Screenplay Writing Explained In 7 Infographics

Screenplay writing is the art of writing a screenplay for a movie or TV show.

Film and TV are visual art forms, so let’s approach the topic visually.

Here are 7 of the most succinct and compelling infographics about screenplay writing.

Screenplay Writing Lesson #1:

Look At The Big Picture

When you get serious about screenplay writing, you’ll realize that at some point, your script is likely to end up in the hands of a script reader.

This infographic is the work of an anonymous professional reader who read 300 screenplays from five studios and compiled the issues.

While this isn’t the same as rigorous scientific data, I find it interesting and is congruent with my experience reading countless scripts submitted to studios.

Where is your project original and where does it meet conventional expectations?

Screenplay-Writing-Recurring-Problems-Studio-Reader-Blackboard

Original source: Imgur

Screenplay Writing Lesson #2:

Choose Your Genre

One of the most crucial aspects of screenplay writing is genre.

This is especially important if you have not sold your first project yet.

Screenplays must fit into a particular genre because genre translates to audience and budget (and therefore, to a payday for you).

Luckily, there are many genres and subgenres to choose from.

Where does your script fit?

subgenreinfographic-650x3406

Original source: tydylf

Screenplay Writing Lesson #3:

Use Mythical Structure

When it comes to screenplay writing, structure is what separates the pros from everyone else.

As you may know, the basis for screenplay structure is mythology.

Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell researched and wrote a ground-breaking book called Hero Of A Thousand Faces. By comparing the myths from different cultures all around the world, Campbell discovered that all stories share a similar structure.

He calls his composite master story structure, the “monomyth.”

Does your story hit these beats?

Joseph-Campbells-Monomyth-Infographic-650x488

Original source: royalsocietyofaccountplanning.blogspot.com

Screenplay Writing Lesson #4:

Use Blake Snyder’s Structure

There are many versions of Campbell’s monomyth.

My favorite is Blake Snyder’s version. Snyder’s story structure diagram is easy to understand and emphasizes certain key aspects of screenplay writing.

For example, Snyder’s structure demonstrates the congruency between certain sequences of beats, e.g., it’s easy to see that Debate -> Break Into 2 is a pattern that’s repeated with Long Dark Night Of The Soul -> Break Into 3, and illustrates the importance of the Midpoint.

Does your story fit this structure – and if not, do you know why?

Save-The-Cat-Infographic-650x502Original source: Save The Cat!

Screenplay Writing Lesson #5:

Use Pixar’s Process

The most successful movie-making entity right now is Pixar.

Just about every movie they make is a hit.

The inside scoop on Pixar’s development process was dished by Emma Coats, a director and former storyboard artist at Pixar who created a now-famous list of 22 Rules For Phenomenal Storytelling (some of which are taken from Brian MacDonald’s excellent book, Invisible Ink).

Dino Ignacio, a UX Director created a series of image macros of the 22 rules using images from Pixar movies.

How many of these rules did you use when constructing your script?

Pixar-22-Rules-of-Storytelling-Infographic1

Original source: Imgur

Screenplay Writing Lesson #6:

Learn Scene Structure

Just as screenplay writing requires understanding screenplay structure, writing any scene requires understanding scene structure.

John August (Go, Big Fish, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory) has created a simple one-sheet for scene writing.

Do you follow this process when writing scenes?

John August How To Write A Scene infographic for Screenplay Writers

Original source: JohnAugust.com

Screenplay Writing Lesson #7:

Honor The Tropes Of The Genre

Yes, the idea behind this infographic is that screenplays are full of cliches, tropes, and events that have become so common that they are laughable.

However, the truth is that these cliches became cliches for good reasons.

See if your script contains any of these cliches, and then think about how you might tweak them so you’ve got “the same thing, only different.”

Screenwriting-Cliches

Original source: Cheezburger

Conclusion

Thoughts on these infographics? What stands out to you?

Any additional screenplay writing infographics you think should be included?

Let me know in the comments.

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Discussion About Screenplay Writing Explained In 7 Infographics

  1. Patricia Zell

    I love you, Stephanie! I can’t begin to thank you enough for your generosity in sharing what you share.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks so much, Patricia!

