How To Write A Screenplay You Can Sell

It’s time to learn how to write a screenplay you can sell – though my method may surprise you.

It’s a little different than what you’ll find even in the best screenwriting books.

How To Write A Screenplay – Overview

Prior to making the first sale, a screenwriter will often:

But can you learn how to write a screenplay without several years of wasted time?

In a word, yes.

So let’s talk about how to write a movie script and make your first sale.

Not selling the first thing you write – writing the first thing that you actually sell.

WARNING: If you think writing a screenplay will be easy and that you’re going to cash your script in like a lottery ticket, you’re in the wrong place. My approach requires overcoming fear, making tough choices, and working hard. That said, it can be done – and it’s a lot better than getting beaten up by Hollywood over a period of years.

How To Write A Screenplay Like The Karate Kid

For those of you who don’t know, this is a story about a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, Daniel, who learns karate and becomes an honorable man like his teacher, Miyagi.

In the beginning of the movie, Daniel is getting beat up a lot by the bigger kids at his new high school. This is what it feels like to be new to the screenwriting game.

Instead of getting physically beat up, beginning screenwriters get told “No” over and again.

Producers won’t take their calls. Agents won’t read their script. It’s nearly impossible to get a meeting with someone who can actually do something.

Some beginning screenwriters think it’s because they lack connections, and that may be true. But it’s not the only problem. So let me get all Miyagi on you for a minute.

Wax On, Wax Off

Remember when Miyagi starts teaching Daniel karate? He doesn’t start with punches and kicks. It’s “paint the house side-to-side,” “sand the floor,” “paint the fence,” and “wax-on, wax-off.”

How To Write A Screenplay Just Like Miyagi showing Daniel How to Wax Cars in The Karate Kid

Daniel hates it because it feels like busywork – until he realizes that he’s been learning karate the whole time. Better yet, his fundamentals are so good that he’s a better fighter than the bullies who just learn to kick and punch.

In my experience, screenwriters need to take four important steps before they understand screenplay writing and can sell a screenplay for the first time.


Step 1 - Focus On ONE GENRE

Most aspiring writers do not want to focus. That’s okay.

You want to preserve your creative freedom.

You’ve got ideas for so many things – and you may have some viable ideas in different genres.

Most beginning screenwriters create projects in lots of different genres and fail to sell them, over and over again. Then, one day, when they’ve finally written their tenth project in one genre, they get an agent and finally sell their first screenplay!

At that point, three things will often happen quickly:

  1. The agent sells one of your other projects in THE SAME GENRE and typically for more money than the first sale.
  2. The agent gets you meetings for assignments for projects in THE SAME GENRE. This work is how most screenwriters support themselves.
  3. You focus your energy and attention to developing projects in THE SAME GENRE because you realize that there’s a much better chance you’ll get paid.

To Succeed In Hollywood You Have To Focus

This isn’t just true for you – it’s true for decision-makers as well.

When a decision-maker considers purchasing a script, that’s a big decision. The script will cost a lot of money to buy and even more money to produce. This puts the decision-maker’s reputation on the line.

If you are developing multiple projects in different genres, decision-makers see your unfocused creative resume and think:

  • You are unsure about what you want to do in the business.
  • You lack the expert knowledge of any particular area.
  • I would rather work with someone else.

If you are developing multiple projects in the same genre, executives and other decision-makers see that and think:

  • You know what you want.
  • You are an expert in this area.
  • I want to work with this person.

It is better to create ten projects in one genre than ten projects in different genres.

Take The First Step Now

Try this:

  • Make a list of your ten favorite movies.
  • Make a list of the last ten movies you’ve seen and enjoyed.
  • Make a list of your ten favorite novels.
  • Make a list of the last ten novels you’ve read and enjoyed.

The genre most of these projects are in – that’s probably your genre.

Focus here for now. Once you’ve sold a few things, then you can branch out.

Step 2 - Emphasize STORY Development

Most beginning writers think they already know how to write a story.

The question is, do you know story well enough to use it?

A lot of people know about the importance of diet and exercise. They know they should eat less, eat differently, exercise more – but they aren’t able to use what they know.

Then there are professional athletes who live and breathe the principles of healthy living. They use what they know because it’s their career on the line.

To work as a professional screenwriter, this is the equivalent. You have to do more than just know how to write a story, you have to know it at a deep enough level that you can use what you know. Otherwise, you can read scripts, watch movies, write screenplays, and STILL not get anywhere.

The Secret To Learning Story: Pitching

If you develop one project into a complete script, you’ve written about 120 pages and one story. But if you develop fifty projects into 2-3 page pitches, you’ve also written about 120 pages – but you’ve created fifty stories.

That’s 50x the practice.

That’s how you learn story structure like the way you know your morning commute to work. Deeply, fully, automatically. That’s how you learn how to write a screenplay.

It’s better to develop fifty pitches than to write one script.

Take The Second Step Now

Try this:

  • Come up with 50 short pitches (1-3 sentences).
  • Of these, develop 10 complete pitches (1-3 pages).
  • Of these, draft 2 treatments (10-30 pages).
  • Then, write one script.

You can create and structure your short pitch using this pitch development process.

How To Write A Screenplay You Can Sell process

Step 3 - Get Feedback Early And Often

Most beginning writers do not want to get feedback.

They think that feedback is typically unhelpful, and besides, no one knows what will work, right?

Then, after writing a dozen screenplays over a period of years that don’t sell, they start to think that maybe, just maybe, if they took more time to get better quality feedback, maybe they’d save themselves some time and heartache.

Professional writers get feedback early and often.

Before a professional screenwriter goes to script, they get feedback on their pitches to select their best ideas. Then they get feedback on their complete pitches and treatments to make sure they are executing it well. They spend a lot of time testing their stories because they know it will save them a ton of time when it comes to writing the screenplays.

It is better to get feedback at least ten times on your pitch before you write the script than to get ten reads on your script.

Take The Third Step Now

The keys to getting good feedback are:

  • Structure your pitch to make it easy to understand.
  • Pitch to members of your target audience.
  • Pitch to at least three people so you can see patterns.

This may sound like it could take a lot of time – it does. However, it takes less time than writing full screenplays, and it makes it more likely that you learn how to write a screenplay you’re able to sell.

Step 4 - Immerse Yourself To Learn Structure

Every successful writer I know, at some point, has taken one produced project and analyzed it down to the atomic level.

They know the core story, every beat, every sequence, every scene, every shot.

They can watch the movie and turn the pages of the script in their head.

Once you’ve done this, watching movies and reading scripts is a different thing.

In a way, it ruins it because it’s hard just to enjoy the story because you’re also watching how the story is being told. That’s what it’s like to be a professional writer.

