Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to you and your family. May you be blessed and amazed in 2012! Natasha

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

What types of scripts are selling in 2011?

What types of scripts are selling in 2011?

Here’s a break down of the genres sold in October 2011 per the Scoggins Report:

New Specs 47
Number Sold 20
Percent Sold 43%

Genres Sold
2 Action/Adventure
5 Comedy
5 Drama
1 Horror
3 Sci-Fi
3 Thriller
1 Unknown

The amazing thing is that people in the industry will tell you to NOT write a drama because those don’t sell, well as you see, William Goldman was right...nobody knows anything...especially when it comes to what will sell. The one “unknown” that sold was probably a script that couldn’t easily fit into any drama...who knows.

The lesson is to write from your heart, continue to show up on the page and know that good writing will eventually sell.  If you keep at it and believe that quitting is not an option, your time will come.

Write right and write on!


For more industry information, check out

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Why did they pass on my brilliant screenplay?!?

We’ve all been there. You’ve spent 3 to 6 months or more working on your screenplay. You’ve put your best foot forward and then some and you were psyched because someone actually wanted to read it. You give it a once over then nervously attach it to an email and send it off then wait...and wait...and wait what seems like forever and either after endless waiting you finally hear back and it’s a, “No, not what we’re looking for.” or never hear back from them ever again and contacting them makes you feel like a psycho stalker. Rarely do we get an explanation as to why they really passed on our work. I found the below except on Linda Bergman’s blog and thought I would share it here. Knowing how those in the industry feel will better help you polish your gem of a screenplay the next time it goes out...or better yet, will help you write a better script from the start.

Except from Linda Bergman’s

1. Your story is probably not as original as you think. If it rings of anything familiar, it will get passed on. Also, if it is too contrived, it will get a big fat “No.” If the story is not a good one and executed perfectly, it will get a pass. If it is a terrific story and executed poorly, it might have a chance at getting optioned and new writers assigned. Don’t do a rehash of something you saw. Make your idea (which has probably already been done somewhere by someone) different enough to be called original. Find a way to make it fresh and compelling. You do that by having something NEW to say about the idea or a different point of view.

2. Your characters are weak, flat, and unimaginative. Murky characters don’t have a goal. They aren’t driven to overcome any obstacles. They don’t come to life on the page and we don’t care about them. I always ask my students if they have written a ten page bio for each of their characters. You don’t have to put everything in the script that they did their whole life, but a good bio will inform your writing of the character. You are the only person that can bring him/her to life for the reader. And the reader is the first step in the process of selling.

3. Your descriptions are too long, too wordy. Just pick the best words to economically describe a scene then let the reader’s imagination take over.

4. Your dialogue is clunky, over-written, unnatural, too on-the-nose, or you are using dialogue as exposition. Don’t tell the reader what is going on through dialogue, show the reader what is going on with action. Also, make sure your characters don’t all sound the same. Good dialogue has rhythm and meter. Each character should have their own.

5. You don’t have a conventional three act structure and your tone is not obvious up front. Write like a pro and you’ll have a better chance of selling like a pro. No exec will read past page thirty (some will only read to page ten) if you don’t have a structure in place.

6. Your script doesn’t make the reader FEEL. If a reader laughs or cries or gets scared, this is a good thing. Even if a script is well written, it can still be boring. Ask yourself if you are moved by your material, if you didn’t laugh or cry, no one else will.

7. Your script cannot be marketed. There are a lot of well-executed scripts with material that cannot be sold. Maybe it’s too similar to one the studio or production company already has in development. Or maybe your rom com is just too cookie cutter or your thriller is not that particular execs cup of tea. These are things you cannot control and please try not to take them personally.

8. You did not let enough people who know what they are doing read the script before you submitted it. A script must be in the best possible shape before you send it to a buyer. Find an editor or professional that can help you and ask all the tough questions of your piece before it goes out.

Most importantly, don’t stop writing!

Linda has some good advice and freely shares her industry experience.  Be sure to check it out.  Oh and her book, "So You Think Your Life's a Movie", isn't too shabby either.

For industry insight into getting them to say Yes instead of No and getting that much sought after sell, check out The #1 Secret to Sell Your Screenplay to Hollywood, without an agent and even when you don't live in LA.

Good luck and happy writing and getting those Yes's!

Write right and write on!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Secret to Writing Screenplays

I believe the secret to writing screenplays is being prolific in writing them.  The more you write, the better you get, just like with any other craft.  Below is an article written by Martin Acuna that explains the road to prolificity.  Take note and write write write write. He also has a free newsletter that you can sign up for that has other great screenwriting tips and tips for breaking into the industry.  Be sure to check it out.  The more you write, the better your chances of having the million dollar screenplay and also when someone asks, "What else do you have?", you won't come up empty handed. 

Write right and write on!


The Importance of Being Prolific

by Marvin V. Acuna

Terry Rossio (co-writer of the Pirates of the Carribbean franchise) believes that

a trait of successful screenwriters is... Prolificacy.

Here are his specific thoughts:


Consider this: in the afterward of Stephen King’s book Different Seasons, he
explains how the four stories in the volume came about. Each one was written
after he had completed writing one of his novels.

