Praise for The Screenwriter's Bible A “bible” for those of all persuasions. Whether you are a rank beginner who needs instruction, or an old pro. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. David Trottier is a script consultant, writer, producer, and screenwriting teacher. The Screenwriter s Bible was developed. Trove: Find and get Australian resources. Books, images, historic newspapers, maps, archives and more.
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Download PDF Screenwriter's Bible - 6th Edition, PDF Download Screenwriter's Bible - 6th Edition, Download Screenwriter's Bible - 6th Edition. Read Book The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script By David Trottier Full PDF #Mobi. READ PDF Online The Screenwriter's Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script By David Trottier Full PDF.
See fileformat. When using the 'Find errors' command, if you can't figure out what the error is, try switching this on to see if you have two elements where you thought you only had one, or something else that's not obvious in the normal display.
It's also useful for seeing exactly how much space you've got left on a given line. To exit fullscreen mode, either press F11 or press the icon at top-left corner. This means that to search the entire script for errors you should first position the cursor at the beginning of the script.
If it finds any errors, it positions the cursor on the line containing the error and displays a message detailing the error. You should fix the error, back up a few lines, and activate the command again to search for more errors. Alternatively, if you don't want to fix the error right now, move the cursor down one line if you want to search for more errors.
It can detect the following errors: An empty line, or a parenthetical element containing only. A character element that is not followed by a parenthetical or a dialogue element. A parenthetical element that does not follow a character or a dialogue element. A dialogue element that does not follow a character or a parenthetical element. Various error conditions that can only arise from bugs in the program. This includes things like overlong lines, elements that have lines with different element types, invalid characters in the script, etc.
You should never find any of these errors, but if you do, you should try to fix them before saving the script, otherwise you might not be able to load it again. You should also notify us about the problem so we can fix it. The messages for these all say " BUG " at the end so they can be identified from normal errors. You normally don't need to run this if you have automatic repagination enabled, but the command is available for use when automatic repagination is disabled or you want immediate repagination for some reason.
Transition auto-completes are pretty generic so by default there are a few of them here, but the Scene and Character lists are empty. The main use for them are TV shows, where you have a recurring cast of characters and locations, and it's nice to have them always available, even if they haven't yet been used in the current episode's script. Headers are lines that are automatically added to the top of each page of the script, excluding title pages and the first page of the actual script. Topmost in the window is a setting for how many empty lines you want inserted after your header lines.
After that is a listbox of all the strings in your headers. Below the listbox are the settings for the selected string. You can adjust the string text, style, alignment, line and positioning. The text is first positioned according to the alignment setting, and then its horizontal starting position is adjusted by the number of characters given in 'X offset'. Note that this parameter can be negative, so for example, if you want your header string to start 2 characters before the left margin, select 'Alignment: Left' and 'X offset: -2'.
Finally there are 'Preview' and 'Apply' buttons that you can use to preview your changes. The top listbox shows locations, separated by lines of "", while the bottom listbox shows scenes not part of a user-specified location. In the middle are 'Add' and 'Delete' buttons for moving scenes between the two listboxes. The bottom listbox allows you to select many scenes at once.
An example of how to use this dialog: select the scenes "INT. Then, if you want to add more scenes to the same location, make sure one of the scenes for the location is selected in the top listbox, select the new scenes you want to add in the bottom listbox, and click 'Add'. If you want to add scenes to a new location, select one of the "" lines in the top listbox as the destination before clicking 'Add'. You can have as many title pages as you want, or none at all.
Installation and activation were simple. Updates and patches installed automatically. Within a few minutes of opening the box, I was well into page one of my epic. The New From Template command lets you select from dozens of pre-existing feature film, novel, or television script formats, ensuring that your sample Simpsons script would make even Matt Groening proud. Integrated outlining features are fully customizable, so you can work within whatever story structure paradigm your personal screenwriting guru preaches.
Though Screenwriter 6. Among Movie Magic Screenwriter 6. As its name implies, the panel lets you instantly navigate your document with a click of your mouse. In the NaviDoc, you can select from four navigational panels.