      • Marcelo

        Hi Stephanie, I am not in the movie industry, not a writer either. My background is engineering and contracting. I have a complex story, something deep involving overseas projects in the millions, not long ago the non-compete disclosure expired. Story certainly can be in series. I seek someone special for this, and I prefer not to share via email or phone. I was told that I will loose the rights when studio takes over, true?
        I went through multiple financial losses since left the work, then divorce last year with 25yrs marriage. I am near Hollywood area, can help, who do you recommend for such?

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Hi Marcelo – Please email me at spalmer@goodinaroom.com and I will send you a recommendation for someone who can offer you individual guidance.

  2. Celestine S. Ikwuamaesi

    Stephanie, you may not know how much I value this post. Thanks a million.

  3. Bob Frostholm

    Interesting way to present the information… truly, a picture is worth a thousand words.. I found #4, 6,7 most interesting. I have your book but haven’t had the time yet to read it… I will soon….promise…

    Cheers

    Bob

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Bob. I’d like to know what infographics other people found most interesting too.

  4. Rod Veal

    Great post. Very informative and yes the visuals definitely get the point across.

    Rod
    *learning

  5. David McDonald

    Very good! A nice compilation of various approaches that work! As for the data collection: very useful, quite interesting. I am curious, however, as to which script genres fell into the recommend/consider/pass categories — the first two in particular, naturally. 😉 Again, good show–very enlightening! Thank you so much, Stephanie!

  6. Anjalika

    Thank you so much Stephanie, this is great stuff! So chock-full of usable information…much appreciated.

  7. Susi

    Hi Stephanie….

    I have just been through what I could only describe as a meat-grinder for authors. First I did a period novel ( researched it for 2.5 yrs before I wrote a word ) and 2 days after I finished it I began an adaptation of it for a competition. The pay-off is, I’ve never written a screenplay before, had to learn to use Final Draft AND how to write a script simultaneously. I did the screenplay in 3 and a half wks, writing 10-12 hrs daily. I think I did good work, my intent was for good work, but who knows, it could all be absolute crap. The thing is, I studied every single instruction/book/webinar/how-to/tutorials/video so I could do a credible job with the novel. After I began studying HOW to write a novel, I noticed I also began feeling more and more devoid of hope that I could actually do it and turn in a piece with substance. Went through an abbreviated version of that with the screenplay. I just read your article and I alot of it encouraged me because I know I hit many of the marks but some of it just depresses the snot out of me. My point: It feels like some of the folks who’re making a living at teaching us novices how to write might be guilty of convoluting the process, perhaps so they can continue making a living at it ? ( NOT pointing that at you, dear Lady ! ). The paradigms you’ve posted in this article are hugely helpful and the clearest explanations I’ve seen thus far. Usually the various programs available to writers actually dissuade one from undertaking a screenplay ( or novel as the case may be ) just from the hopelessly corrugated mega-criteria. I hope I’m making sense to you here. Yes, I want to know how to do the best possible job but……sometimes it seems like we’re being discouraged from the attempt. I admit to being mentally exhausted so that may be part of what I’m feeling. Anyways, thank you for the wonderful examples, I appreciate the information. Looking at the “info-graphics’ though, I do have to wonder if I have any chance whatever of my screenplay being good. Do other writers feel this way ??

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Susi. I believe other writers do feel this way, but I’d love for others to share.

