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Screenwriting For Dummies

Laura Schellhardt



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19 November 2021
Suspend your disbelief-you can make it as a screenwriter
Behind every blockbuster film and binge-worthy show, there's a screenwriter-and that writer could be you! Turn your brainstorming sessions into dynamic scripts with the help of Screenwriting For Dummies. Create believable worlds with relatable characters, gripping dialogue, and narrative structures that will keep even the showbiz bigwigs on the edge of their seats. Once you've polished your product, it's time to bring it to market. This book is full of advice that will help you get eyes on your screenplays so you can sell your work and find success as a screenwriter. From web series to movie musicals to feature films, this book shows you how to develop and hone your craft.

Learn to think like a screenwriter and turn story ideas into visually driven, relatable scripts that will get noticed Study the elements of a story, like plot structure (beginning, middle, and end) and characterization (wait, who's that, again?) Hop over the hurdle of writer's block, and tackle other obstacles that stand in the way of your scriptwriting career Get insider insight into finding an agent and meeting with studio execs, plus alternative markets for your finished work

This updated edition covers the latest trends and opportunities-and there are lots of them-for today's writers. Let Dummies help you map out your story and put your script on the road to production. Thank us when your work goes viral!
Imprint:   Wiley
Country of Publication:   United States
Edition:   3rd Edition
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 186mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   588g
ISBN:   9781119835752
ISBN 10:   1119835755
Pages:   448
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Introduction 1 About This Book 1 Foolish Assumptions 3 Icons Used in This Book 3 Beyond the Book 4 Where to Go from Here 4 Part 1: So you want to write for Pictures 5 Chapter 1: Introducing the Art of Screenwriting 7 In The Mind's Eye 7 Developing the Writer's Mind 8 Approaching Screenwriting as a Craft 9 Finding Your Screenplay's Story 9 Working through the Writing Process 10 Formatting Your Screenplay 11 Constructing Your First Draft 11 Rewriting Your Script 12 Adapting Your Screenplay from an Outside Source 13 Selling Your Screenplay to Show Business 13 Chapter 2: Preparing to Think Visually 15 Is It Cinema? Considering Other Mediums 15 Is it a screenplay or a novel? 16 Is it film or theater? 17 Is it a movie, visual art, or poetry? 17 It's probably a screenplay if 18 What You See Is What You Get: The Visual Life of a Screenplay 20 Crafting images from the outside in 21 Crafting images from the inside out 22 Chapter 3: Diving Into the Screenwriter's Mind 25 Finding Your Feet: How to Learn From Other Writers 26 Reading for dramatic intent 27 Recognizing a screenplay's genre 28 Art and Life: What's the Difference? 30 Developing an Artistic Sensibility 31 What a writer sees 32 What a writer hears 33 What a writer remembers and what a writer forgets 34 Recognizing a Story When You See One 36 Identifying the call to write 36 The four important P's of story 37 Finding an opening image 37 Chapter 4: Approaching Screenwriting as a Craft 39 Invoking the Muse: Examining the Creative Process 40 Imagination: Your Creative Arsenal 41 Flexing the imagination 42 Putting the imagination to work 43 Identifying your writing voice 47 Craft: A Vehicle for Your Imagination 49 Form 50 Technique 50 Discipline 54 Part 2: Breaking down the elements of a story 57 Chapter 5: Unpacking Your Idea 59 I Have This Great Idea Now What? 59 Identifying your interest in the idea 60 Documenting your interest in the idea 61 Getting to Know Your Audience 63 Matching the story to the audience 63 Connecting with your audience 66 Knowing What Happened Before Your Story Began: Creating the Backstory 68 Identifying the elements of a backstory 68 Developing a screenplay through backstory 70 Identifying the Tone of Your Piece 71 Establishing Your Story's Time Clock 72 Deciding When to Start Your Story 74 Getting to Know Aristotle: A Dramatist's Best Friend 76 What's It All About?: Writing an Effective Synopsis 77 Chapter 6: Plot Part I: Beginnings 81 Crafting an Eye-Opening Opener 82 What to show first: person, place, or thing? 