WEDNESDAY'S SCRIPT TIP:

UNEXPECTED ANSWERS


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You know the scene - Julia Roberts has spent the last 90 minutes pursuing the man of her dreams, but now it looks like he's going to get away. She's made some stupid blunder, and they had a big argument, and now there's no chance for romance. In RUNAWAY BRIDE, after she finally meets Richard Gere (the man who saved her from a life of prostitution in a previous film), she screws it all up and ruins the relationship. The shoe is on the other foot in NOTTING HILL, it's Hugh Grant who has finally met the woman of his dreams (movie star Julia Roberts), then inserted his foot into his mouth up to the knee and ruined the relationship. Okay, what happens next in romantic comedies is:

1) the protagonist has to run to catch the love of their lives before they leave on a plane or something,
2) we have that big scene where they apologize for saying all the wrong things,
3) then they profess their undying love, and
4) the happy couple kisses and walks off into the sunset together.

You've seen one Julia Roberts romantic comedy you've seen them all...

Well, except for MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING. Because after doing #1 and #2, things don't end they way we've come to expect. The scene moves in a different direction, and Julia ends up WITHOUT the male lead at the end.

The last thing we want is a scene that seems stale, contrived, and predictable. But how do you avoid that? I mean, the villain HAS to be vanquished, right? The lovers HAVE to live happily ever after, right? The hero HAS to learn that important life lesson that makes him a better individual, right? The conflict HAS to be resolved, right? That's what the audience requires from the story to make it satisfying.

But who said there were only two choices? Who said the that Julia Roberts either gets the guy or doesn't get the guy? What if she ends up living happily ever after with some other guy at the end? That's what MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING did - it gave us another choice... and that made it unpredictable and inventive.

The way to make YOUR scripts unpredictable and inventive is to find the OTHER solution to the problem. There's that obvious solution that we can see coming from a mile away... but that isn't the one we want. So we have to dig deeper: come up with an unexpected solution.

POSSIBILITY PYRAMID

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It's a mistake to think there are only two possible ways for a scene to work... or three... or four. Part of our job as *creative* writers is to be creative and find the unique scenes - the scenes we haven't seen before. There are 26 letters in the alphabet, and those letters can be used to form how many words? And those words can be used to form how many different sentences with different meanings? And paragraphs, and pages, and scenes - the possibility pyramid begins with those 26 letters and just keeps expanding. So when you come to a scene and think it can only work this way or that way, you are ignoring those thousands of other ways it might work. Hey, we don't want to do that! Remember that by the time we get to *scenes* there are hundreds or thousands or maybe even millions of possibilities. Instead of doing what has been done before, we need to get that creative side in gear and find the other ways that scene might work.

First you have to know what this scene is doing - what is it's purpose and what information is it giving the audience. It's easy to become confused and trapped by all of the details of the scene, so we want to get to the core of the scene. Once we know that, we're going to brainstorm *ten* scene ideas that illustrate that scene purpose. Different ways it could work, different outcomes, different everything! Now find the scene ideas that have never been used before from your list and select the best. It all ten have been used before, come up with ten more... and ten more... and ten more... until you have some versions of that scene information that haven't been used. Because you are starting with the scene's purpose, you aren't going to get ideas that completely do not fit your story. But you may end up with some ideas that will need some tinkering to fit. Just don't tinker it back to square one.

In the Farrelly Brothers' SHALLOW HAL. Jack Black plays a "negative polarity babe magnet" who believes that physical beauty is everything. He only pursues the most beautiful women in the world... so he's mostly unlucky in love. When he's trapped on an elevator with Tony Robbins, the mind-power guru hypnotizes Hal to see people's inner beauty. From that point on, most of the time we are seeing people in "Hal vision" - their physical form reflects their inner beauty. Soon afterwards he meets the beautiful Rosie and falls madly in love with her. Hal sees Rosie as Gwyneth Paltrow, his buddy Jason Alexander sees her as a 300 pound "rhino". So Alexander talks Tony Robbins into lifting the "spell". Once Hal sees Rosie as she really is, he makes that blunder that ends the relationship. Rosie, heartbroken, signs up for a tour of the Peace Corps. You know that Rom-Com cliche where the protagonist has to race to stop the love interest from leaving on an airplane? Rosie is flying to some third world country this afternoon, and Hal races across town to stop her.

Okay, that's the situation. There are two ways this problem can be resolved:
1) Jack tells Rosie that he loves her, she decides to stay with him. They live happily ever after.
2) Jack tells Rosie that he loves her, she hops the plane anyway. Jack is heartbroken and alone.

The audience expects one of those two to happen - but really they only expect #1 to happen. It's a romantic comedy, so we expect Rosie to skip the flight to Pago-Pago and live happily ever after with Hal. If the film had been a romantic drama we might expect her to hop the plane and leave Hal heartbroken, but a better man. Hey, they'll always have that chocolate milkshake.

But the film does something different. Instead of deciding there were only two choices, it came up with a third (unexpected) choice. When Rosie says she has to catch that plane, Hal tells her she HAS to catch that plane. He INSISTS that she catch that plane. The Peace Corps is something that she loves, one of the things that Hal loves about her, and he wouldn't want her to skip her Peace Corps duty because of him. I think that response qualifies as unexpected in a romantic comedy... But that's still basically choice #2, just with a really weird spin. What the Farrelly Brothers did is find a third choice that resolves the problems in a satisfying way... Hal says all of this because HAL is also going to be on that plane! Hal has joined the Peace Corps! By looking at ALL the possibilities, they found one that resolves the problem but isn't predictable.

Whenever you get to a scene that has a predictable outcome, brainstorm a list of ALL the potential outcomes. Ten ideas and then ten more and ten more if you need them. Keep panning until you find gold. Everything you can think of. Weird ideas, normal ideas, preposterous ideas. There are no WRONG ideas when you are brainstorming. The more ideas you have, the more choices you have. Once you have a list of different ideas that resolve the conflict, find the one that is both unexpected and satisfying. What if Julia Roberts realized that she could live happily ever after ALONE? What if Hal joined the Peace Corps?

When your story asks a question, and there is a usual movie answer... you want to use the unexpected answer instead. There are always fresh, new ways to solve a problem, and our job is to find one. We are supposed to be creative, aren't we?



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OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC!

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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.


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DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book.

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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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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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"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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*** 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!

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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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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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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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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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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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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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BEST SELLER!

*** 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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STORY IS CHARACTER!

*** 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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TOP DIALOGUE TIPS!

*** 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!

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