How To’s

8 Books Every Screenwriter Should Check Out

Screenplays, whether for short student films or Hollywood epics, typically follow a fairly rigid format. However, the art of screenwriting, and what you’ll learn in screenwriting school and by workshopping your scripts with your instructors and fellow students, comes down to mastering all the nuances that reside within that format.

A great supplement to the hands-on, intensive training you’ll receive at screenwriting school is of course a good book—after all, who better to write about writing than, well, writers?

screenwriting competitions

There are countless books on screenwriting so it can be hard to choose ones that are worth your time and that will complement your in-class training. Here are a few tried-and-true books that won’t waste your time:

The Tools of Screenwriting: A Writer’s Guide to the Craft and Elements of a Screenplay
by David Howard and Edward Mabley

David Howard and Edward Mabley get to the very core of screenwriting with this book, focusing on the principal elements of a script, like plot, structure, dialogue, setting, character development, and imagery, and how they specifically relate to the medium as opposed to other forms of writing. By using specific examples found in famous scripts like Citizen Kane, E.T., and The Godfather, they show how these elements look when masterfully applied.

The 21st Century Screenplay: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Tomorrow’s Films
by Linda Aronson

While many, if not most, books illustrate screenwriting through the traditional three-act structure, with some going as far as telling you where story beats should be page by page, The 21st Century Screenplay focuses on breaking the rules once you’ve mastered them. By using popular, contemporary examples of Hollywood films that employ various types of alternate screenwriting techniques, including–Pulp Fiction, Memento, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind–the book shows you how to write unconventionally in a way that makes sense and doesn’t alienate your audience.

Psychology for Screenwriters: Building Conflict in Your Script
by William Indick

One of the first things any writer is taught is that conflict is the core of drama, so it goes without saying that a good screenplay needs good conflict. Psychology for Screenwriters focuses on this specific goal, instructing writers how to better understand human behavior to drive their script, and providing readers with theories of personality and psychoanalysis, along with writing exercises, guidelines, and a ton of examples from classic movies.

The Nutshell Technique
by Jill Chamberlain

Unlike most screenwriting books, which teach you the beats of a story linearly, producer Jill Chamberlain (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Crimson Peak), offers The Nutshell Technique. The heart of her technique involves eight core elements of a story that all tie into one another. Cracking the code will crack your story, and Chamberlain demonstrates this with infographics that break down the stories of famous scripts like Pulp Fiction, Casablanca, Juno, and Little Miss Sunshine, using her patented technique.

Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting
by William Goldman

Screenwriting legend William Goldman is behind some of the biggest and best Hollywood movies of all time, and readers were eager to read his insights when he first published Adventures in the Screen Trade in 1983. However, instead of getting a step-by-step writing manual from one of the masters, they got a personal, fascinating look at the mechanics of how Hollywood worked, from the Golden Age studio era to its transition into New Hollywood and beyond. The book is considered a must-read not just for aspiring screenwriters but anyone who ever plans to step foot in the Los Angeles movie-making machine.

Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business
by David Mamet

David Mamet made his name on his unique style of dialogue-heavy writing, including his Oscar-nominated screenplays for Wag the Dog and The Verdict. His book, Bambi vs. Godzilla, offers an insider look at Hollywood written with his trademark subversive wit, but with a focus on screenwriting, including who in the studio system actually reads your script. It is incredibly informative, but not afraid to have fun, asking questions like “How is a screenplay like a personals ad?”

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!
by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant

Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant met in film school, where they and their friends co-founded the comedy group The State, which spawned a generation of film and TV stars like David Wain, Michael Ian Black, and Ken Marino. While also starring as sketch actors and on shows like Reno 911!, Lennon and Garant became successful Hollywood screenwriters, penning many big budget action-comedies and other films, including Night at the Museum and Baywatch. The book offers insight in how to make blockbuster screenplays for Hollywood while also keeping the reader entertained with the hilarious joke-writing skills they bring to their comedy careers.

From Book to Screen: Adapting Philip Roth’s ‘Indignation’

On Thursday, December 20, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a guest lecture by producer, production attorney, and NYFA board member, Avy Eschenasy. Eschenasy is the principal of Eschenasy Consulting, which provides advisory services in connection with all business aspects of motion picture production, financing, and distribution.

Previously, Eschenasy was a senior executive at Focus Features from 2002 until 2013, where he was Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning, Business Affairs and Acquisitions. Eschenasy is known for producing Indignation (2016), Casting JonBenét (2017), and A Prayer Before Dawn (2017).

Avy Eschenasy

Eschenasy began the lecture by discussing how the book Indignation by Philip Roth, was optioned to be produced as a feature film. In order for a producer to option a book, they must pay the publisher an “option fee.”

“That fee entitles [producers] to exclusively have the opportunity to buy the rights [to produce the book as a film]” said Eschenasy, “for a limited time period, usually 12 to 18 months” if the producer can find a production company or movie studio that wants to produce the optioned book as a film.

If the producer can find a production company or movie studio that is interested in producing the book as a film, then they would pay the publisher an additional fee for the exclusive opportunity to produce the book as a film. That means that once Eschenasy purchased the rights to produce Roth’s Indignation, Roth’s publishing company was not allowed to sell the option or production rights to any other producers.

Avy Eschenasy

Eschenasy went on to discuss turning the book into a screenplay. In order to get a book adapted to a screenplay, the producer must negotiate with a screenwriter, usually a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA).

In the contract with the screenwriter, the producer outlines fees paid for the first couple drafts of the script and many times will pay an additional fee if the film makes it all the way to production and distribution. The fees paid to a writer also depend on how they are credited: for example, a writer that has written a script alone would be paid more than a writer that co-wrote a script with one or more partners.

Once the script is finalized, it is time to focus on production. The producer needs to have a “package” ready to prepare for launching production, said Eschenasy. “The script, cast, the director, and the budget.”

Avy Eschenasy

The budget is put together by a line producer and then the producer must try to raise that amount of money to make the film; with independent films like Indignation, this money is typically raised with “pre-sales” to distributors. A “pre-sale” is a contract between the production team and distributors that outlines stipulations that the production team must follow in order to secure financing from the distributor; usually the distributor’s agreement is contingent upon the producer promising a script and a known actor. A way to save money during production is to shoot in a state or a country with tax credits for film and television productions; because of this and a few other reasons, Indignation was shot in New York.

For Indignation, a big part of the production “package” was the actor, Logan Lerman, best known for starring in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012). Eschenasy needed a name like Lerman to get distributors interested, but he also needed to make Lerman and his representatives feel confident in Indignation as a production; producers get actors and their representatives to trust their productions with contracts. The contract outlines the shoot schedule, the actor’s “billing” (much like the writer’s “credit” discussed earlier), the fee paid to the actor (including bonuses if the actor wins awards for the role), and perks if applicable.

After all the negotiations and contracts were completed and all of the necessary funds were raised, Indignation went into production. Everything went well during the production phase and then it moved to post-production. Once the final cut of the film was finished, Indignation was entered in the Sundance Film Festival, where it was received very well by critics. Lionsgate Entertainment made an offer to distribute the film in the United States and Sony Pictures Entertainment made and offer to distribute the film to the majority of the international market. After all of their hard work, the Indignation production team got the film made, critically acclaimed, and distributed all over the world.

New York Film Academy would like to thank Avy Eschenasy for sharing his industry expertise and experiences getting Indignation produced with our students!

Great Techniques to Write a Script with an Unexpected Ending

Don’t you just love epic film endings that you never saw coming? These endings are the ones that stay with viewers for a long time and inspire talk about the movie and the reasons why the screenwriter decided to give the story such a mind-blowing plot twist.

Building an unexpected ending in movie scripts is difficult, but can give a movie a lot of buzz and leave the audience breathless. It can be a fine line between a well-earned shocker of an ending and a contrived, seemingly desperate, last minute attempt to save a bad movie.

What’s the secret to making a successful twist ending? There may not be one magic bullet, but a pretty good understanding of some script writing techniques can help you make a memorable ending stick with your audience:

  1. Misdirect the Viewers

Misdirection is a widely popular technique among screenwriters. The main purpose is to make viewers think that they have everything figured out before subverting their expectations entirely at some point, usually in the film’s climax. What could be better than gradually guiding viewers’ attention away from the real plot resolution and reveal it only at the end, right?

Achieving an effective misdirection requires you to use some tools, including the following.

  • Sleight-of-hand. Gradually bury clues to the real ending in preceding scenes where the viewers will be focused on something else. For example, many screenwriters do it during fast-paced moments such as fight scenes because the attention of viewers is focused on the action.
  • Red herrings. This technique steers viewers in the wrong direction by planning false pieces of information and cues pointing in the wrong direction.
  • Dead ends. Similarly, these wrong directions could lead nowhere and stop short, throwing the audience off balance — in a good way.

Always keep in mind that you need to be as subtle as possible, so the viewers won’t notice you’re trying to steer them in the wrong direction, or so your writing doesn’t come off as heavy-handed. This isn’t easy — you’ll need a lot of time, energy, and focus, so schedule screenwriting appropriately so it fits into your daily routine.



  1. Make Your Twist Emotional

An effective way to generate a good twist at the end of the movie script is to look at it from an entirely new point of view – whether the ending would be uplifting or a downer.