Beginners may be willing to watch lots of movies and read lots of scripts. It’s fun, and they think they’re getting a complete education. Unfortunately, they’re only building superficial knowledge.

They don’t really know how to write a movie script because they don’t understand what’s going on at the deeper levels inside the movie.

They’re like a person who can look at an analog watch and tell the time – and they think that means they know how to build a watch. If you want to know how to build a watch, at some point, you will have to take a watch apart, piece by piece, down to the tiniest of the gears.

It is better to read one screenplay ten times than ten screenplays.

It is better to watch one movie ten times than ten movies.

How To Write A Screenplay Watch Gravity 10 times

Take The Fourth Step Now

Try this:

  • Choose one successful film in your genre for which you can also get the script.
  • Watch the movie three times in a row.
  • Read the script three times in a row.
  • Watch the movie.
  • Read the script.
  • Watch the movie.
  • Read the script and mark the beats (e.g. Catalyst, Act Breaks, All Is Lost).
  • Watch the movie.
  • Read the script and chart each act by sequence and scene.
  • Watch the movie.
  • Read the script and identify the transformation or change in each scene.
  • Watch the movie

With respect, if you haven’t done this, then in a way, it doesn’t matter how many movies you’ve seen or how many scripts you’ve read. Because you don’t fully understand what you’re seeing or reading.

Once you have immersed yourself this way in a specific movie, you will understand screenplay structure.

Sequences and scenes. Tone and pacing. Creating moments.

Here are some screenplays I recommend you read to get you started. You can discuss them here:

How to Write a Screenplay - Review

If you want to learn how to write a screenplay you can actually sell, you can make a ton of frustrating mistakes over a period of years, or you can take these four steps:

  1. Focus on ONE genre
  2. Emphasize story development
  3. Get feedback early and often
  4. Immerse yourself to learn structure

Take those four steps, THEN write your screenplay.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


I haven’t learned a goddam thing!


Learn plenty.


Yeah, how to sand your decks, how to wax your cars, how to paint your house.


Not everything is as looks, you know.

Learn how to write a screenplay using the techniques of Miyagi from The Karate Kid

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Discussion About How To Write A Screenplay You Can Sell

  1. Cindy

    How directly would these lessons translate into TV scripts & pitches?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Directly— I have seen this work effectively for people selling TV shows and pitches.

      • Cindy

        thank you!

      • LIZ

        MY MAIL IS

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Hi Liz – Please email me at and I will send you a recommendation for someone who can offer you individual guidance.

  2. Steve

    Hi Stephanie,

    Brilliant article. Great advice. I will apply your tips.

    In the book Mastery, Robert Greene explains that Leonardo da Vinci focused on details to become better at art. For example, he would spend months studying insects or animals so he could draw them better.

    Thanks for showing how us how to develop mastery in screenwriting.


    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Steve. Great example too.

    • George

      During Leonardo da Vinci time we didn’t have cameras and every memorable moments had to be painted.That means we had great painters

  3. IxH

    Another post here that makes my brain tingle! Every step is actionable and seems ripe with solid lessons on structure. I am excited to apply this information to my own projects – currently I’m idling at the starting gate, trying to figure out my genre. I have my list of favorite movies and novels but can’t quite pin down the common genre; would you recommend showing it to a friend to see what they think?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Yes, showing your list to a friend is a great idea. Often, other people can identify patterns that we can’t because we are too close to a project.

  4. Diane Lansing

    This was absolutely just what I was supposed to hear at exactly the right time!
    I have a number of screenplays written and my last is in the quarter finalist for The Page Screenwriters contest. Thank God someone gave me the genre advice when I began writing. My stories are all Coming Of Age. But I love the preparation advice and plan on using that platform for how I approach my next story. Thanks for the kick in the pants! I am a person with idea’s. Now I will take a new approach to pitching them.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Congrats, Diane. You’re making progress and that’s terrific.

      • Abdul Aleem

        I have wrote a new prison breaker action movie script its on a great story of a gange.
        I want to sell it to hollywood but i am not getting closed to hollywood producers. Please tell me what should i do.
        Its my contect number. +923245071024

  5. Reshunniece

    There’s a lot of truth in your article. Great notes and insight for me to become a better writer.

  6. Laurence MacNaughton

    Getting feedback on story ideas is crucial, and I wish more writers would take the opportunity. It’s heartbreaking to see someone toil for years on a story that is fundamentally flawed. Hopefully, more writers will follow your advice and create better stories — we need them!

  7. Tim Curley

    Wow. That’s the difference between a snake oil guru, and a professional. Stephanie is telling the hard truth about the hard work. Creativity needs constraint. The muse is powerful but s/he is capricious. Maybe it’s time for a new partner, a new plan. Deliberation, organization, and intention. We writers owe ourselves a brave and honest leap onto Stephanie’s steps. Now?

  8. Jefferson Rich

    Thank you Stephanie for the pragmatic, candid and invaluable post you’ve offered up here.

    While it may be disheartening to those writers out there bursting with creativity to narrow their focus to a genre (for instance, no chef wants to make only one type of cuisine, no musician wants to play only one type of music) it is important for us to understand that there is: a) Hollywood as we would wish it would be and b) Hollywood as it is.

    If you’re writing toward a Hollywood as you would wish it would be, you are very likely to experience great difficulty making forward progress from “aspiring” to “pro.” It took me a long time to realize this. And while it might not be fair that pretty much all creatives get tagged and categorized in Hollywood (he’s a RomCom guy, so I can’t sell his Sci-Fi epic…she’s a TV Director, why would I hire her to direct a Feature?…this dude is an editor, why would I hire him to DP?…she’s a Comedy writer, how could she possibly write a good Period Drama?) this is Hollywood as it really is.

    It’s myopic and perhaps even ridiculous but I feel that’s reality. Hollywood is not a meritocracy. Sure, you have to bring the goods, but how you market them and present them is perhaps even more important. Even the legendary feature screenwriter John Milius couldn’t get hired as a TV staff writer for Deadwood.

    Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but I think this article here should be the rule of law as far as every aspiring screenwriter is concerned.

    Thanks Stephanie!

  9. Marcus

    It’s so good to read your advice. I never saw anything so focused and clear. Like a formula. A map of assignments and discipline that we can follow. I watched Avatar maybe 20 times because it fascinates me in how it unfolds and ties everything together while changing pace from dead slow to full throttle. I don’t know if you ever thought of it this way, but you give hope. After reading your conclusions, it’s easier to think that yes, I can get there from here. Thanks.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Marcus. I’m glad to hear this post gave you hope. It really is possible, but it’s hard, and my aim is to share the techniques that I have seen work, even if it’s not necessarily the advice people want to hear.

