WEDNESDAY'S SCRIPT TIP:

I HAVE NO MOUTH (AND I MUST SCREAM)*


Screenwriting is communication, but what happens if you have a character who can't communicate? What if you're doing the Helen Keller story? What if your protagonist wakes up one morning as a giant cockroach? What if your script is a sequel to JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN? How do you tell your story?

The first thing I'd consider: is this really a movie story? Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning and discovers he's a giant cockroach, and is forced to deal with the world as a giant insect. That story works well as a short novel because we can get inside Gregor's head, but on screen we can't see what he's thinking. Unless you can find a way to show his thoughts through actions and decisions, maybe you'd be better off telling your story in a medium that allows interior monologue? Match the story to the medium.


BE A BUG!

But let's say your protagonist wakes up one morning as a giant cockroach, how can he communicate with the other characters? In that movie where Chevy Chase turned into Benji (OH HEAVENLY DOG), they used voice over after the transformation. The "rules" of voice over still stand - you need to tell your story WITHOUT the voice over, and use the VO to add an additional layer to your story. In OH HEAVENLY DOG, Benji's actions tell most of the story - he's sniffing around, trying to uncover a murderer. Benji DID things that told the story... and Chevy Chase's VO was mostly smart-alec remarks.

Though I don't remember if they used VO in the similar movie FLUKE, where Matthew Modine is killed and reincarnated as a dog... who travels cross-country to be with his family again. I do remember the way the film used actions to tell the story and make the dog seem absolutely human. The dog collects things that remind him of his family and when he becomes his family's pet he does many of the actions he did as a human - tucks in his kids, etc. When the dog does human activities, it's easy to see that it's really Matthew Modine under all of that fur. His actions serve to show us what he's feeling.

If you can find some way to have your transformed character do specific things that you've set up earlier the audience will know that big cockroach is really Greg... and your supporting characters may be able to figure it out, too. In ROBOCOP Peter Weller does a quick-draw gun-spin thing for his son. He explains to his partner (Nancy Allen) that the cop on his son's favorite TV show does the gun-spin thing, so he had to learn it in order to be a "real cop" to his son. Later in the movie when Nancy Allen is partnered with Robocop, he does the gun-spin thing and she knows it's Weller under all of that metal. It's a great moment where she realizes that the robot partner she doesn't like is really the human partner, Murphy, she did like. There are also some great scenes where Robocop remembers his past and tries to go back to his wife and son - only to find that everything has changed. That idea was lifted from the movie SECONDS where a middle aged man gets plastic surgery and becomes a young man again... the realizes how much he liked his old life. By watching films with similar situations, you can get some ideas on how to handle your human-to-cockroach transformation story.


JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN 2 - THE REVENGE!

If your protagonist goes into a coma... you're probably in trouble. Here you have a situation where the character can't communicate with us through dialogue OR actions. The guy's just a lump. You have the ultimate passive protagonist... so maybe the wrong character is your protagonist? One of the smart moves Charles Pogue made in his script for THE FLY was to make it a love story with TWO protagonists - so when Brundle turned to Brundle-fly we could ease over to Geena Davis' point of view. If you don't have a love story, maybe you end up using a buddy character as the audience's doorway into the story... wasn't DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE told from the good doctor's friend's point of view? Basically, you need a protagonist who can do things, so maybe you need to pick a mobile communicative character to be your protagonist?

There was an episode of SHEENA that I really liked where she changed into the Drachna (this Hulk-like monster) and couldn't un-change. It was a cool idea - the super hero trapped in their powers - unable to change back to their secret identity. That episode was told from the two supporting character's POV - they were trying everything they could think of to change her back to herself. She was a monster... but we cared about her because THEY cared about her. Sort of second person empathy. One of the reasons we care about Jim Carrey in LIAR LIAR is because of his son - the kid loves his father, so we want Carrey to get his life together for the sake of the kid.

The other possibility with coma-guy is that his actions don't take place in the physical world. In THE CELL we have Vincent D'Onofrio in a coma... so we go INSIDE his mind where he can still talk and move around. Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN does something similar, dramatizing the memories of the coma-guy. He may be laying there in the hospital, but in his mind he's replaying the past - and we see the replay.

If your character has transformed into a monster like Larry Talbot or Brundle from THE FLY you may use the FLUKE and ROBOCOP method of using actions or physical objects from the past to trigger the audience's memory of what a nice guy they were before they grew all of that hair and started eating people. Also, show the STRUGGLE between the good side and bad side in every scene where they do bad things. Make the audience root for the good side to take control... because that involves us in the character's struggle. This is done by dramatizing the struggle through choices. Show the audience the good choice and bad choice, show the character struggling to make a decision - going back and forth between the two - then seemingly deciding to do the right thing before the monster inside forces them to do the wrong thing.

No matter what method you use, you must find a way to open up your closed character - to create a way for them to communicate with the audience. To give us access to what is going on inside their mind, to find a way to dramatize whatever struggle they are going through. Film IS communication - and if you MUST be able to figure out how to get information to the audience... even if your character has no mouth.

* This is the title of a swell Harlan Ellison short story.


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All About Endings!

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The Perfect Ending For Your Story!

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

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BRAND NEW

All About LOGLINES, TREATMENTS, and PITCHING!

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LOGLINES, TREATMENTS, and PITCHING! Blue Book!

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!

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NEW: WRITE IT: FILM IT!

WriteItFilmIt



Making Your Own Movie?
Writing An Indie Film?
Writing A Low Budget Genre Script To Sell?
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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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THE MISSION IMPOSSIBLE MOVIES

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*** THE BOURNE MOVIES

NEW: Updates on TREADSTONE TV show!

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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Over 240 pages!

*** THE TERMINATOR MOVIES *** - For Kindle!


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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My New Script Secrets Newsletter!


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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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ALSO KINDA NEW!

DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book!

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DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book.

IS HALF OF YOUR STORY IN TROUBLE?

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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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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THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL!

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READY TO BREAK IN?

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NEW!

*** 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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*** 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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MOVIES ARE CHARACTERS!

*** 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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ACT TWO SOLUTIONS!

*** 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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SUBPLOTS?

*** 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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ADVICE FROM 1920!

*** 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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I 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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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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PRO DIALOGUE TECHNIQUES!

*** 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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hcd

FINAL DRAFT SOFTWARE

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 2020 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.
E BOOKS: BLUE BOOKS & NOVELLETES

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Furious Action Class
MY OTHER SITES

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

FIRST STRIKE PRODUCTIONS
Producing my own scripts, investment possibilities, pipe dreams.

NAKED SCREENWRITING MP3s

Naked Class The NAKED SCREENWRITING CLASS ON MP3! The 2001 London Class on 8 MP3s! Recorded *live* the morning after the Raindance Film Festival wrapped. The two day class on 8 MP3s,
The 2 Day Class on MP3!

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BOOKLETS & PRODUCTS

bluebook FIRST STRIKE BLUE BOOKS
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!

BILL'S CORNER

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


Available Scripts

CLASSES ON MP3

Class CDs CLASSES ON MP3! Take a class on MP3! GUERRILLA MARKETING - NO AGENT? NO PROBLEM! and WRITING THRILLERS (2 MP3s). Full length classes on MP3. Now Available: IDEAS & CREATIVITY, WRITING HORROR, WRITING INDIE FILMS, more!
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