Craft

the theory and practise of screenwriting

 Gary Goldstein

He Writes like a Girl

He Writes like a Girl

Gary Goldstein looks beyond the adage of writing what you know, and offers advice on writing for characters of the opposite sex.

Gary Goldstein looks beyond the adage of writing what you know, and offers advice on writing for characters of the opposite sex.

 Art Holcomb

The Umami of Story

The Umami of Story

Art Holcomb explores how to elevate your writing from the simply competent to the extraordinary with seven questions to ask of your script, and reveals why a script must be a work of art.

Art Holcomb explores how to elevate your writing from the simply competent to the extraordinary with seven questions to ask of your script, and reveals why a script must be a work of art.

 Ernest Garrett

Kaufman’s Folly: Considering the Viewer’s Perspective

Kaufman’s Folly: Considering the Viewer’s Perspective

Ernest Garrett explores the issue of Kaufman’s Folly: what is it, and what screenwriters can do to avoid it.

Ernest Garrett explores the issue of Kaufman’s Folly: what is it, and what screenwriters can do to avoid it.

 Scott McConnell

Developing Drama and Conflict: 10 Tips for New Screenwriters

Developing Drama and Conflict: 10 Tips for New Screenwriters

Scott McConnell offers “back to basics” advice for screenwriters new and old.

Scott McConnell offers “back to basics” advice for screenwriters new and old.

 Brianne Hogan

“Don’t draw the line at good enough.” Diane Drake on Screenwriting

“Don’t draw the line at good enough.” Diane Drake on Screenwriting

Diane Drake on giving yourself permission to be bad, the essentials of a first act, and what to do with your script when it is written.

Diane Drake on giving yourself permission to be bad, the essentials of a first act, and what to do with your script when it is written.

 Brian Herskowitz

Paths, Ripples & Choices: How character and story logic can make or break your script

Paths, Ripples & Choices: How character and story logic can make or break your script

Using examples from The Night Of, Unfaithful and Breaking Bad, Brian explores character and story logic, and reveals the importance of believability.

Using examples from The Night Of, Unfaithful and Breaking Bad, Brian explores character and story logic, and reveals the importance of believability.

 Ernest Garrett

Logarithmic Time in Screenwriting

Logarithmic Time in Screenwriting

Logarithmic Time, and how you can employ it to improve your script!

In the first of a brand new series of video articles brought to you in conjunction with StoryBrain, we explore the concept of Logarithmic Time!

 Lucy V. Hay

How to Handle Notes

How to Handle Notes

Lucy V. Hay explores what to do when you receive conflicting feedback on your script.

Lucy V. Hay explores what to do when you receive conflicting feedback on your script.

 John Davis

What Writers Can Learn From Musicians

What Writers Can Learn From Musicians

John Davis on practice, working on your flaws, and the importance of throwing it all away.

John Davis on practice, working on your flaws, and the importance of throwing it all away.

 Michael Hauge

Arenas and Finish Lines in Screenwriting

Arenas and Finish Lines in Screenwriting

Michael Hauge explores the concepts of Arenas and Finish Lines, as shown in Avatar and The Hurt Locker.

Michael Hauge explores the concepts of Arenas and Finish Lines, as shown in Avatar and The Hurt Locker.

 Michael Welles Schock

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: A Cinematic Prototype

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: A Cinematic Prototype

Michael Welles Schock reveals what A Christmas Carol can teach us about plot structure, and how it illustrates the relationship between narrative conflict and the character arc.

Michael Welles Schock reveals what A Christmas Carol can teach us about plot structure, and how it illustrates the relationship between narrative conflict and the character arc.

 Scott McConnell

Writing a Dramatic Script: Five Key Techniques

Writing a Dramatic Script: Five Key Techniques

Scott McConnell on plot and story, creating a layered central conflict, and the use of disguise, deception and complications.

