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What makes a film edgy? Risks! The type of risks that most Hollywood films would never consider. If your protagonist has to kill an evil character in the story, it's dull. No drama is involved in that. No real decision. All of us would kill the evil character if we had no other choice. Though we know that killing is wrong, if the person the protagonist has to kill is clearly evil, it's "justified".

But the less evil the antagonist, the more interesting the decision to kill him becomes. Instead of being a typical black hat/white hat Hollywood movie scenario, we're dealing with real moral issues. This becomes a major decision, a life altering event that's loaded with drama. The audience has to think. They have to deal with big questions, rather than just sit back and be entertained.

A few years ago there was a film called ALBINO ALLIGATOR about a trio of robbers who hold a bar hostage. The decision has been made to kill all the hostages, so they can't identify the robbers. One character played by Faye Dunnaway begs for a chance to live. So the robbers make her an offer: If she kills one of the hostages, they'll let her live. Dunnaway will be just as guilty as the robbers and won't go to the police later. Would you kill an innocent man so that you could survive?

Now there's a meaty conflict! That's something that requires the audience to think. To wrestle with moral issues.


Buy The Deliverance DVDs

Many movies are made about "women's issues", there are even two TV networks dedicated to films and stories that focus on that; but movies about "men's issues" are rare. If you watch Spike TV (for men) there is no programming that really deals with the problems of men... and most movies aimed at men are more about explosions or fight scenes or crude humor than issues concerning men. Hollywood will make two dozen movies like IN HER SHOES before they make a single drama about men.

So we have to go back to 1972 to find the last great "men's issues" movie, the adventure film DELIVERANCE written by James Dickey (based on his novel) and directed by John Boorman. This film takes a group of four suburban men to the very edge... then over that edge into the darkness beyond. These four have ventured out of civilization to ride the rapids on an untamed river... about to be dammed and turned into a lake by the power company. Instead, *they* are damned.

DELIVERANCE keeps taking its characters to the limits - pushing them to their breaking points, and thereby exposing character. Not surface character... the deep character buried within. The soul of the character. The essence. By taking the characters to the very edge... then over... we find out who they really are. Without the white water raft trip and the events that happen on that river - if had they spent the day at home in the suburbs watching the football game on TV - we would have never have found that edge and known these characters as well as we do. We need to take characters to their limits - right up to the edge.

Our four suburban guys are a mix off different types, creating contrast and conflict between them before they hit any rough water. Lewis (Burt Reynolds) is an adrenaline junkie who is always trying to push himself to the limit... and beyond. His best friend Ed (Jon Voight) was an outdoor guy before settling down - now his hunting bow is in disrepair. Drew (Ronny Cox) the quiet guitar playing guy is religious. Bobby (Ned Beatty) is the chubby city slicker - completely out of his element... and nervous. When things go wrong on the rapids, each brings a different perspective to the problem.

We also learn their secrets along the way - Ed may own a hunting bow, but he can't bring himself to kill a living thing... he chokes when he has a perfect shot at a deer. These character secrets aren't just there to give us information about the guys - they are also set ups that pay off later in the story.


To expose and explore the characters - to find out what they are really made of - the story pushes them *way* over the edge... Bobby and Ed bump into a pair of hillbilly hunters in the woods. The hillbillies threaten them. At first hey think it's because they may have a still hidden in the woods... but that's not far enough over the edge.

They tie Ed to a tree with his own belt, then force Bobby at gunpoint to take off his clothes... "Them panties, take ‘em off." What follows is probably one of the most difficult to watch scenes in the history of cinema. It doesn't just take you to the edge, it goes *way* over that edge. The lead hillbilly grabs Bobby, takes down his underpants, and sodomizes him. It's not quick. Bobby tries to get away. The hillbilly catches him, holds on to him, rides him... as Ed watches, helpless. The hillbilly forces Bobby to squeal like a pig as he rapes him.

Our four white water rafters have just entered hell - and how they react will tell us about their characters. The story has removed layers of civilization... taken us to some primal place where what we pretend to be has been stripped away, leaving only what we are. How will these four deal with this?

Just as the hillbillies are preparing to rape Ed ("Got a real pretty mouth, ain't he?"), Lewis comes out of the woods with his bow and shoots the lead hillbilly through the chest. Ed wrestles the gun away from the other hillbilly (it's a struggle - not easy), who then runs away - disappears into the woods. But, as legend tells us, it takes three arrows to kill a man... and the lead hillbilly only has one arrow in him. He staggers around - combining threat with regret. These civilized men have killed. Except the guy won't die. He staggers around - Ed keeping the shotgun on him but afraid to shoot - until the hillbilly collapses on a tree. How will our four deal with killing a man?


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If these four guys had just stayed home in Atlanta and watched the football game, we would never have learned as much about them, and the story would not have been as dramatic. By taking the story so far over the edge, to each character's breaking point, it explodes into drama.

Now our four must decide what to do with the dead hillbilly.

Drew wants to report this to the police.

Lewis thinks telling the police what happened is just going to screw up Bobby even more... plus, if this ever goes to trial, would the other hillbillies on the jury do the right thing?

Ed doesn't know what to do - he's on the fence between civilization and this primal world they have found themselves in.

Bobby? He's happy the guy is dead. In fact, he'd like to kill him again.

The argument over what to do with the dead hillbilly - where each of the four gets right in each other's face over how to solve this problem - lasts seven minutes. Most of that is between Lewis and Drew arguing between the law of society and the law of the jungle. A big, juicy, dramatic scene... ending with a vote. The decision comes down to Ed - our identification character. What should he do? There is no easy decision, no right decision, no safe decision. Ed decides to bury the hillbilly and try to forget that any of this ever happened - even though he knows that's not possible.

