Craft

Craft-based articles.

create intrigue in screenplays - the ultimate guide

Top 5 Story Questions That Pique Our Interest

Stirring Interest If a story doesn’t pose a dramatic question, you’re probably reading a shopping list. Story questions are the narrative equivalent of a sales pitch, the means by which we’re convinced to stick a story out instead of mowing the lawn or something. Story Questions Moment to moment, the most basic is ‘What happens …

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3D audience, cinema experience

OPINION: Screenwriters Should Consider the Cinema Experience

It’s a cliché, but the entertainment industry is an industry. Show business is a business. It behoves screenwriters to remember this and to consider why write films in the first place. What makes the cinema experience worthwhile? When deciding whether an idea is worth developing and writing, it’s worth asking first: Is this something I want to see? …

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Tom Reagan in Miller's Crossing

GENIUS CHARACTER REVEALS: Tom Reagan (MILLER’S CROSSING)

In this series we look at scenes and moments where a film or TV show has revealed a great deal of character information in a short amount of screen time. In this instalment, we focus on Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) from the 1990 crime film MILLER’S CROSSING.   MILLER’S CROSSING The Coen brothers’ third film is …

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Manchester by the Sea, flashbacks

OPINION: Flashbacks and the (Rare) Stories that Need Them

One of the major exceptions to the oft-repeated “show, don’t tell” screenwriting rule is the equally common received wisdom that screenplays should avoid using flashbacks. The criticisms are familiar from scores of screenwriting books. They weaken the dramatic tension, breaking up the momentum of the story to show the audience things that they either know or …

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Ricky Baker, Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Character Reveal: Ricky Baker (Hunt For The Wilderpeople)

In this series we look at scenes and moments where a film or TV show has revealed a great deal of character information in a short amount of screen time. In this instalment, we focus on Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) from the coming of age film HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE. HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE Taika …

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godfather part 2 featured

The Genius, Multi-Conflict Opening of THE GODFATHER PART 2

There are, broadly speaking, two ways to convey conflict: implicitly and explicitly. The former involves illustrating some kind of dissonance through setting, silence, the way one character looks at another; the latter involves someone saying ‘I hate you’, punching, or a deliberate explosion. THE GODFATHER PART 2 is rich in both implicit and explicit conflict.   …

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John McClane Die Hard

GENIUS CHARACTER REVEALS: John McClane

In this series we look at scenes and moments where a film or TV show has revealed a great deal of character information in a compressed amount of screen time. In this instalment we focus on John McClane (Bruce Willis) from DIE HARD. DIE HARD is the quintessential, archetypal modern action film. It endures for many …

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Boogie Nights

10 Screenwriting Lessons We Can Learn from…BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997)

Like much of Paul Thomas Anderson’s work, the BOOGIE NIGHTS screenplay has an odd structure, divergent POV and a hefty length, yet every page of it is full of worthwhile lessons for screenwriters. Here are ten: Conflict doesn’t need to be constant Conflict is often billed as screenwriting currency: you’re not going anywhere tense or …

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write omnisciently featured

Should Screenwriters Write “Omnisciently”?

To write omnisciently as a screenwriter often entails, for better or worse, including elements that may never show up onscreen: jokes in descriptions or insights into characters’ thoughts and histories that only a reader will ever truly experience and appreciate. This statement is unlikely to surprise anyone sentient, but film is a visual medium, and …

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screenwriting lessons featured

10 Screenwriting Lessons From ANGEL HEART (1987)

ANGEL HEART Alan Parker’s ANGEL HEART is an odd blend of genres, taking noir, psychological thriller and horror to a three-way shotgun wedding. The screenwriting lessons it can teach us are similarly diverse. The basic plot is this: a private detective named Harry Angel is hired by the mysterious Louis Cyphre to track down ex-singer …

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thriller screenplays primer

10 Thriller Screenplays You Should Read

Thriller Screenplay Power As a genre, ‘thriller’ tends to gently caress several others, namely horror, sci-fi, and drama. As such, thriller screenplays provide a goldmine of various narrative and structural techniques. These may well be films you’ve seen; it’s just that some of them might not have left you desperate to read on the page. …

