Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Screenwriting Bible by Sir William K. Coe


Reveal the star's SITUATION
Reveal the important COMPLICATIONS
Describe the ACTION the star takes
Describe the star's CRISIS decision
Hint at the CLIMAX - the danger, the 'showdown'
Hint at the star's potential TRANSFORMATION
Identify SIZZLE: sex, greed, humor, danger, thrills, satisfaction
Identify GENRE
Keep it to three sentences
Use present tense

The Pitch

Many writers fear pitching their stories, if they wanted to perform for
an audience, they would not have chosen a solitary profession like
writing. Script writing may be a solitary pursuit when you face the
blank page; but once you put something magic on that blank page,
everybody wants to get into the act.


A premise is an idea for a story; the set-up or situation, with little
or no story implied. Rarely written down to be presented.
A synopsis can be one long paragraph, or several paragraphs; probably
no more than a page-and-a-half in length; usually less, usually focused
on plot. It's often a concise distillation of a story that exists in
longer form, such as the synopsis of a script found in a coverage.
A treatment is a full exploration of a story. Covers character, plot,
setting, theme; clarifies the intent of the writer. Can contain
character descriptions, a synopsis, or statements on theme and tone.
Attempts to convey the filmgoing experience through to the story's end;
may use bits of key dialog. Usually more than three pages; average is
seven to twelve.
Occasionally, you'll get a producer or a development person who wants
you to give them a treatment so they can use it as a guide to pitch to
their boss or the company they have a deal with. Don't be surprised if,
after you give them the five pages, they ask you to condense it into
one or two.

Here are the components of a good treatment:

1. Start with an opening that hooks the reader.
2. Introduce the reader to your protagonist and make sure that we care
about this person.
3. Show us what the main conflict of the story is and what type of
story we're reading (drama, suspense, action, comedy, etc.)
4. Give us the story line (spine) and structure of the story. This
section should include the major scenes of the movie and the turning
points (act breaks).
5. End with a knockout ending that makes us want to shout "YES!"
Remember the goal of your treatment is to get them interested and
wanting more. Then, they'll call you for a meeting.
If it's at all possible, try

Techniques to Establish Pacing

Pacing, as it applies to fiction, could be described as the manipulation of time. Though pacing is often overlooked and misunderstood by beginning writers, it is one of the key craft elements a writer must master to produce good fiction. Best-selling author Elmore Leonard recommends simply 'cutting out everything, but the good parts.' While this is interesting advice, the following article covers the matter of pacing in a bit more detail.
The elements of time delineated in your story or screenplay include the time of day or period; scene versus summary; flashback; and foreshadowing. Elements of time raise the following questions:
1) When is the story being told as compared to when the events of the story took place?
2) Is there a distance in terms of time?
3) Does the story begin with the birth of the protagonist and end with the death? or Is the time more limited?
4) What narrative strategies should you use to convey the sense of time passing or the distance of the narration?
Scene is necessary to all fiction. You can't have a story without it. In order to have a crisis moment, for example, it has to be in a moment in time and, therefore, it cannot be summarized. A summary covers a longer period of time in a shorter passage. A scene covers a short period of time in a longer passage. What could take only a few seconds in real time might be covered in paragraphs, even pages, depending upon the writer and the event.