    • David

      Good Morning Susie,
      I don’t believe their is a conspiracy amongst bloggers and tinsel land gurus to obtain cash while providing inferior products or advice. There are always a few scalawags, but they can be found everywhere and I have always believed that when you encounter one it is always best to smile, offer up an empathetic hug or a firm handshake and move on.
      I’m new to writing screenplays. Prior to being forced into retirement by tumors on my spinal cord and a degenerative neurological disease (a form of Parkinsons). I made a good living repairing ion implanters, >$100K a year with great benefits. Also picked up fun money (used to buy gifts for the wife) playing the fiddle (violin) in a few bands. The great job is gone and my violins are treasured by the daughter of a friend. Now I read, write and take great joy in walking again. I wake everyday at 4AM, make Michele’s breakfast and pack her lunch while she gets ready for work. She leaves at 5:30. I feed our dog and cats, clean cat litter boxes, wash the dishes and start a load of laundry. Then I head outside and sit on a 200 year old stone wall and reflect on how fortunate I have been. I’ve survived war and mourn beautiful people who did not. I’ve learned to find joy and peace in simple things and to let go of the pain. Whether or not I ever write a screenplay that makes it to the big screen is not important to me. I only hope that if what I write is ever read, the reader is enlightened and challenged by my simple words. Susi, embrace empathy, peace and truth and your writing will soar. I wish the best for you and yours. David.

    • Irene

      Hi Susi – I thought I would chime in here and offer my (unsolicited) .02! 🙂

      I understand the struggle you describe, but I agree with David that there probably isn’t a vast conspiracy against helping writers become the best they can, even if it DOES seem like there are more charlatans in that space than most others. I think a big part of why this might seem so is because there are countless ways to plan, develop and build a screenplay or a novel.

      In my experience, whenever someone tells me that their way to achieve a creative goal is “the only way”, I immediately get suspicious. Like anything else that requires a lifelong commitment, I think we should be encouraged to question assumptions about the right way to go about our work, to embrace what works for us, and to discard what doesn’t.

      Your experience of writing both a screenplay and a novel (congrats, by the way!) probably taught you more than most seminars or programs, even if you’re still too exhausted right now to realize exactly how you’ve grown or improved.

    • Rachel T.

      Hi, Susi!

      It sounds to me like you got a bad case of “analysis paralysis.” With the best of intentions, you analyzed writing so deeply that you over-analyzed it, and made it almost impossible to make a decision. This happens to almost everyone, at some point in their lives, with some situation or another.

      As others have said below, find out what works for YOU. It won’t be exactly the same thing as what works for me, or Joe Schmoe, or any other guru or expert, and that’s okay.

      But also, cut yourself some slack: you just wrote a marathon, girl! 2.5 years on nothing but RESEARCH?! My mind boggles. And then, 2 days after you finished the book, you started the screenplay adaptation and wrote it in less than a month? I bow down to your discipline! Now go take a break! You’ve drained the well – you sound exhausted, and you’re doubting yourself, in part, because you’ve got nothing left to give RIGHT NOW. Take a break. Let the well refill. Come back to writing when characters start speaking to you again (you’ll know when it’s time). In the meantime, take yourself out for a celebratory dinner and let it go.

      Now for the bad news: there’s a likelihood that this manuscript, this screenplay, WON’T sell. Can you live with that? Most novelists have their first 2-3 manuscripts filed in the drawer somewhere that will never see the light of day again. Screenplay writers about the same. Some have 5 or more. This is normal. And the reason for this is simple: it takes that much writing, that many inches (about 10-12, measured up from the floor), to figure out how to actually write a NOVEL, how to actually write a SCREENPLAY. See, the thing the gurus never tell you is that most of us are naturally good at some PART of writing, and need help at others. I, for example, am good at ideas, characterization, and individual scenes. But I need A LOT of practice at stringing individual scenes together in a way that will develop plot and show character growth. The only way to do that is with practice. And in writing, that just means writing. And writing. And more writing.

      Right now, sweet Susi, you’re feeling what Blake Snyder calls a “Dark Night of the Soul,” a period of “what did I get myself into?” self-doubt. It happens to everyone. It’s normal. The choice is yours whether or not to push through it. I can promise you, though, that the best results are when you DO push through it. You’ll find you’ve learned a lot from your writing marathon, and I bet, with your next project, the research time will be cut down (because you’ve learned some time-saving tricks), you’ll spend a bit less time outlining (because you’ve learned to make a few connections earlier), and your rough and final drafts will go a bit quicker. And you know what? You’ll get better at this with EVERY story.

