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Tomb Raider point of no return
Articles

OPINION: Why Screenwriters Should Use A Point of No Return

What is a Point of No Return? The “point of no return” is essentially when the plot leaves the character with no choice but to go forwards. Perhaps the easiest way to imagine a point of no return is as an island from which a character can’t escape. The setting

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Obsessing over one script reader
Articles

Stop Obsessing About One Script Reader’s Notes

Obsessing About One Script Reader Here at Industrial Scripts, we get it all the time. You can almost hear the echoing footsteps of the query, before it arrives: “Can I have the same script reader as before?” It’s actually serendipitous this should be asked so frequently of late, because we’ve

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Se7en Seven and atmosphere in screenplays
Articles

Why Screenwriters Should Understand Screenplay Atmosphere

Understanding Screenplay Atmosphere Screenplay atmosphere is difficult. At the bottom of the poster for THEY CAME TOGETHER, a spoof of rom-coms, there’s a disclaimer: Please note: New York City plays such a central role in this story, it is almost like another character in the movie. Although intended as a compliment,

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escalating stakes in Ready Player One
Articles

OPINION: Why Your Second Act Must Have Escalating Stakes

The second act is all about escalating stakes. Absolute urgency. There’s a gap in the classic three act structure as extolled by many screenwriting books and teachers. The problem is the second act, which is usually the bulk of the story. Depending on your terminology of choice, you’ll likely find

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closure in La La Land
Articles

OPINION: Finding The Perfect Closure

Finding the perfect ending is difficult, even for professional writers and big-budget films. The resolution after the climax provides closure for the audience and characters. Sometimes termed the “denouement,” this scene is just as important as the climax itself. It’s the part of the story that resolves any remaining subplots. The script

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Shakespeare lessons for screenwriters
Articles

OPINION: Lessons from Shakespeare For Screenwriters

An odd trend in cinema surfaced in the 1990s and continued into the 2000s. A spate of teen films relocated the plots of William Shakespeare plays to high schools. O updated Othello to make the main character a basketball player rather than a military general. 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU found

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Genre hybrid
Articles

OPINION: The Key to a Great Genre Hybrid

A genre hybrid, a cross between two or more genres, can be a boon. It’s giving the audience something familiar, tapping into genre conventions, but also fresh. However, it can also confuse audiences (and marketers!). Genres tend to have their own audiences and trying to appeal across them can alienate

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Adaptation - films about writers
Articles

OPINION: Lessons For Screenwriters From Films About Writers

Films about writers, more than films about any other profession, can lay claim to accuracy. After all, who better to understand how writers think and feel than writers themselves? The writer’s job is to play God. In the modern era, stories about creators playing God stretch back to Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein.

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great dialogue subtext
Articles

OPINION: Great Dialogue is All in the Subtext

Writing great dialogue is difficult, but one way to get a step closer is through the use of subtext. Subtext, literally what is below the text, is the deeper implication behind the surface meaning. Dialogue is not the same as real speech. Dialogue is inevitably heightened, even if it’s simply a

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everyday heroes Sully
Articles

Why Screenwriters Should Tell Stories about Everyday Heroes

With the dominance of superhero and tentpole films, sometimes it seems like there’s no place in cinema for everyday heroes. Most audiences don’t want their reality simply reflected back to them. However, there are still degrees between these extremes. It’s still possible to engage an audience by showing everyday heroes on screen. As

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screenwriting contest screenwriting contests
Articles

Why You Shouldn’t “Spray & Pray” In Screenplay Contests

One common feature of professional writers’ stories is that there is no single magic route into the industry. Everyone’s path is different. Entering screenplay contests, or entering a whole host of contests all at once, might seem like an attractive shortcut. Just the act of entering a screenplay contests feels like

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Planet of the Apes films send messages
Articles

OPINION: Screenplays That Send Messages

There’s a famous piece of screenwriting advice that “if you want to send messages, use Western Union.” Now it might go, “if you want to send messages, Tweet about it.” The implication is that such idealised notions about art improving the world don’t belong in show business (emphasis on the

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silent pass featured
Articles

The Ugly Rise of the “Silent Pass” in Script Development

It’s the experience almost any new writer faces at some point; the elation of getting that “yes, we’ll read it” email (the door’s ajar!), sending a fresh, hopeful script to an agent, producer or network, waiting days, then weeks, then months. And getting nothing. You try to contact them, eventually

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Adam Driver, Paterson, low stakes
Articles

OPINION: The Perks & Pitfalls of Low Stakes Screenplays

Is it possible to have a film that tells a story without conflict? Conventional wisdom would say no. However, this doesn’t mean that every film needs a world-ending threat. Not every film needs to have escalating stakes. It is possible, but difficult, to tell a great story with low stakes. The physical

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character sacrifice in Wrath of Khan
Articles

OPINION: Writing a character sacrifice that works

A character sacrifice is a difficult moment to get right. Audiences today are incredibly cine-literate. They’ve seen it all before, and can tell when a film or TV show has used storytelling shortcuts. When It Works Still, like any common trope handled well, a character choosing to die can still be very effective

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Money - Script Coverage Fees
Articles

The Bigger Picture of Script Coverage Fees

Writers at the start of their career have a lot to contend with. For one, they get called ’emerging’, something better done from swamps or during childbirth than at the start of a creative endeavour. For another, they’re faced with the issue of criticism, specifically where to turn for a

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theme-rich screenplay paterson
Articles

Is the Subtle, Theme-rich Screenplay Dead?