  10. Mike

    Great tips! Great article! I may sound paranoid, but I’m a bit nervous about having someone read my work. I want the feedback, but how do I know the person I ask won’t take my work and run with it? What if he steals my work? The answer would probably be, “you’ll never know if you don’t try.”

    • Stephanie Palmer

      As a general rule, no one wants to steal your idea. They have their own ideas, and if they did steal your idea, they’d be vulnerable to a lawsuit. See this post on copyright for more information.

  11. Dillon

    I am struggling with the genre concept. I understand the idea but when writing it is hard to pick a genre like ‘coming of age’. I have a script I’m working on now that could well be a coming of age story but I never thought about it until now.
    When I was studying genre I made a list of different categories and I go through a repulsive struggle to confine myself to one type of story because I see it as a limiting factor. I feel pretty stupid now trying to refute your expert advice, but I hear it and understand. Could you tell us more about these strange incomprehensible things, genres? I have a problem writing to a specific audience because I think everyone will like the story I’m writing. I think this is a heavily neglected topic and you could shed more light on the importance of genre.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Genre really means two things. To a decision-maker it means: comedy, drama, action, thriller, etc. To a writer it can ALSO mean: coming of age, monster in the house, dude with a problem, etc. See Blake Snyder’s book Save The Cat Goes To The Movies for more on the latter. The point, however, is to specialize. Here’s a post about how to be a writer who specializes and who executives want to hire.

  12. Paul Guay

    I’ve recommended your blog to my screenwriting students… and I forwarded this entry to them in particular because it’s so helpful.

  13. Fernando Menegatti

    It’s wonderful. Great help! Thanks.

  14. Mr. Sifuentes

    I just bought the screenplays of Krzysztof Kieslowski and Kyrzsztof Piesiewicz “Three Colours Trilogy: Blue, White, Red and Decalogue: The Ten Commandments. That should give you an idea of what genre I immerse myself in. These writers where the master of the metaphorical set up. Reading the screenplays and watching their cinematic masterpieces are daunting! So I have 13 scripts from these writing masters. The scenes are vividly painted in text and the conflicting inner personal struggles are haunting. Thank you for sharing these amazing techniques, Stephanie! Looking forward to implementing them.

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  16. Sally J. Walker

    The only thing different I might add to this insightful work is I have seen over and over that Lew Hunter and the rest of those folks over at UCLA are right. They preach no one should ever even THINK of marketing a script until they have written FIVE. I’ve seen so many who have read the textbooks, read the prescribed number of sample scripts then write ONE and think they’ve got the process down. However, by the fifth, the new writer has discovered story and character HABITS that can be easily corrected. Note: My own perpetual first draft habit is that female tendency to make a point in the “last say” of a scene, any scene. I KNOW when I go back through every single script I will be deleting those “point-makers.” I’m currently working on script #30 and STILL have to do that . . .

  17. Peculiar Peoples Poet

    Toni Morrison advises writers to write the story that we don’t see but want to experience. That motivating advise led me to build a library of completed pitches (I’m only now recognizing that’s what they are based on your empowering description of what they should look like). My 1-3 page pitches are all drama but three of them gently embrace the supernatural. I am still mastering this genre. Your certainty in instruction is so laced with service, I just felt my focus overflowing. Thank you Stephanie for sharing this good work.

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  19. Mike

    Hello, this article was my first time reading your site. I loved it! Thank you for writing it.
    I have one stupid question.

    “Come up with 50 short pitches (1-3 sentences).”

    Does this mean come up with 50 original pitches? If so I assume most will be very generic just to hit the 50 mark then I wonder if that is okay? Just to get the idea of how to pitch down?

    Thank you,

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Mike. Yes, it’s totally fine and expected for some of the 50 original pitches to be subpar. You want to start building the “idea generation” muscles. I’m not a good cook, but I am confident that if I challenged myself to cook a new meal every day for the next 50 days, some of them would probably be terrible, but I would definitely be a better cook 50 days from now.

  20. saurabh

    Hi Stephanie,

    Its first time I visited this site and read this article. It is absolutely wonderful and insightful. I am novice in the field of writing screenplays. I am glad I came here. I am working on a script. I hope that will fall in line with ideology mentioned in this article.

    Though I would like to complete my project first then worry about selling it, but somewhere my subconscious mind it always worries me.

    Anyway great article, totally enlightening.

    Best Regards

  21. Rodney

    Thank you so much for the great advice. I have been listening to John August and Craig Mazin Podcast and have received a lot of good insight but you really give excellent advice. Thank you

  22. Stephen

    Thanks so much. This article is of help to me and will go a long way in my memory. It reveal a firm foundation for upcoming screen writers

  23. John Mate

    This is awesome, great staff with lots of learning. Actually I am very green in the field, in Kenya there’s little to learn from those already established in the field; but I guess I will learn alot from your post.
    Thank you

  24. Ed Mills

    Great info. In preparing my stage play to film, I read somewhere that prior to a full script there is a document (which I can’t remember what it’s called) that one can do which sets out the characters, brief list of settings and a scene sample or two. Since I am interested in producing rather than writing the script, can you please let me know what I might put together to entice a screenwriter to take on my project. Thanks.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      To entice a screenwriter to write your project, you will typically have to offer money, connections, credit, or a combination of these elements. The more experienced the screenwriter, the less likely they will want to work on your project on spec (for free), though this can happen if you have cast attachments, financing or other compelling attachments. You could outline your ideas in a treatment, though I find that screenwriters typically want to create the scenes and characters and could provide you with a treatment based on your idea, before you hire them to write a script.

  25. viquii

    HI Stephanie,

    I love the metaphorical thought behind this concept of exercising the mind and writing skills and pushing writers to another level. It’s always good to find different methods to this often doldrum of the 90 pages Theatrical writing of a screenplay then the extra 30 pages for the finish.. I enjoyed a screenwriting class who taught the more theatrical way of writing a movie and for me the exercises were good, but not for film writing. I will try this new way of writing.. 50 pitches.. 10 complete pitches 2 treatments.. love the breakdown..

    My journey has been working on Adaptations.. I have been given books and scripts to transform into shorts and feature well as plays.. will this technique work for Adaptations?

    My work ..yes I do write my own works although I have no time.. have to do with feel good films, and I love films that I want to watch over and over and I can’t pen point what that element in the movie is that makes me enjoy repetitive watching .. but that’s the type of film Genre I want to write.. ei.. Karate Kid. Perfect example.. great story.. Thanks for sharing information.

