THURSDAY'S SCRIPT TIP:
Your antagonist creates the conflict in
your script, and that conflict has to be something strong enough
to carry your story for 110 pages. Something that can go the
distance. So your antagonist has to create a problem so big that
it will take the whole film for your protagonist to solve it.The
antagonist isn't a couple of speed bumps between your protagonist
and the goal - he's a towering brick wall. A hurdle your
protagonist can't possibly overcome!
In Jeff Nathanson's CATCH ME IF YOU CAN Tom Hanks plays a friendly FBI Agent on the
trail of Leonardo DiCaprio's kid criminal. Hanks isn't a tough guy like Elliott Ness, he's not taking on
the mob, he's in the check forgery division. In fact, he IS the check forgery division. He wears glasses,
wears a hat and is so soft spoken that when he finally does get a couple of other men on his team he has
to use the f-word get their attention. He is so gullible, DiCaprio actually cons HIM in an early scene...
and then again and again throughout the movie! Despite being the nicest character in the movie, Hanks
is the antagonist. The story is told from DiCaprio's point of view (the criminal), and Hanks is the
character out to catch him. Hanks will not give up until DiCaprio is behind bars. He even works on
Christmas Eve trying to capture DiCaprio (a running gag in the film).
Just because Hanks is a nice guy and an officer of the law doesn't mean he can't be the antagonist.
Just because a character is the antagonist doesn't mean they have to be a bad person with
an evil plan to destroy Cleveland. They just have to be the biggest barrier possible to the protagonist
achieving their goal. Not the second biggest, not the third biggest... they have to be the impossible
hurdle. A guy that works on Christmas Eve to capture you is the biggest hurdle I can imagine.
In Ron Bass' MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING Cameron Diaz is the
perfect antagonist. Julia Robert's goal is to break up Dermot
Mulroney's wedding so that he will marry her instead. The fiance
is the character who gets in the way of that goal... and that
makes her the antagonist. If Diaz had been stupid, or plain
looking, or not very nice she would just be a couple of speed
bumps... but she's perfect! She's pretty and witty and radiant
and the nicest character in the whole film. How can Roberts
possibly get past her?
The conflict your antagonist creates also must escalate -
things have to keep getting worse, or your script has "flat-
lined". If things are just as bad on page 90 as they were on page
30, you have sixty pages of time-killer. Story is CHANGE, and if
nothing has changed for sixty pages, there's no story. That means
either antagonist must be raising the ante, or your protagonist
must be doing things to avoid the conflict which only make it
worse (or both).
In MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING every time Julia Roberts comes up
with a scheme to destroy Cameron Diaz (like the karaoke bar) it
backfires and just makes things worse. Things must always get
worse before they can get better... and that means your
antagonist must be active rather than passive. They'll have a
goal, too. In fact, if you were to see the story from the
antagonist's point of view, the protagonist would be the one who
prevents them from achieving THEIR goal. That means your
antagonist's motivation must make sense to the audience, and
their plan must be exactly what the audience would do if they
were the antagonist.
Story is conflict, so our antagonist (or force of antagonism) is critical to the story.
A novel can focus entirely on an internal or emotional conflict because we can get inside a character's head - we can't do that with a movie, so we must have an external conflict or find some way to externalize the conflict. Film stories require *visual* conflicts.
You will have a human antagonist or some force of antagonism (that is physical in nature - because we need to see it for it to show up on film), even if you are writing a romantic comedy or straight drama. Something needs to bring the conflict.
YOU AND YOUR BELLAMY
Probably the majority of romantic comedies have a "Bellamy" - a character who is going to steal the one true love away from the protagonist. That might be Tim Robbins in HIGH FIDELITY or Cameron Diaz in MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING. This character is named after an actor, Ralph Bellamy, who played this role in a bunch of 1930s and 1940s romantic comedies. Bellamy was not some evil antagonist scheming to steal the leading lady away from the leading man, quite the opposite. Bellamy was the stuffy, boring, "safe" guy who offered emotional stability (and financial stability) to the leading lady. When the leading man was someone like Cary Grant, who often played romantic leads who were wild and unpredictable and just a little dangerous, a somewhat boring antagonist makes sense. Bellamy never had to plot to steal the leading lady, he was the perfect potential husband. Just because you're the antagonist doesn't mean you're not nice.
Sometimes it's not a lover that is stealing the one true love, but a boss with a job that requires a transfer or some other *action* that will remove protagonist from love interest. If you give your character a choice between love and duty, and make duty something that we can *see*; that duty becomes a force of antagonism that tears apart the relationship. Jimmy Stewart in REAR WINDOW is a photojournalist who is constantly being sent to some dangerous foreign land to snap pictures and can't imagine having a wife like Grace Kelly tagging along with him in a war zone or a jungle. Usually in a case like this we have the character planning on leaving before they meet the love interest, or a job physically coming in the way of the relationship as in HIS GIRL FRIDAY - where Cary Grant is a newspaper reporter in the middle of a hot news story.
