Reader Pro

How to Sell A Screenplay: 6 Most Popular Methods – Script Reader Pro

How to Sell Your TV Series the Stranger Things Way – ScreenCraft

How to be Ready for Screenwriting Success – ScreenCraft

Podcasts and TED Talks

Best Screenwriting Podcasts for Savvy Screenwriters – Script Reader Pro

Top 20 Inspiring TED Talks for Storytellers – Script Reader Pro

Resources

Screenwriting Essentials: Books, contests, courses – Script Reader Pro

Hollywood Screenwriting Managers List – Script Reader Pro

Screenwriting Software: Comparing the Five Best – Script Reader Pro

10 Free Screenwriting Software Choices – Script Reader Pro

Scenes

Writing the Scene: Reversals – Script Reader Pro

Shorts

A Short Guide on Short Films – Script Reader Pro

Structure

The Eight Sequences – The Script Lab

Screenplay Structure: Five Key Turning Points – Screenplay.com

Act I: Getting Your Protagonist Off to a Good Start – Script Magazine

Theme

5 Steps to Nailing Your Script’s Theme – Creative Screenwriting

3 Ways to Express Your Script’s Message – Script Reader Pro

TV

How to Write a TV Pilot If You’re Serious About Selling It – Script Reader Pro

Getting Paid

Ten Ways to Sidestep Writing for Free – MovieMaker

A Quick Guide to Screenwriters’ Salaries in TV & Film – Script Reader Pro

Getting to the Finish

Why You Procrastinate (And What You Need to Do to Stop) – Richard RB Botto

7 Ways to finally finish your script – BlueCat

See an article that would be a great addition to this list? Drop us a link at tennscreen@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTES: TSA holiday party, December challenges, contest dates announced

Join us for our annual Tennessee Screenwriting Association holiday party from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 8 at TSA member David Deverell’s house, 1418 Huffine St., Nashville. There is ample parking on the either shoulder of the street. See you there!

Nashville Women in Film & Television will also hold their holiday bash from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 8. Their party will be held at Nashville Film Institute, 191 Polk Ave, in Nashville. Admission is a $5 donation.

Don’t forget the TSA’s short screenplay holiday challenge coming to the Dec. 12 meeting at Watkins. Write a short screenplay up to five pages with a holiday theme and bring copies to be read. We’ll have holiday treats!

Entries for the 2019 Page International Screenwriting Awards are now being accepted. Page is considered one of the top screenwriting contests to submit to with a $25,000 grand prize.

Competitions in all categories for the 26th Annual Austin Film Festival open Dec. 5. Austin’s screenwriting competition is often cited as one of the top five screenwriting competitions, so sharpen up those scripts and submit. Also, if you entered this past year’s competition, look for feedback from your reader coming in the next week.

To celebrate National Screenwriters Day on Jan. 5, the folks over at Thirty Day Screenplay have issued a challenge to write a screenplay in a month. There’s no entry fee and no pressure, just a supportive community to help you see your screenplay from Fade In to Fade Out. Check out their site for more information.

ScreenwritingU Magazine has thrown down the gauntlet to read a screenplay a day leading up to National Screenwriters Day on Jan. 5. Reading screenplays is one of the best ways to learn how to write screenplays, so give it a shot. Follow Screenwriting Magazine on Twitter @WritingMag or Facebook for more info.

Got news to share? Email us at tennscreen@gmail.com and we’ll pass it along.  

Celebrate the holidays with TSA script challenge

Our Halloween horror short script contest went so well, we’ve decided to have a Holiday Short Script challenge. Write a five-page or less family-themed script to celebrate the holidays. Scripts can be funny (think “Vacation”), dramatic, action-oriented (Is “Diehard” a Christmas movie?), or anything your imagination can come up with. The important thing is to write and to have fun. Bring copies of your script to our Dec. 12 meeting at Watkins where we’ll read them aloud. See you there!

NOTE: TSA meetings open to all. Contest open to paid TSA members only. Update your membership here.

TSA members’ scripts, films earn notice

Several TSA members have recently received recognition for their works on page and on the screen:

  • Elvis Wilson’s screenplay, Strawberry Plains, made the list of semi-finalists in the drama feature category for the Austin Film Festival screenwriting contest, while his comedy script, Strike and Spare, is a finalist in National Lampoon and Stage 32’s Search for Comedy Writing Gold contest.
  • The Odds, written and directed by Bob Giordano, was the closing night film for the Raindance Film Festival in London. Look for an interview with Giordano on this site coming soon.
  • Blind-Sighted, a short film directed by Dustin Alexander III and written by Alexander and G. Robert Frazier, has been named an official selection of the Franklin International Independent Film Festival. The film will be shown with five other shorts beginning at noon Nov. 2 at Academy Park Performing Arts Center, 120 Everbright Ave., in downtown Franklin.
  • Pinked, starring Donnie Clark, has made its way to three film festivals this year: the NC Black Film Festival, the Videoscream International Film Festival in Portland, Ore., and the International Black Film Festival, which had its run recently at Watkins College of Design, Art & Film.

Got screenwriting or film news to share? Email us at tennscreen@gmail.com.