Scott McConnell on plot and story, creating a layered central conflict, and the use of disguise, deception and ingenious complications.

 James Napoli

Fact vs. Truth in Screenwriting

Fact vs. Truth in Screenwriting

Taking Quiz Show as a case study, James Napoli explores the art of turning true stories into powerful drama.

Taking Quiz Show as a case study, James Napoli explores the art of turning true stories into powerful drama.

 Michael Hauge

12 Powerful Principles of Story Structure

12 Powerful Principles of Story Structure

Michael Hauge discusses superior position, foreshadowing, ticking clocks and other screenwriting techniques, as revealed in James Cameron’s Avatar.

Michael Hauge discusses superior position, foreshadowing, ticking clocks and other screenwriting techniques, as revealed in James Cameron’s Avatar.

 Lee Nordling

Create Your Pitch Part II: Sell, Don’t Tell

Create Your Pitch Part II: Sell, Don’t Tell

Lee Nordling on why all writing is selling, the danger of detail, evoking an emotional response, and conceiving your story in broad strokes.

Lee Nordling on why all writing is selling, the danger of detail, evoking an emotional response, and conceiving your story in broad strokes.

 Lee Nordling

Create Your Pitch Part I: Baiting the Hook

Create Your Pitch Part I: Baiting the Hook

Lee Nordling on giving away the good part, the problem with high concept pitches, and the importance of hitting the producer between the eyes.

Lee Nordling on giving away the good part, the problem with high concept pitches, and the importance of hitting the producer between the eyes.

 Brianne Hogan

Questioning Your Screenplay

Questioning Your Screenplay

Aaron Mendelsohn on richly-detailed secondary characters, common mistakes new screenwriters make, and the most important question to ask about your story.

Aaron Mendelsohn on richly-detailed secondary characters, common mistakes new screenwriters make, and the most important question to ask about your story.

 Michael Welles Schock

Plot Patterns in Screenwriting

Plot Patterns in Screenwriting

Michael Welles Schock explores plot patterns in films, and explains why the 3 act structure is so successful.

Star Wars, The Godfather and Groundhog Day: They’re all the same film! Michael Welles Schock explains why.

 Kieron Moore

Overpowered Antagonists: Writing for Supervillains

Overpowered Antagonists: Writing for Supervillains

Kieron Moore explores the problems of writing for supervillains, and offers advice for crafting a worthy antagonist.

Kieron Moore explores the problems of writing for supervillains, discusses what traits they should and should not possess, and offers advice for crafting a worthy antagonist.

 Michael Hauge

What Are Friends For? The Reflection Character

What Are Friends For? The Reflection Character

Michael Hauge explores the Reflection Character, as revealed in The King’s Speech.

Michael Hauge explores the Reflection Character, as revealed in The King’s Speech.

 Michael Hauge

Revealing Your Hero’s Wound

Revealing Your Hero’s Wound

Michael Hauge explores the concept of the hero’s wound and transformation, as revealed in Good Will Hunting.

Michael Hauge explores the concept of the hero’s wound and transformation, as revealed in Good Will Hunting.

 Alex Bloom

5 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Screenplay’s Theme

5 Simple Steps to Nailing Your Screenplay’s Theme

Alex Bloom explores the concept of theme, and offers advice on how to approach and apply theme in your screenplay.

Alex Bloom explores the concept of theme, and offers advice on how to approach and apply theme in your screenplay.

 Brianne Hogan

Michael Hauge on The Hero’s Two Journeys

Michael Hauge on The Hero’s Two Journeys

Michael Hauge discusses the hero’s internal and external journeys, the crucial elements of character, and the three things a protagonist must possess.

In their new video series The Hero’s Two Journeys, screenwriting teachers Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler explore the external and internal journeys that a character goes through. Creative Screenwriting was fortunate enough to speak with Michael about the concept behind the series, the crucial elements of character, desire and conflict, and the three things a […]

 Brianne Hogan

Dating Your Character

Dating Your Character

How “dating” your character informs your screenplay, how to tell when your character is “the one,” and when you should actually dump your character.