He writes, “...[I]t’s as if I've always finished the big job with just enough gas
left in the tank to blow off one good-sized novella.” So he wrote The Body
after Salem's Lot. Apt Pupil after The Shining. Rita Hayworth and the

Shawshank Redemption after The Dead Zone. And Breathing Method after
Firestarter. Now just stop and think about this. Here's a writer who, after
finishing a bestselling novel, has the ability to sit down and knock out a
masterfully written novella in a matter of days. And three of these
“afterthoughts” have been adapted into major motion pictures.

Now that's prolific.
I often meet screenwriters that become obsessed with one screenplay and devote
years of their time and energy to it. Some spend more than a decade on one.
Other writers expend precious energy awaiting responses to query letters or
submissions. Months go by and the only additional writing done is focused on
follow-up letters or emails asking the horrid question: Have you read my script?

In my humble opinion, if you are spending that kind of time on one screenplay,
writing is a hobby, not a profession.

If screenwriting is a hobby for you, then it doesn't matter. But if you are truly
committed to screenwriting as a professional endeavor, then generating content
should be a ritual, a tradition, an absolute must.

Hobby or profession? Only you know the truth.

This is a competitive profession. It requires that you play your A-game even if you
are not yet an A-lister.

I've worked with various screenwriters who have written an entire spec and then
through the process discovered a character or an idea that was worthy of further
exploration. They have no issue discarding the screenplay and beginning a new
one based on their new discoveries.

Other writers submit their completed works and while they await feedback from
their representatives or the market itself, they begin work on the next screenplay.

Is it easy? No. It's not supposed to be easy. If it were easy everyone would be
doing it.

Being prolific has numerous benefits. Beyond amassing an inventory of material
and developing a necessary habit, I believe you hone, shape and refine your skills
as a screenwriter.

I know many industry professionals who would agree with literary manager Jewerl
Ross, who said “I sell writers, not scripts.” He expects his clients to generate
content, to be prolific. Three to four screenplays a year is the minimum.

With these criteria in mind, let's bring all of this back to you. While not everyone
can be Stephen King, are you at least setting the table for your success? I've said
this before, but this is an industry where talent alone won't carry you across the
threshold to screenwriting stardom.

Instead, it takes that rare combination of talent, passion, and joyful hard work.
In other words, being prolific. My hope is that you have already incorporated this
necessary screenwriting trait into your writing routine, or you see the value in it
and will start applying it immediately.


To get Hollywood's "Most Valuable e-Newsletter" for FREE, sign up for Martin Acuna's The Screenwriter's Success Newsletter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Four steps to achieving anything you want in life

The four steps necessary for achieving anything you want in life are as follows:
1.  Have a wish. (Desire something)
2.  Create the dream by visualizing it happening.
3.  Release the dream to a higher power while retaining the visualization. (Higher can be the Universe, God or whatever name you said higher power)
4.  Take constructive action to direct your dream into reality.

It's the law of attraction in action.

Formula for success = Desire + Dream + Faith + Commitment + Action

Write right and write on!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Marketing Your Script

Here's an excerpt from my book:  The #1 Secret to Sell Your Screenplay to Hollywood: Without an agent and even when you don't live in L.A.


Successful screenwriters have two jobs: writing a good script and marketing it.
Once you make your script as best as you can, research appropriate buyers for your script.

There are three basic steps to marketing your script:

1. Know your market. Look at the credits the target producer has already. Don’t pitch them something in a totally different genre than what they have previously made movies in unless you know for sure that they are looking to branch out in a new direction. Don’t assume that your high concept script that happens to be the next great horror film will make a producer who usually does romantic comedies invite you and your script into their arena with open arms.

2. Come up with a plan then put it into act. There is not try, just do. (I think that was Yoda.) If that plan includes sending out mass queries, think about that. I sold my screenplay without sending one query letter and without an agent. Maybe I got lucky or maybe I decided on a different approach or approaches. These are noted in the “Marketing Your Script” and “Break into Hollywood” sections.

3. Have a knock ‘em dead One Sheet.

The One Sheet is different from the synopsis or outline because it’s a marketing tool. "One-Sheet" is a standard industry term for a movie poster. More recently, within the screenwriting industry, it has come to mean a one page narrative summary of the entire story of your original screenplay. It includes all of the major story beats, and act breaks. Beginning, middle and end -- minus the minor details. Having listened to your pitch, a producer will often ask for the one-sheet as a reference, or as something to show to a higher-up.

Think of what the poster would be for your movie. There are no strict guidelines on what should be on it or how it should look except that it has to be amazing and get the producer or studio executive excited about your project. Easier said than done, I know but it is possible.

Tips for creating a dynamic One-Sheet:

1. You’ve got to have punchy description of your story.

2. Leave out the backstory.

3. Imagine what you would see in the trailer.

4. Describe only the interesting scenes.

5. Include your contact information.


Watch some movie trailers. Check out ones that are for movies you have already seen. These can be found on the internet…imdb, fandango, the movie’s website. Notice what images they choose to highlight in the trailer. Note what made you interested in seeing the movie.

Next take an upcoming movie and view the trailer. Note what makes you want to see the movie or what doesn’t and why. This will give you a clue of what works and what doesn’t. Notice what is the difference between the movie trailers that were phenomenal that made you excited about seeing the movie and which ones didn’t. Try to read the screenplay for those movies. You can find them most times for free online. Then compare what parts they chose to show in the trailer.

