FRIDAY'S SCRIPT TIP:

SUSPENSE? JUST ADD A WEAPON!


Keeping the audience on the edge of their seat is the function of SUSPENSE. Suspense is not the same as action, nor is it the same as surprise. Suspense is the ANTICIPATION of action. The longer you draw out the anticipation, the greater the suspense.

Hitchcock explained; "Two men are having an innocent little chat. Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath the table between them. Nothing happens, then all of the sudden, BOOM! There is an explosion. The audience is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has been an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence.

"Now let us take a SUSPENSE situation. The bomb is underneath the table, but the audience knows it... Probably because they have seen the villain place it there. The audience is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one O'clock, and there is a clock in the decor. It is a quarter to one. In this situation, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating, because the audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: 'There's a bomb beneath you, and it's about to explode!'

"In the first case, we have given the audience fifteen seconds of SURPRISE at the moment of the explosion. In the second case, we have provided them with fifteen MINUTES of SUSPENSE."

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Suspense adds spice to any scene - it doesn't have to be a thriller or action script. Comedies frequently use suspense... many of the laughs in ABOUT A BOY (2002) come from the anticipation that Rachel Weisz may discover that Nicholas Hoult is not really Hugh Grant's son. Every lie Hugh Grant tells is a ticking bomb that we know will eventually blow up in his face. Even though you can use suspense in comedies and dramas and musicals and romances, the most common place to use suspense is in a thriller.

(Yes, *that* Nicholas Hoult! The great thing about old Script Tips is finding something like this and realizing that the kid in ABOUT A BOY grew up to be the guy in MAD MAX: FURY ROAD! Talk about 15 years to become an overnight success!)

UNFAITHFUL (2002) takes a dramatic scene and creates suspense just by adding a weapon. Bland suburbanite Edward Sumner (Richard Gere) has discovered that his sexy wife Connie (Diane Lane) is having an affair with a hunky SoHo book dealer named Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez)... and goes to confront him. This is a dramatic situation made volatile and dangerous just by showing us a very sharp butcher's knife sitting on the table near the two men. A deadly weapon within easy reach.



			SUMNER
	How did you? Meet my wife?

			MARTEL
	By accident. On the street. There was 
	a wind storm, she bumped into me and --

			SUMNER
	You're him.

			MARTEL
	She told you about that?

			SUMNER
	Yes.  This is where you meet?

Martel glances at the knife.

			MARTEL
	Yes.

			SUMNER
	And she likes it?

			MARTEL
	Well, I guess - she never complained.

			SUMNER
	Do you stay in all the time? Or do you 
	go out, too?

			MARTEL
	It depends. Sometimes yes, we go out.

Martel moves closer to the table... and the knife.

			SUMNER
	She likes this neighborhood?

			MARTEL
	Yes. More exciting than the suburbs, I guess.

			SUMNER
	We've been married eleven years. We have 
	a son.

			MARTEL
	Yeah. She told me.

			SUMNER
	He's the reason why we left the city. 
	Connie thought it would be better for him.

			MARTEL
	Oh? She said it was your idea.

			SUMNER
	You talk about me?

Sumner picks up a snow globe near the bed.

			SUMNER
	Where did you get this?

			MARTEL
	It was a Gift.

Sumner twists the globe and it begins playing a music box tune.

			MARTEL
	I didn't know it made music.

			SUMNER
	Why would she do that?

			MARTEL
	Maybe she just wanted to buy me something.

			SUMNER
	She didn't buy it. I gave it to her. I'm 
	feeling sick.

			MARTEL
	You want some water?

Sumner sits down on the bed. In his hands the snow globe keeps playing the tune.

			SUMNER
	I'm feeling sick. I'm not well. 
	I'm not feeling well. 

Sumner SLAMS the snow globe onto Martel's head... killing him.

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Just having that knife on the table instantly creates suspense. We know that either man might grab for it at any time - and that makes the conversation exciting. Will Martel say something to set Sumner off? You think that "more exciting than the suburbs" crack is going to do it - but Sumner maintains control. That knife is right there - will Martel grab it and kill Sumner? Tension builds. We wait for someone to grab that knife. We anticipate the action - and that turns a dramatic conversation into a real edge-of-the-seat experience.