82 Conflict: What's wrong with this picture? 85 Possible ways to begin your story 86 Three Compelling (and Contrasting) Movie Beginnings 87 Jaws 88 Lady Bird 88 Moonlight 89 Chapter 7: Plot Part II: Middles 91 Muddling through the Middle 92 From Lights to Camera to . . . ACTION! 93 Action versus activity 94 Revisiting the story's time clock 95 Status: Where's the Upper Hand? 96 What's Your Problem? Introducing Conflicts and Obstacles 99 Exposition: From Clunky to Creative 101 Sharing info the characters know 101 Sharing info the characters may not know 103 Determining What to Write from What You've Written 104 Three Compelling (and Contrasting) Movie Middles 106 Jaws 106 Lady Bird 107 Moonlight 108 Chapter 8: Plot Part III: Endings 111 Are We There Yet? How to Know When You're Done 112 Tracking the change: What's different now? 113 Crafting your story's conclusion 117 Danger Will Robinson: Threats to an Otherwise Healthy Plot 120 Would that really happen? The probable versus the possible 120 Scenes where nothing happens: Two final threats to watch for 123 Ultimate Success: Tracking Three Movies through Their Triumphant Conclusions 125 Jaws 125 Lady Bird 125 Moonlight 126 Chapter 9: Character Building 127 Portrait of a Person: Constructing a Physical World 128 Your character's physical being 128 Your character's physical environment 131 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Constructing an Internal World 135 Dreams, desires, and passions 136 Your character's engine: Needs versus wants 137 Talents and expertise 138 Internal obstacles 139 Your character's argument 140 From the Inside Out: Making the Inner World Visible 142 Balancing character dialogue with character action 142 Crafting concrete character goals 143 Providing character opportunities 143 Establishing routines that change 144 Forcing your characters to choose 144 Using a mentor 145 Using a narrator 146 Crafting secondary characters 146 Chapter 10: Delivering Dynamic Dialogue 147 Diction: What's in a Word? 148 Isn't versus ain't: Diction's determining factors 149 The highs and the lows of language 153 Name That Tune: Crafting Your Character's Music 156 Sound 101: Using poetry as a guide 157 Fascinating rhythm: Crafting your script's pulse 158 Letting the Listener Lead 161 Putting It Together: Characters in Conversation 163 Setting the scene 163 Dialogue do's and don'ts 165 Chapter 11: The Nontraditional Film 173 Breaking with Tradition: Other Ways to Get the Job Done 174 Tinkering with Time 175 Song and Dance: The Movie Musical 177 How much music is too much music? 178 Original musicals 179 Musical adaptations 181 One Click Away: Writing a Web Series 183 Show me the money! 185 Tackling the pre-production work for a web series 186 Getting involved in web series production 189 Successfully steering the web series post-production process 190 Scripting the Short (Film) 192 Finding the Festival for You 193 Chapter 12: Maintaining an Audience's Trust 195 Screenwriting and Ethics 196 Screenwriting and Responsibility 197 What are you willing to put your name on? 197 The immunity factor 198 Is this story for you? Appropriation and authenticity 200 A Gift for Gab: How to Conduct a Meaningful Interview 203 Preparing for an interview 203 Setting up an interview 204 Conducting an interview 205 Part 3: Turning your story into a script 207 Chapter 13: Mapping Out Your Screenplay 209 Conceptualizing Your Concept 210 How to Treat Your Treatment 212 Before you begin 213 Putting it on the page 214 Exploring the Ins and Outs of an Outline 217 One beat at a time 218 Filling in the gaps 220 Crafting the conclusion 221 What to Do When the Outline's Through 222 Chapter 14: Surviving Writer's Block 225 Moving from Panic to Peace 226 The top reasons for writer's block 227 A survival guide 230 Reevaluating Your Routine 231 Seeking Outside Help 233 Chapter 15: Formatting Your Screenplay 235 How the Screenplay Looks on the Page 