Is the Subtle, Theme-rich Screenplay Dead? Theme-rich Screenplay Treated Unfairly? The plot-light, theme-rich screenplay is often – at the script development stage at least – unfairly maligned with the phrase ‘nothing happens’. But there are many that more than make up for that ‘nothing’ with atmosphere, character and theme, from

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Screenwriter - Unsettle Audience
Articles

OPINION: When Screenwriters Should Unsettle Audiences

There’s an old Hollywood saying to writers that if you want to send a message, use Western Union. The idea is that audiences want films to entertain them, not to make them think. Studio heads and producers didn’t want to unsettle the audience. This is depicted in the Coen brothers’

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3D audience, cinema experience
Articles

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

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Riverdale - teenage characters
Articles

OPINION: Crafting Convincing Teenage Characters

A major problem with crafting convincing children and teenage characters is that as we grow up it’s too easy to forget what it’s like to be young. Whether a project is aimed at children, teens, adults, or a range of ages, badly written young people stand out. The result is that

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Manchester by the Sea, flashbacks
Articles

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

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Stranger Things nostalgia
Articles

Nostalgia: Finding the Future of Film & TV, in the Past…

Audience Nostalgia From looking down 2016’s box office results, it’s clear that a certain trend shows no sign of stopping. Sequels, remakes and reboots abound, tapping into audience nostalgia to massive success. Family animation is one of the few areas where original stories can become big hits, and even they are soon

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second act subplot listen up philip
Articles

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

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Anachronisms in the Alex Cox film Walker
Articles

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

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Mr Robot
Articles

OPINION: Hacking Films Don’t Have to be Boring

Computers are not the most interesting subjects. Anyone who’s had to watch someone else type very slowly into a search bar can attest to this. In a visual medium like film or TV, this frustration multiplies. When a character is shown typing, stories and scenes tend to grind to a halt.

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Ned, supporting character, Groundhog Day
Articles

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

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Fargo - a true story?
Articles

OPINION: This Is (Not) A True Story

This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred. The Coen brothers began their film FARGO

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Art of Misdirection
Craft

OPINION: The Art of Misdirection

** SPOILER ALERT: this article reveals key plot points from THE WITCH and THE PRESTIGE ** Holed up alone and away from the world, it can be too easy for screenwriters to forget that films are made for audiences. It’s important to consider what the audience is thinking at each point in

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scope, stakes, scale, 10 Cloverfield Lane
Articles

OPINION: Scope, Scale and Stakes

** SPOILER ALERT: this article reveals key plot points from 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE ** Scoped Out 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is an object lesson in the canny use of scale and stakes. It’s also a brilliant example of the use of scope, one of the most effective – but often neglected

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Tone
Articles

OPINION: The Riddle of Tone

Understanding The Riddle of Tone The release of BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE is an appropriate moment to talk about tone, one of the least understood tools in the screenwriter’s toolbox. In the broadest sense, tone can be classified as comic, dramatic or tragic, but even within these “master”

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Putting Treatments on the Couch
Articles

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

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Room Protagonist
Articles

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:

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Linear Storytelling
Articles

OPINION: The Power Of Linear Storytelling

Linear Storytelling Power How important is the straight-and-narrow in screenwriting? Can so-called conformity actually get you noticed? As screenwriters, we are left to own imaginations to find ides that strike a balance between what may be fun to us and what could resonate with a wider audience. This hunt for the

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flash of genius
Articles

Screenwriters and The Flash of Genius

Screenwriters and The Flash of Genius The other day I awoke having had the most glorious film idea I felt I had ever had. IN MY SLEEP. I dreamt it. Like a joke in a Wes Anderson film, ‘it came to me in a dream’. The entire day, and ergo

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Spectre poster
Articles

OPINION: SPECTRE & The Problem With Patchwork Narratives

Despite SPECTRE’s impressive show at the box office that has recently confirmed its place as the second highest-grossing James Bond movie of all time (after SKYFALL), Sam Mendes’ second outing with the spy franchise has hit middling reviews and tepid reactions from audiences. From screenplay analysts who’ve uncovered how SPECTRE

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Typewriter - Writing Spec Scripts
Articles

Something For Nothing – Writing Spec Scripts

Something For Nothing – Writing Spec Scripts There’s a terrific viral that periodically does the rounds where a restaurateur advertises on Craigslist for a solo musician to play in his restaurant for five nights a week, with a specific set list, in exchange for free publicity and exposure. It’s a

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Voice-Over Header
Articles

OPINION: When Is It The Right Time For Voice-Over?