  26. Tim Moroz

    Excuse me Mrs. Palmer, I just read your article and it was really inspiring, I’ve always had ideas for movies but never knew how to apply them to a screenplay, but with your article I think I can actually take my ideas and actually turn them into something. However I leave this post to ask you a question; Do you require some kind of College Degree for this to be successful? I ask this because I absolutely hate school, its not that I’m unintelligent or have a bad work ethic, its just that I hate the way its taught and I feel like all the work they have me do serves no purpose other then to keep the teacher/professor employed. Movies are my passion and I would love to write them for a living, I’m just hoping I don’t need a College Degree in order to make my dreams come true, which is why I am asking you for some insight into this issue I am concerned with. I thank you very much for taking the time to read this post and I hope to hear back from you soon.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hi Tim,

      A college degree is not required to be a successful screenwriter. Rarely, if ever, would you be asked where you went to college or if you completed getting a degree. If you have terrific scripts and a network of strong relationships, a degree is not required.

  27. Josh

    Hello Mrs Palmer.
    Thanks for this great article. It has inspired me greatly. I wish I had known all these much earlier. I have read many blogs and articles on scriptwriting but none has really opened my eyes as yours.
    Thanks again.

  28. Alfredo Sanchez

    My name is Alfredo Sanchez. A few months ago I wrote a script myself and I would appreciate if you could advise me in what is the next step in making it into a screenplay. I was hoping you could guide me in who I could contact or where I could go to help me with the next step after writing the script. Thank you, I would appreciate your help.

  29. David

    This is a really interesting approach. I love this advice and I’m going to take it. Thank you!

  30. muwahid g.camara

    i like the note its intresting,i will love to read more of your article.

  31. Aaron

    How could I write a comedy screenplay. I heard it’s a lot harder than the other genres. Do you have any tips or suggestions for comedy writing? Thanks.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Writing a great screenplay in any genre is really difficult. I’d start by reading some great comedy scripts of movies you love and really paying attention to the story structure. I’d also consider taking an improv comedy class in your area as there are many comedy writers who have benefitted from getting improv training.

  32. NJEI


    • Stephanie Palmer

      In general, yes, these suggestions apply though I haven’t produced any African films personally.

  33. Kayla

    How essential is it to live near Hollywood to be a screenwriter? Is, say, Iowa, a viable option? (Of course, this brings up the issue of how one goes about making the connections to even get started… Any advice?) Thank you!

    • Stephanie Palmer

      There are many benefits to living in Los Angeles. This is such a competitive field and most people are hired based on connections. But there are some people who are able to work from outside LA and fly in for meetings when needed – in film. In TV, you need to live in LA or in another hub of production.

  34. Sy Sisemore

    Very informative blog. I was wondering your thoughts on my strengths and weaknesses in writing. I have a few ideas for screenplays and am relatively good at fleshing out the “big picture” concept of the stories. I am not however, very good at the details that a screenplay would require. I can easily write a 2-3 page “pitch,” and was wondering the best way to solicit that to appropriate parties? and, lets say someone buys a pitch, could a right to purchase agreement include someone else writing the script with approvals by the pitch writer etc? Thanks for any advice! Cheers

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hi Sy,

      While it is possible that a producer or studio could buy a pitch and then have someone else write the script, this doesn’t happen. The only people who get projects purchased based on a pitch and not a complete script are the most established writers with lots of produced credits or a project that has a major movie star attached.

  35. Patricia Zell

    I am currently in the midst of Step 4. I’m using Notting Hill because my scripts are romantic comedies. I’ve watched the movie three times and read the script once. I will read it again two times tomorrow and then follow the rest of the directions. This process is already helping me and I am expecting to really grow from it.

  36. Mariana


    Great article! Loved the Karate Kid metaphor. Am definitely going to read all your articles and guides.

    I recently finished my Bachelor’s in creative writing. I took quite a few playwright courses, but unfortunately, the university I attended did not offer screenplay classes. However, many of the books I had to read for my creative writing classes included Joseph Campbell – who I became obssessed with in school and even wrote my Bachelor’s thesis on – took a course on the Writer’s Journey by Vogler, and studied Robert Mckee’s work. I recently bought Save the Cat, and wow! What an amazing book. However, the stories that I’m interested in and am actually working on fall within Synder’s category of “institutionalized.” I’m a bit confused as to what that means to the decision-makers and the public. The one I’m working on right now is somewhat of an epic saga. So my question is, although Synder calls it “institutionalized,” would that then equate to a drama in decision-maker parlance?

    Thanks again for this great work you put out here. It’s people like you who really make a difference to those of us struggling to understand all the nuances in story and structure.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Mariana. My advice is to get the next book in Snyder’s series: Save The Cat Goes To The Movies. Chapter 9 focuses on variations within Institutionalized. You may find the right way to communicate in the decision-maker’s parlance there.

  37. stephen hayes

    Stephanie, As an absolute beginner I find your notes and suggestions incredible. I particularly liked the buy the film read the script and repeat, repeat. I have to date looked at an assortment and I am still struggling with the basics. I t is based on whistleblowing books I have written on police corruption and dishonesty in the UK. I have had the script read twice by separate companies offering such a service. The screenplay is based on real truth and yet the readers criticise the content as unbelievable which is detracting from any real critique which of course is necessary. Am I expected to dilute the truth when the object of the screenplay is shock.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Stephen. For your question about diluting the truth, I do think it’s important to pay attention to the “unbelievable” note as both companies shared this feedback. I suggest looking at films and finding the screenplays of the produced movies that are most like yours. Here’s a list of the 21 Best Movies About Whistleblowers to get you started. Then see how these successful films made the case in a believable way so that the audience believed the story and also were shocked. If the goal is to shock, then you have to set it up in a way that the audience believes the events, otherwise you won’t achieve your main goal. Good luck!

  38. Les

    So…I know that I’m about a year late but I’m really just getting started and you just blew my mind. I just wrote my first synopsis a week ago as a drama and I’m almost finished another one as a comedy because I assumed you needed to show range to be taken seriously. I’m the first person to ask someone what’s the first 3 letters in ‘assume’ when they tell me what they ‘think’ with no real knowledge so thank you for posting this info. This helps answer some questions I didn’t even know to ask!

  39. Larry

    Hello Stephanie,

    You have very insightful actions listed and I thank you for listing them. I really think that story is the most important ingredient to the eventual sale. That being said, why do you think that the industry seems to be stuck in sequel merry-go-round? Not much room for original work when the industry seems to be so focused on what they must perceive as “safe bets”.