The Scenes panel allows you to navigate or sort by slug line. Use the Bookmarks panel to bounce to and from predefined points in your script. Jerry Maguire sees his client in the hospital, then writes a mission statement: He is fired: Independence Day.
The aliens arrive: They attack and blow up the White House: They leave town to go fishing: You may ask, Can the Catalyst also be the Big Event? Ghost and Regarding Henry are two examples, as is Juno the pregnancy.
Keep in mind that I am presenting guidelines in this book, not hard-and-fast rules. It may raise the central dramatic question or obligatory question for that film. For example, will John Book in Witness catch the killer?
Will E. Will Kowalski and Stone return to earth in Gravity? Will Edward and Viv find true love in Pretty Woman? Will Pi Patel survive his adventure in Life of Pi? Can J.
Wiatt Diane Keaton have it all—a family and a career—in Baby Boom? Will Chuck Noland in Cast Away survive and return home? Will the Americans escape from Iran in Argo? Often, a situation in a film can create a relatively minor obligatory question. The answer comes at the end: Tao gets it. This large contraption is literally an extension of her arms and legs. At the end of the movie, she uses it to fight the big mama alien. Incidentally, we see a version of that contraption in the movie Avatar.
We soon forget about it until it is skillfully used at the end of the movie to defeat the really bad military guy, Colonel Quaritch. The tetherball court is established in the first act of Napoleon Dynamite. This new response is the measure of how things have changed for Napoleon. You can get away with almost anything if you set it up, or foreshadow it, early in your story. Much of screenwriting is setting things up for a later payoff. They can be pretty ridiculous, but as long as they are established early, we accept them.
Look at all we learn in the first scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark. We learn that both Belloq and Indiana are resourceful, that Indiana hates snakes, and that he must recover the lost Ark of the Covenant.
When we see this presentation again, Nash is the recipient. High Noon is a wonderful example of foreshadowing. The audience is made aware of the terrible thing that might happen at high noon. This foreshadowing helps motivate conflicts between Marshal Will Kane Gary Cooper and his wife, and with certain town folk.
In an early scene in Ghost, Sam Wheat Patrick Swayze watches an airline disaster on the news and comments about how quickly life can end. Later he confides in Molly Demi Moore that he is afraid —every time something good happens in his life, something bad happens. This is a foreshadowing of his imminent death. There is also a suspenseful moment when a statue of an angel is moved into the apartment. Can you guess what this foreshadows?
Most are introduced early in the story. The whistle. This is also introduced appropriately late, and its payoff is powerful.
A more sophisticated use of foreshadowing can be found in Slumdog Millionaire. Early in this tale of two brothers, young Jamal is willing to jump into a pool of excrement to get what he wants—the autograph of movie star Amitabh Bachchan. This is really a microcosm of the entire story. Jamal is willing to go through crap for his love, Latika.
But Salim has a good side: He saves his brother from blindness and slavery, and at the end he frees Latika from slavery. Early in the script, a teacher asks the boys who the third musketeer is in the novel The Three Musketeers. Later, after they are orphaned, they see little Latika standing in the rain. Well, she is the third musketeer. This kind of inventive foreshadowing creates a sense of unity in a story, even when the audience may not be consciously aware of the foreshadowing and payoff.
It also becomes a tool of economy, providing more than one use for an object, story element, character, or line of dialogue. A word of caution on the first act taken as a whole: Only give the audience what they need to understand the story and its special world without confusing them. As children, both Carl and Ellie are inspired by Professor Charles Muntz who later, with his dogs, becomes an opposition character.
As they become acquainted we see the following visual moments among others: It contains no dialogue; many small, touching moments; and the following visual elements: Most everything that follows derives from the above. Ellie and the house that symbolizes her become the motivating force of what Carl does thereafter.
