I began losing interest in the LETHAL WEAPON series when director Richard Donner began using a sledgehammer to force his political beliefs down my throat. Even though LETHAL WEAPON 2 had all kinds of anti-apartheid posters and scenes with anti-apartheid protestors, those things fit because the story was about an Ambassador (from South Africa) who was using his diplomatic immunity to get away with murder - amongst other crimes. Still, the posters *everywhere* got to be tiring. When we get to the third or fourth film, and there's this huge poster in the Los Angeles Police Department that says "Fur Is Murder!" well, that's just taking things way too far. Show me the police department that would allow some political poster on their wall! I don't want people to tell me what to think... Even if it's what I already think! Even if he has the exact same opinion as I do, I don't want to hear it! I don't go to the movies to hear sermons. I want to be entertained.

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Wait, aren't we supposed to be making movies that are *about something*? That make some sort of point? Shouldn't we try to make films that change the world? Yes! But we shouldn't ever jump on some soap box and make a speech - our job is to be subtle and slightly subversive. To show instead of telling. To use our stories to *demonstrate* our points so that we never have to come out and say it... let alone make some long-winded political speech or plaster posters with slogans all over the background of a scene.

BLOOD DIAMOND is an amazing movie because it offers both good and bad examples of how to make a political or social point on film. It's almost as if it is two films fighting each other. Director Ed Zwick has never been a subtle director - his Denzel Washington film THE SIEGE is one damned speech after another. In another tip I theorized that this began as a script about Djimon Hounsou's character... but there are no Black African stars in Hollywood (though, I have to tell you - Hounsou *is* a movie star whether Hollywood thinks so or not) - so someone called in the rewrite monkeys to add a white movie star (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a love interest for him (the white guy, not the African guy) played by the always hot Jennifer Connelly and now the story isn't about an African guy in Africa, it's about a white guy and a hot, sexy American journalist and how the two of them solve all of Africa's problems and are really more important than the African guy who the story is about.

So the part of the movie about Hounsou usually does a great job of *demonstrating* its point, while DiCaprio and Connelly trade heavy handed speeches.

The film gets off to a great start, with Hounsou's son about to leave for his first day at school - afraid of leaving his family... even for a few hours. He'd rather hang around with his fisherman father and help mend the nets. They have a great relationship, and a minute later we delve even deeper into their relationship when Dad walks his son home from school and the kid is exploding with joy after learning all kinds of things. Dad is proud... and teases him about keeping him home tomorrow to mend nets with him. Then Hounsou spots a truckload of armed soldiers on the road to his village, and the joking around stops. Hounsou and his son race to the village, where they attempt to rescue his wife and their daughter from the armed men. Very much the same set up as APOCALYPTO - and we feel the same emotional tug as a man's family are put in peril. Because we *experience* the sudden violence and lack of basic safety, it touches us on an emotional level.

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His family escapes, but Hounsou is captured.... and the soldiers prepare to chop off his arms so that he won't be able to fight them. The machete swings up, then... the lead soldier realizes that Hounsou might be of better use in the diamond mines. Where he'll need those arms. So Hounsou is sent to this hell-hole work farm right out of a 1930s chain gang movie. Prisoners who work too slow are punished. Workers who take a break are punished. You can't even take a piss without permission - and then an armed guard stands nearby ready to kill you if you decide to make a run for it. They are digging through a mucky pond for diamonds - it's muddy and awful. One prisoner finds a diamond and tries to hide it... and they shoot him dead. Instead of having someone say, "Don't try to steal a diamond, they'll kill you" it is *demonstrated*. We see what happens. When Hounsou finds a huge diamond, we're on the edge of our seats when he decides to try and hide it from the guards. He buries it - is discovered - and has to fight for his life. All of this during a battle between rebels and soldiers over the diamond mine.

Hounsou escapes with his life, ends up in a city, working as a bellhop. Wondering where his wife and children are...

And that's when smuggler Leonardo DiCaprio and journalist Jennifer Connelly show up, and the speeches begin. She has speeches about the evils of "conflict diamonds" and exploiting a third world country and how the world doesn't care if Africans kill each other as long as American brides can show off their diamond wedding rings. DiCaprio gets to make counter speeches about how diamonds are the only way any of these people can ever escape poverty and... well, who really cares? One of the funniest aspects of this film is that whenever anyone climbs up on a soapbox to give a speech about the evils of smuggling or how the world doesn't care what happens in Africa or... well, there are no shortage of speeches... a carload of rebels skids round the corner firing machine guns that force the speechmaker to dive behind the closest burned out car for cover. After a while, it becomes a game - how long will the speech go on before the car load of rebels skids around the corner?


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But the film still packs a punch due to the Hounsou story - the scenes where we *experience* the problems in Africa instead of having some white people discuss them. Hounsou's son has been kidnaped and is being trained to become a child soldier. His evolution from bright eyed kid to cold eyed killer is frightening. Though this was handled better in the Argentine movie PAPER DOVE (entirely about child soldiers), this film pulls no punches when it comes to how callous these kids can become. When everyone around you dies, and the world is an endless bloody war, it is easy to become part of that war. One of the characters notes that the word "infantry" comes from the practice of using children to fight wars.

Hounsou's wife and daughter have been taken to a refugee camp, and one of the most powerful scenes in the film has Hounsou arrive at the camp to look for them... and there are a million people in the camp. Thousands of tents. Millions of faces. Impossible to find his family among all of these people! Again - demonstration. When he looks through the chain-link fence at all of the people - looking for faces that he recognizes - we are also looking for his wife and daughter in that sea of people. The number of people displaced and living in tents does more to make us understand than any speech could have.

By using these elements as *part of the story* we experience them. A good screenplay uses the story itself to make its point by putting the characters that we identify with into situations... so that we feel their pain. When Hounsou finally spots his wife and daughter through the chain-link fence, it's a great moment. A big emotional moment.

He's a star

There's also a great scene at an orphanage filled with little children who have been maimed in the war - and a heartbreaking moment with a child whose arms were cut off. Though there's a speech going on in the background, you don't even hear it - the kid gets our full attention.

Later in the story, Hounsou comes upon his soldier son... and the film doesn't pull any punches. That's one of the other things about the film that works well - characters you care about get killed. From DiCaprio's bartender best friend to a kind-hearted school teacher... to characters who get star billing. This is a war movie where it's not just un-named extras who die sudden, violent deaths. Of course, there's one character who manages to get a speech off while they are dying (for about ten minutes). But the film works more often than not - thanks to Hounsou's story thread (and great acting). I wish the film was all about him and left out the DiCaprio and Connelly characters - focusing on the people disrupted by the war, rather than the folks on the sidelines who are really only there to make speeches and make a buck (for all of the Connelly character's self-righteousness - she's making a buck by exposing the evils of blood diamonds.

So gang, to jump up on this soapbox and give you the moral of the story: let your story make your point, and save the speeches for Oscar night... Yikes! Here comes a car load of rebels!




*** DESCRIPTION & VOICE *** - For Kindle!


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?

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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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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*** 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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This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock's 52 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock's *silent* films! We'll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

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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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The new CDs are available now!


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.
The Noir & Mystery Class is only $15 (plus $5 S&H). First 20 on Limited Black Disk!


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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*** 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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*** 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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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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Script Secret Store SCRIPT SECRETS STORE From Typing Monkey coffee cups to messenger bags to T shirts - everything a screenwriter needs to look sharp while working on that Oscar nomination! Get your Script Secrets Coffee Cup today!


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!


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.


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 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!

Furious Action Class

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

Available Scripts


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