The RMM Writers Workshop meets every other Wednesday.
Join us to improve your craft through short exercises, in addition to a critical discussion of your original scripts. Share your short scripts or 10 page samples from features. Bring enough copies for a table read!
Professional writing software like Final Draft is not necessary when you’re just starting out. There are free alternatives, like Celtx. (There’s a pro service that costs money, but that’s optional.) Unfortunately, Celtx recently went to to a “browser only” interface, which we’ve heard mixed reviews about.
With any cloud software, it’s important to back up your work to your home PC. Don’t rely on Celtx or Amazon to save your files forever!
Here’s a list of some paid software.
- Highland – $29.99 – Mac only
- Movie Magic Screenwriter – as low as $129 on various sites
- Final Draft – as low as $169 on various sites
A Basic Library for the Screenwriter
By Wayne Coughlin
Screenwriting is a craft with its own language, paradigms, processes and skills. Just learning screenplay formatting and calling yourself a screenwriter is like reading a book on surgery and calling yourself a surgeon.
The books listed below are the bare minimum for serious screenwriters. There are others which may expand and reinforce much of what is in these books. Take these lessons to heart. Know them like you know your name.
I know, you’re different. You are an artist. You don’t want to be constrained by rules. You want to forge your own trail. Flaunt convention. Well, all the truly great artists who forged their own path, discovered new ways to do things and made their own rules, all took the time to master the exisitng rules, etc before they broke them. Go on, check. I’ll wait. Look up Picasso.
Back? OK. So here’s the list. There are other books, but in my opinion (and in the case of the “Holy Bibles” many others) these are my “go to” books.
- Poetics by Aristotle – one of the Holy Bibles. An oldie but goodie. The final word on storytelling – which hasn’t changed in thousands of years.
- The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri – the other Holy Bible. His essay on “character” in this book is the perfectcomplement to Aristotle’s storytelling.
- Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Cambell – The hero’s journey … say no more
- Screenplay by Syd Field – the guru of all screenwriters. The first book I bought and it’s still on my shelf.
- Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434 – a very practical book. Beyond the basics. The second half of the book discusses the writing of a script by actually following the process as he writes a script, The Glass Hammer.
- Save the Cat by Blake Snyder – How to write scripts that sell. Loglines, pitches, beat sheets, how to put together a script that resonates with an audience. Why something doesn’t work and how to fix it. A very practical guide to being a professional screenwriter.
Remember – writers write. All writing is practice. You wouldn’t expect to go out and compete at a Major League Baseball level without years of training, practice and hard work. Becoming a screenwriter is just as hard and requires a lot of work as well.
But if you study, write and keep trying – with a little luck … who knows?
8 Simple Rules for Storytelling for the Screen
Here’s a PDF of the presentation given by Wayne Coughlin and Mike Boas at the February 2014 meeting. CLICK HERE.
- Screenplay Format Guide from Storysense
- Trilane Screenplay Format Reference
- 25 Habits of Highly Successful Writers by Karl Iglesias and Andrew McAleer
- 7 Deadly Dialogue Sins by Dave Trottier from Script Magazine
- Save the Cat at a Glance by Blake Snyder
- Beat Sheet by Blake Snyder
- Beat Sheet Synthesis Diagram by Heather Holmes, based on Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet
- Death to Readers by Terry Rossio
- Film Endings by Brad Johnson