Because Monday is the Labor Day Holiday we are beginning with Tuesday!

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Many things get *better* with age.

For instance - T-Bills, Wine, Most Cheeses, and even many actresses. There are some starlets who looked gawky as 20 year olds and are hot as 30 year olds. You may not have noticed this, but Racquel Welch has forgotten to age - she's still hot, and could probably be your great grandmother. When Heather Locklear, who is over 50 years old, was arrested for drunk driving a few years back, her *mug shot* was hot. Compared to most celeb mugshots, hers looked like the discard from a fashion shoot. Some things get better with age...

Like your screenplay.

Many writers finish their screenplays and want to make copies and bind it and put it in the mail to some contest or, worse, some producer. Or PDF it and email it. They are so excited they send their script out before it's ripe enough to consume. And when the contest reader bites into it, they spit it out - hard! sour! green!

The biggest mistake you can make is to send out your script too soon. You may have pulled a bunch of all-nighters to type FADE OUT so that you can get your script postmarked in time to make the Nichols... and as soon as it's in the mail and on its way, you discover the typo on page 3... and the one on page 7... and the ones on all of the other pages. Not your normal typos, what my friend Grant calls "spellos" - when you misspell one word but correctly spell another, so spell-check doesn't catch it... and the sentence reads like a drunken monkey wrote it. My favorite "spello" - because I write a lot of action films - is "shot".... and you may note that the o and i are next to each other on the keyboard. When you have a page where one character shot at another, it can make the reader wonder just what kind of movie this is.

But the bigger problem than "spellos"? It's your first draft, and it stinks.

That's right - it's crap. It needs a rewrite or two before it's ready to go out in the world.


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No, it's not some new martial art like Butt-Jitsu (the Japanese art of buttock wrestling) or that lethal Chinese foot combat, Toe-Fu... Shoeboxing is the art of finding objectivity for your work by setting it aside. Putting it in a box on the shelf and forgetting about it.

Have you ever read something you wrote a long time ago and thought, "Hey, that's pretty good, I forgot I wrote that!" Or (when I read some of my old stuff), "I can't believe I wrote that line - it just... sucks!" By putting your script aside for a while and thinking about something else, you're able to come back to it with "fresh eyes" - it's as if you are reading someone else's script. You have that detachment, that objectivity, to see your script clearly. Usually we are so close to out scripts, we can't see their flaws. But time gives us the distance we need to find the flaws and weak points and correct them.

Even the writers who don't finish their first drafts and shove them in an envelope for some contest or producer often want to start the second draft right away, and keep rewriting the same script until they think it's ready. Their script could use some time in the shoebox, too. Lock that sucker away and forget about it, so that when you do come back to work on the next draft, you read what is on the page, not what is in your memory.

True story - I had a script that had gone through a bunch of rewrites and went out to producers and was almost bought by one of the producers of MEMENTO to set up at Universal. There were *three* companies interested at the time, and someone else offered a better deal. I went with them... and nothing happened. The option lapsed. That script went on the shelf and I went to work on something else. Years later, a friend wanted to read it, and afterwards they said one thing confused them - how did these specific characters get to this location. They seemed to just show up in one scene. I said, "No, there's a scene where they arrive..." and flipped through the script, unable to find the scene. It was in my brain, and everyone who had read it so far had just imagined that scene - but it did not exist. And it *was* confusing. Because I hadn't read the script in years, when I reread it, *I* was confused. Your mind can play tricks on you - things you thought were on the page may not be there. So you need to give yourself some distance before coming back to do the next draft.


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Depending on how good your memory is, it may take you a while to forget about that first draft. We have this habit of thinking about our scripts while we're working on them, even if we are doing something else: standing in line at the post office, doing laundry, driving to work, making dinner, being at work, taking a shower, making love with our spouse... So just putting the script aside may not clear your mind of it. You need to think about something else... some other script. So writing that one script over and over until you get it right is usually a bad plan, a better plan is to write another script.