If your story has been more or less optimistic throughout the first 2+ acts, a downbeat ending can really gutpunch the audience. Conversely, if your script was mostly gloomy and bleak tale that finally offers its characters some hope or a happy ending, the audience can be overwhelmed with sudden relief and make their experience that much sweeter. Either way, you’re putting your audience through an emotional roller coaster.

  1. Put Yourself in the Reader’s Shoes

This is a simple but effective technique that could make a huge difference for your ending. Imagine that you’re a stranger reading your script cold. How would you react to the narrative? Is there a direction that you found yourself expecting the story to go? What other endings could you foresee for the plot and characters?

Write down and make note of every potential ending you come up with, and then discard them all when writing your ending. The result would be an ending that one would never see coming before it’s revealed!

  1. Use the “No One is Safe” Technique

Clearly, not all movies have happy endings. Not every character will achieve their goals or, depending on the story, may not even survive. Why not take the opposite route and subvert the viewers’ expectations by adopting the ‘no one is safe’ mentality?

By killing off characters or having the plot take unexpected turns earlier in the screenplay, your audience will know not to take anything they’ve come to expect from typical Hollywood movies for granted. With everything unpredictable, they’ll just have to follow along for the ride, and wherever they end up could be a total surprise.

These are just some of the ways to build your story to an unexpected twist ending. But, depending on the genre, your plot should usually come naturally from what your characters would do. Betray that, or any of the other core elements of a screenplay, and everything you’ve built could collapse. But if you navigate successfully between the lines and use the tips above, you could come up with a twist that movie audiences will be buzzing about for a long time after the lights in the theater come up!

Interested in learning how to craft a screenplay? Check out more information on New York Film Academy’s screenwriting school here.

Lucy Benton is a writing coach, an editor who finds her passion in expressing her own thoughts as a blogger. Currently, she works at A-Writer. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. Also, Lucy has her own writing blog Prowritingpartner where you can check her last publications. 

6 Tips On How to Sell Your Screenplay

You’ve sacrificed countless hours of your social life and mental stability, poured your blood and sweat out onto the pages, and — let’s be real here — questioned your creativity and, henceforth, your life choices almost every day up to this point. You know a script needs multiple drafts to be considered ready to go out into the world; no one who is successful is sending first drafts of their scripts to festivals or competitions. Ultimately, one great script is worth more than a million mediocre scripts. So, you have put in the work.

You’ve rewritten, revised, reviewed, gathered feedback, and revised again — and again. And again. But finally, you’ve done it; your screenplay is ready. The sense of accomplishment and pride is akin to the love parents experience after witnessing the birth of their first child; a laborious creation like the proverbial phoenix out of the ashes.

But then comes the daunting task of getting your screenplay out to the masses.

With over a hundred thousand scripts going into the system each year and about 300 films getting made — only about 10 of those coming from first-time writers — the odds can feel intimidating. That said, it’s all about the numbers, meaning that the more you get your screenplay out there, the higher the chances are of it being seen.

After you’ve written several drafts of the script and you’re sure it’s ready to submit as a showcase piece, consider these 6 tips on how to get started with selling your screenplay:

Don’t Sell Your Screenplay

This may sound completely contradictory, but when it comes to selling a spec script — work that isn’t commissioned or solicited — rather than industry players purchasing it right away, the chances of them considering the script as a resume for you is far more likely.

Put simply, your spec script should be used to showcase you as a screenwriter in order to build a career writing other scripts that are paid for by studios. Rather than working to sell your screenplay, sell yourself.

Bear in mind that even if an executive likes your script the inevitable question becomes, “what else you got?” You have to be able to answer with another script or at least a detailed pitch. So never stop writing.

Focus on nurturing your craft. Selling your screenplay is one transaction: building a career can take a lifetime of dedication. You have to continue to work, improve, revise, and adapt to navigate the industry. Writers need to write consistently to get better over time, and the better your writing becomes, the more likely your chance to sell something or, even more importantly, build a lasting and fruitful career.

Contests can also be a place where you can make connections leading to representation and opportunities to get your showcase script read by executives. For example, check out the Austin Film Festival, where a few of our students have been invited after submitting their scripts.

Make a Short for Your Movie

Now, whether you intend on using your script as a resume or a masterpiece in its own right, you still have to advertise it in its most polished and perfected form to get noticed. Making a short film from your screenplay is becoming the most powerful calling card to be seen. It may seem tough to condense an entire screenplay into a short, but it’s an important skill to master. If you can do a short, you can put it up on a website like – this is where sales agents look for really great short movies that often come from feature-length scripts. YouTube and Vimeo are also great platforms for you to use to garner exposure.


Finishing well in a competition immediately increases the chances of your work being read. Not only does it help your credibility as a screenwriter and raise your profile, but the majority of competitions also offer cash prizes — so why not enter as many competitions as possible? There are numerous competitions happening every year from major players like the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards to lesser-known, yet just as important, ones like the Final Draft Big Break Contest. So enter away!

Query Letter or Email

This is as basic and as critical as it gets. A query letter/email outlines who you are and what your script is about, and is sent to studios, agents, and managers. It may sound simple, but a good query letter and email plan requires lots of patience and persistence, as established industry contacts leave little room to hear from unknown writers (although managers are a little more open to nurturing new talent). Regardless, exhausting all your options in establishing connections with the gatekeepers will increase your chances of being represented and create exposure for your screenplay. This is also where having your short film will help immensely. Busy and important people rarely have time to sit and read through an entire script from an unknown, so on top of your brief plot summary within the query, including a link to a finished short film is extra helpful.


Just what it sounds like, a pitchfest is a conference of sorts where industry insiders gather to share their knowledge and scout potential new talent. The key for budding screenwriters is to attend these events not only focused on the sole objective of selling a screenplay, but also building a network of contacts and receiving valuable feedback. Pitchfests also offer you the perfect platform to hone your pitching skills, as it’s something you’re going to need to get good at in the industry. Go in there with your perfected pitch, always ask for feedback, and don’t forget to follow up with a “thank you” after the day!

Listing Services

There are a significant number of websites offering a directory for industry people looking for screenplays. Sites like The Black List, Spec Scout, and The Tracking Board (among many others) give you a paid platform to advertise your work directly to industry buyers, as well as the opportunity to get feedback on your work.

As intimidating as it may seem as a first-time screenwriter selling a script, don’t forget that groundbreaking films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Back To The Future” were among many genius screenplays that got repeatedly rejected to begin with. The common denominator in all those cases was the unwavering passion the screenwriters had about their work, and the persistence to get their work noticed. So never give up!

Scheduling Screenwriting: How to Find Time to Write

Great writers often insist the best way to improve your writing is to keep practicing your craft. We all know that devoting time to writing is at least half of the effort, but how do you make the time to write? It’s easy to say that you’ll get to it when you can, but for too many writers that ends up never happening.

In need of a push to find time to schedule your screenwriting? Here are some classic tips that will help you crank out those some-day award-winning first drafts.

Create Goals

Whether you are hoping to finish your movie-length drama script or just want to write a one-act play, setting reasonable goals can help you finally finish any writing project. While free-writing is fun and great for generating ideas, having short and long-term goals can ensure that you finish your creations and beat writer’s block.

Your goals can be based on an amount of words per day or how long you should devote to writing daily. Make sure you set yourself a goal that is specific, and doable!

Set a Consistent Time to Write Daily

Routine is a writer’s best friend, believe it or not!

Even writing for a little as five or 10 minutes a day can help keep the ideas flowing. This technique works best when you set your writing time the same exact time per day. If you are most alert at 8 a.m. then write at 8 a.m. If you like to write at night, then write at night.

No matter what, keep it consistent for the best results — and write every day!

Keep a Notebook Around … Always

Think about all of the time you spend waiting at the doctor’s office or before a class starts. You have a lot more spare time than you might think!

If you take public transportation or carpool often, spend the time of the ride writing down your latest ideas and drafts. Jot down some dialogue ideas when you overhear interesting snatches of conversations around you or see something inspiring. For the nights when you come up with your next brilliant idea just before you go to sleep, keep a notebook on your nightstand to capture the ideas before you drift away to dream.

Devote a Space Specifically for Writing

It’s tempting to tell yourself that you can just write your next script while passively watching television, but let’s be honest: you probably will end up not writing at all. Instead of trying to cram writing in alongside other activities, carve out an oasis of space and time strictly for your writing.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, play your favorite music or write in total silence. Just like keeping a consistent goal and time for your writing helps you dedicate time and mental clarity to writing, creating a writing space strictly for writing will help you eliminate distractions. Do not allow your cell phone or pet to interrupt your flow!

Soon you’ll be looking forward to shutting yourself away to create new scripts every chance you can.

Do It Online

Another great way to boost your skills, keep yourself motivated, plug into community, and motivate yourself to finish projects on time is to enroll in an online screenwriting course, like those at New York Film Academy. You’ll be receiving the expert instruction of working, professional screenwriters, but with the added bonus of just enough flexibility to be able to carve out your own writing schedule. Best of all, there’s an online course for whatever you’re working on:

While making time for writing is important, having a support system to help you grow unleashes your fullest potential.

The New York Film Academy immerses screenwriting students in an interactive curriculum. From small writing workshops to teaming up with filmmakers, the program is perfect for taking talent to the next level.

4 Screenwriting Tips to Help You Eliminate Sexism in Movies

We see gender inequality in film all the time, but where does it start and how can we work to eliminate it?