How “dating” your character informs your screenplay, how to tell when your character is “the one,” and when you should actually dump your character.

 Christopher McKittrick

Robert McKee on Dialogue

Robert McKee on Dialogue

Robert McKee on his first new book in almost 20 years, the importance of learning to act, and why there’s no such thing as writing a screenplay without form.

Robert McKee on his first new book in almost 20 years, the importance of learning to act, and why there’s no such thing as writing a screenplay without form.

 Ramona Zacharias

“No Stories Are Plot Driven!”

“No Stories Are Plot Driven!”

Lisa Cron on the dangers of pretty language, foolish outlines and why no stories are plot driven.

Lisa Cron on the dangers of pretty language, foolish outlines and why no stories are plot driven.

 Ramona Zacharias

The Neuroscience of Storytelling

The Neuroscience of Storytelling

Lisa Cron on the neuroscience of storytelling, Breaking Bad's brilliant finale, and why pantsing is idiotic.

Lisa Cron on the neuroscience of storytelling, Breaking Bad’s brilliant finale, and why pantsing is idiotic.

 Alex Bloom

How Reading Screenplays Will Improve Your Writing

How Reading Screenplays Will Improve Your Writing

If you're not reading screenplays, you're missing out as a screenwriter! Alex Bloom explains why, and gives advice on how to read scripts.

If you’re not reading screenplays, you’re missing out as a screenwriter! Alex Bloom explains why, and gives advice on how to read scripts.

 Kieron Moore

Plotting Film Noir

Plotting Film Noir

With examples from The Nice Guys, The Big Sleep and The Big Lebowski, Keiron Moore explores how to write Film Noir.

With examples from The Nice Guys, The Big Sleep and The Big Lebowski, Keiron Moore explores how to write Film Noir.

 Brock Swinson

Aaron Sorkin on Screenwriting

Aaron Sorkin on Screenwriting

Aaron Sorkin discusses intentions and obstacles, his new screenwriting masterclass, and how to write great dialogue.

Aaron Sorkin has one of the most distinctive voices in the business. From A Few Good Men to The Social Network and The West Wing, he is best known for his intelligent and witty dialogue. His latest venture is an online screenwriting Masterclass, where he shares the secrets of his trade. Creative Screenwriting spoke with […]

 Brianne Hogan

How to Write Great Loglines

How to Write Great Loglines

Lane Shefter Bishop on selling your story in a single sentence, common logline blunders, and the importance of stakes.

Lane Shefter Bishop isn’t kidding when she laughs, “I have such an eclectic background.” Not only is she a multi-award winning producer and director (including an Emmy and six Telly Awards), but she’s also the CEO of Vast Entertainment, a production and development company that focuses exclusively on fostering book-to-screen adaptations. In 2008 when she founded […]

 Jennie E. Park

Writing for Television

Writing for Television

Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad: Daniel P. Calvisi discusses television pilots, defining character arcs, and mistakes new writers make.

Daniel P. Calvisi is a writing coach and former Story Analyst for Twentieth Century Fox and Miramax Films. His latest book, Story Maps: TV Drama: The Structure of the One-Hour Television Pilot, follows his earlier Story Maps: How to Write a GREAT Screenplay, Story Maps: 12 Great Screenplays, and Story Maps: The Films of Christopher […]

 James Napoli

Plants and Payoffs in Screenwriting

Plants and Payoffs in Screenwriting

Using Sergio G. Sánchez's classic horror The Orphanage as a case study, James Napoli explores the concept of Plants and Payoffs.

