So this guy is pitching me his script. It's about a college kid who can't decide if he should go to law school or become an artist. One day the kid finds a wallet on the street and returns it to the owner - a powerful mobster. The mobster offers him a summer job working in a pawn shop that sells stolen merchandise. The kid meets the pawnshop owner's daughter and falls in love with her. When he goes away for the weekend with her, their car breaks down in a small town. The small town is filled with quirky characters and the couple has several adventures. The pawnshop owner's daughter has an affair with the mayor's son, and decides to stay in the town even after their car is repaired. Our hero drives back to New York where he becomes a successful painter.

This script sounded to me like a collection of unrelated scenes, but the end really confused me. It answered the question asked in the opening of the story, like a good ending should. Was I missing something? I asked the writer what his script was about, and he answered Art vs. Commerce. Okay... so what did the quirky small town have to do with that? Well, New York symbolized commerce and the small town symbolized art. Okay, so why did the guy leave the small town to go to New York if he was following his art? And why did the pawnshop owner's daughter stay? He didn't have answer for those questions, and several others I asked.

I liked the idea of New York symbolizing commerce and the small town symbolizing art, but I didn't understand what most of his story had to do with art and commerce.

He hemmed and hawed when I asked about scenes or characters in relation to Art vs. Commerce... he didn't know either.

If your story is about a guy who must decide between a future as an artist or a future as a lawyer, that's what the story will be about. The plot will be something that shows him both possible futures - the good and bad of each - and constantly forces him to decide between both possibilities. Each decision will bring him closer to his ultimate decision.

HOUSE BUNNY is a comedy that fails to explore its own story. Anna Faris is a Playboy bunny who lives at Hef's Playboy Mansion, but gets kicked out on her 29th birthday because she's too old... you see, that's like 59 in "Bunny Years". She ends up homeless, sleeping in her car, until - while looking for a place to live on the Westside - discovers a Sorority House for nerdy brainiac girls that needs a new house mother. And hijinks ensue... just not really funny hijinks.

But the biggest problem with HOUSE BUNNY is that the film screws up it's own premise. The story is not the story.

Okay, you have the hot-but-not-brainy-Bunny who moves in with the nerdy and brainy sorority girls. Each has something the other lacks - which makes this a good premise. So, you know by the end of the film that Anna will teach all of these plain-janes how to be hot, and the girls will teach Anna to be more than a bimbo. That is the story we get from the premise... Except, that doesn't happen.

There is a scene where Anna takes the girls out to shop and spa (how they pay for this is never explained), but there is really no instruction and no transformation. When the girls return from their day with Anna, we don't recognize any of them. I mean, we really don't recognize them. We don't know which plain-jane became which hottie. No step-by-step transformation, so it's almost as if they just cast some new girls. You spend most of the rest of the movie trying to figure out who is who.

When you look at a film about characters going through some sort of physical transformation, like Kim Novak in VERTIGO going from low-class shop girl to sophisticated lady - we see each step in the process, because to some extent that is what the film is about. Eliza Dolittle doesn't become a lady in a 30 second montage - the film is about her change. The story is *about* the transformation of these girls, so we need to see these scenes. Even if we have seen a million make over scenes before! Even if every movie that comes out this year has a make over scene! The *story* is the make over - the transformation from plain jane brainiacs to popular girls. If that is a cliche, then you need to change the *story*, not leave out the scenes that tell that story.

And when Anna feels she isn't intelligent enough for Colin Hanks (male lead who just drops into this story from nowhere), do the brainiac girls help her? No. They are not involved. We get a scene with Anna at the library reading a pile of books... and then she's smart! But even that scene is more of a two second montage, rather than a real scene where she learns. It's like shorthand instead of an actual scene. This goes back to that Egri thing about character change - you need to show all of the steps, or else it seems false.