Do the same sort of thing with your movie. What strong, visual elements do you have that will pique their interests? Forget the fluff and extract the big events, the big turning points in your screenplay. If you have a major twist that you do not want to give away, hint at it so that the reader will know that there is something more to come but they’ll have to read the script to find out. Don’t be totally vague but provide just enough intriguing information to whet their appetite. They will already be interested based on your title and high concept logline. Note that the One-Page write up is a lot shorter than the outline or synopsis. A paragraph at the most. Try not to have more than 10 - 15 sentences.

Example information to include:

For a screenplay:


For a TV series:
The Concept
The Series Description (basically a synopsis)
Episodes Explained (Explain how the first 6 episodes will play out to show them that you’ve thought through the concept)

I hope this gets you started. For more information, be sure to check out my book:  The #1 Secret to Sell Your Screenplay to Hollywood: Without an agent and even when you don't live in L.A.

Write right and write on!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Seven Most Popular Genres

The late Blake Synder was revolutionary when it came to story and plotting.  If you haven't read any of his Save the Cat books, I think there are 3 in the series, check them out.  He has a new way of looking at the same old genres we see time and time again.  He's the Polti of our generation.  Below are the seven most popular genres per Save the Cat.  If you like this approach, I think it's a fun approach to creating, there is also Save the Cat software and an Iphone App.  I love the app because then I can create on the go or while I'm waiting for appointments.  A creative mind is never idle!

The 7 Most Popular Genres per Save the Cat

1. DUDE WITH A PROBLEM - Every story, in essence, is about a “dude with a problem.” But this particular genre dictates a certain type of problem: one that is life-or-death and immediate, that must be solved through some sort of physical battle, right now. The whole movie is essentially a chronicle of that battle (which might consist of a series of mini-battles). Think Die Hard, Bourne Identity, Misery, 2012, or Apollo 13.

2. GOLDEN FLEECE - This often seems to be the “catch-all” genre when no other will fit. But it, too, has its own specific requirements that must be met for it to really work. The key is that the main character’s “team” is chasing a very clear and definable “prize” that seems unreachably hard. You’ll know the movie is over, because they’ve achieved the prize, or not. Often, I find in scripts purporting to be a “Fleece” that the “prize” is unclear, or not big or challenging enough, and the journey toward achieving it thus not as compelling as it could be. Think The Bad News Bears, Finding Nemo, Saving Private Ryan, Ocean’s Eleven, or Cast Away.

3. BUDDY LOVE - All movies have relationships with problems. But it’s not a “Buddy Love” unless the main problem of the movie has to do with a key relationship that seems essential to the main character, which is threatened by something. “Will they or won’t they end up together?” is the central question of the movie, and the main issue that is explored throughout. Think The Black Stallion, Starsky and Hutch, Pretty Woman, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, or An Officer and a Gentleman.

The world of fashion is an institution - and as a turns out - makes for a memorable film.

4. INSTITUTIONALIZED - Just because a story takes place at an “institution” of some sort, does not make it fit this genre. And the “institution” does not have to be literal. The question is whether there is a group with its own rules and norms that the main character is exploring the costs and benefits of membership in — and ultimately deciding whether they want to be a part of it or not. It’s about deciding who they want to be in relationship to it, and the risks and reward of same. Think Full Metal Jacket, Goodfellas, Office Space, The Devil Wears Prada, or Crash.

5. RITES OF PASSAGE - Similarly, just because a character is going through some sort of rite of passage (in the generic sense) does not mean it meets the criteria for this genre. The key here is that it is a relatable life problem (like adolescence, divorce, mid-life, loss of a loved one, or addiction), which the main character is avoiding by chasing something else. They are clearly on a wrong road, as they spend most of the movie in pursuit of some challenging goal that is entertaining to watch, but not ultimately going to work out well. Finally, they’re left having to face life after all, hopefully having learned something in the process. Think 10, The War of the Roses, Ordinary People, Trainspotting, or American Pie.

6. SUPERHERO - The key here is a nemesis and problem that is seemingly bigger than they are. It’s never compelling watching amazing people (real-life or made up) succeeding over and over again. Good stories are always about characters being pressed to their limits and overmatched — in hell, essentially — until the very end. (I cannot say this strongly enough. Stories are about dealing with big problems that only get worse when you try to deal with them. So are scenes, most of the time. This is the main issue that I work with on almost every story — making sure it’s a compelling problem that is big enough, hard enough, and complicated enough to take a whole movie to solve.) Think Erin Brockovich, the Harry Potter series, The Matrix, Gladiator or Spider-Man.

7. OUT OF THE BOTTLE - The “magical” catalyst should cause complications and challenges that never would’ve been there without it. Again, they make the hero’s life harder, in ways that demand to be solved. Usually, it’s easier for readers to swallow if the magic emerges from some sort of relatable, semi-explainable place (i.e., not too arbitrary or contrived) like a carnival wish machine, an electrical storm, or some established mythology like genies or witchcraft. And the magic should go away or be resolved in the end, with the character back to an essentially “normal life,” where they’ve grown in some way. Think Big, Aladdin, The Nutty Professor, Liar Liar or Field of Dreams.


Question for today:  Where does your script or concept idea fall within these seven?
Happy Writing and Creating!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hero's Journey tip: The Oracle

A tip from the Hero's Journey:
Every hero must meet an Oracle.

The Oracle is that entity that guides the Hero towards the tangible (Sword) that represents the intangibles (Expansion of Consciousness etc).

The Oracle can be literal. For example, in The Matrix (1999), a literal Oracle guides Neo towards the choice he must make.

The Oracle can be an inanimate object. For example, in Alien (1979), the Oracle is Mother the computer.