      You know what I said above, that you’ve written a marathon? What you have really done is finished a leg. Your first 2-3 legs, really. Congratulations! But the truth is, for writers, the race is never done. Pace yourself, darling. Give yourself a chance to rest. Then come back swinging.

      We’re all rooting for you. You can do it! 😀

  8. Richard Rothrock

    Hi Stephanie,

    I totally agree with all of it. I spent a couple years reading scripts for Bluecat and Scriptapalooza but got burned out. I think in my whole time with them I only read 2 good scripts out of hundreds. The rest all fell into the multiple mistakes mentioned in your graph.

    In terms of mythic structure, I find Blake Snyder a bit too simple. I prefer Christopher Vogler’s “The Writer’s Journey” — based on “Man With A Thousand Faces” – although Pixar’s Contour method has lots of virtues as well. I’m also working with Kim Masters’ “The Virgin’s Promise” to improve my female characters. I’m using them all as I get back to my own writing after a couple years away.

    The one area I could definitely improve on is being good in the room, which is why I’ll be buying your book soon.

    Thanks for the post,
    Richard Rothrock

  9. David

    Great stuff! Will be added to weekly reading/study list.
    The endless revolver came as no surprise…it is distracting and a disappointment whenever I hear/see it. Hollywood has a fascination with firearms that possess endless clips and magazines… borders on being cliché. But your faith is restored by movies such as Edge of Tomorrow, Band of Brothers, The Pacific and Saving Private Ryan.
    In my experience running low on ammo brings focus, running low on water brings fear. Running out of both and you will be lucky to survive. In October of 1981 Anwar Sadat was assassinated. For 3 days the Suez Canal was closed. Hundreds of ships dropped anchor at the entry points of the canal. Egypt and Israel sent armies to their respective banks of the canal and waited. Diplomats talked. Special forces were flown in and dropped aboard the few combat ships in the area. On the third night we transited the canal. Egypt 50 yards to the West and Israel 50 yards to the East. Through night vision goggles we looked at thousands of weapons pointed at us. Not even in a Hollywood movie could we have carried enough ammo to win that fight. Everyone remained calm. The next morning the canal was opened and the oil and trinkets flowed.

  10. Jim Snell

    Stephanie-

    A good compilation of a lot of great info in one place.

    I understand what Susi means, though about being a bit overwhelmed. I’m leery of most screenwriting (or writing) gurus. I don’t think it hurts to look at everything, though. So the best thing is to figure out what works for you, and don’t worry about what doesn’t — until someone want to PAY you to change it.

    For my money, the best 2 books are Save the Cat and Chris Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, which is a distillation of Joseph Campbell’s teaching.

    Keep up the good work!

  11. Billie Harris

    Great information. I’m glad to be on your mailing list..

    In the statistical information above, the 300 screenplays read where only eight received a recommend, I’m curious on the genres of the eight. Any place where I could research to find out?

  12. David Gunson

    Hi I found this really interesting, but their are so may reciepes to cooking up a good script it can be daunting just turning the oven on (firing up the keyboard), just like the chef, the best dish is to use fresh ingrediants, and keep the flavours simple but intriguing. Pitching is so important too, how do we get people salivating. I have abandoned writing now until I have the written pitch of (say) 10 pages. that way i won’t waste time developing screenplays for stories that don’t work. I reckon we write our best when we inject ourselves, our loves and hates, and yet be experimental enough to surprise ourselves. Like all the best shakespeare plays, its flavours and ingrediants should be able to stay fresh and still able to be reinterpreted by other creative minds that come into our kitchen.

  13. jguenther5

    A very solid, helpful post. But it reminds me of my visit to a tofu restaurant in Fukuoka. Great stuff in small quantities, but too much all in one sitting. Like Susi, I find this post so rich in content that it’s impossible to absorb all of it. Nor should you, in my opinion. The boil-down of 300 scripts is fascinating, but not that useful for planning, except to steer around the Recurring Problems. [It looks as if the explanatory texts have been swapped for Emotional Element Neglected/ Emotional Element Exaggerated. Melodrama should be associated with the latter, imho.]