“Bad for glass,” mutters private eye Jake Gittes in Robert Towne’s Chinatown. When the statement is first heard in the story, it is merely Jake’s culturally insensitive remark about the inability of Evelyn Mulwray’s gardener to pronounce the letter “r.” It has no meaning to Gittes, who is–by virtue of his being an investigator uncovering […]

 Brock Swinson

The Nutshell Technique

The Nutshell Technique

Jill Chamberlain on the difference between situation and story, the Nutshell Technique, and why writers should choose the banana!

As a practiced script consultant, Jill Chamberlain has read more scripts than most individuals have seen movies. In her research, she has discovered that 99 percent of first-time writers are missing the fundamental step in writing: to tell a story. While any basic class or beat book can encourage writers to format a script, jot […]

 Sean A. Mulvilhill

Surprise: The Key to a Great Script

Surprise: The Key to a Great Script

Most screenplays flop because they are too predictable. Sean A. Mulvihill explains how to spice up your story with surprises at every turn.

I love the film Die Hard. A New York cop’s visit to reconcile with his wife in L.A. is interrupted by a terrorist attack in her company’s building. John McClane, the cop, becomes a one-man wrecking crew in order to save his wife and stop the terrorists. When the film came out in theatres in […]

 Jeffrey Kitchen

Reverse Cause and Effect

Reverse Cause and Effect

Discover what's necessary for your story! Jeff Kitchen explains how to use Reverse Cause and Effect to construct your plot.

Reverse Cause and Effect is a unique development tool that enables you to wade into a complex mix of story material and pull it together into a tight sequence of events. Cause and effect is a crucial part of good screenwriting because Plot Point A should cause Plot Point B which causes Plot Point C, […]

 Joe Gilford

The Building Blocks of Story

The Building Blocks of Story

Joe Gilford explains how to organize your ideas into an effective screenplay structure.

Imagine that there was one foolproof way to come up with a story for your screenplay. Well, keep dreaming. It’s all well and good to think up incredible ideas. In the end, though, a screenwriter has to turn them into something. Workable story ideas can, though, be developed into a solid, industry-ready script—a combination of […]

 Tim Long

Heart: The Emotional Core of Screenplays

Heart: The Emotional Core of Screenplays

Tim Long discusses the emotional glue that binds us to story.

With over twenty-five years of professional story development and screenwriting experience, and nearly two decades of teaching screenwriting at the MFA level, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate on hundreds of screenplays and films.  During my career, hands down the most common problem I see in screenplays is that they lack an emotional core, or […]

 Kieron Moore

Tarantino’s Rewriting: The Hateful Eight

Tarantino’s Rewriting: The Hateful Eight

What changed in Tarantino's rewrite of The Hateful Eight... and why.

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight had a notoriously difficult route to the screen. In January 2014, barely two months after the writer/director had announced he was working on a second Western after 2012’s Django Unchained, an early draft of the script leaked onto the internet and caused Tarantino to abandon the project. It was only […]

 Alex Bloom

The Importance of Stakes in Screenwriting

The Importance of Stakes in Screenwriting

Alex Bloom discusses the #1 ingredient missing from most scenes in spec scripts.

By Alex Bloom. Having been in the script consultancy business for some time, if I had to name the single most significant factor as to why a spec screenplay does or doesn’t get picked up, there’s one in my opinion that towers head and shoulders above the rest… a lack of stakes in each and […]

 James Napoli

Surprise or Suspense?

Surprise or Suspense?

James Napoli explores the difference between the use of surprise and suspense in screenwriting.

By James Napoli. I had an interesting experience while binge-watching the first two seasons of the beautifully acted and tonally flawless British television series Broadchurch. In an attempt to keep this article spoiler-free, I will simply say that the program, which concerns itself with the murder of a child in a small town, is exceedingly […]

 Art Holcomb

The Destructive Power of Good Enough

The Destructive Power of Good Enough

Art Holcomb on why first-time screenwriters have to be better than established writers, the Hollywood No, and the importance of the re-write.