Or the Oracle can simply be metaphoric for any event that pushes the Hero in the required direction. In Scarface (1983), it is the assassination attempt that pushes Tony to take out Frank.
Write right and write on!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Starting with a bang

The best way to hook someone who’s seeking a thrill is to start with an action scene. A quick example can be seen in the James Bond movies. Bond movies always starts in the middle of some life or death situation that he’s required to bomb, shoot, or ski his way through to safety. The action hook may or may not be related to the story as a whole, but it sets the tone for what the reader can expect throughout.

Question:  Does your script start with a bang?  If not, how can you incorporate a bang to make it pique the interest of the reader making them chose to skip lunch because they have to turn the page to find out what happens next.  Once they put it down, the chances of them picking it back up again is slim unless they are mandated to do so.

Write right and write on.

Friday, April 15, 2011

5 Ways to Start a Screenplay


By Nicholas Turner

The best scripts feel both original and familiar at the same time—no easy feat. Even more challenging: being able to capture that tone within the first few pages. Your script only gets one first impression, and if it doesn’t hook a reader immediately, its next stop may be the landfill.

That doesn’t mean the beginning needs explosions and car chases—or that it even has to be particularly fast-paced. What it should do is introduce a bit of mystery. Your readers should have a thread of suspense pulling them from page to page. What’s going on here? Who are these people? Why does one of them keeping sharpening his bowie knife?

Unsure how to start? Here are five classic beginnings you may want to try. A tried-and-true formula gives you structure and helps ground your reader in something familiar. The challenge is to give your opening a twist, making it your own.

1. The how-did-we-get-here opening. With this beginning, you plunge right into the action—showing your character in an intriguing predicament. Maybe your hero is by the gallows, getting a hood placed over his head. Maybe she’s dragging a trash bag full of twenties past a policeman—and the bag slowly starts to split open. In any case, as soon as you’ve hooked your audience, you flash back to the beginning of the story. If you’ve done your job right, they’ll be itching to find out how it all happened. The ultimate version of this opening may be Memento (2000), which is told backwards.

2. The who-are-these-people opening. Mysteries don’t have to be about murder and cover-ups. Just put two characters together and have them start a conversation. Don’t tell us that they’re man and wife, or boss and secretary, or hit man and victim. Let the facts leak out gradually, through natural dialogue. The audience’s desire to figure out the relationship between characters can hold their attention. This approach often works best for stage plays (Harold Pinter is a master of the technique), where there are few clues other than dialogue.

3. The big-bang opening. There’s nothing wrong with an explosion or two. If you’re writing an action-adventure script, it’s wise to start off with a tightly paced set piece. In addition to grabbing the audience, it can help establish your character. In Speed (1994), an elevator sequence teaches us that Keanu Reeves’ Jack Traven is a quick-thinking cop on the bomb squad. In the Peruvian-temple scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), we see Indiana Jones’ bullwhip-cracking prowess, as well as his respect for ancient artifacts. After the set piece, you should step back and slow down—showing your character in a less frenzied environment (Indiana Jones teaching college kids, for instance). Remember that your climax will have to be even more exciting than your opener, so don’t pump up the action to the max. Where will you go from there?

4. The waking-up opening. This beginning is fraught with cliché dangers, so be careful. How many movies have you seen where an alarm clock goes off and a weary hero flails around in an effort to shut it off? It’s a shopworn scene. However, there’s something to be said for showing your protagonist starting out a typical day. It helps your audience identify with the character and also establishes who this person is—before the events of your script irrevocably change his life. To see a twist on this idea, check out Half Nelson (2006). Ryan Gosling’s character is in his living room, strung-out and wide-awake, when his alarm clock goes off in his bedroom. Like all good beginnings, this reveals something about the character: You know immediately that this guy is messed up.

5. The origin opening. If you want to add a little heft to a character trait, consider this opener. Say your protagonist is deathly afraid of bees, you may want to show her as a kid, when she bumps her head on a buzzing hive. Or maybe you’re giving the origin of a superhero’s powers, as in Superman (1978). When you cut to adulthood, the audience has a deeper understanding of the character than they’d get through dialogue alone. The risk: Starting off with your main character in childhood can easily be hackneyed and cheesy. And when you show that character as an adult, the audience may not recognize that it’s supposed to be the same person. (You also may want to withhold the origin story until later in the script, to give more mystery.) For an example of this approach done well, see The Orphanage (2007). It shows the protagonist Laura as a kid, enjoying games at the orphanage. You then can understand why she would return to the same rundown place later in life, eager to restore the idyll she remembers. Again, the best openings spotlight the hero’s character.


Hope the reposting of this article helps you to create a dynamic beginning for your script.

Write right and write on!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reality Show Concepts

Reality shows seem to have become of our evening staple.  Once considered fleeting entertainment looks like it's here to stay.  Have an idea for your own reality show and need professional feeback.  Try out my reality show evaluation services.

What you get is a one page analysis of the Reality Show or Game show concept.


Show Evaluation – A one page of general comments.

First Impression – What works, what doesn’t work and why.

Development Ideas – Tips on how your concept can be improved.

Analyst Advice – What you should do next

Show Concept Score Card & Graphical depiction on how your show concept rates – a grade on the elements from Excellent to Poor and a Pass, Consider or Recommend note for the show concept.
Contact me for the low cost special.
Write right and write on!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Question of the week 2/14 How's your philosophy?