We see all of the above visual elements repeated later in the movie, including the grape soda pin. The above opening sequence is a wonderful example of foreshadowing, but it additionally illustrates the importance of establishing emotional, motivational, and visual elements early. The screenplay as a whole is a lesson in economy. The writers use objects and characters in this case, Muntz more than once, which lends the story a sense of unity.
This is cinema at its best. I call these The Magnificent 7 Plot Points. The Backstory The Backstory is an event that generally occurs before the movie begins. Other times it is revealed through flashback. Most often, it emerges through dialogue. The middle focuses primarily on the conflict and complications.
The central character emerges from Act 1 with a desire to do something about the difficult situation created by the Big Event. Her action will likely fail, forcing her to take new actions. There will be many setbacks in Act 2, as well as some breakthroughs or temporary triumphs. The long middle section Act 2 of a three-act structure usually focuses on a rising conflict rising action. Your reader will lose interest in a conflict that is merely repetitive: Strong subplots that crisscross with the main plot will help you avoid repetitive conflict because they will create more complications that ratchet up the main conflict.
Thus, the conflict builds or intensifies. The Midpoint At the Midpoint or Pinch of the story, about halfway through, another major event occurs. The central character often becomes fully committed.
I sometimes think of it as the Point of No Return. In Ghost, this is when Sam, as a ghost, learns that his best friend is the one who had him killed.
The Screenwriter-s Bible, 6th E - David Trottier
In Dave, the Midpoint is when Dave defies the chief of staff and acts as president. This is truly a point of no return for Dave, the point when he becomes fully committed.
There is no turning back now! Once she makes this decision to leave her social world, there is no turning back. She has reached the Point of No Return. Shortly after her decision, the ship strikes an iceberg. From the Midpoint on, the central character takes stronger actions, perhaps even desperate actions that threaten to compromise her values. One or more temporary triumphs by the central character arouse the opposition, who now shows his true strength.
There may be a major setback, followed often by a new revelation or inspiration. This is when Charlie Babbitt in Rain Man discovers that his brother Raymond is the Rain Man of his childhood, and that his dad protected Charlie as a baby by putting the Rain Man Raymond in an institution. Notice the rising action in the second half of Gran Torino. After spending his birthday with his Hmong neighbors, Walt Clint Eastwood puts Tao the boy who tried to steal his car to work in his yard.
Tao has gang problems, so Walt gets Tao a job. Walt reacts by beating Smokie and telling him to lay off Tao. This is the Crisis, the point when all seems lost, or when the central character faces a crucial decision.
Often, someone or something spurs the character on to the Showdown. In Independence Day, the crisis is very dark, but a new revelation provides a glimmer of hope that moves our heroes to take one last gamble. Basic American values and global unity are at stake. The same is true in Gravity. At the Crisis point when Stone Sandra Bullock turns off her oxygen so that she can die, she sees Kowalski who scolds her for giving up. In Moonstruck, everyone simply gathers around the breakfast table.
Although Hollywood loves a happy ending, some of the most effective and affecting stories are bittersweet or end in some sadness: Easy solutions are not dramatic; better that your central character do his own rescuing in the end. How does the writer compensate for this? Secondly, the pirates the teen pirate in particular elicit some sympathy or interest as desperately poor pawns of a warlord.
Thirdly, the resolution is not easy, but is dramatic with plenty of conflict. A lesser writer might have handled this with an overwrought line of dialogue: I realize there are exceptions to these guidelines. After all, the events in the magical land of Oz were part of a dream and the animals in Life of Pi were just representations of people—and I love those movies.
And apparently, everything in The Usual Suspects except the heist itself was made up by Verbal under interrogation. How about the ambiguous ending of All Is Lost—does it frustrate you or lead you to some kind of statement or theme about life and death?
Beginning, middle, end. His attitude toward Christmas is neatly summed up in two words of dialogue: In the end, the change in Scrooge is revealed through his charitable actions and words. And the older you get, the more this happens and the fewer things you love. And by the time you get to be my age, sometimes you only love one or two things. Neo in The Matrix realizes that he can view the matrix as software code.