    I’ve read too many times now that one should write for the “readers” eye and that means really learning to write “structurally” and to not write this or that since it will likely be viewed as a negative. So creativity gets somewhat hamstrung when you are pretty much told “do it this way” or someone won’t read past page 5 or 8. Does that mean write in a Blake Synder structure or akin to it? I can come up with ideas, pitches and summaries and get feedback, but it comes down to writing for “industry’s readers eyes” when you are looking to break in- True or not?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Sequels are good business because they have a built-in audience. That said, when you get advice to write “structurally,” which loosely translated means to write “well,” this means that in the first ten pages you need to introduce your hero (ideally with a Save The Cat scene), the theme, the primary characters, the goal the hero is after and the obstacle that prevents the hero from getting the goal. This is not easy to do and the purpose of structure is to help you. If you are not using classic story structure (e.g. Blake Snyder or any other framing of the story structure issue), you need to have a good reason. For example, TV shows will often open on the climactic battle scene, catalyst moment, or all is lost moment – but with the purpose of engaging the audience before going back and hitting all of the correct beats in accordance with classic story structure. However, TV shows typically do not do this for the pilot episode – the pilot generally follows classic structure because the characters are being introduced for the first time. So, overall, the point is to follow story structure until you’re experienced enough to understand when and how to break it.

  40. Cindy

    I’m a story writer, but my current project is screaming to be a screenplay instead. This is new territory for me. I am a movie lover, not a movie writer.

    Do you have any suggestions for movies to study that take place in the early 1900s and include murder and a trial? There is a Lizzie Borden feel to my story, which is based on actual events, so I could go with one of those movies. However, if you have any other suggestions, I’d appreciate them. If it matters, my story takes place in the Pacific Northwest in 1915.


    • Stephanie Palmer

      Forget about the period (for right now) and focus instead on finding movies that involve a murder trial and that also have the same structure as your current project.

  41. Tristan James

    Hello Stephanie,

    Thank you for posting such helpful information. I am looking to become a director and am working towards filming shorts and, eventually, moving onto full length films. Of course, the prerequisite for both would be to actually have something to shoot. So, I’m diving headfirst into writing and it’s been a bit of a bumpy road. My main question is, what sort of advice would you have for people who are partial to Arthouse Cinema and a more impressionistic style of filmmaking? Examples that come to mind would be Upstream Color by Shane Carruth or the more recent Under the Skin by Jonathan Glazer. I cannot seem to find scripts for these films and it just boggles my mind to think what the script may have been like or how they would even attempt to pitch a movie like that. There is very little to no dialogue and I’m wondering if the scripts are mainly descriptions or just a few pages of dialogue with a story outline? Just simply how is it done, period. I just am curious what the structure is like, if there is structure at all, and how the writing process may differ on projects like this.

    – Tristan

    • Stephanie Palmer

      The structure of all stories is basically the same. As for what the structure looks like, here’s an example that might help – it’s from the recent Robert Redford movie, All Is Lost, which has very little dialogue. You’ll see that it’s structured and formatted in a standard way, though it’s clearly not standard fare – the script is 31 pages long.

  42. kathamrta


    Thank you. I am curious what screenwriting software you recommend?

  43. Benin Lemus

    Hi. I just finished the first part of your exercise and when looking at why I liked each title, they almost all had similar themes. This was a cool thing to do because it does help me think about what I should be writing. Thanks. On to the next part. ??

  44. Bryan


    Great article! One genre you missed – Horror. Any script recommendations for horror? Thanks!

    • Stephanie Palmer

      You’re right, Bryan. I’ll include that in my next version. I’ll open your question to my readers. What horror scripts do you recommend?

  45. Esi

    I expect you to get away from stereotypes…..thanx

  46. Nicola

    Question with regard genre. If you write a biopic surely people aren’t going to keep wanting you to write biopics? There are only so many interesting biographies aren’t there? Although one could say biographies could lead you into other genres such as Drama and perhaps biopics about scientists could lead you into sci-fi?

    Also why in listing your favourite movies and novels do you not mention list your ten favourite TV shows and a list of the last ten TV shows you’ve watched and enjoyed?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Yes, you’re right Nicola that if you are well-known for writing biopics, that you will be in the enviable position of having offers to write biopics. Yes, I agree that there are some natural segues depending on the subject of the biopic. TV shows can definitely be listed— thanks for pointing that out!

  47. Shubho

    Thanx steph… For prvdng atleast a way to thnk and proceed… May i ask for ur direct email… So that i could seek ur adv and guidance in future…. My most interested genre is detection or espionage could u suggezt some scripts for that.

  48. nasser

    Thanks a lot for your good article. My question is: Is it necessary to be an American to write and sell script to Hollywood? Or anyone in any part of the world could do that?
    And the answer is yes, is there an online way to record script and offer it to decision- makers?
    Thanks a million

    • Stephanie Palmer

      It isn’t required to be an American as there are a number of international writers and directors who have found success in Hollywood. I’m not sure what you mean by recording it (visually or audio?), but the standard practice is to send scripts as a written screenplay using proper screenwriting format. The challenge (in addition to writing an outstanding screenplay) is getting it read by decision-makers. In most cases, this requires a referral from a trusted source (agent, manager, producer, executive, friend), otherwise it will not be considered.

      • Feri

        Hi , thanks for your article … I think Nasser means is there any website which author can register his/her own scripts to not be used by someone else later ??? and I have a question , finding an agent who can be trusted and who can deliver the script ( if the script is good enought ) to the right person is easy or hard ?? because Im not living in USA , and I have to do the things online .


  49. David

    Thank you for the article 🙂 . I am currently working on my first screenplay but its hard to get into the headspace to think creatively and give life to the characters, it takes alot of mental focus. Articles like this help recharge me and keep my motivation up when things get frustrating. I do not plan to sell this first one, its going to be my masterpiece, but i have many other ideas that im incredibly excited to develop in the future. I have trouble sleeping sometimes from the excitement.

  50. Jaclyn

    thank you so much for this article, it has been so helpful. My head has been swimming with all these idea and this will really help me get it down on paper and hopefully turn it into an amazing screenplay.

  51. Heather M.

    Great article =-)
    Also, I’d recommend Adron J. Smitley’s “Punching Babies: a how-to guide” for anyone wishing to write a novel or a screenplay:

  52. Val D Phillips

    The “50 Pitches Instead of one screenplay” idea is a revelation, and feels absolutely right. The analogy to The Karate Kid is perfect–only one thing I’d add which is that Miyagi wasn’t just teaching technique, he was building and strengthening specific muscle sets, as well as concentration. Your approach ALSO does this! Thank you!

  53. Dana

    What is the appropriate timing to submit a pitch vs. the screenplay?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Typically, you test the pitch first, then you expand that into a treatment and test that, then you write the screenplay and get feedback on that.

      • Robert

        Great advice. Two questions, if you don’t have any credits or connections, how exactly can you get your pitch seen, since your earlier statements suggest, without them it’s not likely to happen. Secondly, if you don’t have your script finished and you are fortunate enough to have your pitch seen, what happens if they like it, and say “Great, send me your script — ASAP?” Would you appear unprofessional, or not ready for prime time? Thanks.