    Similarly for the Genre List. Interesting, but I don’t see it as a way to select your story. If a story is right for you, it will come to you as shots, lines, or situations, not as an item in a list of what others have done.

    The meat of the post is in Structure. Pick your map to fit the needs of your story. Snyder fits some stories well, Vogler others. Chris Vogler, BTW, is quick to point out that his HJ is not cast in bronze.

    The Pixar “Rules” are excellent. Good to review from time to time as you write. Compare your logline, synopsis, and step outline against them to make sure you haven’t wandered off-track. But some of the Pixar “rules” are really hints, homework exercises, etc., extraneous to the writing–good to know, but not a real development punchlist.

    John August’s scene analysis method IS a punchlist, and probably the most effective purely writing-related tool here. Excellent.

    The tropes were fun to read, but there are many other cinematic cliches that need to be avoided, as all cliches, like the plague. The answer is to watch a lot of movies and maybe check for more complete lists on the Internerd. On the other hand, a cliche may be useful for creating an expectation in the audience that you thwart with a clever twist.

    A great post with a lot of tofu…er…food for thought.

  14. Brooklyn Hudson

    Great article. In the “Must Have Lines in Movies”, they forgot the line (I’m told) is used in more movies than any other…”We’ve gotta get out’a here!” lol
    Thanks for the great info!

  15. Sara Monteagudo

    Infographics are a great learning tool. All are informative and excellent reminders for those who like to use any of these guidelines. I do have to say that the first one was difficult to read. I was left at square one by the time I finished reading it: A ball of confusion. …The rest of them you can actually have hanging on your wall and make reference to them regularly.

  16. Stephanie Spicer

    Great stuff! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  17. Lew Sherwood

    Stephanie
    You always have the best, succinct information to help writers find their way through the maze of crafting a great script…not mention the great collections of Oscar nominated screenplays, and most popular TV pilots scripts…real world stuff!
    These info graphics are great “writing hacks” that loosely speaking condense the essence of various “rules of writing” into bite sized ah-ha’s!
    These are great to have in a writer’s arsenal to help us all Be Good In A Room.

  18. Sinakhone

    Thank you once again for this wealth of information. You’ve done the footwork and helping us compile such a valuable list. xoxoxo

  19. robert pineda

    I like the infographics coming from an expert I am doing a love story a biography no hi tech but my concern is every thing above you present my first script is outlined right as I speak Iam already have an actress in mind to play the leading role I am looking someone to portray myself and i can send a script before the end of the year do you have anything in mind like million dollar baby to look at much different back drop with outcomes very emotional targetting audiences like marylin monroe or joe dimaggio

  20. Walter Gavin

    While screenplay writing is about technique assuredly, if that were all there was to it some genius computer programmer would write some code and spit out a perfect script that would then be turned into the next blockbuster. It doesn’t happen that way and it never will.
    Scripts may be written to be “seen,” but they are still just a combination of words on paper, dialogue and action. It is the writing that counts. Whoever reads that writing needs to be able to see the story unfold in his/her mind’s eye and ear.
    Just as you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear one can’t have a good script unless one has a good story and knows how to tell that story in a way that is both familiar and inventive.
    What I also didn’t see in any of the graphic representations was how many of the stories centered around “diverse” central characters and storylines? In a diverse world where diverse characters and their stories return greater ROI and audience support what continues to be created from a scripting standpoint remains highly monochromatic.

  21. Vladimir

    The less you speak – the more you think. The less you see – the more you imagine. Straggling is the training camp for the creativity. Pain may lead to a revelation. Escape a minefield of the cliches and you will have a chance to become inventive. Follow Stephanie’s guidance – and you obtain your destiny.

  22. Irene

    Thank you for sharing these – they’re great!

    I actually saw #1 when it was posted on reddit and requested permission to print it out and blow it up. It’s especially helpful to me because my experience of writing before we show it to others tends to be pretty insular, and it gets easy to forget when we’re flirting with cliches, or being lazy in some way. I realize that 300 screenplays is by no means a comprehensive number, but it seems reasonable that these patters would play out over a larger sample.