Screenplays often implicitly or explicitly suggest flat female characters valued for their looks alone before shooting ever begins. Here are a few tips to help you avoid stereotypes when writing your own scripts and foster gender balance on-screen.

1. Introduce your female characters as you do your male characters.

It may come as no surprise that female characters are often introduced in a screenplay with their appearance front and center, while their personality traits coming a distant second (if they appear at all).

Ross Putman, a producer and filmmaker who started the Twitter feed @FemScriptIntros, dedicated to exposing the often cringeworthy introductions of female protagonists in scripts, told Jezebel, “Women are first and foremost described as ‘beautiful,’ ‘attractive,’ or—my personal blow-my-brains-out-favorite, ‘stunning.’ They’re always ‘stunning’ in a certain dress or ‘stunning’ despite being covered in dirt because they’re a paleontologist—or whatever.”

This is not generally the case for male characters, whose intros tend to be longer and more interested in an inner life, which will, in turn, justify their motivations and prepare for the forward momentum of the plot.

2. Give female characters names.

Female characters are much more likely to be referred to as something generic like “hot chick on bike,” or “pretty young mother.” Not only does this tend to encourage stereotyping, but, according to The Conversation, “Performers are usually paid more to play a named character, so naming characters in screenplays can also help address the gender pay gap for performers.”

3. Write with an eye to gender balance.


Giving generic characters female names by default can also help to close the gender gap in films. According to See Jane, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, only 10 percent of films have a gender-balanced cast, so assigning lines of supporting dialogue to “Carla” instead of “Neighbor” or “Mike” can help ameliorate the dominance of men on a set. Even making a note in the script that a crowd should be half male, half female can help remind casting directors that the crowd should accurately represent the human population.

4. Allow women to age along with the menfolk.

We might tend to blame casting directors for the virtual nonexistence of women over 50 onscreen, but the truth is that many screenplays stop the conversation from the start by specifying the age of women to be 20-something, 30-something, or 19, when oftentimes the male opposite doesn’t have his age specified.

A big part of the problem is that most screenwriters are still men — only 11 percent of 2016 top-grossing films were written by women — so their biases and fantasies are most often represented. As this WIRED article puts it, “No one’s saying May-December romances don’t happen, they just seem to happen a lot more in movies.”

Though we are talking here about sexism in screenplays, many clichés regarding race, sexual orientation, and disability can also be addressed in a similar fashion. You may be surprised how much more interesting your script will be when you think about rounding out flat characters, and how it may help your project stand out in the eyes of producers who must wade through countless clichés to find fresh and compelling stories.

Learn more about screenwriting at the New York Film Academy.


How to Write a Scene for Film

Screenwriting is a visual medium that requires a writer to create words on a page that can be transformed into images on the big screen. Writing for a script that will be visualized into a film is very different from writing for a novel. It’s a common beginner’s curve to break. We have seen many scripts that tend to focus too much on prose and unnecessary fluff. Generally, what a scriptwriter needs to understand is that their script is going to be analyzed by dozens if not hundreds of people in production, people who do not have time to interpret any vague ideas. That is why it’s important to be as descriptive as possible, as succinctly as possible. As NYFA Screenwriting Program Chair Melanie Williams Oram notes, “I always tell my students you cannot write what you do not see.”

So in order to successfully write a scene for a screenplay, it’s important to remember that less is more. By that, we don’t mean less description is more. We mean that less wording in your description is more.

For example, let’s try describing a scene in which a character enters a hotel room. You may be tempted to describe it as vividly as possible. When writing a script, it’s helpful to also imagine which crew members will be reading the script and what information they will need to bring the script to life.

Example 1:

Susie, a 42 year old neurosurgeon from Connecticut, enters her hotel room, which entraps a blue hue that spreads from a ethereal neon glow just two yards from outside the window. She is contemplating the death of her brother, someone she will never see again. Susie says to herself, “I’m driving to Kansas tomorrow.”

This sounds like a pretty descriptive text. You can picture it in your mind, right? The actor, director, and camera and lighting crew have a lot to work with here. But if you were the costume designer, what clothes would you use for this scene? If you were the set designer, what sort of objects would be in the room? How much do they have to work with?

Let’s break it down and format all these details like a script.


Example 2:


SUSIE (42), a Connecticut neurosurgeon, enters a mostly bare HOTEL ROOM. Bible on the dresser. Notepad on the desk. Empty boxes in the corner.

Broken, she is dressed in black. When Susie enters the room she places a funeral program down on the table.

Outside the window is a NEON BLUE sign.


I’m driving to Kansas tomorrow.

Writing your scripts like this gives ample descriptions that everybody in production can work with and properly sets the tone for the remainder of the scene. We won’t know unless we’ve seen Susie previously that the funeral program belongs to her brother. But that’s okay. We can learn that later.  From here, the director, director of photography, actor, costume designer, art director, and set designer have enough to work with in order to bring the scene to life.

Saying more with less is a skill that can take time and practice to master. If you’re interested in learning more about how to write and break down a script for production, visit the Screenwriting Program at York Film Academy.

Anatomy of an Adapted Screenplay

Novels are terrific, but there’s something about the silver screen that transforms great ideas into pure theatrical magic. And many incredible films exist because a screenwriter was inspired to adapt a story from another medium. Today, we’ll look at how you can tackle this process yourself. But finding your inspiration is only the first step. Here are some crucial tips to keep in mind as you adapt your screenplay.

Great Adaptations

First, understand that the adapted screenplay is an artform, with many great examples to look to for inspiration and insights on craftsmanship.

Beloved films like “The Shining,” “Fight Club,” “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games” all started out as books before a talented screenwriter turned them into adapted screenplays. Also, think “Twilight.”

And books aren’t the only inspiration for adapted screenplays — don’t forget plays, short stories, poems, and more! There is a long and successful history of adapting all kinds of literature into screenplays…

Plays inspired many film classics: “12 Angry Men,” based on the play of the same name; “Pretty Woman,” based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”; and “West Side Story,” based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

But literature doesn’t have to be long to inspire a film. “Story of Your Life,” a science fiction short by Ted Chiang, was recently adapted into the Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated film “Arrival.” And the Oscar-nominated 1939 classic “Gunga Din” was based on a poem of the same name by Rudyard Kipling.

Sources for adapted screenplay material don’t have to end with books, plays, and poems. Need we mention all the films successfully adapted from comic books?  

Follow The Story

Your first step is to learn the source material inside-out, identify the main characters, and trace out their story lines. Passion for the story is the most important driver behind adapting a novel into a screenplay. You can make a list of key characters, crucial scenes, and major themes, but don’t get bogged down in the minutiae. Remember: your goal is to tell this story as a film, and you’re looking for ways to drive the action forward.

This is your brainstorming phase. Draw charts or diagrams. Storyboard. Write lists. Do whatever it is that helps you connect the dots in your own brain as you begin to shift your mind from interacting with this story as consumer, to becoming the storyteller. Your job at this phase is to organize your source material and begin to identify the shape your story will take on screen.

Adaptation Means Change

Sometimes you have to shed subplots or minor characters in order to keep the story rolling along. Or, use your imagination to fill in gaps. After all, you’re adapting one story form into another, and it has to fit into the structure of a 120-page screenplay. Think of The Harry Potter series, and how screenwriters had to carefully curate which characters and subplots could participate in the the story of a two-hour time film.

This can be a hard judgment call, so how will you know when to change something? A good rule of thumb is that if it doesn’t drive the story forward, you’ll have to change it.

Jane Anderson, scriptwriter for HBO’s Olive Kitteridge, explained how screenwriters know when to twist a plot or kill off a character: “Once you know your theme and who you’re meant to follow, then it becomes very clear [what to cut or eliminate]. You have to decide, as a dramatist—how do I want to tell this story?”

Show Don’t Tell

It’s ever-so-tempting to translate those beautifully written sentences into voice-overs, but you must resist the urge! Remember that your audience wants to see the story and not hear it; they can hear the story on tape in Grandpa’s 1986 Chevy truck or download it on iTunes to listen at the gym. As a screenwriter, you know that you’re speaking a visual vocabulary. If you must use voice-overs to tell your story, limit it to the best lines in the book.

Once you have these tips in mind, choose your favorite novel or short and story and feel free to begin

adapting it for the big screen! What are your favorite adapted screenplays? Let us know in the comments below!

Learn more about the craft of filmmaking at NYFA’s Screenwriting School.


Great Films for Learning to Write Dialogue

Writing dialogue that is believable and natural can be a challenge. Each character in your script should sound distinct and different from the other characters. What they say needs to be important to character development or to advance the plot, but it can’t sound contrived. Above all, it has to be entertaining. Take a look (and a listen) to some of the silver screen’s masters of dialogue writing for inspiration. Below, we’ve rounded up some great scenes for you to watch for inspiration along with some great writing exercises. If you’re feeling stuck or simply want to flex your writing muscles, give these scene/exercise combinations a try!

1. Write: Characters Who Want Something From Each Other

Without a doubt, Quentin Tarantino has a flair for writing memorable, quotable dialogue that is simultaneously intense, insightful, and often laugh-out- loud funny. It’s a challenge to find clips that are appropriate for a PG-13 audience, but check out this scene from 1994’s “Pulp Fiction.” The dynamic between Vincent (John Travolta) and Mia (Uma Thurman) is immediately clear when she cuts off his protest with the reminder that he has been directed to do whatever she wants: “Now, I wanna dance; I wanna win. I want that trophy, so dance good.” Her dominance continues as she does the talking for both of them when they take the stage.