Thus, he is able to destroy the antivirus code Agent Smith. In this case, the realization is what gives the central character the ability to defeat the opposition.
Jerry Maguire brings many elements together in the Realization. This realization is never directly stated, but the audience recognizes it when Rod thanks Jerry in the interviews. Is Troy going to let Jerry represent him now? Looks like it to me. In Mr. Holland Richard Dreyfuss is rewarded for his years of dedication to teaching when all of his students return and play his composition for him. He realizes that he has touched all of these students. In Groundhog Day, Phil Connors Bill Murray goes through the five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression the Crisis , and acceptance—and then is presented to us at the town dance and bachelor auction.
The town likes him, Rita likes him, and at long last he likes himself. In the beginning of Falling Down, we identify with William Foster Michael Douglas but soon lose affection for him as he declines. Detective Martin Prendergast Robert Duvall , however, grows. So our affections shift to him. Prendergast has become a good cop and a man. Foster has a different realization. He has grown from sinner to saint. The realization of growth can be negative.
At the end of The Godfather, Michael is able to lie to his wife while a patron kisses his ring. We realize that he truly is the Godfather. The overall realization for you as a writer is this: All of these examples provide an emotional pay-off to the reader of your script and to your audience. Usually, the Realization is part of the Denouement. In summary, the Magnificent 7 Plot Points are: The Backstory usually happens before the story begins.
It motivates or haunts the central character. The Catalyst kicks things off. We move to Act 2.
We move to Act 3 the end. The Showdown or Climax is the final face-off between your central character and the opposition. The Realization is usually part of the denouement. This book is not intended as a write-bythe-numbers text.
It is your handy guide for a successful writing journey. In reality, you can do anything you want. Almost every guru and teacher has his or her model or paradigm for structuring and outlining a screenplay. Among them are the following in no particular order: They are provided by master teachers and are all worthwhile. They use classic dramatic structure in inventive ways, in a few cases bending the framework. The tactic shocks the audience so forcefully that a tremendous amount of suspense is created, enough to carry us through the second act.
One is about how Jules Samuel Jackson comes to believe that God has a mission for him. Each of the two stories has a beginning, a middle, and an end, but the events are not presented in exact chronological order.
Perhaps the most traditional and rigid of paradigms is the love story or rom-com romantic comedy basic structural model. The two lovers generally meet at the Catalyst and are thrown together by the Big Event.
But the Backstory gives rise to a flaw which interferes with love. Even so, they fall in love at the Midpoint or at least one does , and are separated at the Crisis. In the Showdown, one or both overcomes the flaw and they come together. In the end, the Realization comes that they will live happily ever after. Annie makes the Crisis decision by racing to the Empire State Building where she finally connects with Sam.
At a key point during the second act, John Nash faces a crisis decision: He must choose between his wife Alicia and his imaginary life. It is here he realizes that his imaginary friends do not age; he now believes he has found the key to solving his schizophrenia problem. This leads to the main Crisis that determines his fate.
This is followed by a longer-than-normal final act. I have no quibbles with any choices made because they worked wonderfully!
Dramatic structure is at once firm and flexible. There are many ways to tell a story. In fact, I maintain that structure is not the same things as formula. Your basic structure may change or evolve as you write, so be open to new, creative insights. Every story has its own structure, its own life, its own way of unfolding. Let your story and its characters use you, the writer, to express itself and themselves.
The title you choose for your completed work should be short enough to fit on the marquee. Like the headline in an ad, the title must stop the reader and pull him into the story. Spy Kids has a direct appeal to its primary audience.
The premise is clearly implied: What if James Bond were a kid? Super Size Me was enough to grab my attention. That expression is well known by most people.
The title The Sixth Sense clearly communicates the genre and main idea of the story. Although a little long, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is a superb title. It effectively conveys the idea of a fun sci-fi family comedy.