 

 

Seven TSA scribes answer call with chilling Halloween short scripts

IMG_1856From a twist on Hansel and Gretel to a terrible clowns to were-rabbits, seven TSA members answered the call by sharing their short horror scripts on Halloween night. Presenting scripts were, from left, Jacob Burns (“The Game”), Paula Phelps-Weaver (“For the Children”), Dale McCarver (“Spooks”), Debbie Wells (“Snack Time”), Matthew Gibson (“Le Clown Terrible”), Gary Frazier (“Skin”), and Jeff Chase (“Scattered Pieces”). Congrats to all the screenwriters for taking a dare to scare us!

 

Wilson: TSA’s input invaluable in development of ‘Fogg’

Fogg-Movie Poster

By G. Robert Frazier 

Nashville filmmaker/screenwriter Elvis Wilson’s FOGG pits a “cold and calculating sociopath” against a neuroscientist looking to cure such behavior in a tense, psychological thriller.  The movie, which has had a successful run on the film festival circuit, is now available to rent on Redbox and from Amazon Prime. Wilson recently shared how the movie moved from script to screen and how the Tennessee Screenwriting Association was an integral part in its development.

Fogg was originally titled Empathy and actually won a script contest TSA did a few years ago. Talk a bit about the script’s genesis.

ELVIS WILSON: I got the idea for Fogg in 2013 shortly after reading a book by David Eagleman called Incognito. Eagleman dove into the processes of the brain and, in one chapter in particular, the processes of the amygdala – the bispherical part of the brain that’s home to emotions, feelings, rage and reason. The “spirit” stuff of what I think makes us the people who we are. Some of us are “normal” while a few of us are born with deformed, small, or malfunctioning amygdalae (some get their’s transformed by brain injuries or disease), and there turns out to be a correlation between this part of the brain and sociopathic behavior.

I made the leap and wondered what would happen if we were able to jumpstart the empathy circuits in these people, stimulate the amygdala, or even repair it. Sociopaths might have REAL feelings or emotions for the first time. Of course, supposing this could happen, I would also have to consider what the consequences would be if that cure didn’t take or fell apart. That’s how Fogg was born. At its heart, Fogg is just another “birth of a monster” movie with some real science involved.

How did the TSA contest inspire you to complete the script?

Fogg-Behind the Scenes 2ELVIS: In 2014, I had the rudiments of the script idea floating around my head for some time, then it all coalesced when the Tennessee Screenwriting Association announced their annual screenwriting competition called “Make This Film.” I used that as motivation and the first draft was born under the original title of Empathy. I submitted the fourth draft to the contest and won!

At this point in time, I had made four short films and a feature documentary, Being Lincoln—Men With Hats (which was in rotation on The Documentary Channel, now defunct, for two years and had showings on Showtime). After winning at TSA, I convinced my wife (code for BEGGED my wife) to let me make the movie. With her blessing, we started first shots for the feature in November 2015.

How much input did TSA provide in terms of feedback, advice, etc. for the script? How valuable (invaluable?) was that to you?

ELVIS: Honestly, I couldn’t have done this without my brothers and sisters at The Tennessee Screenwriting Association. I work-shopped the logline and the synopsis during one of the meetings where, with the kid gloves off, the feedback was tough and eye-opening. Having minds that you can trust and that will honestly debate with you the mechanics of your work is not only invaluable, but integral to the completion of the work. Few of us can work in a vacuum to create, and I am certainly no exception. I crave input and validation, and more importantly, I need to know what works and what doesn’t in my story building.

One of the most helpful things was getting to critique and “re-build” the script with former Tennessean and professional screenwriter/filmmaker Robert Orr. He was SO generous with his time on the phone. It was fun having him see inside my head and then giving me a peek into his. That experience really opened my eyes at knowing when to cling, or not to cling, onto certain elements in your story. It’s not about being precious about specific story elements that come out of your head, but learning to serve the “whole” story.

Fogg-Behind the Scenes

The script’s success in the Nashville Film Festival screenwriting competition opened more doors for you, correct?

ELVIS: The Nashville Film Festival’s first-ever screenwriting competition in 2014 helped validate (at least in my mind) some of the stories and film ideas I’d been working on for about ten years. While I’d been busy making shorts and having a documentary get national distribution, many folks in the local filmmaking industry were like, “Who is this guy and where’d he come from?”

The surprise was, not only did Fogg do well, but three other scripts advanced at NaFF. To put the icing on the cake, my road trip script, Driving Top Down, won the Tennessee Screenwriting award at NaFF. That single-handedly created a buzz about my story building.

Ultimately, I had decided to go ahead and start filming Fogg. Kelly Frey (who I met at NaFF) came on board as executive producer and was invaluable to me getting my _ _ _ _ together.  LOL! I was a mess. Just running and gunning. I met many of the folks that would work on the film the next two years at NaFF, but it all started on those Wednesday nights at the Tennessee Screenwriting Association.

Talk a little about your prior film efforts and how important that was going into filming Fogg. What were the challenges in filming your first feature?