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Good questions. The way you get your pitch or screenplay seen – as a writer with no previous credits – is difficult and complex, but it can be done by building your network carefully and accessing it in the right way at the right time. This brings us to your second question, namely, should you pitch an idea without a script, and as a new writer, I advise against this for exactly the reason you point out – if they ask for the script and you don’t have it, you do appear unprofessional and not ready for prime time.

  54. Walter

    I just finished reading your article, great post, thanks.

    I just like to ask, I am already in the middle of my first screenplay, I am at about 50 pages. Should I abandon everything and start over? Or might as well just finish then start the process you described (pitches, …etc.). I am thinking I should finish, but before continuing, I would do step four, then continue my current story, then start the process over for the other movies/ideas I have in my head. What do you think? The right approach?

    One thing for sure, I already know my genre (biopic true story crimes).


    • Stephanie Palmer

      Follow your instincts, Walter. If your mojo is strong, keep writing and if you’re feeling a little lost, then let it incubate.

      • Jay

        Stephanie, where are the links to the scripts?

      • Stephanie Palmer

        The scripts can be found elsewhere, but you are invited to discuss them on the script discussion pages.

  55. Emily

    Another fantastic article! Thanks for all of your insight, it has really helped me in my screenwriting journey so far!

  56. Umar

    Hi, Stephanie. Great article. Two questions.

    First, would you consider the MAIN genres just the ones listed with the screenplays above?

    Second, from reading this article, I now understand the importance of writing in ONE genre. However, with there being so many sub-genres around, and since I’m more drawn to mysteries and noir, would you say that a mystery screenplay and a thriller screenplay would be staying in one genre? I understand how silly of a question that can be, but sometimes they seem very similar.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      It’s hard to know, Umar. This depends and it’s hard to give a general answer. It sounds like perhaps you want to focus on writing mystery-thrillers?

      • Umar

        I guess I could have made a better effort to make myself more clear.

        In the article, it says it’s best to focus on ONE genre. Now, since it’s most likely that my screenplays would be in the mystery-thriller genre, would ALL of my scripts have to strictly be mystery-thrillers? Obviously, it would be something entirely different to go from that to, let’s say a comedy or sci-fi.

        But could I have a mystery-thriller, then possibly simply a thriller, then a horror-thriller? Or should I still STRICTLY specific to mystery-thriller? I guess what I’m asking is, as long as they’re close, would it still be considered the same brand

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Yes, you can have projects in related or complementary genres.


    Great article!! So many questions answered, thank you! I was wondering how the process differs for tv shows. Thanks so much!

    • Stephanie Palmer

      From a writing perspective, it is essentially the same. Where things diverge is the sales process and this relates to the differences between the worlds of film and television.

  58. sunny

    Hi Stephanie,
    I am writing story from last six months. I wrote many stories but finally I got good one this time. I have no idea how to write screen play. Bit confuse as well, do I have to do some course or what
    please advise us as your advise will be very valuable for me…


    • Stephanie Palmer

      Check out the books I recommend on my Resources page. This is a great place to start.

      • Garry Hodges

        Hey Stephanie,

        For sometime I have wanted to move forward with writing, screen writing. I just recently decided it was time to pursue such a path. I have a fantastic thriller/romance/action pack story I have been postponing for several years now. I would like to pitch the idea to someone, but not sure who? Considering your track recorded for success, and your amazing legacy, I was wondering if you can point me in the right direction? I have considered selling the story, not sure who too though? I hope you have a wonderful day, and may happiness always find you.


      • Stephanie Palmer

        Garry, this is a tough question to answer because what I have to say may be disappointing to you. However, the right direction is to create multiple finished projects in the same genre, at least one of which follows a “Shrapnel” approach. The hard truth is that few decision-makers will be interested in your story idea unless it has a finished, well-regarded script behind it as well as other quality projects in the same genre.

  59. 6 Awesome Videos Of Screenwriters Sharing How They Work

    […] is to help you write a screenplay you can sell and learn how to pitch your ideas […]

  60. Nengimote Fidelis

    Thanks a million Stephanie. I have learn a lot from you and Joey Tuccio, May God bless you and speed up your project. I have a lot of adventure scripts in my laptop with their videos but some thing is missing. I did not take time to go through the scripts page by page while I am watching their videos, from now on I will do that to make my script more perfect and salable.

  61. Emmet D'Alton

    Great article, Stephanie, I’m loving this blog.

    I have two questions:
    1. You say to come up with 50 short pitches but then to show 20 to friends. Why the difference here?

    2. The genre I’ve chosen is sci-fi. I ultimately want to write blockbuster family entertainment but I know it can be hard to sell an expensive spec script, so I’m going to work my way in with sci-fi. Can I write different story types within sci-fi? For instance, sci-fi action, sci-fi adventure, sci-fi mystery?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hi Emmet – I’ll take your questions in order:

      1. The point here is to come up with a lot of pitches, then only show your best ones to your feedback group. The exact number isn’t so important. The idea would be to send 5-10 of your best short pitches to 5-10 friends and ask what they like and don’t like, etc.

      2. Yes, you can work within the subgenres of sci-fi, but keep in mind that sci-fi projects are often quite expensive (they tend to involve effects and sets). A good example of a low-budget sci-fi project is Ex Machina. You might want to take a look at that. Also, as you are interested in family films, I suggest writing family films that don’t have to be made with huge budgets. There are a lot fewer writers competing to write family films (in comparison to sci-fi) so the odds are in your favor. Happy writing…

      • Emmet D'Alton

        Thank you very much. ‘Ex Machina’ is actually extremely high on my watchlist, I’ll probably get to it within the week, and I plan on reading the script and Scott Myers’ breakdown of it soon after.

        I actually have another question: How important is your choice of screenplay to break down ‘to the atomic level’? I can’t find a script in the proper format for my first choice, so how important is it?

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Definitely find a script is the same genre, but if you can’t find your very top choice, finding a couple others that you really admire can work. Good news is there are many outstanding movies to choose from and this exercise can be done many times with different films.

      • Emmet D'Alton

        This is actually a reply to your latest comment, but I can’t find a button to reply directly to it, so please excuse me for that.

        I understood the importance of choosing one in your genre, that was never in question for me, rather I was asking if the movie you choose will have a significant impact in the long run.

        I’ve since watched ‘Ex Machina’ and think I’ll go with it as my choice. It’s an excellent sci-fi movie, an excellent movie overall, interesting enough to reward re-watching, and a good demonstration, like you said, of low-budget sci-fi.

  62. Ibrar Siddiqi

    Needing some help.