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second act subplot listen up philip

Why Screenwriters Should Consider a Second Act Subplot

While first and third acts pose their own challenges, it’s in the weeds of the second act that many scripts (and movies for that matter) go astray. Introducing a second act subplot can be a strong solution, if executed well. The Challenge of the Second Act Alexander Mackendrick, the director of THE LADYKILLERS and THE …

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Annie Wilkes in Misery

GENIUS CHARACTER REVEALS: Annie Wilkes

In this series we look at scenes and moments where a film or TV show has revealed a great deal of character information in a short amount of screen time. This installment focuses on Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) from MISERY. MISERY saw legendary screenwriter William Goldman adapting a Stephen King novel with Rob Reiner directing. King …

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minor characters arc

10 Minor Characters Who Still Have a Great ARC

One facet of screenwriting which causes writers enormous headaches is conveying a lot with a little. Studying great minor characters is one way of learning this kind of efficiency. Minor Characters To Finer Characters The best minor characters can be just as rich as main characters. Ideally they should feel like they exist and live entire lives, …

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Jim Donovan in Bridge of Spies

GENIUS CHARACTER REVEALS: Jim Donovan (BRIDGE OF SPIES)

In this series we look at scenes and moments where a film or TV show has revealed a great deal of character information in a short amount of screen time. In this installment, we focus on how BRIDGE OF SPIES introduces Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks). Steven Spielberg directs, from a screenplay based on true events by …

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unresolved plot thread inception totem

Unresolved Plot Threads: Magic or Madness?

Endings are crucial. The feeling an ending gives an audience is the feeling they leave the cinema with. It’s the feeling that will colour their perception of their whole experience and the whole film. How do unresolved plot threads make an audience feel? Often, creating a satisfying ending means tying up the major plot threads. …

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screenwriting commandments

10 Commandments of the Accountable Screenwriter (Download)

There are two kinds of rugby player”, the legendary Scottish coach Jim Telfer told his players, “there are the honest ones, and there’s the rest. The honest player gets up in the morning and looks himself in the mirror and sets his standard, sets his stall out, and says: “I’m going to get better, I’m going …

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low stakes in The Big Lebowski

10 Films That Make You Invested in The Protagonist’s Goal

In 9/10 cases the protagonist is the driving force of a successful film narrative. We invest in their story because we identify with their goal and become invested in it; but some goals are more easily conveyed than others. Convincing an audience to root for a character fighting an evil alien race is easy. We …

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Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) in 45 Years

GENIUS CHARACTER REVEALS: Kate Mercer

In this series we look at scenes and moments where a film or TV show has revealed a great deal of character information in a compressed amount of screen time. Writer-director Andrew Haigh followed up his acclaimed film WEEKEND and HBO show LOOKING with 45 YEARS, which he adapted from a short story by David Constantine. It’s …

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Anachronisms in the Alex Cox film Walker

OPINION: Screenplay Anachronisms Can Bring the Past to Life

Films that are set in the past are often judged for their authenticity. The “goofs” section of IMDb is overrun with anachronisms: this porcelain wasn’t made until six years later; or this character shouldn’t have shaved underarms. However, anachronisms can actually be useful for bringing the past to life. It’s hard for an audience to invest in the outcome …

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Setting as Character

14 Brilliant Uses of Setting AS Character in Film and TV

Ask yourself this: what is a setting? Really think about it. Is it just a backdrop on which to stage the events of your story? A static playground, conveying only time and place? Or can it be something more? Sometimes the best settings reveal something about a character, or force a character to do something …

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25 Francis Ford Coppola Quotes

25 Francis Ford Coppola Quotes For Writers & Filmmakers

Francis Ford Coppola Francis Ford Coppola is one of the greatest writer-directors to come out of the so-called “New Hollywood” wave of filmmaking, having made THE GODFATHER, THE GODFATHER PART II, THE CONVERSATION, and APOCALYPSE NOW all before reaching the age of 40. Nowadays, largely satisfied with his Hollywood filmography, Coppola spends his time making …

