Wednesday night season 43 of SURVIVOR premieres on CBS. with a two hour episode, followed up by a 90 minute episode the following week. Three tribes (Vesi, Coco,and Baka) will compete for the prize. Season 43? Yikes! I remember watching Season ONE. I even remember quipping about the show turning into LORD OF THE FLIES on live TV before the show even aired. How can they already be at Season 43? The most interesting thing about having 43 seasons of SURVIVOR is that it has turned a bunch of regular people into stars... that they keep bringing back again and again. So back in Season 40 we once again had Boston Rob (series regular?) and his wife - whom he met on the show, Amber - among the group of 20 past SURVIVOR contestants who have previously won the game, including Ethan Zohn who won the game back in 2001's SURVIVOR: AFRICA, which was Season 3. They kept bringing back people from previous seasons - who are “stars” of the show!

But this year is different: 18 brand new contestants. Will you miss the "stars" from past seasons?

Back in Season 27, SURVIVOR: BLOOD VS. WATER, the twist was that your favorite contestants from the past returned... along with a relative! Tina Wesson from *Season 2* (the season just before Ethan Zohn won) and her daughter Katie played against each other, as did Rupert and his wife, Candice Cody from SURVIVOR: COOK ISLANDS. That season's twist of having an old favorite playing against a relative added extra drama and made the backstabbing even more personal... will Tina from SURVIVOR: OUTBACK be able to double cross her own daughter to win again? Now we have Ethan from Season 3 playing again...


But way back in that second season, SURVIVOR: OUTBACK (which was the #1 ratied TV show of that year!) most of America watched as that 40 year-old nurse and mother, Tina Wesson, won a million dollars. The two hour final episode contained twists and turns and this observation from cowboy Colby at the beginning of the show: "The environment and elements have probably been the most dominant player in this game. It drops you to your knees, kicking you in the butt, and every time you feel like you're getting up you get knocked down again."

Screenwriting is a lot like that - only you don't get to go home after 41 days. It just keeps knocking you down and kicking you in the butt for most of your life. You may not have to eat rats or bugs or survive floods (the first Seasons were not as comfy as they are now), but you're constantly being pitched a curve - just when you think you're getting your big break, something happens. I thought I was getting my big break when I got the job writing NINJA BUSTERS for a local film producer... I ended up working in a warehouse for the next ten years with a copy of NINJA BUSTERS on video in the store down the street. Then I thought I got a break when I sold COURTING DEATH to a company on the Paramount lot... but they never made the film. Though I made a couple of years worth of income and moved to LA, when they didn't make the film I lost momentum (and the production bonus). My career came to a dead stop, and I had to break in AGAIN. In fact, I'm ALWAYS breaking into the biz. Every script is breaking in again - finding someone who wants to buy it. Usually someone you've never met before.

And that’s one of the things that you have to prepare for: Breaking In, Again And Again. Because this is not like any other business. There are no job applications for screenwriters, there is no hiring office, no human resources, no Help Wanted signs. Basically, they aren’t hiring. Every movie is like a small business... that doesn’t exist yet. You have to create your own job with a screenplay that is so good, they create a whole company to manufacture the film. And there are maybe a million screenplays in circulation in any given year (I can do the math if you want) and they buy around 100 of them. So there are many many more people than there are jobs. You can’t just be the person they hire as a “warm body” to do some robotic task - a Walmart Greeter sort of thing. You have to be the best that there is. You have to be that person with the special skills that every company needs. And after they make that film? The company closes and you are OUT OF WORK!

You have to break in, again and again.

You sell a screenplay, you do all of the rewrites that they will require, they make the film (or they don’t - only about 10% of what they buy gets made) and then you are out of work and need to find a new job!

Which means that you will need a new screenplay.

Lots of new screenplays.

You will constantly be writing new screenplays and using them to break in.

Sure, there will be times when one job leads to another job. When this job finishes there will be another company waiting in the wings to hire you. But you can’t depend on those things happening. You *can* depend on having to break in, again and again.