Why this works: Mia’s aggressive dialogue is matched by Vincent’s monosyllabic responses. The pauses and body language throughout the scene take on as much meaning as the spoken words.

A challenge for you: Write a scene where one character wants something from another character.

2. Write: Solving a Problem

William Goldman’s screenplay for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969) is full of great back-and- forth between Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford). He also includes some great ensemble scenes, such as this one where Butch and Sundance reunite with the Hole in the Wall Gang and find there has been a challenge to Butch’s leadership.

Why this works: There is humor and dramatic tension layered throughout the scene. From News Carver (Timothy Scott) wanting to read his own name in the paper to Harvey Logan’s (Ted Cassidy) insistence on settling the issue with a fight, the scene has crisp dialogue that reveals character and advances the plot, while cementing the bond between Butch and Sundance.

A challenge for you: Write a scene with three or more characters trying to solve a problem — make sure each character is unique.

3. Write: Unwilling Attraction

“It Happened One Night” (1934) is a classic template for romantic comedy that works because of the smart screenplay by Robert Riskin and Samuel Hopkins Adams as much as because of the chemistry of the leads. The Screwball Comedies of this era usually matched a middle class character with a higher class character and “It Happened One Night” pairs a rough newsman with an heiress. In this scene where Peter (Clark Gable) and Ellie (Claudette Colbert) are hitchhiking, her cool wit undermines his gruff confidence.

Why this works: Ellie doesn’t speak many lines, but each one is sharp and cuts right through Peter’s bluster. He may have confidence, but she has brains. Their exchanges help establish the growing attraction between them.

A challenge for you: Write a scene where two characters are attracted to each other, but refuse to acknowledge it.

4. Write: Sustained Dialogue

Guy Ritchie’s films have dialogue that is as fast and twisted as any of the action scenes in them. His 1998 film “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” opens with a street hustling scene featuring Bacon (Jason Statham) who delivers his lines in a rapid-fire manner that would leave most actors breathless. Bacon has a crowd gathered around him and he’s trying to sell hot wares with the help of another hustler planted in the audience. Bacon’s eyes move as quickly as his mouth as he tries to find the suckers in the crowd.

Why this works: The scene quickly establishes Bacon as a small-time con who is always looking for an advantage and an escape route.

A challenge for you: Write a scene where a character has a minute and a half of sustained, uninterrupted dialogue.

5. Write: Revealing a Secret 

The screenplay for “Jaws” (1975) was written by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb. The scene where Quint (Robert Shaw) describes surviving the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the sea between Guam and the Philippines is intense and frightening because of Shaw’s masterful delivery and the sharp details of Quint’s story.

Why this works: The scene is a very primal one, calling to mind the stories told around a fire on a dark, moonless night. The details about shark’s eyes and Quint’s shipmates bobbing lifelessly in the water are told in an unflinching, matter-of-fact way that helps the viewer picture the scene.

A challenge for you: Write a scene where a character reveals a trauma from their past.

6. Write: An Exaggerated Reaction

“Mean Girls” (2004) is full of scenes that are simultaneously funny and revealing. In this scene, Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) tries to explain her friendship with Regina (Rachel McAdams). Gretchen’s anger and insecurity bubble up through the surface as she suffers from yet another humiliation at the hands of Regina.

Why this works: Tina Fey’s script mixes exaggerated teenspeak, manic energy, and characters who are realistic enough to be recognizable even when their situations and reactions are distorted for the sake of comedy.

A challenge for you: Write a comic scene where a character has an exaggerated reaction to a situation.

Don’t stop now!

There are hundreds of other examples of great dialogue in film from every genre and era — when you watch a film, listen to how the dialogue functions and keep an ear out for models you can use for inspiration in your own writing. As you watch your favorite show or film, stop and ask yourself what is happening in the scene — and then try writing that action yourself.

Want to know more about writing dialogue? Check out NYFA’s How to Write Dialogue in Film or How To Write a Phone Conversation in a Screenplay. And apply today to attend NYFA’s Screenwriting School.


Screenwriting 101: What Plagiarism Is, What It Isn’t, and How to Protect Yourself From It

Plagiarism is rare — at least when we’re talking about the screenwriting industry.

The only reason it seems so prevalent is that the few occasions in which it does occur at the top level — cases like Shia LaBeouf’s fall from grace, for instance — and usually result in huge amounts of press and gigantic court settlements.

The harsh reality, however, is you’ll be fighting hard to get your script noticed by anyone in the industry, meaning that plagiarism is likely to be the least of your worries. That’s the bad news. On the bright side, the incentive for a production company to steal work that lands on their desk and erase the writer’s name is virtually zero. The nature of the screenwriting business somewhat automatically protects your work: there’s no shortage of people with a screenplay to sell; the risk of being caught out with plagiarism is high; and the financial penalties for plagiarism can be crippling.

That all said, just because being struck by lightning is a very rare event doesn’t mean it never happens — and it is marginally more likely to occur when entering into less-than-reputable screenwriting competitions. So be careful, and do your due diligence in research ahead of time.

We thought we’d compile some tips on how to deal with the situation should you ever be unlucky enough to find your screenwriting work has been plagiarized.

And first up, we’ll start with something that gets to the root of the issue:

Busting the “Poor Man’s Copyright” Myth

It’s an old and enduring token of wisdom: If you want to copyright your screenplay, mail a physical copy to yourself.

The idea here is that the US postal mark will prove ownership of the mail inside and provide a certifiable date which will defend against any accusations of plagiarism from works after this date.

Problem is, it’s flawed on every level.

We’ll put aside the fact that the system is less than failsafe — it’s not hard to manipulate an envelope — or that this defense has never been successfully employed in court to win a copyright case. The reason mailing yourself your script doesn’t copyright your work is that there’s absolutely no need to: anything you create is already copyrighted to you.

You don’t even need to put the © symbol anywhere on your script — and it’s often seen as a sign of an amateur to do so — because your copyright is already inherent. All adding the symbol does is remind anyone viewing your script that it’s the intellectual property of someone else. Anyone in the industry will take this as a given anyway, while an intentional plagiarist isn’t going to be deterred by a symbol.

But let’s assume you’ve become aware of someone who hasn’t just taken your idea (more on that later), but has copied whole chunks of your text. Now what?

Protecting Yourself Against Screenplay Plagiarism

Really, the best cure here is prevention.

Many networks or corporations won’t even look at screenplays or concepts by unknown writers without an agent. This is not because it’s some kind of closed cabal, but simply because they’re covering their own backs. In copyright cases, it nearly always comes down not to how similar the screenplays are, but whether or not it can be established that the defendant was aware of the other person’s work — or had contact with them along the way.

So, many networks and corporations won’t look at unsolicited ideas or manuscripts in the first place because this reduces the chances of their being successfully sued further down the line to virtually zero.

What this means for you in the writer’s seat is that not only will finding a good agent improve your marketability, but it’ll also offer you the same protection that the corporations enjoy. When dealing through an agent, everything gets recorded. Which is just the way it should be — and the way you want it.

But if you have identified a real case of suspected plagiarism and are writing solo, here’s a very helpful flowchart detailing the best approach at responding to the person whose work you find under their name (it’s intended for authors, but the advice is fairly universal).

Afraid of Accidental Plagiarism?

As a writer, you’ll no doubt recognize this very common scenario: you describe the brilliant screenplay you’re working on to a friend, only for her to reply with, “Hmmm, that sounds just like Movie X.”

Horrified, you look it up on IMDB or Wikipedia. You’ve never even seen the movie in question, but sure enough, you find it does indeed follow a pretty similar plot to your idea.

So, should you be worried about being sued for plagiarism?

Nope. Because you can’t actually be sued for plagiarism; that’s an ethical issue, not a legal one.

What you can be sued for is copyright violation, and it’s very difficult to commit this crime accidentally; this covers ripping off character names and entire passages of text, not expressing the same idea in a different way. Ideas, after all, are not copyrightable.

Simply having a similar plot (or even the same plot in most circumstances) does not constitute copyright violation. As we’ve covered previously, just as there are only seven notes with which to make songs, there are only so many plot archetypes and tropes with which to create a satisfying story. Every writer is inspired by works that have gone before their pen hit the page, and being inspired is far from violating copyrighted works. Think of the overt similarities between the TV show “House” and the “Sherlock Holmes” canon, for instance.

In fact, if you’re genuinely worried about mistakenly violating copyright, you’re precisely the type of person who’s least likely to do it.

So go forth and write! Strive for originality, but be aware that we all stand on the shoulders of giants.

And that’s not a bad thing.


Screenwriting Tips: How To Nail Supernatural Realism

A penchant for the supernatural seems to have snuck in through the back door of the screenwriting industry recently, with a resurgence in movies and shows that have some kind of otherworldly element playing into the plot.

Not all of these are out-and-out horror, but it’s in part the success of franchises like Paranormal Activity and shows like American Horror Story that have fueled this recent trend.

Of course, some supernatural titles end up being better than others and their effectiveness is largely down to how “believable” the paranormal element is. The idea of needing to make the otherworldly seem real is something of a strange one, so for the benefit of those looking to do so at screenwriting school, today we’ll be exploring:

Creating Believable Supernatural Characters and Elements

In essence, what we’re dealing with here is the willing suspension of disbelief; the tricky thing with this is that not all viewers have the same willingness to go with whatever you present to them.

