MONDAY'S SCRIPT TIP:
Doomed lovers and Spider women have been a staple of the
Film Noir genre since its creation. "From the moment they met it
was murder!" screams the poster for THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS
TWICE. Much of the genre revolves around men and women caught in
what James M. Cain called the "Love Rack" in his August 24, 1942
preface to THREE OF A KIND. Modern day Erotic Thrillers like
BASIC INSTINCT and FATAL ATTRACTION depend on "Love Racks" to
fuel their plots, yet many writers who try to crack the noir or
erotic thriller genres have never heard of the term. Cain's
preface has been out of print since 1944.
The Love Rack is a torture device pulling your noir
protagonist in two directions at once... threatening to split him
(or her) in half. You know the old mediaeval torture device *the rack* - the victim’s
hands are chained to the top and their feet are chained to the bottom and when the crank
is turned it stretched them and stretches them and stretches them until it pulls them apart?
One of those, but with the romantic relationship as the rack. Yeah, I’ve been there, too.
The Love Rack is the reason why the guy and the gal MUST
have a relationship, and the reason why they MUST NOT have a
relationship... and it's the same exact reason! This builds
thrills and suspense right into the relationship. There is a built-in conflict in the relationship
which is completely organic. Nothing pasted on from the outside, no artificial flavors or colors.
A Love Rack pulls your characters apart - they must be together but they must not be together.
Should they stay or should they go? If the stay it will lead to trouble
(and in Noir stories - usually death), but if they go... well, that may lead to death as well.
This is the only romantic partner for them on Earth... and the relationship will get them killed!
Cain's example is ROMEO AND JULIET. Juliet is the beautiful
daughter of one of Verona's most important families, as so is Romeo.
Both the same age, same social class, and have the same romantic
world view. They're perfect for each other, right?
Wrong: their families are bitter enemies.
They MUST fall in
love, but they CAN'T fall in love.
And you know how the story ends...
In GILDA George Macready plays a mobster with a beautiul
young wife, Gilda, played by Rita Hayworth. The wife is a little
wild, and the mobster wants to prevent men from hitting on her
(she may go home with them!), so he enlists his number one
lieutenant, played by Glenn Ford, to protect her. Go where ever
Gilda goes and make sure no one makes unwanted advances. But
spending every waking hour at Gilda's side, Ford finds himself
falling in love with her.
The reason why he must have her (his job has him constantly
at her side) is the same reason why he must not have her (his job
is to make sure no one touches her). That's a love rack!
Take the same scenario and cast Uma Thurman and John
Travolta and you have the set up for the first story in the PULP FICTION anthology "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife".
Vincent is a loyal enforcer for crime kingpin Marcellus Wallace, who is tasked with protecting his boss's wife Mia and "showing her a good time"
while the boss is away on business... just not too good a time. I mean, Antwan "Tony Rocky Horror" Rockamora
got tossed out of a 4th storey window for giving her a foot massage. A foot massage! So Vincent is going to be on his best
behavior... except Mia is beautiful and flirty and wants to dance and invites him back to her place and...
So, should Vincent have refused to take her out, and angered his violent crime kingpin boss?
Or taken Mia out and done whatever she said - boss's wife, don't want to refuse her - and ended up in trouble?
A Love Rack creates a series of conflicts where there can be no right answer, no real solution.
A dilemma built in to the relationship. You can't remove the dilemma, because it is *part* of the relationship.
DRAMATIC LOVE RACKS
Love racks add built in suspense, drama and conflict to any romantic relationship. In
MONSTER'S BALL Billy Bob Thornton plays a prison guard in charge of death row inmates.
