The best idea in your screenplay is going to be your story concept. You probably think I'm stating the obvious, but often a secondary idea captures the imagination of the reader... and that can cause big problems. If the reader is more interested in a subplot then your main story, your screenplay isn't going to be satisfying.

They have made a sequel to THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK which was a quasi sequel to Ken & Jim Wheat's PITCH BLACK - the marque-buster title leads me to believe they wanted to create a franchise around the Riddick character from the first film... but after this film flopped, they retired that notion. Why did this film flop? Let's take a look at the *idea* behind the script. The idea behind PITCH BLACK was a planet with a very very long "night"... and nocturnal predators. A shuttle crash lands on the planet during the day, but when the suns go down it becomes pitch black and the survivors can't see a thing... but the things can see them. Okay - the long night is a great idea, and the entire story revolves around it. How do you find a safe place to hide when it's too dark to see *anything*?

In PITCH BLACK Riddick (Vin Diesel) was a vicious convict being escorted to prison on the shuttle... who has the key to survival during the long night. He was part of a prisoner experiment where he was given night vision eyes. He can see in the dark.

So the cool idea we start out with in CHRONICLES is the night vision eyes... but that's only used once in the movie. Instead, the story is a mish-mash of cool ideas that don't really add up to a plot.

The story begins with a group of evil warriors called the Necromongers who seem to be a cross between the Knights of the Crusades and the Moonies. They have some sort of religion (that we never see practiced - nor do we ever see *any* evidence that it really exists - there's more orgainized religion centered on Neo in the MATRIX movies) and they go from planet to planet with a huge armada and some nukes, forcing people to convert or die. So there's an idea, even though it's not well developed: let's toss our badass convict into this group of religious conformists...

But that's not what happens. This film has ADD. So we cut to Riddick being chased by bounty hunters. That's also an idea - you could do an entire outer space FUGITIVE thing with the bounty hunter chasing Riddick. But the story has other ideas... lots of them. Because he's a badass, he kills all but the lead bounty hunter, and steals his ship. The lead bounty hunter tells him that the guy who put the price on his head is...

Keith David, one of the other survivors who made it all the way through PITCH BLACK, and is now a Holy Man on some danged planet. So Riddick flies the stolen space ship to the planet to confront David... basically delivering himself to the guy who put the price on his head. This doesn't make much sense to me - he does exactly what the bounty hunters wanted him to do.

Riddick and the Holy Man reunite, and he's introduced to Judy Dench... who is an "elemental" - a race that can disappear and seems to float when she's visible. Judy and David want Riddick to help them fight the Necromongers. Though you'd think Holy Man David dealing with forced religious conversion would be a good idea for a movie, it's hardly even mentioned. The "elemental" thing is also an idea that is never really explored - what the hell *is* Judy Dench? Why is she even on this planet? Why is she even in this story?

So now we have Riddick - an anti-social nonconformist - being asked to help a society fight against a conformist religious sect. That's a danged good idea - and it's too bad they don't really spend much time on it. That's an interesting variation on the idea behind ROAD WARRIOR (MAD MAX 2). In fact, the idea of the conformist religious sect is better than those scummy bikers and thugs that Mad Max had to deal with. You can imagine the scenes with Riddick and Keith David fighting the crusaders, and maybe David is captured and fights against the conversion process... And the cool scene where Riddick comes face-to-face with David *after* he's been converted. Twist! Plus the whole anti-social guy reluctantly becoming part of a society, which was done so well in ROAD WARRIOR. But, that idea is quickly tossed aside...

After the Necromongers take over the planet, a bunch of Necromongers surround Riddick with pointy sticks and demand that he go into the mothership for conversion. He refuses, kills the biggest one, and you just know he's going to escape and go into the hills to form a resistance that will come back and whip the rest of the Necromongers.... but instead babe Necromonger Thandie Newton hootchie-cootches in front of him for a *second* and he willingly accompanies her into the mother ship! Again, doing exactly what the antagonists want him to do. Is he a wimp?

But wait! The lead bounty hunter and his new crew steals Riddick from the Necromongers, even though there's no longer a paying customer in the wings. These bounty hunter dudes go up against this unstoppable army - just because Riddick stole the guy's space ship. So, will Riddick convince the anti-social bunch to help him rescue the planet's society from the Necromongers? Nope - that idea is never even brought up. Instead Riddick asks them to take him to a prison colony where the *other* living survivor for PITCH BLACK is doing time. Okay, we have an escaped prisoner *asking* to be taken to the ultimate maximum security prison. Why? Because some kid he helped rescue years ago is now confined there. So, is Riddick anti-social or not?