Not a great deal you can do about that—as the old adage goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But one surefire trick that’ll help you please most of the people all of the time is:

Internal Logic

Make sure it’s absolutely watertight.

You can come up with the most ludicrous paranormal premise imaginable—and remember, supernatural doesn’t just mean “ghosts” but also superpowers or any other paranormal element—and you can still get people onboard as long as two conditions are met:

  • The rules and limits of the supernatural element or character are clearly defined.
  • These rules are not broken.

The Sixth Sense worked because you get to the end and realize that everything held up to the revealed premise (if there was a single scene in which any of the ghosts interacted directly with any character other than the boy, the entire screenplay would have souffléd.)

Cabin in the Woods had a ridiculously over-the-top supernatural plot device, but it all adheres to the rules explained to us over the course of the movie.

On the other hand, nothing is more infuriating to us as viewers than a ghost ex machina. Suddenly having a character walk through walls, apropos of nothing, will have the audience groaning en masse.

Similarly, trying to tie up plotlines and provide resolution through the sudden introduction of a supernatural element has the opposite effect.

In short, anything goes when it comes to writing supernatural fiction… but not everything should go.

Playing In the Shadows

As a species, we’ve always held a macabre fascination with death.

But whereas supernatural stories from antiquity and right up to the Victorian era concerned themselves primarily with exploring what happens in the afterlife, modern ghost stories are more speculative.

Instead of trying to come to a conclusion about the afterlife, it’s now more about asking the big question: what if?

A strong “what if” scenario is often the strongest weapon in the screenwriter’s arsenal, and doubly so when it comes to supernatural fiction. As long as the speculative element is engaging and the aforementioned internal logic is consistent, you’ll start off with a strong foundation for a great script.

Don’t Neglect Your Protagonist

In the quest for crafting a wholly believable and compelling supernatural antagonist or scenario, the human characters rooted to the confines of reality often fall by the wayside.

A common pitfall is to have the main characters simply reacting to the otherworldly being throughout the entire script, which contravenes one of the golden rules of scriptwriting: characters should have their own goals and motivations.

If your human characters are nothing more than things for the ghost/werewolf/demon to toy with, you’ll never hook the audience emotionally.

On the other hand, if you have a cast of characters with goals of their own who react in a logical and realistic way to the supernatural force they’re up against, not only will you get the viewers more invested in the story but you’ll also make the paranormal seem more believable too.

Double win.

Avoid Lengthy Exposition

Although conveying the rules of how your ghostly being, haunted house or possessed doll operates is important, stick to the old ‘show not tell’ convention.

When dealing with concepts that are unbelievable by proxy, establishing plausibility is important. But again, do this by showing the supernatural character’s goals and limitations (as well as plugging up inconsistencies that the audience may find fault with.)

Two characters sharing exposition at length regarding the nature of the monster under the bed not required.

Learn more about the Screenwriting School at the New York Film Academy by clicking here.

Adapting Short Stories for Film: Screenplay Do’s And Don’ts

Short stories, by their very nature, can be excellent sources of concise and punchy narratives and as a result lend themselves very well for the big screen treatment. There’s a strong precedent for short story adaption so far, with the following feature movies having had their origins in short literature:

Total Recall (Started out as the Philip K. Dick short We Can Remember it For You Wholesale)

A Scanner Darkly (Also Philip K. Dick)

Minority Report (Ditto)

The Shawshank Redemption (Based on a Stephen King novella)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (From the Truman Capote novella of the same name)

Memento (Adapted by Christopher Nolan from his brother Johnathan’s short story Memento Mori)

Eyes Wide Shut (Loosely adapted by Kubrick from the 1926 novella Traumnovelle)

2001: A Space Odyssey (Another Kubrick feature adapted from Arthur C. Clarke’s The Sentinal)

Apocalypse Now (Based on the 1899 Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness)

And the list goes on, with more genre defining titles that we could realistically list here which got their start as a short story or novella. The question is, how do you get yourself on the list of greats and adapt a shorty story into a great film?

Adapting Short Stories for Film: The Do’s and Don’ts

adapting short stories into screenplays

Playing it Loose

One of the major banes of a filmmaker adapting a novel—or series of novels—into a screenplay is striking the right balance between squeezing it all into the run time but not falling foul of charges from the book’s fans of being ‘unfaithful to the source material.’

You’re a little luckier when it comes to adapting short stories as for whatever reason, the need to be a literalist doesn’t seem to apply so feel free to rework things at your leisure to find the best fit for the screen. If all else fails, substitute the phrase “adapted from…” to “inspired by…” and you’ll be golden!

Honing in on What Matters

This is more common with longer works, but even short stories it’s important to trim the fat and focus on what really matters. And as with any screenplay, it all boils down to three main ingredients: character motive, conflict and resolution.

How you distill these ingredients from the short story and repackage it for film is up to you as a screenwriter, but you should strive to put these key features at the forefront of your screenplay. And speaking of packaging:

Translating Pace

Pacing, of course, plays a big role in the enjoyability of both books and film. Preserving and translating the pacing of a short story in particular requires a little extra attention to get it right as you expand it into a 180 minute feature film.

Occasionally, you’ll have to revamp things entirely as you may sometimes find a short story that is exceptional in every way except the pacing, but you’ll have the opportunity to do your job as a screenwriter and rectify this during the adaption process.

Usage Rights

Clearing the rights for a production and optioning the source material for adaption is usually down to the producer rather than the screenwriter, but if you’re one in the same person, it really pays to make sure you’ve not shirked your responsibilities in this regard (and can cause serious issues later on if you neglect this duty.)

How to go about optioning book rights is deserving of its own dedicated post altogether but if this is something you’d really rather skip, consider adapting works that are already in the public domain.

Of course, it doesn’t particularly matter if the screenplay isn’t intended to leave your hard drive or go any further than a workshop at screenwriting school, and this brings us onto:

Even If The Film Never Surfaces…

…use it as practice.

Without any hesitation whatsoever, you can grab a short story and instantly start playing around. It’s a great way of not only putting your skills to the test but also pushing them to new heights—especially if you intentionally set yourself a challenge by picking a short story that’s really not suitable for silver screen adaptation!

Got any tips of your own for adapting short stories to screenplays? Any particular favorite examples of the process being done well? You know where to head—we’ll see you in the comments below!

6 Proven Ways to Smash Writer’s Block

Ah, writer’s block—the dreaded, famous nemesis of screenwriters who have an excellent script idea brewing in the back of their mind, but just can’t seem to get the words down.

If you’re suffering from a bout of writer’s block, first recognize that you’re not alone. It can afflict year-one screenwriting school students with just as much frequency and severity as a seasoned professional, but for the most part it can thankfully be cured and overcome with a little perspective. Let’s begin with…

A Hard Truth

If we’re being honest with ourselves, ‘writer’s block’ is just a dressed-up name for ‘procrastination.’ An electrician never gets ‘electrician’s block,’ a surgeon never gets ‘surgeon’s block,’ and a plumber never gets ‘plumber’s block’… well, that may be a term in plumbing but it’s not what we’re talking about.

As much as anyone, screenwriters have a job to do and writer’s block isn’t a great excuse for not getting it done. That said, whatever we choose to call it, it’s still a real phenomenon and one in which there are some methods with which to circumvent it. Presenting:

6 Surefire Methods for Beating Writer’s Block

1. Find the Trigger

In the vast majority of cases, there’ll be a specific mindset (or set of circumstances leading to it) that tend to trigger periods of inactivity. It could be crippling self-doubt, an innate drive for complete perfection, something as serious as overuse of substances…or just plain tedium.

The ‘block trigger’ will be (hugely) different for every screenwriter and it can be tricky to identify exactly what it is, but in doing so, you’ll almost always discover the key to overcoming it.

2. Working Publicly

One common trigger when it comes to screenwriting freeze is the knowledge that you’ve got a long process ahead of you to create a finished body of work, then all of a sudden it’ll get judged publicly in one fell swoop. That can be so daunting that it’s difficult to get going in the first place.

Consider releasing scenes or even individual pages for critique as you’re goinggetting outside of your own vacuum can be liberating, and the feedback gained will help shape your direction and momentum as you progress. If worried about the potential for copyright theft, show it to your inner circle of personal friends instead of into the public sphere.

3. Define Your Processes

Feeding back into point one, just as you should identify circumstances that hamstring your mood, discover a setting and way of proceeding that tends to get you moving forward…then repeat, and tailor as you go.

4. One Simple Question…

As you find your mind wanderingin this day and age, usually manifested by opening a new tab and loading up YouTubeask yourself one simple question:   “Is this worth it?” (followed closely by “Will I regret this at the end of what’s supposed to be a writing session?”) In almost every occasion, you’ll find yourself answering in the negative and getting back to what’s really important.

5. Some Pages Are Not Equal

Don’t beat yourself up if you manage to nail six pages one day, then struggle to come up with one the next. Some scenes or dialogue will require a lot more finesse and time than others, so it may not be a case that you had ‘writer’s block’ on the one-page day and failed to produce; it’s all progress either way, and progress should be congratulated.

6. Begin

Writer’s block is most prevalent when the page is blank. After all, there’s over a million words in the English language, so which to begin with? This is the very first line of your magnum opus. It best be epic!

True enoughit should be a great opening line… but you can always work on that later.

Invariably, the best trick for getting over initial screenwriting block is to simply start. Go all stream-of-consciousness style if you have to; you’ll find yourself revving up to full speed in no time, and can always go back and refine the bit that got you there.

