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How-To

How to format a screenplay

film reel

Screenwriters write what is called a spec script. The first step to writing a screenplay is understanding how to format a script. According to the Academy of Nicolls Fellowship (Oscars.org – http://www.oscars.org/nicholl/screenwriting-resources) there is no absolute standard for formatting a screenplay. Most screenwriters prefer to use screenwriting software like Final Draft – an excellent...
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How to pitch a cartoon by Erica Hughes

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  March 2005 Pitching a cartoon series to a network is Hollywood’s “backdoor” because cable networks are more open to unsolicited material and unproduced writers than other markets in the entertainment industry. When you pitch a cartoon you have more creative freedom than a writer presenting a screenplay for a live action television series or...
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The science of fictionalized philosophy

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E. Hughes There’s more to science fiction than cyborgs, deep space, and futuristic plotlines. Sci-fi is an exploration of philosophical and metaphysical themes in a fictionalized context, such as what is real? What is reality? What lies beyond the realm of possibility? Am I real? Fate, altered timelines, themes about freedom and humanity are often...
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How Screenwriters Can Survive the Recession

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While times are tough for everyone, the creative industries have been hit particularly hard. With fewer opportunities and more people going for them, pitching your scripts can often feel like an uphill struggle… if you get to pitch them at all. So here are some top tips for surviving the economic downturn without having...
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Writing romance – the guidelines

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Romance Writers of America, an organization for romance writers, notes that every romance should contain two basic elements, “a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending.” So whether you are writing a  novel or a screenplay, there are a few important guidelines you’ll should probably stick to. See Romance genre guidelines. A dash of character: Two...
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Write About Real Life Instead of Movie Cliches

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Nobody likes to see clichéd plots in movies.  After all, everybody and his brother has pointed out the tried and tired plot that Avatar used, which was similar to a slew of movies like Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves, and Fern Gully.  In fact, people hated it so much that Avatar made $2.75 billion worldwide. ...
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Plot Is Determined by Setting

Old Manual Typewriter

The plot of any story is driven by the choices its protagonist makes.  However, the other major factor that affects the plot is the setting–the time and location the story takes place.  Not much thought is given to setting of movies in general; if a movie uses a contemporary setting, then it’s obvious that...
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How Important Is Theme?

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When asked, “What’s Moby Dick about?” you can answer in two ways:  1) it’s about an old sea-captain searching for the whale that took his leg years ago; 2) it’s about how obsession can destroy you.  The first answer refers to the plot of the story while the second comments on its theme. 
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Friends in high places…

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Breaking into Hollywood isn’t hard to do, it’s practically impossible. We write our stories with the best intentions, embarking on journey that may well take years to accomplish. Writers carry out this monumental task with two goals in mind; completing the story first, and seeing our words come to fruition on screen. But it’s a rush many screenwriters will never...
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Elements of Character Development

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  It has been said that story is character–the plot is determined by the decisions your protagonist makes and how the character reacts to situations he/she must deal with.  Like in the make-your-own-adventure books, the story becomes something completely different if the protagonist takes a right turn rather than a left turn.  Before you...
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From novel to screenplay,from script to novel – making the transition

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    Wildly successful novelist Seth Grahame-Smith has three Hollywood adaptations in the works. His most buzzed about movie, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, will be released to theaters June 22, 2012 and stars Dominic Cooper (Mamma Mia! and Captain America: The First Avenger)
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Outlining a Screenplay

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A phenomenal idea just struck the creative center of your brain, and you know that it will make an amazing movie.  You must write the script for this masterpiece, but the question is how do you develop that fleeting concept into a well-structured screenplay?  The temptation is to just plow ahead and begin writing,...
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The Art of Reviewing

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(Written by Mary Ann Back) Congratulations! You’ve written a literary masterpiece. Surely, a Pushcart Prize awaits you! Before sending your work out into the world, you decide to do the smart thing and submit it to your online writing group for review. Let others behold its brilliance and catch the tiny nits that could...
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Structure: The Framework of a Screenplay

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The most basic structure of telling a story is to have a beginning, middle, and end.  Screenwriting is a bit more complicated than this as not only do you have to tell a good story with interesting characters, but you have to adhere to a strict format including when to place various story elements....
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Which animation program should I use to create my cartoon?

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Screenwritersdaily’s 2005 article on How to Pitch a Cartoon has been very popular over the years. When I wrote the article it was one of the first and only topics available on pitching a cartoon on the internet at that time and since, it has been used as the basis for many other popular articles on “Pitching a cartoon”. One of the questions I’ve...
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