I wondered why they didn't use the premise - and have Bunny help Brainiacs and vice versa. Did they think it was too obvious? Too expected? Well, then set up something less expected! Once you set up the story, that's the story. If you can't find a "Door #3" (DEJA VU co-writer Bill Marsilli's term for the completely original and unexpected choice or solution to the problem) then your only choices are following the logical lines of the story you've created... or create a *different* story. Change the premise so that your story is less obvious. But ignoring the premise you've set up? Completely unsatisfying. If you are looking for the *best* solution - it's the one where the story works, even if we've seen it before. The "solution" where the story doesn't work at all? Crap. In the case of a light comedy like this - I think we all know how it ends and what we expect from the story. If the script gives us something *better* than we expected, great! But if it gives us much less than we expected - um, I'm not buying the DVD and telling my friends that it isn't worth the ticket price. This is the kind of thing that can probably be traced back to a bad development note - hard to believe the writers who come up with the premise, then ignored it. Karen and Kiwi are too smart for that. Or it may have been in direction - the transformations may have been given enough time on the page, but the director didn't understand how important it was and just trimmed it down. That happens - directors sometimes don't know how stories work.

The story is the story. If you want some other story, tell some other story.

One of last year's big hits was FATE OF THE FURIOUS (8) - which continued to reinvent the FAST AND FURIOUS series and tie all of the previous films together. Every year we get a new car chase flick, and when the first film in the series came out, many people noted there were amazing similarities between THE FAST & THE FURIOUS, POINT BREAK and NO MAN'S LAND - three films about rookie cops who are recruited to infiltrate a subculture as they investigate a series of robberies. The rookie cop befriends the charismatic leader of the group, usually becomes romantically involved with the group leader's sister, and steps over the line into criminal territory when he discovers his new best friend - the group leader - is behind the robberies. Scene after scene that all three films have in common. It's as if the used carbon paper to create each script! But it gets worse - my favorite undercover cop movie HOUSE OF BAMBOO has all of the same scenes, as does the 1948 film STREET WITH NO NAME. There seems to be a formula for undercover cop films that all of these films follow. Why is that?

Because the story is the story.

Undercover cop movies are about young men searching for a family to belong to. After moving out of the biological family, they join a new family - the police force or the FBI. That family asks them to pretend to be a member of a criminal family. The story will test their loyalties, by creating situations where they must decide between the two families. One family typically offers love (the criminals) and the other family typically offers responsibility (the police). In order to tell this story, you will end up with scene after scene where the protagonist must decide which family he really belongs to... and those are the "formula" scenes all of those films share. It's not really a formula, it's the scenes which best tell the story you are trying to tell. If you were to try to tell the undercover cop story without using these "formula" scenes it would end up NOT exploring the emotional issues built in to that story. It would be avoiding the very story you are trying to tell - usually with filler material subplots like Pawnbroker's daughters and Mobster's wallets.

The story is the story, and to tell that story you'll need the scenes that tell that story. This may create a "formula" of sorts, but that doesn't make the story unoriginal. The art - the challenge - of telling a story like this is to find the unique and unusual scenes that illustrate the two families pulling at our undercover cop. That is where your creativity comes in - not in ditching the story for silly subplots, but in finding the way to tell this story that fully explores the story - yet is also original. That takes more creativity and talent than just "kitchen sinking" some quirky characters and scenes that have nothing to do with the story you are telling. There are a million different ways to tell a story about a man who must decide between a future in art or commerce - the basic decision is the same, but each scene will be an individual creation based on the specifics of YOUR story and YOUR characters.

Use the scenes that best tell the story and get rid of any scenes or characters that don't tell the story.

If the story is a cliche, fix the story... don't leave out the scenes you need to tell the story.






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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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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Brand New!


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 of the films, the way these thrillers 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?

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!

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You MUST Have This Book!



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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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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*** 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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*** 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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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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NEW FROM 1920?



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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*** 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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*** 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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*** 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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*** 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 160 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 2018 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.

Visual Class

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

Producing my own scripts, investment possibilities, pipe dreams.


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.
The 2 Day Class on CD!


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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!


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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