After all, there’s no great writing. There’s only great rewriting.

Now go get to it, and show that writer’s block who’s boss.

Should You Upload Your Screenplay Online?

Screenwriters often feel like they’re stuck between the rock of getting noticed and the hard place of not being taken advantage of.

When you’ve put in the hours at screenwriting school and have crafted an industry killer script that you’re keen to get optioned, it seems silly to stop short of going the final mile; to not do everything within one’s power and pursue all options for getting it noticed by The Powers That Be.

The first port of call in this situation is, more often than not, to upload the script to as many submission websites as possible…

… but the debate currently raging is a fierce one:

Should You Ever Upload Your Screenplay Online?

With the Internet in its adolescence, these kinds of websites—not to mention the many scriptwriting advice blogs out there—are legion and have been around for quite some time already. The idea is a simple one: you upload your screenplay to a centralized repository, producers (or their associates) crawl the repository for some untapped gold, and hopefully you’re the person with whom they get in touch.

All well and good, except that as mentioned, there’s a thousand and one such sites and they all promise the same kind of exposure and increased odds of being discovered; you never know which ones truly attract any kind of appreciable attention, and which ones attract only tumbleweed.

But even still… what if you somehow know for a fact that a script website’s claims are true? Or is there even any harm in shotgunning a load of websites with your script in an attempt to maximize your chances?

In a nutshell, yes. And here are the main risks you should consider:

1) You Could Be Throwing Cash Down the Drain

Without naming names, some script websites charge a fee (or require paid membership) before you can upload your work for the world to see.

That can be a costly business if you’re hitting up a number of different sites at once with little or zero to show for it. Only you can decide if it’s worth it in individual cases, but be suspicious of inflated claims that all the big producers are personally combing their archive—look beyond this for evidence of the site’s success rate and efficacy.

2) You Could Even Hurt Your Chances

Which, of course, is the opposite outcome that you’re after.

Some producers and agents get turned off by work that has been floating around in the public for all to see, with some even using it as a litmus test to save them some time—if that screenplay has been sitting on this site for X years without being optioned, it’s probably not worth bothering with.

In addition, you stand a better chance of gaining attention with a well-targeted, personalized pitch than by simply throwing it out there and hoping for the best. And that leads to our next point….

3) It Breeds Inertia

Many people get lulled into a false sense of security by uploading their scripts onto websites, thinking that the golden phone call might be just around the corner. In turn, that leads to inactivity at a time when you should be at your most active—after all, your job is not over until you’ve finally gotten that deal, and simply uploading the script to a few places usually won’t cut it.

4) Copyright

Disclaimer: this is actually a very minor concern. Everyone is terrified that other screenwriters are going to steal their work, but the frequency at which this occurs is practically negligible. Still, throwing your screenplay out there does put you at a greater risk—while your work is automatically copyrighted to you at the point of its creation without any need to register it (contrary to an enduringly popular myth), you may wish to file your script with either the U.S. Copyright Office or the Writers Guild of America for extra protection. The former costs a mere $30, the latter only $20 (and includes membership).

In conclusion, uploading your screenplay to one or more script websites may lead to great success… but you shouldn’t count on it. Quite often, there’s no substitute to just getting out there and leveraging your contacts.

Don’t have any contacts yet? Make them. Attending screenwriting school is a useful way of expanding your network, and a few very careful email queries can get you the rest of the way there.

Best of luck!

6 of the Best Screenwriting Competitions You’ve Never Heard Of

Screenwriting competitions can be a fantastic opportunity for both fledgling and professional screenwriters alike to raise their profile, and with a little bit of luck, earn some substantial cash prizes. 

To boot, many great careers have been launched through a combination of time spent at screenwriting school and some notable contest wins, with many agents and other film representatives keeping a very close eye on the names that rise to the top of the following screenwriting competitions.

So, without further ado, here are a few that are well worth considering…

6 Best Screenwriting Competitions You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

BlueCat ScreenPlay Competition

Closing Date: October 15 (for next year’s competition). Entries open June 15.
Entry Fee: $35 to $70. Student discounts may apply.
What They’re After: Shorts and full screenplays of any genre. International entries accepted.
What You Stand to Win: Between $1,500 and $15,000 for finalists, plus every screenplay entered receives a written analysis.

PAGE International Awards

Closing Date: Final deadline for entries is May 15.
Entry Fee: $79 for last minute entry (plus $110 if feedback is requested).
What They’re After: Original screenplays, short film scripts and teleplays.
What You Stand to Win: Tiered cash prizes between $250 and $25,000.


Closing Date: Final deadline is April 29, so get in quick.
Entry Fee: $65 for last minute entry.
What They’re After: Original screenplays of various genres.
What You Stand to Win: Grand prize of $10,000, plus $500 for best of each genre.

Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest

Closing Date: May 20
Entry Fee: $55 if entered before May 1, otherwise $65
What They’re After: Original screenplays of various genres.
What You Stand to Win: Grand prize of $20,000 plus a huge exposure/development package. Runner up cash prizes and exposure packages also offered.

Slamdance Screenplay Competition

Closing Date: Regular deadline closes June 9, extended deadline July 21
Entry Fee: Between $35 to $80
What They’re After: Original screenplays in the category of short, original teleplay, feature and horror.
What You Stand to Win: Grand prize of $5,000 and $2,000 to winners of each category, plus free services.

TrackingB TV Script Competition

Closing Date: May 31
Entry Fee: $75 before April 30, otherwise $85
What They’re After: 30-70 page pilot script for comedy or drama TV show.
What You Stand to Win: A range highly lucrative and reputable exposure and development packages offered to 3 grand prize winners, 10 finalists and 25 semi-finalists.


3 Screenwriting Competitions You Should Have Heard Of

Below are three of the most noteworthy and renowned screenwriting competitions in the entire industry. Winning one of these is the proverbial golden ticket to career success, and although the odds of beating the mass of other entrants is low, those that win invariably never regret having entered.

Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting Competition

Closing Date: May 1
Entry Fee: $75, plus an optional $40 to receive reader comments on your submission.
What They’re After: Original screenplays (no adaptations.) An additional caveat is that entrants must not have earned more than $25,000 writing screenplays for either film or television to date.
What You Stand to Win: Up to five $35,000 fellowships are awarded each year, plus Oscar level, career-launching exposure.

Austin Screenwriting Competition

Closing Date: April 20, with late entries closing May 20
Entry Fee: Between $30 to $50 depending on long form or short form submission and deadline window
What They’re After: Shorts, feature-length screenplays and teleplays.
What You Stand to Win: Cash prizes ranging between $500 and $2,500 plus coveted awards and exposure.

Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab

Closing Date: May 1
Entry Fee: $40
What They’re After: Original screenplays, though screenwriters who have already had more than one prior screenplay produced are ineligible for entry.
What You Stand to Win: Not technically a competition of sorts, selected applicants will be invited to attend the Screenwriter’s Lab; possibly the most prestigious and exclusive workshop in the entire country.


So there we have it—a total of nine screenwriting competitions that you should consider entering for the next awards season. Know of any others that you’d recommend a fellow screenwriter to check out? How about any success stories or experiences you’d like to share from entering competitions? Drop a comment below, and share with the group!

5 Ways Film School Makes You a Better Screenwriter

While some people are naturally great storytellers, or can strike up a conversation with just about anyone, writing can seem as foreign to them as flying a helicopter. Others seem to be born ready to write, naturally gifted with a pen or a keyboard. For either group, film school is a great tool to perfect—or just introduce—the skills needed to be a strong screenwriter.

Whether you’re a student who wants to focus on directing, editing, or other behind-the-camera skills, or someone who wants to draft the next great screenplay, film school can provide you with numerous advantages.  And if you’re one of those natural-born writers who’s been gifted with screenwriting skills, you might be surprised to find what classes can even offer you. Here are just five examples of how film school can help you become a great screenwriter.


Some writers thrive on deadlines, unable to get their gears turning until the clock is ticking and a draft is due at midnight. Others see deadlines as giant chains shackled to their creativity, hindering them from any productivity. However, film school, like Hollywood itself, lives and dies by deadlines. Being forced to write, even when you don’t feel like it, is a gift unto itself. Most writers agree that quantity leads to quality, and deadlines, if anything, produce quantity. You may not want to get started, but once you do you’ll find yourself surprised at how hard it is to stop.


If you’re the picky type of writer who abhors deadlines, there’s a good chance you’re equally repulsed by re-writes. A lot of writers start off writing because it’s fun—once it becomes a duty, it loses its flavor. Re-writing can taste just as stale, considering you’ve already brought to life the world and characters you intended. If writing is the creative, fun part then re-writing is the laborious, begrudging part. By forcing you to constantly re-visit and re-write your screenplay, film school makes you put in the work you may not want to, but ultimately rejoice in. Suddenly that world you had so much fun sketching in broad strokes has become a fine-tuned masterpiece ready to be put on screen.


If you went to film school to learn to direct, produce, edit or other filmcrafts other than writing, you may get frustrated when you’re forced to script something for yourself. After all, most of Spielberg or Scorsese’s great films were someone else’s drafts—why should you be any different? However, getting a feel for the craft of writing will help you in whatever aspect you choose to work in down the line. Knowing where a scene started on the page will only help you bring it to life on camera. Conversely, if you intend to primarily be a screenwriter, learning the other crafts will inform you how to put your words to page in a way that will best facilitate their filming down the line. Filmmaking is a collaboration through and through, and screenwriting is no exception.