An example of an ineffective title might be Raiders of the Lost Ark. I heard Sydney Ganis, the marketer of this project, explain how much he worried about this title. Is this the football Raiders? How is this title going to fit on the marquee? Not to worry. The same is true for Argo; that title only makes sense after one has read the script. Nevertheless, in almost every case, an effective title can make an important first impression for your script, especially if it hints of a high concept.
In the dizzying world of moviemaking, we must not be distracted from one fundamental concept: If a movie begins with a great, original idea, chances are good it will be successful, even if it is executed only marginally well. Find great ideas. Keep asking yourself, Do you have a good idea here? The concept sits at the core of every pitch, regardless of who is pitching to whom. When I hear a good concept, I immediately see a movie that I can sell.
I realize there is an element of subjectivity here, but that should come as no surprise. And as we will discuss later, most script deals are development deals in which your ability to execute an idea into a great script is paramount. Even so, look for great ideas. There is an implied structure in strong concepts. Two black brothers are out to adopt a younger brother to mold into an NBA player and get rich.
They find only a white country bumpkin, then bring him to their neighborhood to make him a star. You can almost see the beginning, the middle, and the end. You see the conflict. You see the fun. Concept comes in many forms. For example, it can be presented as a premise question: What if Peter Pan grew up?
Hook What if the devil had a son? The Incredibles The concept can be expressed as a logline. The logline is a one-sentence summary of the story or story concept. Terrorists hijack Air Force One. Air Force One Have you noticed that the logline, hook, or concept statement often centers around the Big Event, the first major turning point in the screenplay. A legal secretary, after being fired and getting dumped by her boyfriend, receives a chain letter, then sends it to the people who wronged her, only to find them dead the next morning.
It grabs you—hook, logline, and sinker. Most importantly, you as a producer know just how to sell it to the public. You know you can sell it to your particular market. You see the theater ad in the paper. You see the DVD jacket. In this case, a movie with that title was made years later with the following updated logline: A maniac murders teens when they refuse to forward chain mail.
The following logline became The Kid: A year-old boy time-travels 30 years into the future to save the overly serious man he will become.
The concept is always a hook, which is any brief statement, premise, or logline that hooks someone into the story. Lose the kids. Adventures in Babysitting Top Gun in a firehouse. Ghost Your girlfriend is able to have all memory of you blotted from her mind. What do you do? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind These are very briefly presented concepts, but they grab your attention enough to make you want to get to the substance behind them.
A teenage computer hacker breaks into the Pentagon computer system. War Games Or how about this one: The concept statement is important for another reason. The concept is what hooks—or fails to hook—the agent or producer. Some of the best concepts present something extraordinary happening to someone who is ordinary— someone just like us.
That something extraordinary is often—you guessed it—the Big Event. This is the intelligent, character-focused The Fisher King. The fish-out-of-water concept is always popular—a character is thrown into a whole new situation or lifestyle, as in Beverly Hills Cop.
As I mentioned earlier, successful concepts often combine something familiar with something original. Instead of the familiar black sheep of the family, we have the white sheep of the family.
Speaking of a twist on an old idea, a high school version of My Fair Lady sold for low six figures. Can you see why this next concept sold? A teenager is mistakenly sent into the past, where he must make sure his mother and father meet and fall in love; then he has to get back to the future. It presents a clear beginning, middle, and end. Keep in mind that most scripts sold are not produced.
In fact, only about one in 10 of the scripts downloadd and developed are ever produced. Even million-dollar scripts are sometimes not made: But the money still changes hands.
Of course, not all production companies are looking for high-stakes action. But regardless of the company, they all are looking for an angle they can use to sell the kind of movie they want to produce. One of the many pluses of having a powerful concept is that the execution of the concept into a screenplay does not have to be superior.
In other words, the higher your concept, the more forgiving producers will be with your script. Also, many of the loglines, hooks, and concept statements in this section are for character-driven stories. Also, keep in mind that stories are about characters with problems. For example: A starving sexist actor masquerades as a woman to get a role in a soap opera.
As you can see, high concept does not necessarily mean high adventure. Tootsie is neither, but the concept is strong, and the character growth arc is implied. The same is true for Philadelphia. No one would take on this case.