The force of antagonism needs to be something we can see, not just something in the character's mind. And as a force of antagonism, it must be able to create ongoing and escalating conflict. It can't just be something that kicks in at the end of Act 2, it has to *be* Act 2.
In HIS GIRL FRIDAY Newspaper editor Grant tries to lure his best reporter (and the woman he loves) Roz Russell away from Bellamy with the ultimate story - a man who will be executed the next morning who may give his final interview to a sympathetic female reporter. This escalates when the man says he's innocent, and escalates again when he escapes, and escalates again when Russell hides the escaped prisoner in a desk in the press room... and continues to escalate when the reporters return along with a couple of cops. That's the *job* part of HIS GIRL FRIDAY's conflict...
The "Bellamy" part of the conflict is Russell's fiance who keeps trying to pull her away from the story and away from the city so that they can be married. He has a train ticket, and the train leaves at a certain time, and Bellamy keeps showing up again and again to take her away. Grant comes up with scheme after scheme to get rid of Bellamy, but they guy keeps coming back! Bellamy is arrested and shanghaied and sent on wild goose chases... but keeps returning like a human boomarang. He is *determined* to marry Russell no matter what. *Determined* to get her to quit her reporter job once and for all and become a housewife. He keeps getting in the way of Grant's plan to keep her involved in the news story. Bellamy is not very bright, not cunning at all, and nice instead of evil... but the *perfect* rom-com antagonist.
The antagonist is the most important character in any script because they bring they bring the conflict. Take a thriller, mystery, crime story - let's use CSI or LAW & ORDER TV shows just for the heck of it. Without the antagonist - the killer - there is no story. These shows are a hunt for the killer, who is clever at either escaping from capture and/or obscuring their trail. So we have kind of a cat & mouse story - but we often do not know the identity of the killer until the end. That doesn't mean they aren't there, and that the protagonist isn't battling to find them. But without the killer - the L&O cops or CSI: BARSTOW team are just sitting around playing cards. Without the antagonist - the killer - there is no show.
JAWS without Bruce the shark? TWISTER without the twisters?
You need conflicts that can be seen - or they won't show up on film. Usually that's a human villain or some physical force of antagonism, but - because humans are emotional - there is also usually an emotional conflict that the protagonist is struggling with. The antagonist can be the nicest character in the screenplay, but they have to be the one person or force that comes between the protagonist and their goal.
A good villain does everything for a reason and doesn't make silly
mistakes. They may be the nicest person in the story, but they are also the one person who comes
between your protagonist and their goal - the person who will not rest until they have achieved their
own goal, even if it means the protagonist ends up an old maid or in jail for 20 years. Without an
antagonist you don't have a story!
All About LOGLINES, TREATMENTS, and PITCHING!
LOGLINES, TREATMENTS, and PITCHING! Blue Book!
Distilling Your Screenplay!
Loglines, Treatments, Pitching, Look Books, Pitch Decks, One Pagers, Rip-O-Matics?
You have written a brilliant 110 page screenplay, but how do you get anyone to read it? You need to distill it down into some form of verbal moonshine or story rocket fuel that will ignite that bored development executive or manager or agent and get them to request your screenplay. But how do you shrink those 110 pages into a 25 word logline or a 2 minute elevator pitch or a one page synopsis or a short paragraph? This 100,000 word book shows you how! Everything you need to know! From common logline mistakes (and how to solve them) to how your pitch can reveal story problems to the 4 types of pitches!
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NEW: WRITE IT: FILM IT!
Making Your Own Movie?
Writing An Indie Film?
Writing A Low Budget Genre Script To Sell?
Writing A Made For TV Holiday Movie?
You will be writing for BUDGET. On a standard spec screenplay, you don’t have to think about budget, but these types of screenplays writing with budget in mind is critical!
If you are making your own movie, budget, is even more important - and you need to think about budget *before* you write your screenplay... or you will end up with a script that you can’t afford to make (or is a struggle to make). Everyone is making their own films these days, and even if you have done it before there are lots of great techniques in this book to get more money on screen - for less money! You can make a film that looks like it cost millions for pocket change.
OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC!
OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC Blue Book.
ARE YOUR SCENES IN THE RIGHT ORDER?
AND ARE THEY THE RIGHT SCENES?
Your story is like a road trip... but where are you going? What's the best route to get there? What are the best sights to see along the way? Just as you plan a vacation instead of just jump in the car and start driving, it's a good idea to plan your story. An artist does sketches before breaking out the oils, so why shouldn't a writer do the same? This Blue Book looks at various outlining methods used by professional screenwriters like Wesley Strick, Paul Schrader, John August, and others... as well as a guest chapter on novel outlines. Plus a whole section on the Thematic Method of generating scenes and characters and other elements that will be part of your outline. The three stages of writing are: Pre-writing, Writing, and Rewriting... this book looks at that first stage and how to use it to improve your screenplays and novels.
NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!
DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book!
DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book.
IS HALF OF YOUR STORY IN TROUBLE?
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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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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THE MISSION IMPOSSIBLE MOVIES
NEW: Update with casting for films 7 & 8!
All Six Movies analyzed! All of the mission tapes, all of the “that’s impossible!” set pieces and stunts, the cons and capers - and how these scenes work, the twists and double crosses, the tension and suspense (and how to generate it), the concept of each film as a stand alone with a different director calling the shots (broken in the sixth film), the gadgets, the masks, the stories, the co-stars and team members (one team member has been in every film), the stunts Tom Cruise actually did (and the ones he didn’t), and so much more! Over 120,000 words of fun info!
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LEARN SUSPENSE FROM THE MASTER!
*** HITCHCOCK: MASTERING SUSPENSE *** - For Kindle!
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?
This book uses seventeen of Hitchcock’s films to show the difference between suspense and surprise, how to use “focus objects” to create suspense, the 20 iconic suspense scenes and situations, how plot twists work, using secrets for suspense, how to use Dread (the cousin of suspense) in horror stories, and dozens of other amazing storytelling lessons. From classics like “Strangers On A Train” and “The Birds” and “Vertigo” and “To Catch A Thief” to older films from the British period like “The 39 Steps” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” to his hits from the silent era like “The Lodger” (about Jack The Ripper), we’ll look at all of the techniques to create suspense!
*** THE BOURNE MOVIES
NEW: TREADSTONE TV update!
All five "Bourne" movies (including "Legacy" and it's potential sequels) - what are the techniques used to keep the characters and scenes exciting and involving? Reinventing the thriller genre...
or following the "formula"? Five films - each with an interesting experiment! A detailed analysis of each
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statistics for each film. This book is great for writers, directors, and just fans of the series.
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NOIR & MYSTERY80 minute MP3 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.
The Noir & Mystery Class is only $10!
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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 MP3 is $10.00!
Click here for more information on CLASS MP3s!
THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL!
*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Kindle!
*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Nook!
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.)
Only $9.99 - and no postage!
READY TO BREAK IN?
*** 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!
$4.99 - and no postage!
NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!
STORY: WELL TOLD!
*** 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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MOVIES ARE CHARACTERS!
*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Kindle!
*** CREATING STRONG PROTAGONISTS *** - For Nook!
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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ACT TWO SOLUTIONS!
*** ACT TWO SECRETS *** - For Kindle!
Expanded version with more techniques to help you through the desert of Act Two! Subjects Include: What Is Act Two? Inside Moves, The 2 Ps: Purpose & Pacing, The 4Ds: Dilemma, Denial, Drama and Decision, Momentum, the Two Act Twos, Subplot Prisms, Deadlines, Drive, Levels Of Conflict, Escalation, When Act Two Begins and When Act Two Ends, Scene Order, Bite Sized Pieces, Common Act Two Issues, Plot Devices For Act Two, and dozens of others. Over 67,000 words (that’s well over 200 pages) of tools and techniques to get you through the desert of Act Two alive!
Print version was 48 pages, Kindle version is well over 200 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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Over 240 pages!
*** 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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ADVICE FROM 1920!
*** VINTAGE #1: HOW TO WRITE PHOTOPLAYS *** - For Kindle!
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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I WRITE PICTURES!
*** VISUAL STORYTELLING *** - For Kindle! (exclusive)
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!
ONLY $4.99 - and no postage!
*** 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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PRO DIALOGUE TECHNIQUES!
*** 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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E BOOKS PAGE
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.
E BOOKS: BLUE BOOKS & NOVELLETES
MY OTHER SITES
B MOVIE WORLD
Cult Films, Exploitation, Bikers & Women In Prison, Monster Movies.
FIRST STRIKE PRODUCTIONS
Producing my own scripts, investment possibilities, pipe dreams.
NAKED SCREENWRITING MP3s
The NAKED SCREENWRITING CLASS ON MP3!
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.
The 2 Day Class on MP3!
Every screenwriting book in the world!
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From the latest screenwriting book to
guides for finding agents and producers... all with at the
BOOKLETS & PRODUCTS
FIRST STRIKE BLUE BOOKS
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
nineteen produced films, interviews with me in magazines,
several sample scripts, my available scripts list... And MORE!
CLASSES ON MP3s
CLASSES ON MP3! Take a class on MP3! GUERRILLA MARKETING - NO AGENT? NO PROBLEM! and WRITING THRILLERS (2 Full length classes on MP3. Now Available: IDEAS & CREATIVITY, WRITING HORROR, WRITING INDIE FILMS, more!
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