Question of the week for 2/14 taken from Philosophy of a Great Screenwriter class:
Presented by Hal Croasmun at

Tip 12. Some People Get Lucky. Make Sure You're One of Them.

In this industry, you often hear about "lucky breaks." Many of the most successful writers, producers, and actors credit part of their success to a few lucky moments.

But let's be clear. The vast majority of those people absolutely deserve their luck because they created it...and so will you.

Having said that, there's the other side of the coin. Some writers don't want to accept luck as part of their model. In fact, they'll refuse a lucky break if they get one. Either they don't recognize it, or they don't like how it is being presented to them, or they don't want luck to be the reason for their success. Whatever the reason, they have sabotaged their own success. Don't let that happen to you.

Creating Your Own Luck

This is all about driving your own story (Tip 1). You can't control the industry, but you can control the actions you take. Here are some easy steps for creating your own luck:

1. Make sure you're prepared.

Overall, this entire philosophy is about getting you ready for a lucky break. But you also need to do the work to have screenplays that are attractive to agents and producers (Tip 3). You need to have a pitch that will instantly intrigue an industry player. And you need the confidence (Tip 4) to present yourself as a professional.

2. Put yourself in situations where luck/opportunities can occur.

Interact online with writer's groups, filmmakers, and producers. Go to events where you can network. Don't wait for opportunity to come knocking. Knock on opportunity's door!

Even if your script gets turned down (Tip 9), there's still value that can come out of it. You can build relationships with the production company. Use the feedback to improve your script. Then, learn from the experience so your next submission is more successful.

3. Accept lucky breaks and take action on them.

The opportunity has shown up. Don't put on the brakes. Just step forward. Take the appropriate action. If it is an important connection, build a relationship. If it is a chance to collaborate with a production company, jump in. If it is an offer, give yourself permission to make the deal (Tip 5) and move your career forward.

Very likely, you've created opportunities like this at some point in your life (Tip 7). Thinking back on how you "became lucky" might give you insights into how to do something similar for your screenwriting.

ACTION: Create a plan RIGHT NOW to take action on the three steps listed above. Don't wait until later. Design your future success today.

QUESTION: How can you set up your screenwriting career to create more opportunities and take advantage of lucky breaks?


Write right and write on!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Philosophy of a Great Screenwriter: Tip 1

Philosophy of a Great Screenwriter Class

Presented by

Tip 1. Drive Your Own Story

Think of the biggest successes you've had in life -- especially the ones that you worked for -- and let me ask you a question.

Don't they all have a story that comes with them?

A beginning when you decided to go for a specific goal. Then a middle when you encountered the work required to make that goal happen. And finally, an ending where you've succeeded!

Very likely, you learned something in the process -- your own character arc.

Right now, as a screenwriter, you are somewhere in that 1st or 2nd Act. You are the protagonist of your story. And the beautiful thing is that this story ends with you succeeding in a big way...

...if you choose to DRIVE your own story.

Make sure you understand that last point. You, and you alone, are in charge of driving your own story. Reluctant protagonists don't succeed at breaking in. You can afford to be reluctant AFTER you are a star. But to break in, you must be proactive. You must take control of your screenwriting career.

The good news is that there are more resources for becoming a professional screenwriter than at any other time in history. Check out these resources: Screenwriting software (like Movie Magic) instantly formats your script to look and feel professional. Screenwriting communities (like ScriptChat) offer places where you can discuss the craft with other writers. There are sites where you can pitch your script from anywhere in the world (like Virtual Pitch Fest and ScriptBlaster), or upload your logline/script for producers to see (like Inktip). And we're proud to offer some of the best screenwriting classes in the world (ScreenwritingU).

With those and other resources, you can truly succeed...if you drive your own story.


You are the writer of your own story. Don't write a tragedy. Don't try to create a lot of drama for your protagonist (yourself). Instead, create an amazing story where the hero succeeds.

Today, you are on a journey -- your own hero's journey. This journey doesn't come to you. You come to it. Every day, you make the choices and take the actions that will further your journey.

You are the proactive protagonist that never quits. Wherever you are, you look to the next leg of the journey and move forward. You don't allow anything to stop you. You take the steps, confront the demons, and become the master of your own world.

You know your destination. Honor it.

ACTION: Make a list of the things you need to do to succeed. Then put them in a sequence. Choose one you can take action on today and move forward in your journey.

List of Actions could be: Write. Join ScriptChat. Take a class. Attend a screenwriting conference. Write a query letter. Send a query letter. Talk with another screenwriter. Answer an ad in Craigslist for "Screenwriters Wanted." Improve your network. Meet a new screenwriter on Facebook or Twitter. Comment on a screenwriting blog. Enter a contest.

There are 100 things you could do today. Pick one that moves your writing career forward today.

QUESTION: Every day, ask yourself the question, "What can I do right now to move my screenwriting career forward?"


For more information and classes, visit

Write right and write on!

Question of the Month Feb 2011: What is your mindset?

Question of the Month for Feb 2011

What is your current mindset regarding your screenwriting career?  What do you actually believe you can accomplish?  Are you sabatoging your efforts from negative self-talk? 

You get what you expect.

Write right and write on.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Philosophy of a Great Screenwriter

It's never too late to learn something new and even the experienced writer is continuously improving his/her craft.  I've just signed up for a brand new class, The Philosophy of a Great Screenwriter.