A few months ago I had a new Script Tip that compared FORD VS. FERRARI to the terrible movie DRIVEN. The only good line of dialogue in 2 hours of Sylvester Stallone's masterpiece of crap DRIVEN is: "It doesn't matter if you get knocked down, what matters is how fast you get up again."

Colby from SURVIVOR Season 2 again: "Whether you want to admit it or not, you deteriorate. Day forty is ten times harder than day twenty was. Because you're weaker, because you're tired, because you're sick of dealing with everything you've had to deal with."

When you get knocked down by rejection, can you get back up again? After YEARS of rejection, can you get back up and try again? This is a hard business to break in to - it's not like being a brain surgeon where you go to college for a decade then do an internship then work your way through surgery until they finally let you cut open some guy's head. A brain surgeon knows that eventually he'll get to cut open some guy's head - a screenwriter has no idea if he'll sell a script. There's no schedule, either. On SURVIVOR you know that SOMEONE will win after 41 days - you don't know if it will take you 4 years or 41 years to sell a script. You never know when you're going to be rescued, so it's hard to ration the food. Even a prisoner knows when he's going to get out and can count the days - look forward to that day when they open the cell and he's a free man. A screenwriter can't see the light at the end of the tunnel - it may be there, but there's no way of knowing for sure.


The great philosopher Colby also said: "You've still got to play the game. You've still got to stay focused. Survive the people long enough to get in the position to win."

Can you stay focused on screenwriting even when all of this other stuff gets in the way? Are you working hard enough to win? Can that script use another rewrite? Are you DOING that rewrite? I'm frequently amazed when people are searching on message boards for information that they could easily find on their own. Are you trying to find the answers or hoping that someone else will provide them for you? Are you hoping an agent will sell your script for you or are you looking for ways to sell your own script? Are YOU looking, or are you asking others to look for you? Are you doing everything you can for your career? You don’t see the SURVIVOR contestants asking each other to do their work for them. If someone on SURVIVOR can’t pull their weight, the team VOTES THEM OFF THE ISLAND! You need to pull your own weight. You need to come up with your own ideas and solve your own story problems and do your own research and find your own markets that match the screenplay that you have written. Even though there are Teams on SURVIVOR, you know who votes you out of the game? Your team. So it always comes down to what you do AS AN INDIVIDUAL. Writing is even more individual that the game - you are literally alone in a room. You are the writer. You create everything on those pages yourself. No outside help.

That isn’t easy. But if you want to survive, you need to be able to tackle all of those challenges yourself and win immunity... and even then, you have to survive all 41 days on the Island.

On SURVIVOR Colby won a bunch of individual immunity challenges so that he couldn't be voted off. In one instance he started out dead last and still ended up winning. He always gave that extra effort. That’s how that game has worked for 40 seasons, now - you have to win immunity yourself. You will be tired and want to quit - but then you will be voted off. So you need to take control of your own life, your own career in our case, and do the extra work yourself that will lead to success.


But even with all of the hard work, Colby is Season 2 didn't win the game. Tina did, and here's what she had to say at the beginning of the final episode: "Who I started out as in this game is not who I've ended up as. I have developed into more of a strategist."

You may start out only thinking as a writer, but to survive as a screenwriter you'll have to become a strategist, too. You'll have to find ways to advance your career and get back on your feet after you get knocked down. What I always say: "The race is not to the swift, nor to the sure, nor the strong, but to those of us too dumb to know when to give up." You have to stick with it in order to survive. Quitters automatically lose - no one has to vote them off.

One of the big mistakes that many new writers make is thinking that screenwriting is about selling one screenplay... and then they are in the biz and don’t have to worry anymore. But screenwriting isn’t one screenplay - no more than SURVIVOR is one episode. You can win this episode and be ahead, and still lose the game if you don’t continue to work. Screenwriting is a career - a bunch of screenplays. Maybe a hundred screenplays. You need to adjust your thinking to writing 100 screenplays, just as those people playing the SURVIVOR game need to get through this day, and the next day, and they next day - until they are one of the three left standing after 41 days and go to that final tribal council. It’s not just this one screenplay, it’s a career of writing screenplays. So if you only have one story, you need to come up with a bunch more! A lifetime of stories! You need a LONG TERM STRATEGY in order to win this game.