  63. Liam

    Hi Stephanie
    I’m hoping to one day write scripts and make films for a living I’m not what step 4 means it may sound stupid but if you could get back to me on this I’d appreciate it thank you

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Good question, Liam. Learning story structure is one of the most important elements of being a successful screenwriter. You can start by watching movies and analyzing the accompanying screenplays, but you can also take classes and read books about screenwriting and TV writing to help you learn about story structure.

  64. olamide

    tnx a lot

  65. Abid bashir

    thanks for article it was helpful.

  66. David Bulus

    thanks for this article for given us a view on how to write a good script

  67. Jane Michael peter.

    I appreciate this writeup; but will love to learn more.

  68. Dalton Bermingham

    Thank you Stephanie. What you have written here has opened my mind to writing in a whole different way. From the inside out. For a young man like myself who is an aspiring author and screenwrite. That has been trying to write from a head-on aproach. Developing an idea, then plots, and climaxes. All the while tying it together with dialouge. Is, I know now why I run into writers block. Your advice may very well be the missing link that lets my peas fall in the pot. Thank you again. I would very much like to pick your brain, (it would be a honor actually.) As well be as bold to ask if you, yourself, would be kind enough to give a nobody like me feedback. If I learned one thing from your words. Feedback is key to success, so why not seek it from the best. A simple man, Dalton Bermingham.

  69. Henry

    Hi there! Amazing article, very helpful, thank you so much for sharing with us! Very useful for beginners like me!

    I loved the 50 pitches idea and I’m trying it right now, I’m at the 26th. Still, I have a question. What did you mean by treatment? Is it like half a script? Only the first scenes?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Terrific that you are on the 26th, Henry! A treatment is a detailed outline of the story. This often includes all the scenes and information about the characters, but doesn’t have all of the dialogue. It is frequently used as a planning document and sometimes a selling document as well.

      • Henry

        Oh, I get it. Thank you so much for all the great advice! 😀

  70. Rizky

    One thing i found incredibly hard, is to find an agent. I don’t even think it even exist in my country. Because most of the movies produced in my countries based on a novel or a folklore.

  71. Leandro A. Zago

    Lets see if with this, i can cut this gem and work out to be a better writer. Thanks!

    • Stephanie Palmer

      You can do it, Leandro.

  72. Billy Osborn

    I really love this article for it showed me the real thing. No pain no gain. I believe that it’s going to propel me to greater heights as I venture into screenplay writing. Thank you very much Stephanie for helping novices like me.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Glad this was helpful, Billy.

  73. Richard Walburn

    I began scanning for Movie Script writers but I was confused for many years what to do with these discoveries that I discovered as and inventor and a once active field investigator in the United States. I am at the age were I want to share these unknown valuable historical discoveries the Movie industry to make action movies about these finally discovered action historical sites. Many of these discoveries are several hundred years old. All of these discoveries of course were discovered by the huge deposits of noble metals (gold, silver, and jewelry) that were buried for safe keeping. These sites in many cases presented the activities of our famous historical characters that were so important to the formation of the country that we live in today. This is why I believe that movies could express these events far better than any published script could ever do.
    I failed miserably recovering what famous people like Sir Francis Drake left for the Queen at Nova Albion in 1579 when the very land that we live land was given to Queen Elizabeth with 72 tons of silver. All of this was stolen when I asked permission to verify this historical discovery that my instrumentation discovered right in the heart of San Francisco Bay,
    I was so sad about the dishonorable theft of Sir Francis Drake’s silver that for years I have never done anything with all of these historical site that I discovered when I was young.
    I was so angry at the theft of Drake’s 72 tons of silver that I immediately allowed Treasure Seekers magazine to publish The Discovery Of Nova Albion by Sir Francis Drake and the location of the Queens 72 tons of silver as well. In this publication you will howl out loud just how clever Drake’s secret code was drawn on the Hondius Broadside map exactly where the Queens silver was located. Sir Francis Drake was no doubt one of the most brilliant military men that I have ever read about when I was on the search of Nova Albion which was presented by sniffing out the 72 tons of silver instrumentally that Drake left here 400 years ago.
    I will gladly send you a copy of this magazine’s story on the Sir Francis Drake’s experience if you wish.
    The Drake story is the proof of the pudding that my scientific instruments DO present the location of our ancient sites that is so important to our past American history that has NEVER been printed before. Part of Drake’s cipher was used in the movie ‘National Treasure’ by Jerry Bruckhemer with out my permission, But I was so honored that he thought my discovery was so brilliant that I Never uttered a work about this infringement. You will no doubt enjoy the movie American Treasure if you see it.
    Thanks for any ideas that you might share with me.
    Richard Walburn

  74. Anwar

    Hello Stephanie!

    Thank you for writing such an important article! For an aspiring screenwriter, do you feel that Amazon Studios would be a good place to start selling screenplays upon completion? Thanks so much!


    • Stephanie Palmer

      Amazon Studios buys a lot of material, so they should definitely be considered as an option.

  75. floyd hyde

    I need help i have plot and so much accompmished but i need pro help puttibg the piece together, yea yea they all say mine great well my plot is super great and timeed for this momebt of historical chabges please refeer my it worth your time.

  76. Regina

    Great advice! I was fighting the whole genre thing for a while. Then I realized that no matter what I started off writing, it all ended in the same genre anyway. I finally got the hint when one of my romantic comedies ended up having a sci-fi edge to it. Now when people ask me what type of movies I write, I skip all the “well I write in every genre” and go right to the “Sci-fi”. Thanks for the brilliant advice, Stephanie!

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Excellent, Regina.

  77. Gita Vatave

    I wish I had read this before I wrote my screenplay! I had an idea rattling around in my head around Christmas and a few months later I had a 118 page script that I don’t know how to market. I’ve been reading about screenwriting and this is the best advice I’ve seen. One question: what exactly is a treatment? I’ve seen this word used a lot but I’m not familiar with industry jargon and haven’t found a clear definition. Is it the same as a synopsis?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      There isn’t a specific industry standard for the term as some people use “treatment,” “synopsis,” and “outline” to mean the same or different things. My definition of a treatment is a 3-5 document that describes what happens in Act I, II, and III and provides a clear, precise overview of the screenplay.

  78. Pete

    WOW. Great Article. You are a CLASS ACT!



    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Pete.

  79. Patrick Gamble

    Errr – you lost me at treatments. That’s one big horse pill to swallow.

  80. Lisa

    How do you share a movie script you’re creating without taking the chance that someone will take your ideas and make them their own? I have a very unique script I am writing that has never been done before and don’t want anyone running away with it.

  81. Oyekemi Owolabi

    That was really helpful. Thanks.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Glad to help, Oyekemi.

