DVD - Buy it!

COACH CARTER is the true story of Ken Carter who took a job as basketball coach at Richmond High School in my home county of Contra Costa, California. Sure, the film is filled with those big speeches we expect to see in films like this; but the film is not the cliche sports movie that's all about winning the big game, it's all about getting the team members grades up so that they can get into college. Carter made his team sign contracts that they would keep a 2.3 grade average in order to play on the team, and when some of his team members got failing grades... he locked the gym doors and forfeited games until the kids got better grades. A basketball movie that's not about basketball games? Where you cheer at some kid passing his Algebra test? That's not the only thing that's different about the film. It manages to take characters we've seen a million times before and turn them from tired cliches into three dimensional characters that we really care about. Even one character's mother - who may be in the film a total of a couple of minutes - comes across as fully fleshed out three dimensional person, rather than a cliche. How do they do that? How do *we* do that?

Well, it's kind of obvious. The way to create non-cliche characters is to give them more than one dimension. To give them good sides and bad sides... so that they have insides (and aren't just cardboard cut outs). A cliche is when all the audience can see is the surface of the character, and that surface is one-dimensional. We want to bust cliches by digging beneath the surface and showing the motivations that create the actions. We don't just want to see one side of a character, we want to see both sides *plus* the motivations underneath.

What's good about your character? Score one point.
What's bad about your character? Score two points.
Why your character has these traits (core motivation)? Score three points.


DVD - Buy it!

COACH CARTER uses symbolic antagonists (there's a chapter on this in the SUPPORTING CHARACTERS Blue Book) to show the social problems facing the students on the team, so cute little Ashanti gets to play a "villain" - one of the player's girlfriends who gets pregnant, forcing him to decide between being a teen father or dumping the woman he loves to go to college. We also see Ashanti's side of the conflict - she can keep the baby and keep her man from leaving her, right? Without her man, what else does she have? She lives with her mom and sister and all of her sister's kids, and marrying the man she loves would at least get her out of her mother's house.

What could have been a cliche "girl who gets knocked up to keep her man" subplot turns into a real situation where no one is a real villain - everyone is just trying to get what they need to survive. Because the story is about the team, anything that hurts the team is the antagonist... and that makes Ashanti a "symbolic villain". She represents teen pregnancy... but her character is still three dimensional and completely understandable. Just because she's symbolic doesn't means she's a cliche.

But the best "symbolic villain" in the film is one of the players, Cruz. What makes him a great character, and what makes COACH CARTER a good film, is that Cruz is not a one dimensional cliche - we see several sides of him. When we first see Cruz he's fighting with team members in the locker room. He's a little guy, but has the power (and passion) of a kid twice his size. The second time we see him, he's picking a fight with Coach Carter in the gym - he tries to sucker punch him. Carter knows it's coming, grab Cruz's fist and twists his arm behind his back - slamming Cruz against the gym wall. When Cruz complains that teachers aren't supposed to hurt students, Carter tells him he's not a teacher, he's the basketball coach... then forces him out of the gym and off the team. Cruz is a bundle of rage that can not be controlled... he can't even control himself.


He may be off the team, but he's not out of the story. A few scenes later he sees some team members talking and goes over to tease them about going along with Carter's necktie requirement. The team is talking team stuff... and Cruz feels left out. Later he pulls a gun on a couple of team members, threatening them... as a joke. They don't think it's funny. It's obvious to us that Cruz is doing all of this because he misses being part of the team - but the results are alienating the team members even more. We next see Cruz dealing drugs for his cousin, a local gangster. This is Cruz's real life - his future. He will be a drug dealer and gang-banger and probably die young. That could easily have been a cliched character, but Cruz isn't ONLY a drug dealer in this script.

When he sees some team members living a *different* life after a game, a life that he wants for himself, he pleads with Coach Carter to play on the team. Carter gives him an impossible task - to do all of the push ups and running exercises that he has missed so far... in one week. There's a moment where Cruz almost walks away... but then he starts doing push ups. In a great sequence, he gets back onto the team. He's a great player. The team provides him with a potential future that is much better than dealing drugs for his cousin. But when it comes to Carter's attention that many team members are cutting classes and getting failing grades, he tells the team they have to study in order to play...and Cruz's temper flares up again. He's not in school to study, he's only here for basketball. He quits the team and walks away.

What happens before Cruz walks out on the team is some clever writing. The team is undefeated, and the local papers are covering every game. One of the kids is reading the paper out loud, and when it comes to a passage praising another team member, hands him the paper to read... only he *can't* read. He stumbles over words. And this is a team member that spends *more* time in class than Cruz does. The other student's reading problems are *symbolic* of Cruz's problems (and the team's problems). Having Cruz read that passage and stumble would have been the obvious (and cliche) way to handle the scene, but by giving the problem to another character in the same boat as Cruz, the scene becomes more subtle. We (the audience) connect the dots. We know that Cruz walks out because he is unable to fulfill the academic requirements of high school... all he has is basketball. Again - he's not just some gang-banger kid from the inner city, he has a dream... but one he can't attain. This makes him a tragic villain.