    I think the key to giving a reader a positive experience (that will make them want to keep reading / want to see more from us) is to give them something familiar, but in a way they don’t expect. My partner and I are trying to do this in two ways: by consistently improving our craft so that our distinct voice comes across, and by staying mindful of traps like the ones described in #1 and #7.

    Although, I would add the line “You know what your problem is?” to the overused lines section. 🙂

    #6 is also super helpful – I’m going to study that one and apply it to our current project.

    Wow, I think I just realized that I can use #1 and #6 for both the micro and the macro aspects of building a screenplay.

    Thanks again! You probably just saved us weeks of frustration during our rewrite. 🙂

  23. Brett

    Very cool.

  24. Sarah Beach

    Hi Stephanie!

    I like infographics, especially when they are witty. But I have to confess that although the information in these is good, they mostly look like they were created by writers (they’re word-heavy, and not so “graphic”). I do like the Tropes one, as it makes its points with the graphics. (Oh, and I’d add to the “must have” lines: “You have no idea.” Way overused, that one.)

    About the Pixar list: I have one complaint about it which is that when it first started circulating, I wish it had included the sources for their points — I’d run across many of them before myself, and like the Pixar people, had collected them. It bugs me that no citation is given, mainly because #4 is Brian MacDonald’s work, part of his outstanding book INVISIBLE INK.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks so much, Sarah. I agree on the visuals. I also searched for more detailed attributions for the Pixar list. I just purchased Invisible Ink and look forward to reading it.

  25. Shari

    Stephanie,
    Thank you for this great group of prompts!! I’m a big appreciator of checklists! There are times when I enjoy delving deeply and at length, but when I’m rewriting, I love to have these kinds of quick and simple reminders to help point me back to what is most likely to work well.

  26. Hector B

    I think for first time scriptwriters, one should write the story and not worry about how many pages there are. There is this rule that if you are not known, you should write no more then 90 to 100 pages. That’s bull, because you can actually cause a great stake to become ground beef if you know what I mean. Write write and write. Of course I’m not saying to write 300 pages, however, I believe that if you write 90 to 100 pages, you could possibly sacrifice substance, pace and realistic scenes, believable scenes that audience will remember forever. Pulp fiction is a great example. Two guys walk inside a house to retrieve a stolen suitcase and kill the thief and witnesses. So why did this Gerry curl gangsters want to waste time eating someone’s burger and asking what his boss looks like? Because it kicks ass. It added to the intensity and really show how sick and bad ass this gangster was. Of course it was a great set up for the final scene in the movie, set up, pay off, but the scene which was probably seven pages, could have been three right? Wrong it was written perfect because it took its time, in the same way an actor should take their time, relax and make the character come to life, unless you want a fast talking hipster, which is boring, the story should fold out naturally. Why first turning point at page 25, why not 35?

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Hector.

    • Chandra Moore

      I’m going to disagree with you Hector.

      Rules were definitely made to be broken. But first time screenwriter’s (which I am) should be learning structure before learning how to break the rules of structure.

      Pulp Fiction was not QT’s first produced work and I’m betting his first produced work was not his first written work.

      I’ve read many script’s written by amateur writer’s and all of them could have been improved with better structure.

      I’m still learning structure, which is why I haven’t yet sold a script. But in my experience as a producer – boundaries a.k.a. structure always make for better works.

      • Stephanie Palmer

        Thanks so much, Chandra.

      • Maja Ramirez

        I keep reading/hearing script readers are sticklers for details, so for structure, be aware of where your apostrophes should/not go (scripts and writers above)…

  27. jillian

    Stephanie, I love your articles and always learn so much. Although I have sold two scripts so far in my career to independent producers, which is great, I’m working on getting my scripts picked up by major producers now.

  28. Phil Rockwell

    Hi,
    GREAT information.
    Do you have this info in DOC form?
    I would like a copy.

    Thanks.
    Phil

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Unfortunately, I don’t as they are all such different sizes. Depending on your computer, you can right-click on an infographic and “Save Image As…” Then you should be able to save it to your computer and print it if you prefer.