236 Formatting a title page 236 Setting up the seven components of a page 237 Setting your typeface and margins 238 Spacing your script correctly 239 Making your computer work for you 243 Creating a PDF 244 Making Your Format Flow 246 Cinematic description 246 Character introductions 248 Transitional directions 252 Camera concerns 255 Sample Scenes 260 Chapter 16: Putting It Together: Structuring Your First Draft 261 Traversing the Three-Act Structure 262 Act I: Introductions 263 Your opening moments 263 The first fifteen pages 264 The inciting incident 265 Plot point one 266 Act II: Salting the Wound 266 Know where the action is 268 The about-face 270 The midpoint 270 Plot point two 270 Act III: The Final Frontier 271 The climax 272 The resolution 273 A Note on Subplots 273 Variations on the Routine 276 The five-act structure 276 The eight-sequence structure 277 Chapter 17: Take Two: Rewriting Your Script 279 Downshifting between Drafts 279 How to work when you're not working 280 Your first time back: Read-through #1 282 A second glance: Read-through #2 284 Back in the Saddle Again: Rewrites 291 Recruiting a Reader 293 Capitalizing on Your Critique 294 Chapter 18: Adaptation and Collaboration: Two Alternate Ways to Work 297 Procuring Primary Material 298 Knowing when you need a copyright 298 Comprehending copyrights 298 Procuring permission 299 Assessing how much to adapt 301 Navigating between Forms 302 From fiction to film 302 From stage to screen 305 From meter to movies 307 Mastering the Process of Adaptation 308 How to approach an original work 308 What to do when you're stuck 310 Studying the Art of Collaboration 311 What to look for in a writing Partner 311 How to approach collaboration 312 Learning collaboration from the pros 313 Part 4: Selling your script to show business 317 Chapter 19: Before You Send It: Pre-Marketing Considerations 319 Understanding the Biz in Showbiz 320 Getting to know the players: The Hollywood hierarchy 320 Getting to know the buyers: The studio hierarchy 322 Getting a grip : Hollywood jargon 324 Preparing Yourself for the Biz 327 Putting on a happy face: The art of attitude 327 Organizing your records 328 Reaching out to the right resources 331 Setting personal goals 333 Polishing the Copy You Send 334 Checking last-minute details 334 Finessing your front page 336 Protecting Your Work 336 Registering with the Writers Guild of America 336 Pursuing the poor-man's copyright 337 Chapter 20: Getting Your Screenplay Noticed 339 Designing Your Own Package 340 Highlighting the universal 341 Gaining the competitive edge 342 Considering the reader 343 Preparing to Pitch 344 Perfecting the teaser pitch 345 Selling the story pitch 346 Finding a Manager or Agent 348 Approaching an Agent or Manager 349 Sending a query 351 Pitching Your Script without an Agent 354 What to Do When They Say Yes 356 Meeting with an agent 357 Meeting with executives 358 Looking Ahead: Upon Achieving Success 359 A Final Note 360 Part 5: The Part of Tens 361 Chapter 21: Ten Screenwriters You Should Know 363 Sofia Coppola 364 Nora Ephron 365 William Goldman 366 Charlie Kaufman 367 Spike Lee 368 John Logan 370 Jordan Peele 372 Issa Rae 373 Taika Waititi 374 Phoebe Waller-Bridge 376 Chapter 22: Ten Screenwriting Myths 379 I Have to Live in Los Angeles to Write Screenplays 379 I Have to Go to Grad School to Learn How to Write 380 If I Can Write for Film, I Can Write for TV 381 I Haven't Written Before and It's Too Late to Start 382 Writing Is a Lonely Profession 383 Hollywood Has No Ethics; It'll Ruin the Integrity of My Script 383 It's Not What I Know; It's Who I Know That Matters 384 I Have Too Many Obligations to Be a Writer 385 I'm Only as Successful as the Last Screenplay I Sold 386 I'm Not Talented Enough to Be a Writer 386 Appendix A: Sample scenes and online Resources 387 Index 405

Laura Schellhardt is an Associate Professor of Instruction at Northwestern University, where she heads the undergraduate playwriting program in the Department of Theatre. She's dedicated her life to creating new work for stage and screen, and it's her mission to help other writers do the same.

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