But even the second time Cruz leaves the gym isn't the last time he's seen in the story. Because Cruz is still a key player on the team... even though he's no longer on the team. Cruz sinks back into full time drug dealing for his cousin, hitting rock bottom.


Now we come to the greatest scene in the Cruz subplot: A group of team members are downtown, in the bad part of town (not Richmond's Hilltop Mall). When Cruz and his cousin pull up across the street to do some drug business. Cruz sees his former team members across the street... and makes one of those great decisions that we can see. He tells his cousin that he'll be with him in a minute, he wants to say hello to his team mates... then he *crosses the street* (a physical action). On his way across the street, he sees a group of gang members approach his team mates and threaten them. Cruz runs across the street, brandishes his gun, and chases off the gang members.

DVD - Buy it!

Look at what has happens in this scene: Cruz has brought his violent world (the gun) into the team's world. Is he a team member or a gangster? A basketball player or a drug dealer? A loyal friend or a thug? When the "two Cruzes" intersect in this scene, we can see both sides of him at the same time. We can see the conflict raging inside of him through external actions. His character is showing. The contradictions within the character are all on display, here. But the scene isn't over, yet.

Across the street, his cousin is shot in a drug deal gone bad. Cruz races across the street, and instead of going after his cousin's killer with that gun he was brandishing a few minutes earlier... he cradles his dying cousin in his arms. The cliche would have been more violence. The cliche character would have been driven by violence. But this scene shows what drives Cruz - belonging to a group. Let's call that "family". When he couldn't belong to the family of the basketball team, he went back to the family of drug dealers. He's tough guy that needs to be loved - needs to feel needed - needs to belong. After his cousin is killed, Cruz breaks down and exposes all of this to Coach Carter. He shows his vulnerability, shows his needs, shows that he's not just that guy who will fight at the drop of a hat. He shows the *reason* why he fights everyone. He needs to be loved.

Is that the cliche inner city gang-banger? A vulnerable guy who needs to be loved? Who needs to belong? Who is brandishing a weapon one minute and crying the next?

Let's look at that from the other side: Is that a cliche high school basketball player? A vulnerable guy who needs to be loved? Needs to belong? See - it's not a cliche no matter how you look at it. This is a three-dimensional human character. There is a root motivation for both playing on the team and being part of the drug dealing gang.

Every hero is a villain, every villain is a hero. It's all a matter of point of view.


Jackass DVD - Buy it!

Take each of your characters, even the villains, and find ways to show them as complex individuals rather than cliches. With your protagonist, you will probably know them from the inside out - you'll know their motivations before you place them in a story. For supporting characters like Cruz you may only know how they fit into the story, and you'll have to work from the outside in. Look at their characteristics and figure out what motivation connects all of the facets of their character. Member of the team, member of the gang... hmm, I see a pattern. What would cause this pattern in a person? What drives someone to want to be a part of a group?

Make sure your characters, even the minor ones, have more than one side to them, and that there's a deeper motivation at their core. A cliche character is one that is all surface - all good or bad. We want characters in our screenplays that are real people. Believable. That makes our stories more believable.

What's good about your character? Score one point.
What's bad about your character? Score two points.
Why your character has these traits (core motivation)? Score three points.






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?

LAST DAY AT $3.99!
Tomorrow: $4.99!

Tips FAQ

My New Script Secrets Newsletter!




*** 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!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!

NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!



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!

Only $5.99




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.

Only $3.99 - and no postage!

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!


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)

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).

Click here for more information on CLASS CDs!





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.)

Only $9.99 - and no postage!




*** 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!

$4.99 - and no postage!

NO KINDLE REQUIRED! Get the *free* app (any device, except your Mr. Coffee) on the order page on Amazon!



*** 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!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!





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!

ONLY $4.99 - and no postage!



*** 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!

ONLY $4.99 - and no postage!



*** 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!

ONLY $4.99 - and no postage!


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.

ONLY $3.99 - and no postage!





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.

ONLY $2.99 - and no postage!



*** 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!

ONLY $4.99 - and no postage!



*** 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!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!



*** 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!

Only $4.99 - and no postage!



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

eXTReMe Tracker

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!


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.

Furious Action Class

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

Producing my own scripts, investment possibilities, pipe dreams.


Naked Class 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!


Every screenwriting book in the world!
In Association With
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!


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

Available Scripts


Take classes on CD!