Expanding Your Worldview

Working with other film students isn’t just essential to learning the art of collaboration—it will also expand your worldview. Chances are the high school and lower grades you’ve attended consisted mostly of students with the same background as yourself. Going to a film school with a diverse body of students, especially schools like the New York Film Academy with undergraduates and graduates from all over the world, offers you a window into numerous worlds and lifestyles. Even passively working and socializing with an eclectic group of artists and students will broaden your characters, themes, settings, and writing in general. That’s something no book or YouTube video can ever hope to gift you.

Learning the Rules to Break the Rules

Many writers and filmmakers fancy themselves rebels and trendsetters—not bound by the rules of everyone else. Maybe they’re right. But rules can never be effectively broken until they’ve been mastered. When conventions are shunned in writing and filmmaking in a thought-provoking and progressive way, it is because they are being used as a tool by the artist. Rules shouldn’t be broken for their own sake—they should be molded and made into something new. A statement is being made merely by changing the form—how effective that statement is depends entirely on how the form is changed. Film school teaches you the way other writers and the industry craft a screenplay. Once you’ve mastered that, playing with the conventions will be easier and more meaningful.  Simply put, it’s up to you what to build and how to build it. Film school gives you the best tools and materials to start building.

Check out our screenwriting programs at the New York Film Academy today!

How to Write Dialogue in Film

It can take many years—even decades—to master the art of writing dialogue. Good screenplay dialogue can be as multi-faceted and complicated as the real-life human relationships and interactions that inspire stories to begin with.

While we can’t possibly hope to cover every aspect of how to write dialogue in film here (it’s a topic that can fill an entire screenwriting school program let alone a blog post), we are going to tackle a couple of the biggest stumbling blocks with which new and experienced writers alike struggle.

Today, we’ll be covering an overview of exposition (and how to solve it), as well as how to begin your screenplay with a bang…


Solve Dialogue Problems with Non-Dialogue

Ever feel like a character on-screen isn’t really talking to another character, but is instead lecturing you as an audience member?

That’s what we call heavy exposition, and there’s nothing more amateur to a screenplay than a character who constantly describes everything that’s going on for the “benefit” of the audience.

So how to write dialogue in film to get around this? What’s the best way of getting facts and tricky concepts across to the viewer?

Having a character who is not aware of what’s going on (thus creating a plausible reason for another character to explain key plot points) can be a good way of delivering information to the audience, but this needs to be handled carefully.

The main dangers here are:

  1. A) You might make the “clueless” character who needs everything explained to him immensely dislikable
  2. B)A heavy-handed approach can be a glaringly obvious ploy to the audience and might even bore them, especially for those who have already figured it all out for themselves.

If you’d like a bit of homework that will reinforce this, re-watch Inception and count the number of times Ellen Page’s character has the “rules” of the dream worlds explained to her at great length. At numerous points, it borders on a lecture to viewers and grinds the pace of this otherwise great movie to a standstill.

A far better approach—and a real golden rule in writing dialogue—is to show, not tell. In fact, it’s more of an anti-rule of dialogue, since you’re aiming to give the audience information without having a character overtly state it.

Let’s say you want to get across the fact that a character has a serious drinking problem. There are two possible ways you could do this:

1) John Doe is in the middle of an argument with his wife. While John storms away from the dinner table, Jane yells after him, “You’re always like this when you’ve been drinking!”

2) John Doe glances out of the window to see his wife has come home from work early. He hurriedly screws the top on a half-drunken vodka bottle, places it into a plastic bag, ties a knot in it, and hides it in the toilet tank.

In both screenplays we get the same idea, but we aren’t forcibly beaten over the head with the information in the second scenario.

If in doubt, a good rule of thumb is simply to assume that the audience is a lot more switched-on than you might give them credit for.

Consider Beginning In Medias Res

In Medias Res translates as “in the middle of things,” and the literary technique is exactly that.

If you’re starting out with narration in your screenplay, you might want to consider using this technique to hook the viewer right from the very get-go. Let’s take a look the opening of a story told in two very different ways:

1) “My name is Officer Mick Zerco. I’m standing at the foot of a building in downtown LA. My wife and kids are somewhere in there. In two minutes, I’m going to have to go up to the top floor and disarm the bomb that’s about to go off.”

2) “All I can hear above the ringing of my ears is panicked screaming. Half the block is in rubble, and my wife and kids are among it. Officer Leeroy must have rushed in first and botched the disarmament of that damned bomb. My name is Mick Zerco, and if you’re listening to this recording…I have failed.”

Both openings cover the same details, except one takes place right in the middle—or moments after—the main action, whereas the other starts a few minutes before. Which one grabs your attention more?

Don’t worry about wasting those precious few introductory minutes setting up every detail of the screenplay before you allow action to happen. A little mystery as to what’s going on can create insatiable intrigue and reel the audience in—you can always use flashbacks or other pacing techniques to deliver more exposition after you’ve got them hooked!

In short, always attempt to write with the golden rule in mind:

Show, Don’t Tell.

Happy writing!

From Film School With Love: 007 Ways to Write a James Bond Film

The new cast and title of the 24th film in the official James Bond series was announced this past week. Spectre, Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig’s followup to smash hit Skyfall, is a call back to the supervillain agency of 60s era Bond films, when Sean Connery and his jetpack would face off against bald badguys who stroked fancy white cats. Now that the dark and gritty Craig-era James Bond movies have broken the rules and started the series from scratch, it seems the producers, stars, and screenwriters behind 007 are willing to reconnect with their campy past.

While most details about Spectre are being tightly kept under wraps, the filmmakers undoubtedly are sticking to what’s worked before. If you’re an aspiring screenwriter and you want your name in the credits for Bond 25, here are 007 things to include in your script when writing a James Bond film.

1. Choose Your Title

While Bond films occasionally have stark one-word titles like Spectre, Skyfall, and Goldfinger, most titles tend to have fun with wordplay and include lots of prepositions. First, pick something badass and cool, like fire or ice. Then pick another noun, something simple yet epic, like dawn. Find a verb to connect them, typically related to at least one of the nouns, like burn. If you’re feeling adventurous, include an adjective. Finally, fill in the blanks with a preposition or four and bam! You have your title: Fire Burns Hottest at Dawn. Something that sounds wise and slick, but the more you think about it, isn’t really either. Or if Sam Mendes is directing again, just call it Dawnfire.

2. Choose Your Locales

Bond movies must take place in a minimum of three places around the world. Obviously London should be one of them so we get our requisite Moneypenny and Q action. When choosing which parts of the globe you want 007 to trot, keep your chase scenes in mind. If you want airboats fanning across a swamp, make sure you’re in New Orleans. Moscow makes for great tank chases. As Skyfall has shown us, Istanbul has the perfect rooftops for a jeep/motorcycle/train/bulldozer pursuit.

3. Choose Your Puns

James Bond doesn’t tell jokes, he’s killed too many men for that. He does, however, love his puns, almost always involving either sex or murder. Make sure you’ve got a few lined up for your script. The key is constructing them in a way that any actor playing the super spy is forced to deliver them in the most painfully forced way possible. At least one of them shouldn’t really make sense at all, like when Bond kicked a villain off a cliff in For Your Eyes Only before quipping “He had no head for heights.” What?

4. Choose Your Gadgets

It’s really important to get the gadgets from Q-branch right, because Bond is going to find himself in a situation where that specific gadget will be incredibly useful, before he discards it and never mentions it again. Those crocodile-shaped motorboats are expensive, James!

5. Choose Your Bond Girls

Unfortunately, the rather condescending term Bond Girl is pretty much applied to any actress in a 007 film that isn’t Judi Dench (when, let’s be honest, she’s the greatest Bond Girl of them all.) Your Bond Girls should have either ridiculously stupid names, like Strawberry Fields, or names that are completely transparent references to sex, like Holly Goodhead. They can be Bond’s love interests, villains, or—typically—both. Don’t get too attached to them though, because one of them should die early on to raise the stakes for our double-oh.

6. Choose Your Climax

No, not that climax, that’s step seven. This climax is your big final showdown between Bond and his villain, with an optional doomsday machine thrown in the middle. This epic fight should be in a palace made of ice, or the inside of a volcano, or a supermodern submarine. Please don’t make it the Moon. If you’re struggling with this one, try to picture what would look best exploding into a million pieces, and then use that.

7. Choose Your Climax

So it’s come time for the end. Before the Daniel Craig era, nearly every Bond film ended with Bond and his love interest cuddled together after an explosive climax. Most of the time they’re in the water, because Bond looks sexier wet and women’s dresses become see-through. (James Bond may have a lot of class, but his films typically don’t.) You also have the option of having M, Q, and the British government somehow spying on Bond and his lover in some way. After all, even M16 wants to get their money’s worth when it comes to cinema’s most dashing secret agent.


How To Write Underdog Sports Movies In Ten Easy Steps

Few genre films follow the same beat-by-beat screenwriting path as sports movies—the rags to riches story of an athlete or team overcoming the odds and making it all the way to fame and glory. Whether it’s based on a true story of a major league championship or a made-up yarn about a peewee football team, comedy or drama, the elements nearly always remain the same.