Now we've had a bunch of ideas, a couple might have made good movies, and the one that appears to be dominant is the Necromongers (though the good parts of that idea are never explored). By the end of the film, Riddick will go back to Keith David's planet to kick some Necromonger butt. We just keep getting side tracked by other cool ideas that don't really pan out. But here's where the film runs into big trouble...

This whole prison planet thing seems like an Act 2 stall - something to hold off the inevitable battle between Riddick and the Necromongers (which was prophesied by Judy Dench's "elemental" character decades ago)... but the prison planet is the coolest idea in the entire film! You want to spend more time there, but the film has other ideas... lots of them. As we get off the prison planet and zip back for the big battle, you realize it can never be as cool as that prison planet. It's anti-climactic.

Okay - the prison planet: It's kind of the opposite of the PITCH BLACK planet. Where *night* was the problem on the PITCH BLACK planet, *day* is the big problem here. Morning temperatures are in the hundreds of degrees - when the sun comes up, anything in its path gets fried! The prison is in a cavern deep underground, and if a prisoner escapes? Well, they're toast. Unless they escape during that narrow band of pre-dawn where it's warm enough to survive, but not so hot that you burst into flames. So that's when Riddick and his gang escape... Only problem: now they are racing against the sunrise! If they slow down, they're toast! Not only is this a cool idea, it plays right into Riddick as a character because his night vision isn't an asset in a world of bright daylight... it's a liability. Of all the ideas they throw against the wall to see if they stick in CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, this is the winner. You want to see an entire film about the prison break race against the sun - throw in some evil guards and you might end up with an amazing sci-fi version of NAKED PREY. Throughout the rest of the film, you keep thinking about that race across the planet - trying to outrun the sun. What a great idea!

Unfortunately, the race is only a few minutes long... then we get back to the Necromonger story. The best idea in the film is nothing but padding for the main story!

THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK never finds a better idea, though it burns through a half dozen more, and even manages to rip off THE WIZARD OF OZ and CONAN THE BARBARIAN at the same time at the end. After this mish-mash, the "Riddick Franchise" was toast... until Vin's huge hit FAST FIVE (Wait long enough and they forget.)

One of my early scripts was a spy thriller about a stolen high-tech weapon. Our hero was sent to recover the weapon, and evil villains tried to kill him at every turn. Sort of an American James Bond story. Two thirds of the way through the script we discover what this weapon is capable of. Since this weapon was worth killing for, I needed to come up with something amazing... and that was my mistake! My high-tech weapon was so cool that it overshadowed the whole script! Everyone who read the script wanted more of the high-tech weapon and less of the hero battling the villains. The secondary idea completely overshadowed the script!

That's probably the reason why we never see what's inside the briefcases in PULP FICTION and RONIN - the idea might have been more powerful than the rest of the films. Much better to keep it vague and mysterious! Whatever is inside those briefcases are never given a chance to overshadow the rest of the stories.

Remember when you're creating your story that the best idea wins - so make that the concept of your screenplay. The best idea shouldn't be a subplot, or a MacGuffin, or a threat made by the villain that's never acted upon. The best idea in your script... that's what the whole script should be about!

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Most screenplays are about a 50/50 split between dialogue and description - which means your description is just as important as your dialogue. It just gets less press because the audience never sees it, the same reason why screenwriters get less press than movie stars. But your story will never get to the audience until readers and development executives read your script... so it is a very important factor. Until the movie is made the screenplay is the movie and must be just as exciting as the movie. So how do you make your screenplay exciting to read? Description is important in a novel as well, and the “audience” does read it... how do we write riveting description?

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*** STRUCTURING YOUR STORY *** - For Kindle!

William Goldman says the most important single element of any screenplay is structure. It’s the skeleton under the flesh and blood of your story. Without it, you have a spineless, formless, mess... a slug! How do you make sure your structure is strong enough to support your story? How do you prevent your story from becoming a slug? This Blue Book explores different types of popular structures from the basic three act structure to more obscure methods like leap-frogging. We also look at structure as a verb as well as a noun, and techniques for structuring your story for maximum emotional impact. Most of the other books just look at *structure* and ignore the art of *structuring* your story. Techniques to make your story a page turner... instead of a slug!

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Alfred Hitchcock, who directed 52 movies, was known as the *Master Of Suspense*; but what exactly is suspense and how can *we* master it? How does suspense work? How can *we* create “Hitchcockian” suspense scenes in our screenplays, novels, stories and films?

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*** THE TERMINATOR MOVIES *** - For Kindle!

He's back! The release of "Terminator: Genisys" (now on BluRay) is set to begin a new trilogy in the Terminator story... 31 years after the first film was released. What draws us to these films about a cybernetic organism from the future sent back in time? Why is there a new proposed trilogy every few years? This book looks at all five Terminator movies from a story standpoint - what makes them work (or not)? What are the techniques used to keep the characters and scenes exciting and involving? How about those secret story details you may not have noticed? Containing a detailed analysis of each of the five films so far, this book delves into the way these stories work... as well as a complete list of box office and critical statistics for each film. This book is great for writers, directors, and just fans of the series.