Fogg-StoryboardELVIS: Fogg was my first narrative feature (note that Being Lincoln was also a feature), but I’ve been in the advertising business for over three decades, so I’ve been on many sets and film locations and I came to making my movie with a basic knowledge about “production.” Making a no-budget feature, however, is a beast with many teeth and tentacles, each taking strips of flesh out of you simultaneously.

The first problem was, I had NO money. I started an Indiegogo campaign and raised about $3,000 to get started. That was helpful, but far from enough cash to get through a couple of days of filming. The second problem was getting good locations. Getting GREAT locations require, guess what, MONEY! I had to barter on many of our locations with businesses that needed or wanted motion content for the websites. So, that doubled the work. I had to create content for the business, then shoot there for Fogg…This was exhausting.

Another challenge…a few weeks into filming the first few scenes of Fogg, my father died. On top of grieving, work and family commitments, I was dramatically behind my own self-imposed schedule of when I wanted to be wrapped. But I struggled through. I don’t want sympathy about all this, but during the final few days of shooting in June 2016, my mother also passed away. I was crushed. I remember crying to myself on set, knowing eyes were on me from cast and crew. Writers and filmmakers need to know that this business is HARD and takes a lot out of you. Those who commit and have the love and support of their family and friends can get it done. You cannot do it by yourself. There is no such thing.

This brings me to what I call a “gift”…my cast and crew. Ryan Wotherspoon, Hayden Wyatt, Jeremy Childs, Wynn Reichert, Rodney Pickle, Sarah Shoemaker, JesseJames Locorriere and Susannah Devereux and others. Screenwriting and filmmaking friends, do yourself a favor and surround yourself with great actors and great crew. My DP, Tamara Reynolds, is my soul sister and spirit animal. I love her so much. Tracy Facelli, a filmmaking force of her own, was instrumental in keeping my sets safe and professional when she could join us, and Columbia State Community College’s Film Production program in Franklin provided us with great interns that worked their butts off for us.

You entered Fogg into a number of festivals and enjoyed some success. But, ironically, your film didn’t make the cut to be shown at NaFF, even though the script did so well in their contest. How did that make you feel?

ELVIS: Not being invited to screen at NaFF hurt. Not going to lie. But, I appreciate the festival and will always love and support it. I know I had folks inside fighting for us, but ultimately, we moved on to other festivals.

We had screenings in Canada, Russia, China and all over the U.S. We won several awards like the Best Thriller at The Golden Gate International Film Festival, The Audience Choice Award at The Knoxville Film Fest, Best Horror and Best Actor at The Bloodstained Indie Film Festival in Shanghai, China, among several others. Not bad for a no-budget little indie!

TSA: You have since managed to land a distribution deal with Fogg being available from Redbox and Amazon Prime. How did that happen and how does that feel to have your film out in the world now?

ELVIS: I can’t really talk about the details of our distribution deal (which is in the billions of dollars…which is also a lie but fun to say), but I was pleased to get calls and emails from reputable organizations that wanted to represent us. When approached by them personally, I deferred to my executive producer, Kelly Frey, to handle them. I think he took care of business nicely!

What’s next for you?

ELVIS: What’s next for me? I am ALWAYS thinking about the next story. If you want to be a writer or a filmmaker and you only have the “one” idea, give up now. You need to drown yourself in ideation. It’s part of the DNA.

I’ll be making up stories, painting, creating, no matter where I am or what station in life I hold. I am working _ _ _ _ out in my head and if I couldn’t be part of some creative process, I would definitely do something crazy like be homeless or run for political office.

But on a serious note, I hope you all get to see a Fogg 2 soon. Also, I’ll be heading to the 2018 Austin Film Festival’s Screenwriter’s Conference in October where my first every TV Pilot is a semi-finalist in the AMC-sponsored category of TV Drama. I am stoked about this! The producers that made Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are reading my material. Sweet! Out of 10,500 entries, I’m in the top 2 percent! I’m in the top 30 in the category. This is the best I’ve ever done in a screenwriting competition (my best was a top 15 percent in the Nichol Fellowship). Wish me luck into the finals!

Even with all that success, you still come to TSA meetings. Why?

ELVIS: I have NOT had a lot of success. I’ve had some, but I am struggling…every day. This is why I need my tribe. The companionship, the friendships, the support of my comrades in arms at the TSA, you guys always give me a charge when I desperately need it. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

FYI

To find out more about Elvis Wilson and Fogg, visit his websites at:

https://www.elviswilson.com

http://www.foggthemovie.com

 

 

 

Giordano beats ‘The Odds’; wins closing night spot at Raindance

Bob Giordano
Giordano

Tennessee Screenwriting Association member Bob Giordano’s film debut, The Odds, has landed the coveted closing night spot on Oct. 7 at the prestigious Raindance Film Festival. A psychological game of cat and mouse between captor and captive, the film previously won Best Horror Feature Film at the New York City International Film Festival and Graveyard Shift Audience Choice Award at the Nashville Film Festival. Giordano, who also wrote the screenplay, won Best Suspense Feature Screenplay in the Poe Contest. Actor James J. Fuertes was named Best Actor at North Hollywood Cinefest.

Watch for an exclusive interview with Giordano coming to this page soon.