Learn to Love Your Screenplay Again



Maybe you have a great idea for a movie, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Man, if I only knew how to write a screenplay.” Maybe you’ve started your screenplay already, but you get to a certain point where you JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT! Or maybe you’ve already finished your screenplay, read it over again, hated it, and smashed your hard drive, frustrated. Don’t give up on your dreams just yet—not until you’ve read this book.

Over the course of his successful career as a writer and producer, Josh Miller has learned plenty about the craft and art of screenwriting. There are no fancy tricks or shortcuts to making a great screenplay, just time-honored techniques, fundamental story elements, and one secret ingredient: you. Josh will show you how to create a compelling story and deploy advanced screenwriting techniques, but most importantly, he’ll teach you how to harness your unique voice, experience, and perspective to emotionally connect with audiences and give your screenplay real substance. Get this book—and get yourself unstuck.Understand visual storytelling elements to tighten up your script and eliminate unnecessary dialogue.See effective screenwriting elements in action with instructive examples from more than 200 classic and contemporary films.Learn the secrets to creating unforgettable characters that drive the narrative forward and add depth to your story.Create effective setups and payoffs to give your story internal logic, yet maintain the element of surprise.Master elements of screenwriting craft, such as flashbacks and flash-forwards, time locks, subplots, twists, and more.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Stuck! 1
Author’s Note 5
Preface 6
Introduction 10
How to Use This Book 13
1 The Kernel of the Idea 15
2 The Visual Medium 63
3 Three Act Dramatic Structure 70
4 Protagonist 79
5 Dominant Character Trait 86
6 Dramatic Objective and Personal Goal 89
7 Antagonist 94
8 Obstacles and Conflict 100
9 Tangible Stakes 104
10 Comedy or Tragedy 109
11 Premise 113
12 Genre 121
13 Conventions vs Cliches 135
14 Tone and Ground Rules 146
15 Activity vs Action 150
16 Scene Structure 152
17 Openings 159
18 Setups and Payoffs 166
19 Exposition 173
20 Dialogue and Subtext 179
21 Minor Characters and Crowds 188
22 Flashbacks and Flash Forwards 196
23 Montage and Series of Shots 199
24 Time Transitions 204
25 Counteraction 207
26 Time Locks 211
27 Props and Telephones 214
28 Subplots 220
29 Twists 225
30 Crisis Black Moment 229
31 Confrontation Obligatory Scene 233
32 Climax 237
33 Resolution Denouement 240
34 Emotion 243
35 Practical Advice 246
Appendix I List of Films Discussed 258
Appendix II Standard Screenplay Format 271
Appendix III Glossary 272
Acknowledgments 279
About the Author 280