Using Voice-Over At the beginning of a screenwriter’s career, it is likely they will be hit by a deluge of information pertaining to offer the rules of how to write a script.  Not just that – a script that sells. It is this caveat and the hope for a not-too-distant windfall that forces

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Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
Articles

In Script Development Nobody Knows Anything

Nobody Knows Anything When I worked in screenplay development, I spent an awful lot of time befuddled because William Goldman had really nailed it when he said: “nobody knows anything”. Nobody does know anything and that’s what makes the world go round and round in blissful experimental ignorance and means we

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Straight Outta Compton
Articles

OPINION: Beginning With A Bang

Importance of Beginning With A Bang One of the most over-stated maxims when it comes to screenplays and screenwriting lies in the importance of the first ten pages. Not only is this a point that is pressed constantly home by writers, producers, consultants and anyone else who has an interest

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screenwriting
Articles

The Agony of Screenwriting Success

Screenwriting Success Hurts Some years ago I wrote a film that eventually I called ALBATROSS and subsequently it has been my own private albatross. I was incredibly fortunate. A series of stars lined up for me and within a year of my film even being written it was being shot with

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writing advice you should ignore
Articles

5 Bits of Famous Writing Advice You Should Ignore

You’re no stranger to getting advice if you’re a writer. Thousands of books, hundreds of films, and even entire college majors have been dedicated to the art of honing the English language. As a result, there are bound to be some bits of writing advice that come into debate. While

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Music Sheet - Screenwriters & Musicals
Articles

12 Things Screenwriters Can Learn from Musicals

12 Things Screenwriters Can Learn from Musicals   I recently ventured from my comfortable world of screenwriting into completely new territory. No, I’m not acting– I’m working on a stage musical. The process has involved late nights, rewrites, and brainstorming until I think I’ll explode. Yet despite the artistic suffering, writing a musical has taught

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fired as a screenwriter
Articles

My Pain At Being “Replaced” as a Screenwriter

Being “Replaced” A couple of years ago, I became that person: a replaced screenwriter. It was a screenplay I dearly loved and had put my heart and soul into and, on top of the rejection of being booted off whilst I was circus performing on that roll, the whole thing

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writer
Articles

10 Signs That You, My Friend, Are A Writer…

Do These Signs Match Your Habits? Someone tells a tragic family story that has taken them years to open up about and you unwittingly shout “DIBS ON THAT” the second you hear a breath being taken in case any other sympathetic ear in the room was thinking the same thing.

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women screenwriters - Diablo Cody wins her Oscar for Juno
Articles

Why Women Screenwriters should Stop Moaning and Just WIN

All Screenwriters LOVE Moaning Because there’s been quite a lot in the press lately about the plight (or otherwise) of women screenwriters, I’ve been thinking a bit lately about whether I think I’m hard done by because of my sex (sex as in female, not sex as in, I’ve been trying

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screenwriting truth
Articles

My Search for a Screenwriting Truth

In Screenwriting, the truth matters… Today we’re going to talk about The Truth. Not this sort of truth. Or this. Or even this. We’re going to talk about the kind of screenwriting truth that connected six out of the nine Best Picture nominees in the 2014 Oscars. The kind that

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kajaki movie
Articles

What I’ve Learnt about Screenwriting: Part I, The Idea

What I’ve Learnt about Screenwriting: Part 1, The Idea So I’ve been doing this for a while now, and for some reason I feel a powerful, hubristic, intimations-of-mortality urge to communicate nuggets of web-friendly wisdom to all you aspiring screenwriters out there, who will no doubt be stealing jobs from me this

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dead man's shoes - write what you know
Articles

To Screenwrite Right, Write What You Know

Write What You Know or Just Say No! (and other rhymes) I’m going to give you procrastinating scribblers a little bit of advice today. Yes me, who gets up at the crack of 10.30 in the AM and eats really really really old Chinese food from the back of the fridge

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procrastinating writer
Articles

Screenwriting & The Fine Art of Procrasturbating

  I’ve always been a big fan of those books that are a collection of interviews with Hollywood screenwriters where they tell you, with grating self-deprecation and lashings and lashings of false-modesty, how they got their big break to their billion dollar Oscar winning career, their learned thoughts on the

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screenwriting envy
Articles

Seething With Screenwriting Envy!

Screenwriting Envy “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure”. Guess who said that? You never will. It was Bill Cosby! I have spent the past hour trying to find another quote to go alongside that one, possibly by someone like Ray

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