There is a great scene in KILL BILL 2 where Uma Thurman (The Bride) confronts David Carradine (Bill) as he is making sandwiches. It is a tense conversation, made *intense* by Carradine using a big shiny sharp knife to make the sandwiches - you keep waiting for him to throw it at her. This would have been a normal scene - tense, but not life threatening - if Carradine had been stirring tomato soup with a wooden spoon. No threat from the spoon. But we know what he can do with that shiny sharp knife. If Uma says or does the wrong thing - he could easily kill her. This ups the suspense... in a conversation scene.

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The opening scene of the classic Private Eye movie MURDER MY SWEET has Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) quitting work for the day, taking his gun off and putting it on his desk, then sitting back in his desk chair and looking out his office window at the city... when he sees a reflection in the window of a man standing behind him. A *huge* man. Moose Malloy (Mike Mazurki) enters the office and sits on Marlowe's desk, next to the gun, and demands that Marlowe help him find the girlfriend who he lost track of while he was in prison. Throughout the whole conversation, that gun is between the angry ex-con and Marlowe - adding tension to the scene and creating suspense. Eventually, Marlowe must carefully remove the gun without making it look threatening to Malloy... even more suspense. The great thing about this scene is that it is that typical exposition-filled scene where the client hires the private eye, but with that gun on the desk between them we hardly even notice the exposition.

Tension is unresolved conflict. The conflict has to exist below the surface, and it has to threaten to erupt at any minute. When you throw a gun or a knife into the scene, the tension escalates.

Want to add suspense to your dramatic conversation? Just add a weapon!



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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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*** HITCHCOCK: MASTERING SUSPENSE *** - For Kindle!

Alfred Hitchcock, who directed 52 movies, was known as the *Master Of Suspense*; but what exactly is suspense and how can *we* master it? How does suspense work? How can *we* create “Hitchcockian” suspense scenes in our screenplays, novels, stories and films?

This book uses seventeen of Hitchcock’s films to show the difference between suspense and surprise, how to use “focus objects” to create suspense, the 20 iconic suspense scenes and situations, how plot twists work, using secrets for suspense, how to use Dread (the cousin of suspense) in horror stories, and dozens of other amazing storytelling lessons. From classics like “Strangers On A Train” and “The Birds” and “Vertigo” and “To Catch A Thief” to older films from the British period like “The 39 Steps” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” to his hits from the silent era like “The Lodger” (about Jack The Ripper), we’ll look at all of the techniques to create suspense!

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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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*** HITCHCOCK: EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR! *** - For Kindle!

***

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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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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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WHAT IS A SCENE?

*** 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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DO YOU WRITE PICTURES?

*** VISUAL STORYTELLING *** - For Kindle! (exclusive)


Show Don't Tell - but *how* do you do that? Here are techniques to tell stories visually! Using Oscar Winning Films and Oscar Nominated Films as our primary examples: from the first Best Picture Winner "Sunrise" (1927) to the Oscar Nominated "The Artist" (which takes place in 1927) with stops along the way Pixar's "Up" and Best Original Screenplay Winner "Breaking Away" (a small indie style drama - told visually) as well as "Witness" and other Oscar Winners as examples... plus RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 200 pages!

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GREAT SUPPORTING CHARACTERS!

*** 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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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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*** 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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*** VINTAGE #1: HOW TO WRITE PHOTOPLAYS *** - For Kindle!

***

Screenwriting books have been around as long as films have. This series reprints vintage screenwriting books with a new introduction and history, plus new articles which look at how these lessons from almost 100 years ago apply to today’s screenplays. Anita Loos book is filled with information which still applies. In addition to the full text of the original book, you get the full screenplay to Miss Loos' hit THE LOVE EXPERT, plus several new articles on the time period and women in Hollywood.

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MAKES A GREAT GIFT!

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*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Nook!

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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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HOW YOU TELL IT

*** 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 over 208 pages!

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GREAT SUPPORTING CHARACTERS!

*** 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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THAT STAR PART!

*** 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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THEY SOUND DIFFERENT!

*** 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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copyright 2017 by William C. Martell


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SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING

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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.
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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.
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