At ScreenwritingU, we have walked more than 50 screenwriters through the dealmaking process in the last two years (See some of those deals here) and noticed early on that the writer's philosophy either helped make that deal or killed it.

We're going to explore some of the most important philosophy tips on screenwriting -- perspectives that have caused other screenwriters to break in and become some of the most successful screenwriters in the World.

•Six tips for breaking into the Biz more quickly.

•Three tips that could save you years of amateur mistakes.

•Four tips for causing people to recommend your writing.

•Four tips that empower you through tough situations.

•Three tips that help you build a solid career NOW.

Any one of these could dramatically increase your chance of success.

For more information, go to
Write right and write on!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Question of the week 1/24: Does your script have enough white space?

Question of the week: Does your script have enough white space?

White space is the screenwriter's ally.

How does the use of white space help you? First, breaking your action and description into smaller sections makes the script seems as if it reads quickly, giving the reader the effect that your story also moves quickly. A story that moves quickly is more likely to hold a reader's attention.

Smaller sections of action draw the reader's eye down the page. Screenwriters should make their best effort to limit sections of action and description to a maximum of five or six lines. Several consecutive smaller sections of action will appeal to a reader more than one large paragraph of action.

Write right and write on!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Question of the week 1/17: Ask yourself: "What one thing I’ve been thinking about doing for a while, that I keep putting off because I’m afraid?"

Question of the week 1/17: Ask yourself: "What one thing I’ve been thinking about doing for a while, that I keep putting off because I’m afraid?"

What risk do you need to take to take your screenplay to the next level? You might want to:

• Ask someone for a referral.

• Ask someone to be a mentor.

• Set up a meeting with a potential mentor to get advice about taking your screenwriting career to the next level.

• Target a contest to enter.

• Query a producer, agent or manager.

• Set a date for a workshop you want to attend.

• Share a creative dream with others (supportive people only!).

• Start the new script you've been meaning to write.

• Finish a screenplay you have let collect dust.

Yes, you may face rejection, but what's the alternative? It's a mediocre life that comes from playing it safe.
Use this blog as a catalyst for taking action. Face your fear head on and take the risk!

Write right and write on!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What to Do With Your Spec Script in a Catch-22 Situation

Found this on Rachel Miller’s blog.  Rachel Miller is a Manager at Tom Sawyer Ent.

Wow, there always seem to be some "new" catch when trying to get your script sold.


What to Do With Your Spec Script in a Catch-22 Situation

From Rachel Miller’s blog

Rachel Miller is a Manager at Tom Sawyer Ent.

There is some good news in the Hollywood world. Studios are buying specs again — not a lot — but still it is better than nothing.

However, if you read what is selling you know that almost everything has an attachment before a studio buys it — either a big producer, director or actor.

I was discussing this with an executive who at least admitted that, yes, pre-attaching an element that every studio approves is nearly impossible. Especially since there are maybe five people every studio will agree to. So this is definitely a Catch-22 situation.

But the exec did have some good advice: If you can attach an element that’s sexy, sometimes that’s enough — the element doesn’t actually have to star or direct in the film — they can just be attached in some producorial capacity.

For example, if it is a producer/actor or a producer/director, if the person is a big-enough name, that is enough to get the studio interested. Or, if you can say that a big-enough name has expressed interest, that also can work as well.

In other words, try to think of some creative ways around your catch 22 to get where you need to go. After all, if you don’t find a way around your catch 22, your spec script may never be bought.

Summary, when they close doors, look for a window!

Write right and write on!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

#1 Mistake Writers Make When Entering Screenplay Competitions

#1 Mistake Writers Make When Entering Screenplay Competitions

Most people think the #1 mistake writers make when entering screenplay competitions is poor writing. I think that is closer to #2. The #1 mistake is submitting a script that is not marketable which also means interesting. In the movie industry it’s CONCEPT, CONCEPT, CONCEPT. A great concept will beat out a better written low concept script in most cases. The thing is that all scripts are rewritten at some point so the concept has to be great before you even get to that point.

The main reason people enter contests is to get noticed. The production companies who request to read the contest winners are looking for marketable material first, good writing second. What attracts them to want to read your concept is an interesting title and logline of the concept. They won’t know if it’s written well until after they have requested to read it. If you don’t have a great title and great logline hence great concept, they probably will never find out how great a writer you are. In contests, if your writing is great but the concept is not marketable, you may final but you probably won’t win. Even to garner the attention of an agent you need a marketable concept. For the Nicholls Fellowship competition, you definitely need both. Many dramas do win but I guarantee these aren’t your average dramas, there’s something definitely special about them. Just look at the winners that have been made into movies over the years.

In order to create a win-win situation, write a very good marketable script that you are passionate about! Save the low concept passion projects for after you have an established career and have made a name for yourself. When you get to that point, you can basically write what you want.

These are just my opinions so take what you can use and disregard what you can't.  This works for me and I must be doing something right if I've sold my work, been optioned and have won a screenplay competition and had 3 other entries make it to the finals.  The thing is to not beat yourself up if you don't think your idea is high concept or totally marketable.  This comes with practice. If you need help, let me know.  I'm very good at brainstorming ideas.  In the meantime, write the most interesting, well written screenplay you can.  Plus, the industry is very subjective!  No one knows what they want until they see it.

Good luck.

For more information regarding how to make your concept great, check out my book, "The #1 Secret to Sell Your Screenplay to Hollywood" on or

Write right and write on!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Question of the week 1/10: Have you dust off your dreams today?