I suggest something like this: A black attorney prejudiced against gays gets one as a client who himself is the victim of prejudice. Do you see the unique character hook in that pitch? There are two reasons you should clearly understand your core story concept. First, you need to know what your story is about, what makes it special or unique.
After all, many if not most of the great movies of all time are character-driven. In this case, I might opt for something like this: What if you learned that your friends and work only existed in your imagination? Regardless of how mainstream or non-mainstream your story is, ask yourself these questions as you begin the writing process: What is at the core of my story? What makes my story stand out? Keep in mind that there are numerous markets for screenplays besides the big-budget Hollywood scene.
Also, the above section is written more from a marketing viewpoint than an artistic viewpoint. This is one of my few carved-in-stone rules. There are three basic steps to writing an adaptation: Read the novel or play for an understanding of the essential story, the relationships, the goal, the need, the primary conflict, and the subtext.
Identify the five to 10 best scenes. These are the basis for your script. Write an original script. In fact, Linda Seger has written an entire book on the subject. A script cannot hope to cover all the internal conflict that the novel does, nor can it include all the subplots that a long novel can. Novels often emphasize theme and character. They are often reflective, but movies move. These are all reasons why novel lovers often hate movie versions.
But Hollywood thrives on adaptations. When you adapt, you must decide how faithful you want to be to the original book.
Some adaptations reinvent the story. For example, Apocalypse Now is adapted from Heart of Darkness, which is set in a different continent and in a different century. Jurassic Park is a novel that was adapted for the screen. The book is science-driven, an intellectual experience as much as an emotional experience. Spielberg saw the high concept: What if you could make dinosaurs from old DNA? First, the central character becomes the paleontologist.
This provides a more youthful hero. He grows to like them by striving for his goal. There is no love interest in the book, but Dr. Ellie Sattler Laura Dern fills that role in the movie. Although the character development in the movie is thin, the above changes make for a more visual and emotionally accessible film. The focus of the movie, of course, is on the dinosaurs, the T-Rex in particular.
Hey, movies are visual.
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I think the right choices were made. The goal, as defined here, is whatever your central character outwardly strives for. Of course, opposition makes it almost impossible to reach the goal. Beneath it all lies a usually unconscious or subconscious need. The need, as defined here, has to do with self-image, or finding love, or living a better life—whatever the character needs to be truly happy or fulfilled.
This yearning sometimes runs counter to the goal and sometimes supports or motivates it. The Crisis often brings the need into full consciousness. Usually the need is blocked from within by a character flaw. This flaw serves as the inner opposition to the inner need. This character flaw is obvious to the audience, because we see the character hurting people, including himself.
The flaw is almost always a form of selfishness, pride, or greed. Where does the flaw come from? Something happened before the movie began or sometimes in the first scene that deeply hurt the character. That Backstory haunts the character enough that he acts in inappropriate or hurtful ways.
Vincent Benedict Danny DeVito is the central character. There is a strong outward opposition to this goal—a really bad guy wants the money as well. Vincent also has a need of which he himself is unaware.
He needs the love of a family. This is the character flaw, and it is motivated by his Backstory. Vincent can never have what he truly needs until he gives up his selfish and self-pitying point of view. This is a neat little story because the goal and the need happen to oppose each other at the Crisis.
Vincent must choose between the two. He can escape with the money his goal , but someone holds a gun on his brother his need. What will Vincent decide? At this crisis moment, he finds himself unable to leave his brother. Vincent reformed.But the Notes and Outline panels are where NaviDoc really earns its keep. A teenage computer hacker breaks into the Pentagon computer system. Perhaps the most traditional and rigid of paradigms is the love story or rom-com romantic comedy basic structural model.
Anna Weinstein. Will he arrest Rick? Rick shoots the Nazi major and makes sure that Ilsa and her husband escape. A dialogue element that does not follow a character or a parenthetical element.
Together those books give you a lot more food for thought and paradigms to play with.
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