Soon after the execution of a criminal (Sean P-Diddy Combs) he sees Halle Berry's son get hit by
a car on a rainy night and they rush him to the hospital. Everyone at the hospital asks Thornton is
he's Berry's husband or the boy's father - he keeps telling them he doesn't know her. Later
Thornton gets talked into taking her home by a policeman. They are two people dealing with
tragedies, and they eventually end up going out together. On their first date, she begins telling
him about her son - he was distraught after his daddy died and that may have contributed to the
accident. How did his daddy die? He was a criminal sentenced to death... Sean P-Diddy
The reason why they need each other (both are alone and dealing with tragedies)
is the same reason why their relationship is doomed (he is the cause of her tragedy). That's a love
rack! The emotions tug Billy Bob Thornton one way and then the other - he loves her, but he
doesn't want her to know he was involved in her husband's execution. Should he break up with
her before she finds out who he is? Should he tell her and lose her? The situation is tearing him
apart... and creating a great deal of suspense. We know that sooner or later the other shoe will
drop and she'll discover his secret.
MONSTER'S BALL has a second level of love rack - racism. Thornton was raised by his
bigoted father to hate Blacks, and Halle Berry is Black. He is in love with the type of person he's
supposed to hate. This also creates suspense and dread - Thornton must hide his relationship with
Berry from his father (Peter Boyle). Again Thornton is being torn apart - can he love someone
he's been trained from birth to hate? The conflict within the relationship explores the issue in a
way that's personal rather than political, and emotional rather than preachy.
ROM-COM LOVE RACKS
We've seen Love Racks in thrillers and Love Racks in dramas, but Love Racks in romantic comedies?
I think that most good Rom-coms work because they have a love rack - the thing that brings the couple
together is the thing that keeps the couple apart. In the ACT TWO Blue Book I look at pacing in Romantic Comedies,
and how usually within every ten minutes (pages) there is a scene where the couple is brought together, only
to be pulled apart. and use four different Rom-Coms as examples. Danged if all four don't follow that pacing pattern!
Let's take a look at WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (one of the four examples) - what brings the couple together?
They become long time
friends. They like each other, trust each other, hang out with each other. Friendship.
Okay, what keeps
them apart? They are afraid that a romantic relationship will ruin their... friendship! There are a ton of songs
that ask of lfriends can be lovers, so this is a very relatable conflict. We can understand the dilemma.
What brings them
together as a couple is the same thing that keeps them apart. That's a love rack!
What about Jeff Arch's SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE? What brings the couple together?
A live radio call in
show - they are from different ends of the country, but we are now connected by the marvels of communication.
Someone in New York can "meet" someone in Seattle and they can have conversations by phone and really get
to know each other.
Now what keeps the couple apart? They live on different ends of the country!
is an interesting Rom-com because the couple don't *physically* meet until the very end. By that time they
have fallen in love by phone - but geography has kept them apart. National communications has brought them
together but the size of that nation is what has kept them apart.
When we look at SERENDIPITY we have fate bringing the couple together and fate keeping them apart - a
perfect love rack!
The classic screw-ball rom-com HIS GIRL FRIDAY - their job brings them together and it's the job that destroyed their
relationship... and the job that's going to bring them together again. Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is a newspaper editor who made the mistake of marrying his top crime reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), and though they could work together, they had trouble living together. Both were driven career people - anything for a news story! But what brought them together is what split them apart. Now, Hildy may be on her way to her wedding, but she can't help but drop everything and follow the breaking news story of an escape Death Row convict- she's a newspaper reporter! Burns knows this, and creates a situation where Hildy will leave her (boring) soon-to-be- husband Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy - who made a career playing the “other guy” and now that role is called the Bellamy in rom-com slang)... and maybe while covering the story realize that Burns (and the newspaper world) is the only life for her. Of course, *both characters* have to learn that neither is going to quit their jobs and settle down into some sort of “normal” domestic life. This 1940 film is all about how women should be able to put their careers before romance if that’s what they want. The good old days!
Whether it’s HIS GIRL FRIDAY or SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, it's the
conflict inherent in the love rack that creates much of the comedy in these films... and heightens the romance.
If the one you love is also the one you can't have, that makes the love even stronger!
By the way - if you are looking for a clue to theme in a rom-com, take a look at what keeps the
couple apart (and what brings them together). Male & Female Friendship in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, etc.
