Junior Screenwriting 101

Get those creative juices flowing with this series of FREE downloads:




1. Junior Screenwriting 101: Introduction

How is screenwriting different from other kinds?   We’ll talk about that and make some comparisons, then look at the screenplay format.  Why so much white space?  We’ll talk about that, too.  Also, have you ever longed to see your favorite book made as a movie?  It might not look like you’d expect, as you’ll see when you take a shot at drawing a basic storyboard.

Click here for .pdf of Junior Screenwriting 101: Introduction


2. How to Tell a Story in Sixty Seconds or Less

Screenwriting is all about visual storytelling, and story is where it all starts.  Did you ever notice that the most popular commercials are little stories?  We’ll look at some of the top Super Bowl commercials and discuss what makes them work as stories.  Then you’ll have a chance to make up your own little drama.

Click here for .pdf of How to tell a Story in Sixty Seconds or Less


3. Show! Don’t Tell

Every fiction writer knows about the show-don’t-tell rule, but it goes double or triple in the movies.  We’ll look closely at the opening scene of a popular novel compared with the movie version, and take note of how they differ and why.   Then you’ll try your hand at writing your own opening scene to a well-known story.

Click here for .pdf of Show! Don’t Tell


4. The Three-Act Structure

You know what it takes to make a story–a beginning, a middle, and an end.  But each of those story sections has a particular purpose for moving the story along.  We’ll look at one of the most popular movies of all time to see just where the breaks are, and how they work.  Then you can figure out where to put the breaks in some of your own favorite movies.

Click here for .pdf of The Three-Act Structure


5. Silent Storytelling

It was really a good thing for art that film technology first developed without sound.  Otherwise, early movies would have looked just like stage plays.  Without dialogue and sound effects, filmmakers had to develop techniques for letting the camera talk: techniques like close-ups and long-range action shots.  The result was a brand-new way to tell stories.  We’ll look at The Great Train Robbery, one of the first sustained film narratives, and write a scenario for our own silent movie.

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6. Where the Magic Happens: Editing

Is the film editor’s job just as important as the director’s?  Certainly the editor would say so–maybe even more important.  But what does a film editor do?  Find out the answer to that, and discover why movie making presented special challenges to visual story-telling, as well as golden opportunities.  Then you’ll have your own opportunity to put together a series of scenes that tell your own story.

Click here for .pdf of Where the Magic Happens: Editing


7. Thinking Like a Camera: the Montage

When you’re watching a movie, do you realize how much the camera tells you what to think?  It’s all carefully thought out and written into the screenplay, so subtly and naturally you don’t realize it’s going on.  In this lesson, you’ll learn how to turn the tables and tell the camera what to think, so it can in turn direct the attention of your viewers.  A montage from one of my favorite movies will demonstrate the process.

Click here for .pdf of Thinking Like a Camera: the Montage


8. Write Your Own Screenplay, Part I: Treatment

When you step on an elevator and find yourself next to a top Hollywood producer, how do you persuade him to take a look at your screenplay? And if he asks for a “one-pager,” do you say, “Uh . . . what’s that?”  Don’t let this happen to you!  Find all you need to take those first tentative steps toward an actual script right here!

Click here for .pdf of Write Your Own Screenplay, Part I: Treatment


9. Write Your Own Screenplay, Part II: Format

Are the screenplay gods impossibly picky?  Seems like it, but there’s a reason for all those margins and white space and ALL CAPS.  Find out what it is and what the rules are, then start writing!  Oh–but first we need to be sure we know how to get the story off to a great cinematic start, by looking at three classic film beginnings.

Click here for .pdf of Write Your Own Screenplay, Part II: Format


10. Write Your Own Screenplay, Part III: Putting It Together

A quick review of what we’ve learned in this course, and then THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF SCREENWRITING (you’ll find it, not in all caps, but at least in bold type).  Five ways to think of your story as you write it, plus two handy printouts.  And we’re done!

Click here for .pdf of Write Your Own Screenplay, part III: Putting It Together