  29. Paige Macdonald

    Love the infographics! I downloaded 5 of them for prompts in the future. Definitely a wonderful refresher on how to keep it fresh!

  30. Chandra Moore

    I loved all of these.

    My favorites were the Pixar, John August and Genre graphics.

    Great tips, I will be saving these and using this as a source of inspiration when stuck!

  31. Glen K

    Wow! A lot of these bits of information are something that I already know, but it’s nice to be reminded every once in a while. I think you’ve inadvertently helped me out with a rewrite that I’m stuck with. Thank you very much for the timely assistance!

  32. Velen

    This is a great article man! The statistics about the mistakes and the genres are simply superb!.

  33. Gary VanRiper

    Recurring Problems & Pixar outlines could be fleshed out and made into books.
    Reverse all the cliches in one story and you have a film with a host of surprises.
    Stop with all the great posts, Stephanie. I can’t bring myself to hit, DELETE.

    gary.

  34. Hector barreneche

    QT first script was Natural born killers, directed by Oliver Stone, then came True Romance. Both scripts were over 100 pages. You’re learning structures that’s good. As I said before, not 300, but at least 120 to 125. I work in the business, mostly in the independent level, however I have made some contacts with people from LA and they all tell me the same thing. Yes it should be 100 pages if you can do it, but its not written in stone. Two things that go against you and it doesn’t have anything to do with pages. Contacts and people that are willing to read a new screenwriters work. which is near impossible. In the end its who you know. So smooch, go to lots of festivals, work for free, and write, write, write. Just like anything in life, and I’m in this boat, if you want to be successful, you have to be patient and keep hacking away, also thick skin and tamper the ego. shut up and listen. If you get to know someone that likes you and is willing to read your script and from the first page you already have them hooked, chances are they will not mention anything about the page numbers. And I’ve said it before, a well thought out scene, should not be torn to pieces, but allowed to evolve to progress the story and that’s it. Afterwards in your many drafts, you can edit it, rearrange, turn it upside down and slap it on its butt until the story tells you, “My teeth are polished and bright, lets go out into the world and see if we can score something.”

  35. Jon Stevens Alon

    As a reader I covered 1,200 scripts, recommended 8, 30 considers with a rewrite. Of recommends, 5 were made as TV movies, 2 weren’t made but one of the two writers became BIG, and the 8th — written for a white male lead I recommended it for Samuel L. Jackson. Co I read for dismissed my suggestion and passed. Movie got made by New Line starring Denzel Washington, grossed $102 million 13 years ago (factoring inflation = $150 million). That’s life. I’m tough, studios r tougher, so prior to sending out your precious script, better make sure it’s ready, tight and compelling as readers work on flat fees and if your script is over 95-100 pages they know it’s overwritten and will take longer to read so they approach it with a bad attitude. Anyone who says a script should be 120 pages is full of beans. There are exceptions to the rule – Tarantino, Casablanca, Rainman, Gone Girl, Klute, but generally, keep it tight. Great example TAKEN. Focused. Tight. Exciting. HIGH RECOMMEND. HIGH RECOMMEND. Great character development via dialogue, ERIN BROCKOVICH. As a reader, I swear, some scripts were so long and so boring I’d have to take a nap every ten minutes of reading just to survive, praying the suffering would end. Then it would take longer to explain why it’s so bad. Financial loss. BIG PASS, whereas if great, short song of praise. It’s all about economics to the indie reader. One bad script in one day, rare 3-4 great scripts in one day, and that puts a smile on a reader’s face.

  36. Mario Lew

    The one exception that I take to this type of infographic is that it presents the process of screenwriting as an easy one. “All you have to do is…”

    It isn’t. It’s work. Real, honest-to-God I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-the-fifteenth-revision-of-this- script difficult. So people with no real ability (and I do not necessarily preclude myself from this group) think that it’s just about writing a story on Final Draft and getting it “out there.” Nope. You know it; I’m not telling you anything new. Your Good in a Room series (I’ve watched the video and am working through the e-books) has brought elements to light that I hadn’t previously considered. I like the information it imparts. Thank you for that.