Even the burial scene is dramatic - because they are burying the evidence of their crime. And they get filthy digging the hole. And the hillbilly's hand springs out of the earth - and must be *pushed down* - forced into the earth. Not an easy burial.

Afterwards, Ed can't seem to get the earth off his hands no matter how hard he scrubs them in the river. Drew can't cope with what he's done, is practically comatose.


Buy The Bedoom DVDs

But it's not over. They still have to fight the river to make it back to civilization... and the hillbillies may be chasing them. They hit a stretch of dangerous rapids. Drew ends up in the water - shot by a hillbilly? One of the canoes tears in half, ejecting Bobby and Lewis. Ed keeps hold of his bow... and becomes the new leader - Lewis has a badly broken leg - bone tearing through flesh. All that's left of Drew is his broken guitar.

Lewis believes Drew was shot by a hillbilly on the cliff overlooking them... convinces Bobby and Ed that they have to deal with the hillbilly if they hope to survive. Now it's up to Ed to climb the face of a cliff with his bow and kill the hillbilly. This is a great man against nature scene - a suburban man fighting the face of a cliff, fighting gravity, fighting the elements... as he climbs the sheer wall of the cliff.

Halfway up, dead tired, Ed pulls out his wallet to look at a photo of his wife and son. Everything that is important to him. His reasons to live. As he hangs on the side of the cliff looking at the photo, he loses his grip... and the photo falls hundreds of feet to the rapids below. He's lost them. Maybe he's lost himself, too.

He still has to climb to the top of the cliff.

He still has to kill the hillbilly who shot Drew.

But we know his secret - he can't kill a living thing.

When the hillbilly with the rifle spots him, Ed has trouble shooting his arrow - his hand is shaking like crazy. This is not an easy thing to do... and becomes even more difficult when the hillbilly fires his gun at him. Ed fires an arrow... then falls on his bow and quiver - another arrow piercing his side. He's shot a man, and shot himself as well! But the hillbilly is still staggering - in this movie, killing a bad guy isn't clean and simple. Isn't black and white. Isn't easy - physically or morally. Ed must grab his hunting knife and go to finish him off...

Buy The Bedoom DVDs

And that's when he discovers that he's probably killed the wrong man. Oops! The hillbilly who got away was toothless, the man he killed has teeth. Ed realizes he's a murderer.

He lowers the hillbilly's body down the cliff into the water... but when he tries to climb down the cliff, his rope breaks and he ends up falling into the river - and tangling himself up with the dead hillbilly's body. He's tied to this dead man...

Ed sinks the hillbilly's body into the river and they take the remaining canoe down river to civilization... finding Drew's body along the way. Not shot. "Oh, God, there's no end to it," Bobby says. Things just keep getting worse - further over the edge - deeper into hell. There is no easy way out... no easy decisions.

Even when they make it back to civilization, the danger isn't over - the difficult decisions aren't over, they are still way over the ege.

The more difficult the decision the character has to make, the more the audience has to think about the question... the more edgy the script. The further characters we care about are pushed to the edge, the more dramatic and emotional the story becomes. We rip through the layers of armor to find the true character underneath it all. We force the audience to wonder what they would do in the situation. We create bih, meaty dramatic scenes. Edge defines substance - if you aren't pushing the characters to the edge, you aren't going to find the meat of the story.

Four suburban men from Atlanta on a weekend canoe trip. No big effects. No CGI. No car chases. No explosions. No mega-villains. Just character.

Are you pushing your characters far enough?






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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Most screenplays are about a 50/50 split between dialogue and description - which means your description is just as important as your dialogue. It just gets less press because the audience never sees it, the same reason why screenwriters get less press than movie stars. But your story will never get to the audience until readers and development executives read your script... so it is a very important factor. Until the movie is made the screenplay is the movie and must be just as exciting as the movie. So how do you make your screenplay exciting to read? Description is important in a novel as well, and the “audience” does read it... how do we write riveting description?

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William Goldman says the most important single element of any screenplay is structure. It’s the skeleton under the flesh and blood of your story. Without it, you have a spineless, formless, mess... a slug! How do you make sure your structure is strong enough to support your story? How do you prevent your story from becoming a slug? This Blue Book explores different types of popular structures from the basic three act structure to more obscure methods like leap-frogging. We also look at structure as a verb as well as a noun, and techniques for structuring your story for maximum emotional impact. Most of the other books just look at *structure* and ignore the art of *structuring* your story. Techniques to make your story a page turner... instead of a slug!

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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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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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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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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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*** 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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*** 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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*** 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 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.

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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!

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

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

Expanded version with more ways to create interesting dialogue! How to remove bad dialogue (and what *is* bad dialogue), First Hand Dialogue, Awful Exposition, Realism, 50 Professional Dialogue Techniques you can use *today*, Subtext, Subtitles, Humor, Sizzling Banter, *Anti-Dialogue*, Speeches, and more. Tools you can use to make your dialogue sizzle! Special sections that use dialogue examples from movies as diverse as "Bringing Up Baby", "Psycho", "Double Indemnity", "Notorious", the Oscar nominated "You Can Count On Me", "His Girl Friday", and many more! Print version is 48 pages, Kindle version is over 160 pages!

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Use your creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling application specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays. Its ease-of-use and time-saving features have attracted writers for almost two decades positioning Final Draft as the Professional Screenwriters Choice. Final Draft power users include Academy, Emmy and BAFTA award winning writers like Oliver Stone, Tom Hanks, Alan Ball, J.J. Abrams, James Cameron and more. * * * Buy It!

copyright 2018 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.

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!


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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.
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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