Love Racks usually contain the seeds of both concept and theme, so you can grow an interesting script
if you have an unusual Love Rack (check out Cain's novel RAINBOW'S END
for a really weird love rack about maternal love). (Cain was the kind of Noir love racks, and his novels
used just about every romantic combination you can think of - yes, even that.) So what is it that brings the couple together... and pulls them apart?
Why are they meant for each other... but can never be with each other? Romeo and Juliet? The conflict within the relationship itself?
Looking for a way to add thrills or drama or even comedy to your script's romance?
Put 'em on the Love Rack!
All About LOGLINES, TREATMENTS, and PITCHING!
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!
NEW: WRITE IT: FILM IT!
Making Your Own Movie?
Writing An Indie Film?
Writing A Low Budget Genre Script To Sell?
Writing A Made For TV Holiday Movie?
You will be writing for BUDGET. On a standard spec screenplay, you don’t have to think about budget, but these types of screenplays writing with budget in mind is critical!
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.
STORY IN ACTION SERIES!
THE MISSION IMPOSSIBLE MOVIES
NEW: Updates On Films 7 & 8 Casting!
All Six Movies analyzed! All of the mission tapes, all of the “that’s impossible!” set pieces and stunts, the cons and capers - and how these scenes work, the twists and double crosses, the tension and suspense (and how to generate it), the concept of each film as a stand alone with a different director calling the shots (broken in the sixth film), the gadgets, the masks, the stories, the co-stars and team members (one team member has been in every film), the stunts Tom Cruise actually did (and the ones he didn’t), and so much more! Over 120,000 words of fun info!
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*** THE BOURNE MOVIES
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Over 240 pages!
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My New Script Secrets Newsletter!
OUTLINES & THE THEMATIC!
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.
ALSO KINDA NEW!
DESCRIPTION & VOICE Blue Book!
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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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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LEARN SUSPENSE FROM THE MASTER!
*** HITCHCOCK: MASTERING SUSPENSE *** - For Kindle!
Alfred Hitchcock, who directed 52 movies, was known as the *Master Of Suspense*; but what exactly is suspense and how can *we* master it? How does suspense work? How can *we* create “Hitchcockian” suspense scenes in our screenplays, novels, stories and films?
This book uses seventeen of Hitchcock’s films to show the difference between suspense and surprise, how to use “focus objects” to create suspense, the 20 iconic suspense scenes and situations, how plot twists work, using secrets for suspense, how to use Dread (the cousin of suspense) in horror stories, and dozens of other amazing storytelling lessons. From classics like “Strangers On A Train” and “The Birds” and “Vertigo” and “To Catch A Thief” to older films from the British period like “The 39 Steps” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much” to his hits from the silent era like “The Lodger” (about Jack The Ripper), we’ll look at all of the techniques to create suspense!
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!
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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!
THE BOOK THAT STARTED IT ALL!
*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Kindle!
*** THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING *** - For Nook!
Why pay $510 for a used version of the 240 page 2000 version that used to retail for $21.95? (check it out!) when
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"SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING is the
best book on the practical nuts-and-bolts mechanics of writing a screenplay I've ever read."
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READY TO BREAK IN?
*** BREAKING IN BLUE BOOK *** - For Kindle!
Should really be called the BUSINESS BLUE BOOK because it covers almost everything you will need to
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networking, to the different kinds of meetings you are will have at Studios, to the difference between
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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!
*** 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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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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*** 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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E BOOKS PAGE
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
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 CDs
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.
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Each Blue Book is 48
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THE SECRETS OF ACTION SCREENWRITING The Best Nuts & Bolts Screenwriting Book On The
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CLASSES ON CD! Take a class on CD! GUERRILLA MARKETING - NO AGENT? NO PROBLEM! and WRITING THRILLERS (2 CDs). Full length classes on CD. Now Available: IDEAS & CREATIVITY, WRITING HORROR, WRITING INDIE FILMS, more!
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