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avoid cliche

How to Write “Mythically” but Avoid Cliche – PDF Guide

Writing mythically with cliché is relatively easy: watch a couple of films, read a couple of books then regurgitate the obvious stuff: quasi-religious story world, the quest, the mentor, initiation, testing, the final battle, rebirth etc. Writing mythically without cliché, by contrast, is not easy at all… In the 3rd installment (after “Writing Characters That …

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James Cameron Quotes

20 Great James Cameron Quotes on Storytelling

20 Great James Cameron Quotes on Storytelling With a filmography that boasts the likes of THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS, and THE ABYSS, James Cameron is undoubtedly one of the finest genre filmmakers and storytellers the film industry has ever seen. “There are many talented people who haven’t fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or …

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inciting incidents the goonies

15 Genius Inciting Incidents by Screenwriters

15 Genius Inciting Incidents by Screenwriters You’ve created a fully developed character or series of characters and are now pondering their motivation through the narrative you’ve started to develop. Inciting incidents come in all shapes and sizes, so you should try to think of something clever, inspirational or at least interesting so your narrative fires into …

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The Insider Interviews: Michael Kuhn

The Insider Interviews: Michael Kuhn

THE INSIDER INTERVIEWS: MICHAEL KUHN The Insider Interviews series started in 2010 as a set of recorded interviews, featuring the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Gareth Unwin, who produced THE KING’S SPEECH, Ben Wheatley and Hossein Amini, the Oscar-nominated writer of DRIVE and THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY. You can watch these here. The Insider Interviews now exist as live monthly events in central London, which is a combination …

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Great Ingmar Bergman Quotes

20 Great Ingmar Bergman Quotes on Storytelling

One of the most influential auteurs of all time, Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born in Sweden and worked as a director, producer and writer across and theatre and screen. He directed over sixty films and documentaries, most of which he also wrote, and directed 170 plays. His most well-known films include: WILD STRAWBERRIES, THE SEVENTH …

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mid film plot twist john doe surrenders

10 Classic Mid-Film Plot Twists by Screenwriters

10 Great Mid-Film Plot Twists by Screenwriters Too often when watching a film, especially for those of us who have seen many of them, you can read where the story is going and predict what is going to happen onscreen prematurely. However, those screenwriters in pursuit of something that will truly stand out may think about …

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Ned, supporting character, Groundhog Day

OPINION: Support Your Supporting Characters

While it’s true that the star system is not what it once was, actors can still have tremendous power. Many actors have their own production companies, partly as a route for finding interesting material off the beaten path of Hollywood. Look down Plan B Entertainment’s list of projects and imagine how many would have been made without the backing of …

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Charlize Theron in Young Adult

GENIUS CHARACTER REVEALS: Young Adult

In this series we look at scenes and moments where a film or TV show has revealed a great deal of character information in a short amount of screen time. Screenwriter Diabo Cody and director Jason Reitman first collaborated on the smash hit JUNO. In 2011 they re-teamed for the indie dramedy YOUNG ADULT. Undoubtedly darker in …

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taken liam neeson 750 x 400

In Screenwriting terms, what is ‘tracking’?

In screenwriting terms, ‘tracking’ refers to being able to follow or ‘track’ the logic of a premise smoothly. The moment the audience starts to think that the story does not make sense – that the logic of the premise being presented to them doesn’t “track” – their oh-so-fragile suspension of disbelief risks shattering. The world …

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Secondary Characters in THE BIG LEBOWSKI

10 Classic Secondary Characters in THE BIG LEBOWSKI

The Coen Brothers‘ ability to create amazing, ultra-memorable secondary characters with only a few lines of writing  is something that all screenwriters can learn from. Consider the giant sea of utterly forgettable characters you’ve seen on-screen in your lifetime. Characters that had pages and pages and pages devoted to them, yet left you feeling like …

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John Ford - Storytelling Quotes

15 Classic John Ford Quotes about Storytelling

The legendary director John Ford enjoyed a remarkably long and successful career, working on over 140 films and winning four Academy Awards for Best Director. His most well known films include: STAGECOACH, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE and THE GRAPES OF WRATH. Ford is noted for the precision of his craft as well as …