Question of the week:  Have you dust off your dreams today?

There are no deadlines for dreams.  Miracles happen every day and usually when you least expect it.  Think of the homeless guy, Ted Williams.  If you haven't heard his story, google him.  He's been all over the news lately. 

If you haven't thought about the possibility of your dreams coming true in a while, now is the time to dust off those dreams and take action.  Even, Ted the homeless guy, took a small step and look at what happened.  If it happened for him, it can happen for you.

Keep living and keep dreaming.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Question of the week 1/3: Have you set your writing goals for 2011?

Question of the Week for January 3rd:
Have you set your writing goals for 2011?

Write or type them down to make them real and make them happen. Set calendar reminders so that you stay on track. This goes for everything you want to get accomplished, not just those things related to writing. If you do that, you'd be amazed how much you will get accomplished and you will use your time more wisely.

Write right and write on!

Question of the Month: Can Your Spec Screenplay Be a Television Series?

Question of the Month for January:  Can Your Spec Screenplay Be a Television Series?

Have you written a script that could possibly be a television series? Follow steps 1 – 4 noted in the blog post, “5 Quick & Dirty Steps to Write a Bible 5 Quick and Dirty Steps to Write a Bible for a New Television Program in 4 days” to see. Some past and present televisions shows first débuted as television movies and were later picked up as series. For example, the show Eureka was actually planned as a TV movie on the Sci Fi Channel but after seeing the movie, executives turned the story into a series. Like wise, Babylon 5 began with the pilot film The Gathering. This would go to explain too why some feature films end the way they do without any real conclusive ending. Haven’t you seen a movie and just knew the writer ended it that way either for a potential sequel to be developed, for franchise opportunities or a television series. (More about turning your spec screenplay into a franchise opportunity in an upcoming blog post).

Bear in mind also that episodes can also serve as backdoor pilots to different, spin-off shows, each of which can lead to a spin-off of its own. Think Cheers, which lead to Frasier, The Cosby Show which lead to A Different World, Grey’s Anatomy lead to Private Practice and CSI which lead to other CSI’s and became a major franchise at the same time.

At any rate, a smart writer is always thinking about future possibilities and the next step. If you can leverage material you have already written, even better. It’s especially nice to put the hard work in once but reap many rewards from it.

Write right and write on!

About the Author: Natasha E. Williams has optioned and sold her projects to major Hollywood Producers and has won screenplay contests. She was featured in the book, "Crashing Hollywood", and on the development team for two, Chicken Soup for the Soul® books. She is also the 2010 winner in the Scriptapalooza TV contest in the Reality Show Category and a finalist for two other Reality Show concepts. She is also the author of, “The #1 Secret to Sell Your Screenplay to Hollywood: Without an agent, even when you don’t live in LA.” For more information, visit her website at http://www.NatashaFX.comand

New series of blog posts in 2011

I'm going to start a new series of blog posts called Question of the Month to help keep you educated, motivated, encouraged and hopefully inspired to not only keep writing but to finish what you write!  A selling writer is a writer who finishes what he/she starts and take action to get it sold.  If you don't finish it, you can't sell it and if you don't put action behind it after you finish it, you still won't sell it.  2011 is going to be a busy year for me, lots of projects lined up already and it's only 7 days into the new year!  So I'll do my best to honestly post a new tid bit every month and maybe even a Question of the Week if I have time.  Setting recurring remembers now!  The Question of the Month will be more indepth than the Question of the Week which may only be a simple question and not much additional information.  It's meant to get you thinking.  I'm not committing to a question of the week but we'll see how it goes.  This also helps me to keep the blog updated regularly which is a goal I have for 2011 and to stay on track I've set recurring reminders in my iphone!  Look for the Question of the Month the 1st of every month and the Question of the Week, the Monday of each week.

Question of the Week:  Have you set your writing goals for 2011? 

Write or type them down to make them real and make them happen.  Set calendar reminders so that you stay on track.  This goes for everything you want to get accomplished, not just those things related to writing.  If you do that, you'd be amazed how much you will get accomplished and you will use your time more wisely.

Please subscribe to this blog if you haven't already so that you can get the updates when new posts are published.  If you have already subscribed, thank you very much!

Write right and write on!
(my new slogan for 2011)

5 Quick and Dirty Steps to Write a Bible for a New Television Program in 4 days!

5 Quick and Dirty Steps to Write a Bible for a New Television Program in 4 days

By Natasha E. Williams

What is a Television Series Bible? A series bible is essentially an overview of the proposed series. It should cover the main characters that are followed weekly, thematic issues, story and character arcs and setting. It provides the development executive with important information and gives him/her an idea of the cohesiveness of the series over a long period of time. Basically, it provides insight as to whether or not the show has legs and sustainability. If it doesn’t, it’ll probably be better off as a Television movie or Feature Film.

These steps can also be used as a brainstorming technique to develop a television series before you write the bible.

Here are the steps:


To have better success, ensure you have an interesting and unique concept that we haven’t seen before or that has some special twist that makes it interesting since there really are no new ideas under the sun, just your fresh and creative take on old concepts.

Remember to be creative, leave out boring details, make it interesting and have fun.

Day One

1. Think of a compelling title.

2. Write the concept of your series in two paragraphs. Make it as interesting and entertaining as possible. Leave off unimportant details. This helps you to think of the core elements of your idea and get right to the point and heart of it.