  82. Sharon Metro

    Very helpful. Am stuck in the midst of “research” (which has become something of a put-off..!?) with a script that tells a war/family story…essentially, need a butt-kick, but this gives anyone, me incl., some good strategies. Very good read. Better if implemented and intend to do so –

    • Stephanie Palmer

      You can do it, Sharon.

  83. Albright

    Very educative article & I can’t deny that I’ve learnt a whole lot. But I’m concerned about writing in different genres. I major in Sci-fi & Teen Drama screenplays, but I’ve also got ideas for other genres that I feel would be great to pen down. How do I go about this??

    • Stephanie Palmer

      I recommend focusing and proving that you can do one thing well first. Then, you’ll have opportunities to expand into other genres. Of course, you can keep notes and ideas for all genres as you build your development slate.

  84. Joe Bousquin

    Hi Stephanie! How did I not see this article until now? It is chock full of great, action-oriented steps to develop oneself as a writer, and is truly inspiring — thank you for posting!

    I love that you put this disclaimer at the top of your article: “If you think writing a screenplay will be easy and that you’re going to cash your script in like a lottery ticket, you’re in the wrong place.”

    The reason why I love this is because, to me, there’s no easier way to succeed than by simply working hard. And I find that truly inspiring. It’s akin to the 10,000 hours concept, which has been around for a long time but became popularized by Malcolm Gladwell. While genius (and Gladwell himself is clearly a genius) is widely attributed to being born with great talent, ala Mozart, the 10,000 hour concept tells us that anyone can become a master at anything simply by practicing for 10,000 hours.

    While that may seem daunting to some, it’s incredibly hopeful and inspiring to me, because I just love working on my writing! It’s why I get out of bed every morning (at 4 am!)

    I know that it will also take luck, the right concept, good networking, and probably a lot of other variables to sell a screenplay, but it all comes back to putting one foot in front of the other, and keeping going, day after day. What could be more encouraging than that?

    To me, the difference between people reacting with disappointment to hearing that it will take a lot of work to succeed in Hollywood, and reacting with excitement and joy, is similar to a common refrain I remember hearing from many of my classmates when I was an astronomy minor in college.

    We would look up at the stars, and many people would comment about how the vastness of the universe made them feel so insignificant and small. But when I looked up at the stars, I felt incredibly empowered and alive to know I was a part of something so infinitely beautiful and magnificent.

    As Viktor Frankl said, the one thing that can never been taken away from us is how we choose to look at the world.

    Thank you again for posting this, I’ve developed an action plan for my pitching, and will get to work immediately to put it into practice. With gratitude, Joe

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks so much, Joe. This is such a meaningful comment and I’m very impressed by your early morning work ethic!

  85. Phil blackwell

    My father was involved with this true story from WWII which involved uboats and frigates on Canadian territory! I want to document his story from when he left to go to war to the end of hostilities! A very saleable idea and true story but I don’t have any idea how to proceed!

  86. Elaine Cougler

    I have an historical fiction trilogy published. How different are your script writing instructions when one wants to write scripts based on existing books? Keep in mind script writing is all new to me but an exciting challenge.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Good question, Elaine. The instructions are the same, with the addition that I highly recommend securing the rights to the existing books before working on adapting them.

  87. richard coulson

    Very interesting — good advice. But for me the essential point is first to find a captivating scene & idea, not just the usual cookie-cutter suburban mini-drama based somewhere outside Elkhart, Indiana, with wage-earner Dad, unhappy Mom and two neurotic kids fighting over the breakfast table. How to launch another series with the scope of Downton Abbey??

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Agreed that having a captivating idea is essential. I’m not sure I understand your question. There are a number of TV shows with a large scope and a number of period shows. If that is your area of interest, focus there.

  88. steven mziray


  89. janice zachery

    I have a great movie script..where do I start

    • Stephanie Palmer

      The first step is to pick the genre that you’d like to focus on. As simple as that sounds, this is often a very challenging step. You can do it, Janice.

  90. MUSA

    i have stories written but i need to make them screenplays like close ups etc

  91. Mark Wagner

    Yes, Stephanie, your advice was very insightful. So I watched FLIGHT to enjoy the filmmaking, of course, but also noticed the structure. It was written with the hero’s journey that Joseph Campbell revealed in A HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. So I kept hoping that Whitaker would realize that his terrifying crisis and own flaws resulted from the mechanical failure of the 727, and then his cocaine and alcohol. Many of us hippies do relate.

  92. Writing a Screenplay – StoryBored

    […] To work as a professional screenwriter, this is the equivalent. You have to do more than just know how to write a story, you have to know it at a deep enough level that you can use what you know. Otherwise, you can read scripts, watch movies, write screenplays, and STILL not get anywhere. ~Stephanie Palmer, […]

  93. Alex Martinez

    I am bookmarking this and I’m going to read this at least ten times. This has been very helpful. Could you give someone with an ADHD ridden mind pointers or some kind of exercise on focus. I have a bunch of story ideas that I get great feedback on, but they’re not all the same genre and it’s hard to just pick one to focus on. They’re kind of all my babies and they’re all special in their own ways. Any help would be most appreciative.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      I understand – they are all your babies – and yet, spreading yourself across multiple genres in this way is one of the most common forms of self-sabotage for writers. Ultimately, it’s a decision best made with your gut: if you could only write in one genre for three years, what would you choose? That said, I know it’s not easy to answer this question. You have a serious challenge here and it won’t be easily resolved with a question, pointer, or a tip. I address this issue thoroughly in my course How To Be A Professional Writer.

  94. Batel

    Dear Stephanie,
    First of all, I want to thank you about your website and your tips ! It’s amazing.
    I have a question – what is that mean ”pitch” ? It means like I have to tell and present my idea to poeple (friends,etc’) ?
    Thank you so much !

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Yes, to “pitch” means to present your ideas – typically verbally and in person.

  95. Anthony Giammarino

    Hi Stephanie,
    I’m looking for some feedback on a screenplay that I just completed.
    Thank You,
    Anthony Giammarino

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Take a look at my post about Script Coverage to see the consultants I recommend.

  96. Joyce

    Thank you Stephanie,
    Once again I must say I enjoyed your write up most interest tips I will keep at it by following your advice


    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Joyce.

  97. Sonii

    I Iove this article.. very Informative !
    I am Writing New story And want to find good director or producer in Hollywood Can you please Guide me what Should I do?

  98. Elizabeth

    What movie would you recommend for a successful Erotic novel to be made into a movie?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Are you asking what erotic novels have been successfully made into films? There are a number, but Fifty Shades of Grey is a good place to start (this is not to say the film is excellent, but it is the film that decision-makers are likely to reference).