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goodfellas

10 Moments Where Problem Upon Problem Hits the Protagonist

Conflict is essential in every great story. The amount and complexity of the situation can obviously vary greatly depending on the scope, settings and characters involved. In some cases, loading problem upon problem on your character(s) is important in that it shows what they are made of or it shows how they would react under …

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Jay Cavendish in Slow West

GENIUS CHARACTER REVEALS: Jay Cavendish

Genius Character Reveals: Jay Cavendish In this series we look at scenes and moments where a film or TV show has revealed a great deal of character information in a compressed period of screen time. It seems improbable: a Western from a Scottish writer-director, produced and shot in the UK and New Zealand. That is, until …

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Slings and Arrows, Geoffrey Tennant, Genius Character Reveals, Character Intro, Hamlet

GENIUS CHARACTER REVEALS: Geoffrey Tennant

Genius Character Reveals Welcome to the first of our new series: GENIUS CHARACTER REVEALS. In this series we’ll look at scenes and moments where the film or TV screenwriter/director has revealed a great deal of character information in a compressed amount of screen time. As a courtly bow in the direction of the 400th anniversary …

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Empire Magazine Articles For Screenwriters

10 Great Empire Magazine Articles For Screenwriters

Empire Magazine has been a staple in the film industry for many years. The magazine, and now the website, is seen as one of the world’s leading authorities on film-related content and news. Here at Industrial Scripts we’ve trawled through the impressive back-catalogue of Empire Magazine Articles to bring you ten that will help you develop …

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V for Vendetta

Unheralded Scene: V FOR VENDETTA (2006)

In our “Unheralded Scene” series, our consultants nominate a classic film or TV scene, which in their view hasn’t received the admiration it deserves. It might be a scene from a classic movie, which has been crowded out by other, more “showy” scenes and set-pieces. It might be a deleted scene which is outstanding in …

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writing characters

Writing Characters That FASCINATE – The Ultimate PDF Guide

Writing Characters that – crucially – fascinate… Writing great, multi-dimensional characters is one of the hardest – and most important – facets to successful screenwriting. The Holy Grail of characterization – beyond writing empathetic characters, or entertaining characters, or even original characters – is writing fascinating characters. When one examines lists of the greatest TV …

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The Insider Interviews: Bradley Quirk

The Insider Interviews: Bradley Quirk

THE INSIDER INTERVIEWS: BRADLEY QUIRK The Insider Interviews series started in 2010 as a set of recorded interviews, featuring the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Gareth Unwin, who produced THE KING’S SPEECH, Ben Wheatley and Hossein Amini, the Oscar-nominated writer of DRIVE and THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY. You can watch these here. The Insider Interviews now exist as live monthly events in central London, which …

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Putting Treatments on the Couch

How to Write a Film or TV Treatment

Putting A Film or TV Treatment on the Couch Treatments are misunderstood and undervalued. It’s time to investigate why they’re an invaluable tool in the screenwriter’s toolbox. Imagination can be the writer’s worst enemy. Imagining your story in too many genres rather than choosing one (or maybe two) and consequently creating a genre-slurry. Imagining too …

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Unheralded Scene: THE WOMAN IN BLACK

Unheralded Scene: THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012)

Focus On: THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012) As a direct contrast to last month’s Unheralded Scene from FALLEN, this month we look at a scene that’s completely without on-screen dialogue. The opening scene of Jane Goldman’s 2012 adaptation of THE WOMAN IN BLACK is an object lesson in creating both an opening scene and a horror …

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This script reader passed on The Inbetweeners!

Check out this Script Reader who passed on THE INBETWEENERS!

THE INBETWEENERS Before we get into the cases “for” and “against” both the script reader and their report, let’s just remind ourselves what the script reader was reporting on! If you’ve never heard of British TV comedy THE INBETWEENERS, you’re probably either not based in the UK or have been asleep for the past eight …

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Room Protagonist

OPINION: Choosing Your Protagonist

The critical acclaim, awards nominations and profoundly-felt audience reaction to ROOM highlight one of the most powerful tools in the screenwriter’s armoury – your choice of protagonist. Whether you’re writing a feature script or TV pitch or pilot, if you’ve already decided on a protagonist it’s still worth asking yourself: is there a more interesting …

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