Day Two

3. Describe the story world where your series takes place.

4. Write short, descriptive bios of your continuing characters. Include who they are, what they want and define their relationships with the other characters.

Day Three

5. Create at least six sample episodic stories that will be told in the series. Include the challenges that the characters will face each week. Put only a few sentences in a paragraph. Be sure to include beginnings, middles and ends for each episode. Tip: The conflict or tension should be apparent because that’s what makes the story interesting. Note: If you have trouble coming up with at least six great ideas for future episodes, your show idea is probably better off being a television movie or feature film.

Day Four


Reread what you wrote. Remember to do the spelling and grammar checks. Use action verbs. Make sure everything is in the present tense. Last but not least, make sure it’s interesting and unique...something we haven’t seen before. 

If you follow these steps, you'll have a draft bible in as little as 4 days!  If you get stuck on any step, write what you can think of at the time and then go back to it later.  Don't let one bottleneck stop or slow down the process.  You may spend another week or two perfecting what you've come up with.  It's always good to take a couple of days off and come back to it because you may get fresh insight or see mistakes you made along the way.  Take your time to get it right because you'll only have one chance to make a first impression.

Once you have a decent and interesting bible, you can move on to writing the pilot episode.

Quick notes regarding the Television Pilot

A "television pilot", also known as a pilot episode and series premiere, is the first episode of a television series. At the time of its inception, the pilot is meant to be the "testing ground" to see if a series will be possibly desired and successful and therefore a test episode of an intended television series. It is an early step in the development of a television series. Networks use pilots to discover whether an entertaining concept can be successfully realized. After seeing this sample of the proposed product, networks will then determine whether the expense of additional episodes is justified. They are best thought of as prototypes of the show that is to follow, because elements often change from pilot to series. Variety estimates that only a little over a quarter of all pilots made for American television succeed to the series stage. Don’t let that discourage you. Even if your pilot episode does not spark interest in a television series development, you still can make it a spec screenplay

Speaking of spec screenplays, have you written a script that could possibly be a television series? Follow steps 1 – 4 noted in “5 Quick & Dirty Steps to Write a Bible to see. Some past and present televisions shows first débuted as television movies and were later picked up as series. For example, the show Eureka was actually planned as a TV movie on the Sci Fi Channel but after seeing the movie, executives turned the story into a series. Like wise, Babylon 5 began with the pilot film The Gathering. This would go to explain too why some feature films end the way they do without any real conclusive ending. Haven’t you seen a movie and just knew the writer ended it that way either for a potential sequel to be developed, for franchise opportunities or a television series. (More about turning your spec screenplay into a franchise opportunity in an upcoming blog post). Bear in mind also that episodes can also serve as backdoor pilots to different, spin-off shows, each of which can lead to a spin-off of its own. Think Cheers, which lead to Frasier, The Cosby Show which lead to A Different World, Grey’s Anatomy lead to Private Practice and CSI which lead to other CSI’s and became a major franchise at the same time.

At any rate, a smart writer is always thinking about future possibilities and the next step. If you can leverage material you have already written, even better. It’s especially nice to put the hard work in once but reap many rewards from it.

Write right and write on!

About the Author: Natasha E. Williams has optioned and sold her projects to major Hollywood Producers and has won screenplay contests. She was featured in the book, "Crashing Hollywood", and on the development team for two, Chicken Soup for the Soul® books. She is also the 2010 winner in the Scriptapalooza TV contest in the Reality Show Category and a finalist for two other Reality Show concepts. She is also the author of, The #1 Secret to Sell Your Screenplay to Hollywood: Without an agent, even when you don’t live in LA. For more information, visit her website at and

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Trying to sell a Television Series?


Look what I found on The Pitch Bible Blog!  Thought it would be helpful to Millon Dollar Screenwriters in the making...if television is a goal for you.

What are they looking for? As in Development Exec's.
This is from Eric Homan - V.P. Developement at Frederator Studios from the Channel Frederator site: This is what they want to see...

Know that a pitch bible and a writer's bible are two different beasts. The latter is a much broader document created after a show's picked up, the former is designed to give a brief but clear overview of what you want to do with your cartoon.

Everyone looks for something different in a pitch bible. I like to see a very brief overview, a few character descriptions, a bit about the world in which the characters live, and a handful of storylines. Make sure your storylines are brief but that they contain a beginning, middle, and end (i.e. no "Ben and Jerry get jobs at a car wash and hilarity ensues" or "Lucy has to cook dinner for Ricky's new boss - will she be able to pull it off?"). Three or four sentences should be enough.

Be as brief as possible overall. A total of twelve to fifteen pages should suffice. A paragraph or two, using the right language, should be more than enough to give an exec the information they need to decide if they want to see more of that character. Put yourself in the exec's position - what would you like to see? Remember, most development executives see an awful lot of bibles, many drastically similar. Be short, sweet, and distinctive.

Include a mix of artwork. Not everything should be finished or finalized, although I always like to see one piece of art showcasing how the creator envisions how the show will ultimately look. However, remember every project goes through a lot of development and will look different than what you initially present. One more note: I, personally, dislike character art in which your characters are more or less standing there, as in the standard model sheet pose. I see it all too often, when I'd rather see the characters doing something that reflects their personality.

Keep in mind the purpose of a pitch bible is to get a network interested in seeing more, kind of like a movie trailer. It's a first impression and should grab attention.

Good luck and happy creating!