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*** HOOK 'EM IN TEN *** - For Kindle!

Your story doesn't get a second chance to make a great first impression, and this book shows you a bunch of techniques on how to do that. From the 12 Basic Ways To Begin Your Story, to the 3 Stars Of Your First Scene (at least one must be present) to World Building, Title Crawls, Backstory, Starting Late, Teasers and Pre Title Sequences, Establishing Theme & Motifs (using GODFATHER PART 2), Five Critical Elements, Setting Up The Rest Of The Story (with GODFATHER), and much more! With hundreds of examples ranging from Oscar winners to classic films like CASABLANCA to some of my produced films (because I know exactly why I wrote the scripts that way). Biggest Blue Book yet! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 100,000 words - 312 pages!

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*** SCENE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!


What is a scene and how many you will need? The difference between scenes and sluglines. Put your scenes on trial for their lives! Using "Jaws" we'll look at beats within a scene. Scene DNA. Creating set pieces and high concept scenes. A famous director talks about creating memorable scenes. 12 ways to create new scenes. Creating unexpected scenes. Use dramatic tension to supercharge your scenes. Plants and payoffs in scenes. Plus transitions and buttons and the all important "flow"... and more! Over 65,000 words! Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 210 pages!

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50 Tips On Dialogue!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting dialogue! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 50 Professional Dialogue Techniques you can use *today*, Subtext, Subtitles, Humor, Sizzling Banter, *Anti-Dialogue*, Speeches, and more. Tools you can use to make your dialogue sizzle! Special sections that use dialogue examples from movies as diverse as "Bringing Up Baby", "Psycho", "Double Indemnity", "Notorious", the Oscar nominated "You Can Count On Me", "His Girl Friday", and many more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!

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Screenwriting books have been around as long as films have. This series reprints vintage screenwriting books with a new introduction and history, plus new articles which look at how these lessons from almost 100 years ago apply to today’s screenplays. Anita Loos book is filled with information which still applies. In addition to the full text of the original book, you get the full screenplay to Miss Loos' hit THE LOVE EXPERT, plus several new articles on the time period and women in Hollywood.

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NOIR & MYSTERY80 minute CD packed with information on writing Film Noir and Mystery scripts. Using examples from CHINATOWN to OUT OF THE PAST to DOUBLE INDEMNITY you'll learn how to create stories in this dark, twisted genre. How to plant clues, red herrings, suspects, victims, spider women, fallen heroes, the funhouse mirror world of noir supporting characters... and the origins of Film Noir in literature Noir dialogue and how noir endings are different than any other genre. All of the critical elements necessary to write in this critically popular genre.
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WRITING HORROR - The essentials of a horror screenplay - what do ROSEMARY'S BABY, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE EXORCIST, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE OTHERS and OPEN WATER have in common? This class will tell you! All of the critical elements necessary to write a script that scares the pants off the audience. Writing Horror is $10.00 (plus $5 S&H).

IDEAS AND CREATIVITY - 80 minute CD packed with information. Tools to find ideas that are both personal *and* commercial. Hollywood wants scripts with High Concept stories... but not stupid scripts. Developing *intelligent* high concept ideas. How to turn your personal story into a blockbuster - or find your personal story in a high concept idea. Brainstorming and being creative. Ideas and Creativity is $10.00 (plus $5 S&H)

WRITING INDIES - Writing an Indie film? This class covers everything you need to know - from Central Locations to Confined Cameos. Using examples from SWINGERS, THE COOLER, STATION AGENT and others, this 80 minute CD is packed with information. How Indoe films challenge the audience (while mainstream films reassure the audience). Structures, using BOYS DON'T CRY, RUN LOLA RUN, HILARY & JACKIE, and others as example. Writing for a budget, writing for non-actors, getting the most production value out of your budget. Writing Indies is $10.00 (plus $5 S&H)

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Why pay $510 for a used version of the 240 page 2000 version that used to retail for $21.95? (check it out!) when you can get the NEW EXPANDED VERSION - over 500 pages - for just $9.99? New chapters, New examples, New techniques!

"SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING is the best book on the practical nuts-and-bolts mechanics of writing a screenplay I've ever read." - Ted Elliott, co-writer of MASK OF ZORRO, SHREK, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and the sequels (with Terry Rossio). (ie; 4 of the top 20 Box Office Hits Of ALL TIME.)

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*** STORY: WELL TOLD *** - For Kindle!