I usually alternate drafts on scripts. Instead of finishing the first draft and then starting on the second draft, I start on some other first draft. I take my mind off one script by writing another. And I try to vary the type of scripts that I write. Even if I am working in the same genre, I don't finish a buddy action script and write another buddy action script. Not only would that be confusing at times, it's using the same mental muscles. I want to use different muscles. So I may move from a buddy action film to a chase thriller or a revenge story or something else that is very different than the first script, even if it is in the same genre. Because I also write horror and science fiction sometimes, those get thrown into the mix with action and thrillers. And on my big list are some comedy scripts that may or may not make it to the page next year. "Cross training" not only helps to take your mind off that other script, it keeps you from getting bored with your work and bored with that one script. Rewriting the same script over and over is like having the same meal every night. After a while you get sick of it. You don't ever want to get sick of your script - you want it to be fresh and exciting. When you come back to the first script after writing the second, it's like an old friend you haven't seen in a while. You're excited to get back to work on it... And when you finish the second draft of that first script, you'll be excited to get back to work on that second script. You don't just get "fresh eyes" that give you objectivity for the rewrite, you get *refreshed* by taking a little working vacation from that script.

The great thing about "cross training" with different genres or subgenres is that something you may learn while writing that horror script may improve the buddy action script. Just like with physical cross training, one set of muscles helps another. You may not see how writing a rom-com can help you with your buddy action script, but you might discover a technique or have a breakthrough when dealing with the rom-com relationship that will improve the relationship of your two cops (one who lives by the rules, one who lives to break the rules). By writing the same type of script all of the time, or the same script over and over again; you aren't working those other muscle groups. You don't want to be the guy with one huge arm and one scrawny arm. The *drama* in your buddy cop movies needs to be just as well written as the action and the comedy. Shoeboxing your script and working on another script that uses different creative skills is not only a great way to get some distance and objectivity, it strengthens you as a writer.


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When you get ready to take the script out of the shoebox and get back to work on it, *that's* when you give it to people you trust to get some feedback. You want their notes and feelings to be fresh when you start the next draft. If you get their notes before you put away your script, you'll just be thinking about them the whole time - and that means you are thinking about your script, and that defeats the purpose of shoeboxing.

There's another tip about getting notes and feedback, but the main thing is not to take any of it personally. Nobody takes the time to read your script and give you feedback because they hate you - they do it to help you. So don't get defensive... or at least, control it. Not every note and bit of feedback is going to be something you use in the rewrite, sometimes it just helps you see the script through the eyes of others.

But *before* you get any notes or feedback from others, you need to read your script again with your new "fresh eyes" and give yourself notes. Really look for places where the script becomes confusing, or a line doesn't work or the dialogue is weak or the action is unclear or characters do things that seem weird. Give yourself some tough notes. It does you no good to give the script a "fresh eye" read to see how brilliant you are, you want to look for the flaws and faults and problems. Be hard on yourself. Pretend it's someone else's script. You want to find all of the weaknesses so that you can strengthen them in the next draft.

People often ask how many times they should rewrite a script, and the answer is - as many times as it takes. Some scripts will take longer than others. You may be putting one script back in that shoebox on the shelf a dozen times. Don't be in a rush to get your script in the mail to a contest or producer, wait until it is ready. Would you rather the producer read a script from you that has problems, or read a script that is great enough to buy and put into production? Let the script age until it is ready to be served. Then, pop the cork and celebrate your final draft.

* All of the books on this page feature quotes from me.

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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.






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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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!

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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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You MUST Have This Book!



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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*** 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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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!

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Over 240 pages!

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

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NEW FROM 1920?



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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*** 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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*** 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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*** 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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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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*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Kindle!

*** DIALOGUE SECRETS *** - For Nook!

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting protagonists! 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!

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!


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.

Visual Class

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!


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 Amazon.com 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


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