One of the other things about screenwriting is that when some other company is waiting in the wings to hire you, they are hiring a *screenwriter*. It’s about the writing, not any individual screenplay. It’s about you as a writer being able to produce quality work on a regular basis. If you keep writing great screenplays someone will hire you to write on assignment - they want *your writing*, *your skills as a writer*. *your imagination*. So it is all about developing those individual skills... and the work ethic that goes with them. Because, just like the immunity challenge games that are set against a clock - you will need to deliver quality material on a tight deadline. Part of the job. You will also probably end up “stacking” projects - have three writing jobs with three deadlines and have to turn in three great screenplays on time. That’s the job. Not writing this screenplay and breaking in and then never having to work a day in your life. Kind of the opposite - to be successful, you have to stay on that island and struggle every single day.

If someone votes against you, don't get mad or get even, just keep playing. Getting votes is part of the game - nothing you should take personally. Remember, it took "Boston Rob" *nine years* before he finally won... but he stuck with it and kept playing the game to the best of his abilities. Tina won game #2.. but that was 13 years before that return game. Could the 53 year old version of Tina win that BLOOD VS. WATER game? She was voted off just before the end... close, but not in the final 3.

Our version of SURVIVOR is just as difficult. I hope you win all your immunity challenges and stay in the game.


Can You Make It bigger?



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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.

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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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Tips FAQ

My New Script Secrets Newsletter!




NEW: Updates On Films 7 & 8 Casting!

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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Over 240 pages!

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He's back! The release of "Terminator: Dark Fate" is set to begin a new trilogy in the Terminator story... 35 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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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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Click here for more information on CLASS CDs!




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


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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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.

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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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*** 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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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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*** 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!

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


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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*** 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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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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*** 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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All About Rewrites!


Rewriting In Waves?

*** REWRITES Blue Book! - For Kindle!

The end is just the beginning! You’ve finished your story, but now the rewriting begins! This 405 page book shows you how to rewrite your screenplay or novel to perfection. Everything from Character Consistency to Shoeboxing to How To Give And Receive Notes to 15 Solutions If Your Script’s Too Long! and 15 Solutions If Your Script’s Too Short! to Finding The Cause Of A Story Problem to Good Notes Vs. Bad Notes to Finding Beta Readers to Avoiding Predictability to Learning To Be Objective About Your Work to Script Killer Notes and Notes From Idiots to Production Rewrites and What The Page Colors Mean? and a Complete Rewrite Checklist! The complete book on Rewriting Your Story!

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All About Endings!



The Perfect Ending For Your Story!

The First Ten Pages Of Your Screenplay Are Critical,
But What About The Last 10 Pages?

Creating the perfect ending to your story! This 100,000 word book shows you how to end your story with a bang, rather than a whimper. Everything from Resolution Order to Act Three Tools to Happy or Sad Endings? to How The Beginning Of Your Story Has Clues To The Ending (in case you were having trouble figuring out how the story should end) to Falling Action to How To Avoid Bad Endings to Writing The Perfect Twist Ending to Setting Up Sequels & Series to Emotional Resolutions to How To Write Post Credit Sequences to Avoiding Deus Ex Machinas, to 20 Different Types Of Ends (and how to write them) and much more! Everything about endings for your screenplay or novel!

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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!

272 Pages - ONLY $4.99!



*** 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!



Movie Magic Screenwriter is the best selling screenplay formatting software and the choice of Hollywood professionals. Screenwriter automatically formats while you write so you can focus on what you're writing, not where it goes on the page. It also formats for television, stage, novels and comic book scripts so you've got an all in one package for any story you want to write. Academy Award Tech Winner!

* * * Buy It!

copyright 2022 by William C. Martell

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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.

Furious Action Class

Cult Films, Exploitation, Bikers & Women In Prison, Monster Movies.

Producing my own scripts, investment possibilities, pipe dreams.


Naked Class 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.
The 2 Day Class on CD!


Every screenwriting book in the world!
In Association With
From the latest screenwriting book to guides for finding agents and producers... all with at the discount!


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!


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

Available Scripts


Take classes on CD!