  37. Nicole Hancock

    Wow! This article was a great read. Reoccurring errors in scripts, how to write a scene and Joseph Cambell’s Monomyth were the sections I found to be most interesting. I love how these lessons can be applied to writing for television as well. This definitely gives me a lot to consider when I’m writing my scripts. Thanks, Stephanie!

  38. Angel Burns

    Stephanie, “you da bomb!” Always! 🙂
    Thanks for a great collation of nuggets.

  39. Bill Hargenrader

    These infographics just saved me time (and sanity) checking on structure across multiple documents. Thanks! Also, I had a good laugh at the computer geek stats =)

  40. Gerald

    As usual, a lot of golden nuggets here. It gives me some things to consider.

    The one thing that always gives me pause is whether or not to use a “cliché” Some things work based on setup and or don’t work and appear contrived. I guess the idea here is to say something in a new and different way rather than going with the predictable.

    Thank you!

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  44. Susan Brand

    All fantastic, as usual!

  45. lone morch

    This is great. Even fun. !! Thank you for sharing. My hopes are up. 🙂

  46. Chanel

    I’m working a fictional western/action film that is inspired by two African American legends but unfortunately, my setting doesn’t fit with history. For example, I have my main character and her family living in Kansas in 1846 but history shows that African Americans didn’t inhabit Kansas until much later. Does everything have to be entirely accurate with history even though it’s not a true story but just inspired by some true events?

  47. keith Adee

    Very helpful …… I am basic beginner but have very creative mind and have another script underway

    Thanks

    Keith

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Glad to help, Keith.

  48. Senzo Buthelezi

    One line I can add to the cliches is “I didn’t sign up for this!”. Thanks a lot. This is very meaningful.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Senzo.

  49. Amitosh

    i became fan of you! great info you shared, hearty thanks

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Amitosh.

  50. Tom

    Great graphics, it’s always good to learn new ideas about the craft. I would add, “let’s get the hell out of here” into the must have lines of dialogue, and into the tropes “anyone wearing a wig in a period drama must speak at roughly 5 times normal volume.” It’s not a period drama without wigs and shouting.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Hahaha. Great additions, Tom.

  51. Molly

    Thank you, Stephanie!

  52. Leo Maselli

    I nearly deleted this discussion thinking your infographics could be of use to only a newbie. But I decided to take a peek because of past impact on my writing. True to form, you delivered something of value.

    Thanks
    Leo Maselli
    San Francisco

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Leo.

  53. Adam Bein

    This is frickin’ great!

  54. Rajyapal singh

    so nice knowledge has been given to us .
    thanks

  55. Jon

    Thank you, Stephanie! I am going to refer to this with all my future scripts. Thank you for the information about writing different genres of scripts.

  56. SJ

    Thanks so much for compiling this Stephanie. Some of the cliches are so funny!

  57. Monika Franczak

    Stephanie, infographics you’ve shared are educational and funny in the same time – such a great value. Fantastic work you do here, thanks!

  58. Chris Wong

    Stephanie, you’re amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this, I now perceive screenwriting in a different but better light!

  59. Maja Ramirez

    I think I’ll go back over a couple scripts saved in the computer and insert a couple more things.

    BTW, I about fell out of my chair when I got to “Don’t you die on me!” because [true story!] when our daughter was barely 1, my husband got appendicitis which went gangrenous (because he was too stoic to go to the doctor when he FIRST felt really rotten, kept going to work for 2-3 more days!), his mother went to see him in the hospital a lot, and he said in two weeks in & out of consciousness (HE couldn’t have a plain appendectomy, nnNNOOOO: a section of his colon removal complicated by a MRSA infection, at which the doctor told me “We’re running out of antibiotics to try on him,”) one of the few things he DID remember was her picking him up by the hospital gown lapels (? IKR, do ANY of them have lapels?) and screaming “You got a little BABY, GodDAMNIT DON’T YOU DIE!”

  60. Daniel

    I have signed up to so many writers email lists and this is the first one I have ever responded back to! Great post, so much valuable information. Thank you Stephanie.

    • Stephanie Palmer

      Thanks, Daniel!