By Art Holcomb. “Screenwriting is the most prized of all the cinematic arts. Actually, it isn’t, but it should be.” Hugh Laurie     Nearly 40 years as a writer has taught me some important lessons, one of which is that writers, whether they’re just starting out or well into their career, all need access […]

 Jacob N. Stuart

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” 7 Tips for Great Dialogue

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” 7 Tips for Great Dialogue

Jacob Stuart's advice on writing dialogue for screenplays.

By Jacob N. Stuart. Hollywood has a short attention span. Unlike writers, who may have all day to sit and ponder, plotting out their next script, or revising and revising a screenplay until their fingers are numb, the truth is: the people you need to impress with your script don’t. So in your writing breaks, […]

 Ken Miyamoto

Learning From The Stranger

Learning From The Stranger

ScreenCraft’s Ken Miyamoto examines what a children’s book can teach screenwriters about storytelling.

By Ken Miyamoto. The truth of the matter in screenwriting, and storytelling as a whole, is that writers all too often over-complicate the notion of engaging an audience, especially when writing mysteries, thrillers, and compelling dramas. It’s an understandable task because engaging an audience and keeping them engaged throughout the story is the most vital […]

 Brianne Hogan

How to Save the Cat!

How to Save the Cat!

Beat Sheets, Saving the Cat, and Genres: José Silerio discusses three key concepts from Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!

By Brianne Hogan. “I first learned how to tell effective stories…selling a shampoo or household cleaning product. But isn’t that what storytelling is all about – selling the hero’s story?”  From this prosaic storytelling education, José Silerio became Save the Cat! author Blake Snyder’s Development Director. Now Silerio now actively works with screenwriters who have projects […]

 Steven Barnes

The Ten Commandments of Brainstorming

The Ten Commandments of Brainstorming

Steven Barnes offers advice and exercises for the generation of ideas.

By Steven Barnes.   Life is trying things to see if they work. Ray Bradbury   Creativity is a matter of both self-expression and problem solving. In both arenas, the ability to generate vast quantities of ideas is essential: “the only way to have a good idea is by coming up with a lot of bad […]

 Art Holcomb

The Rule Book

The Rule Book

Art Holcomb uncovers the emotional rule book inside us all, and explores how to use this in developing characters.

By Art Holcomb. So much of good storytelling is about cause and effect, set-ups and payoff, motives and consequences. Consider for a moment: if there are two separate story paths that exist in each script we write, then there is a story engine – a consequence mechanism that drives each and they are quite different […]

 Brianne Hogan

Steve Cuden on Screenwriting

Steve Cuden on Screenwriting

Steve Cuden on creating compelling characters, the essential beats that all successful Hollywood films have, and where new writers often go wrong.

By Brianne Hogan. Steve Cuden’s love for movies is practically embedded in his D.N.A. “I have had film in my blood stream since I was a little boy,” he says. “I have been watching television and movies since I was a child. In fact, it used to be the bane of my father’s existence. I […]

 Mike Fitzgerald

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Learning from Stoppard

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Learning from Stoppard

Mike Fitzgerald examines Tom Stoppard’s draft of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, to discover what it can teach us about screenwriting.

By Mike Fitzgerald. Comparing two drafts of a script can be hugely instructive, revealing point-by-point how a writer went about improving the story. When I stumbled upon an earlier draft of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I discovered a dazzling, glittering trove of lessons as nourishing as eternal life itself. Well, nearly so. Last […]

 Michael Welles Schock

What a Story Believes In: The Thematic Argument

What a Story Believes In: The Thematic Argument

Michael Welles Schock provides an introduction to the basic structure behind a story's communication of theme.

By Michael Welles Schock. Theme is an abstract concept by nature, and thus has always been difficult to define or comprehend. To put things most simply, the theme is what the story “believes in.” It contains the underlying values, principles, or beliefs the story intends to express. A clear and recognizable theme will guide the […]


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Joss Whedon on Screenwriting

MFA in Screenwriting