Underdog sports movies are a pure form of storytelling—your characters have a strong goal, a clear arc, and the conflict of the narrative is quite literally a conflict. People are primed to root for underdogs already—its in our DNA—so follow these simple steps and the story will tell itself and engage the audience without you having to break a sweat.

1. Introduce the Underdog

First off, we have to get acquainted with who we’re going to be rooting for, whether it’s a down-on-his-luck athlete or coach, or a whole team of misfits. We meet Rocky when he is a hired thug for a mid-level mobster. Coach Gordon Bombay starts off The Mighty Ducks with a DUI. And that’s a Disney movie!

2. Show the Suck

You can’t just tell us who’s the underdog—you have to show us. We need to see the bumbling and the fumbling and how poorly the team works together, and that often means including an epic fail moment early on in the script. If it’s the story of a natural-born talent, we need to see why they’re not living up to their potential, whether it’s addiction or shady circumstances and characters holding them back.

3. Set the Goals

The end of the movie should be telegraphed way in advance, with your underdog protagonist(s) starting the new season or setting the date for the big match or tournament. They’ll play their first game, terribly, and see just how much work they have ahead of them. This is a great time to introduce the opposition as well, the team or athlete your heroes will face off against. They should not only be the best, but also total jerks with smug smirks we can’t wait to see wiped off their faces.

4. Bring in the Surprise Star

Most sports movies have a little deus ex machina, usually in the form of a sports prodigy from a very unlikely place. Usually they don’t even play the same sport, and are antisocial misanthropes that don’t play well with others for a reason. Little Giants had Devon Sawa, the Bad News Bears had Jackie Earle Haley and Tatum O’Neal.

5. Make ‘Em Better

The surprise star athlete should be the catalyst for your team to start cohering and scoring their first wins. The main ingredient your characters needed before now was confidence, and by nurturing it, your story will grow along with them.

6. Make ‘Em Bond

Suddenly that antisocial wunderkind is a little less anti and a little more social. Rather than turning on one another, the team is using their newfound confidence and bonding together. Usually they’ll explicitly show this with a sing-along in the locker room or on the bus, or like in The Replacements, in jail. They don’t have to sing necessarily—in The Mighty Ducks, the team just had to quack at their principal in unison.

7. Throw in a Little Romance

Your script will need a B-plot, usually one that isn’t sports related. The best way is to add a little romance, either with the tomboyish girl player on the team, or the coach with one of the kids’ moms, or the sports league official. Rocky had Adrian, and as such he had something more to fight for than just a championship belt.

8. Montage!

Okay, now your team is hot, they’re winning, or your athlete is kicking ass in training, and everyone’s getting a little nookie on the side. Your story is switching gears and ramping up and you’re running out of pages and screentime. Time for a montage. Let’s see everyone progressing a little more with each cut, and feel free to throw in some shots of your scowling villains, so we remember how much we hate them. Your montage can be simple—one of the most effective scenes of all time is Rocky’s jogging through the streets of Philadelphia.

9. Kick Off the Big Game

You’re already at the big climax—that was fast! There’s lots of hype, lots of nerves, and lots of dramatic stakes for all of our characters. This is the culmination of all their hard work, and of course they’re up against the jerks from Act One. Sometimes it looks like our heroes are winning, but then it seems like they’re losing. Usually it all comes down to one big play….

10. Wrap It Up with Lessons Learned

Either your team wins, or they lose, just barely. (Unless you’re a sadist and your team didn’t even come close, or your athlete was arrested for cheating.) But that’s okay if they lost, some of our favorite athletes like Rocky and the Bad News Bears didn’t end the movie with a win. But it’s key that they learned some lessons along the way—whether it be teamwork, inner strength, self-respect, the power and glory of love, etc.—and that the previous nine steps weren’t all for nothing.

How Screenplay Sequences Underpin Three Act Structure

When it comes to screenplay structure, aspiring screenwriters are usually told by tutors and books, like Syd Field’s Screenplay, to focus on three acts.

What they’re not told about so often is how these three acts are underpinned by seven or eight sequences.

So, in this post we are going to show you how sequences work within three act structure, and serve to break it down into a series of more manageable “mini-movies.”

How Sequences Work Within Most Films

Sequence A

A screenplay starts (often, but not always) with an Inciting Incident to get it rolling — either a major change in the protagonist’s life, such as just getting out of prison, or arriving in a new town, or an event unknown to them, such as a murder the detective is yet to hear about.

Then, characters and world are introduced followed by a crisis around pages ten to fifteen. This is the hero’s Call to Action which sets into motion the main conflict for the overall screenplay and ends the sequence.

(In Romancing the Stone, Joan hears that her sister has been kidnapped. In Manhattan, Isaac meets Mary).

Sequence B

The protagonist struggles to get to grips with the Call to Action crisis established at the end of Sequence A.

But soon after there’s another shock in store—a Big Event which signifies what they’re up against. This is what the film’s really about: the main conflict they’ll have to tackle.

From this they must make a Big Decision to embark on a new and potentially life-changing adventure.

When they make this Decision we know they’re committed to solving the crisis established at the Call to Action and then the Big Event, and this signals the end of Act One.

(Neo takes the blue pill in The Matrix and enters “the real world.” In American Pie, the guys make a pact to lose their virginity).

Sequence C

The start of the strange and often scary new world in which the protagonist is often a “fish out of water.”

This sequence contains, what Blake Snyder calls, The Promise of the Premise—the trailer moments in which the hero struggles to adapt to the new world.

Note that the end of this sequence doesn’t determine the end of an act, but is still a definite step forward or backwards in the protagonist’s main goal established at the end of Act One.

(Truman gets stuck on the bus and fails to leave the island in The Truman Show. Tor is humiliated by rival cheerleaders, The Clovers, in Bring It On).

Sequence D

Having failed or succeeded at the end of the last sequence, the protagonist pushes on, invariably trying a different tack in order to achieve their overall goal.

The end of this sequence ends on either an “up” or a “down” and signals the script’s Midpoint—usually a surprising twist of some kind.

Here, the protagonist feels the full power of the antagonist but, conversely, is now fully committed to the goal, or a new variation of the goal.

The stakes are raised as the protagonist turns a corner and a “new self” is born.

(In Jaws, Chief Brody realizes they’ve caught the wrong shark. Charles returns home to find the killer, LaRoche, in his house chatting to his wife and kids in Derailed).

Sequence E

This sequence marks the beginning of the “changed hero.”

They begin to understand what they really want, but also to further realize the power of their adversary.

The stakes are raised as they react to whatever new crisis occurred at the Midpoint.

This is sometimes known as the “Gain” section of the script in which everything seems to be going well for the protagonist, but in reality it’s not.

For example, in Romantic Comedies this is often where the protagonist falls in love; but there is a sting in the tail at the end of the sequence in which love is hindered and the protagonist faces an unexpected setback.

(In Boogie Nights, Dirk rises to the top, but becomes too cocky and gets fired. In Sideways, Miles finally gets his act together and goes to see Maya at the restaurant, but she’s not working that night).

Sequence F

The end of this sequence also corresponds to the end of Act Two; again either an “up” or “down” ending depending on the climax to the overall film.

The end of Sequence F can be viewed as either a “false victory” or “false defeat.” Either the hero seemingly wins the day—All is Joy—but it’s a temporary victory, or they wind up in a worst place than at the start of the film—All is Lost—but it’s a fleeting defeat.

However, often in Horror, things reach a low point at the end of this sequence and then get even worse at the Climax.

(A high point is reached in the film In Search of a Midnight Kiss, when Wilson and Vivian kiss at midnight. A low point occurs in The Blair Witch Project, when Heather makes a direct-to-camera apology to her parents, realizing she’s going to die).

Sequence G

This is often the shortest sequence of the screenplay as it’s all about urgency and motion—the Race for the Prize, as The Flaming Lips once sang.

The protagonist has finally realized what needs to be done to crack the mystery / get the girl / catch the killer etc.

The climax to Sequence G corresponds directly to the Climax to the whole film, wrapping up the A story on either an “up” or “down” beat, and tying up any loose ends.

In Drama and Comedy the protagonist has usually learned a great lesson. They are not the same person they were at the beginning of the film.

In fact, they have performed a complete u-turn and now want the exact opposite thing from what they wanted at the start.

In Action / Adventure the transformation is sometimes great, (Wanted) and sometimes insignificant (James Bond).

In Thrillers, the arc is usually minimal, as it is in Horror, where the protagonist’s primary concern is escape and survival.

Alternatively, this sequence can be an All is Lost (or All is Joy) success or failure, in exactly the same way as the new goal established at the Midpoint ended in a success or failure at the end of Sequence E.

(In The Godfather, Michael becomes head of the family. Benjamin dies at the end of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

Sequence H

The composition of this sequence depends on how the previous one ended.

Obviously, if Sequence G ended with the Screenplay Climax, the movie’s over, but if it ended with an All is Lost / All is Joy success / failure, then this sequence becomes in effect Sequence G—the protagonist’s sprint to solve the screenplay’s main goal before it’s too late.

(In The Heartbreak Kid remake (2007), there are eight sequences ending on Sequence H. Sequence G ends with an All is Lost failure when Eddie fails to win back Miranda. An eighth Sequence H then begins with him packing up and leaving town, before we jump a year and a half in time when Miranda turns up to provide the film’s neat ending).


We hope this has helped! For a fully comprehensive look at just how sequences work within three act structure making screenplays that much easier to write, check out our website

Thanks for reading!

Alex, Scott, Rebecca, and David