This book takes you step-by-step through the construction of a story... and how to tell a story well, why Story always starts with character... but ISN'T character, Breaking Your Story, Irony, Planting Information, Evolving Story, Leaving No Dramatic Stone Unturned, The Three Greek Unities, The Importance Of Stakes, The Thematic Method, and how to create personal stories with blockbuster potential. Ready to tell a story? Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 85,000 words - 251 pages!

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*** SUPPORTING CHARACTER SECRETS *** - For Kindle! (Exclusive)

Expanded version with more techniques to flesh out your Supporting Characters and make them individuals. Using the hit movie BRIDESMAIDS as well as other comedies like THE HANGOVER and TED and HIGH FIDELITY and 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN and many other examples we look at ways to make your Supporting Characters come alive on the page. Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is around 170 pages!

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Show Don't Tell - but *how* do you do that? Here are techniques to tell stories visually! Using Oscar Winning Films and Oscar Nominated Films as our primary examples: from the first Best Picture Winner "Sunrise" (1927) to the Oscar Nominated "The Artist" (which takes place in 1927) with stops along the way Pixar's "Up" and Best Original Screenplay Winner "Breaking Away" (a small indie style drama - told visually) as well as "Witness" and other Oscar Winners as examples... plus RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 200 pages!

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*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Kindle!

*** YOUR IDEA MACHINE *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to find great ideas! Your screenplay is going to begin with an idea. There are good ideas and bad ideas and commercial ideas and personal ideas. But where do you find ideas in the first place? This handbook explores different methods for finding or generating ideas, and combining those ideas into concepts that sell. The Idea Bank, Fifteen Places To Find Ideas, Good Ideas And Bad Ideas, Ideas From Locations And Elements, Keeping Track Of Your Ideas, Idea Theft - What Can You Do? Weird Ways To Connect Ideas, Combing Ideas To Create Concepts, High Concepts - What Are They? Creating The Killer Concept, Substitution - Lion Tamers & Hitmen, Creating Blockbuster Concepts, Magnification And The Matrix, Conflict Within Concept, Concepts With Visual Conflict, Avoiding Episodic Concepts, much more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 175 pages!

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Expanded version with more ways to create interesting protagonists! A step-by-step guide to creating "take charge" protagonists. Screenplays are about characters in conflict... characters in emotional turmoil... Strong three dimensional protagonists who can find solutions to their problems in 110 pages. But how do you create characters like this? How do you turn words into flesh and blood? Character issues, Knowing Who Is The Boss, Tapping into YOUR fears, The Naked Character, Pulp Friction, Man With A Plan, Character Arcs, Avoiding Cliche People, Deep Characterization, Problem Protagonists, 12 Ways To Create Likable Protagonists (even if they are criminals), Active vs. Reactive, The Third Dimension In Character, Relationships, Ensemble Scripts, and much, much more. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is once again around 205 pages!

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Over 400 Pages!

*** BREAKING IN BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle!

Should really be called the BUSINESS BLUE BOOK because it covers almost everything you will need to know for your screenwriting career: from thinking like a producer and learning to speak their language, to query letters and finding a manager or agent, to making connections (at home and in Hollywood) and networking, to the different kinds of meetings you are will have at Studios, to the difference between a producer and a studio, to landing an assignment at that meeting and what is required of you when you are working under contract, to contracts and options and lawyers and... when to run from a deal! Information you can use *now* to move your career forward! It's all here in the Biggest Blue Book yet!

Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is over 400 pages!

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Use your creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling application specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays. Its ease-of-use and time-saving features have attracted writers for almost two decades positioning Final Draft as the Professional Screenwriters Choice. Final Draft power users include Academy, Emmy and BAFTA award winning writers like Oliver Stone, Tom Hanks, Alan Ball, J.J. Abrams, James Cameron and more. * * * Buy It!

copyright 2017 by William C. Martell

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Naked Class NEW! The NAKED SCREENWRITING CLASS ON CD! The 2001 London Class on 8 CDs! Recorded *live* the morning after the Raindance Film Festival wrapped. The two day class on 8CDs, plus a workbook, plus a bonus CD with PDFs.
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bluebook E BOOKS: New Blue Books and Novelettes!
I am expanding all of the Blue Books from around 44 pages of text to around 200 pages! Some are over 250 pages! See what is availabale and what is coming soon!Also, I've been writing Novelletes and there will soon be novels.


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Each Blue Book is 48 pages and focuses on a different aspect of screenwriting. Dialogue. Visual Storytelling. Your First Ten Pages. Act 2 Booster. Protagonists. Great Endings.
Seventeen Blue Books now available!

THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING The Best Nuts & Bolts Screenwriting Book On The Market!

Furious Action Class

My nineteen produced films, interviews with me in magazines, several sample scripts, my available scripts list... And MORE!
...............................BILL'S CORNER

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