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Screenwriting Tips

Expert screenwriting tips by working screenwriters



Surprise Your Reader

Surprises tend to excite us. When a script surprises me, it's a good sign. It shows the writer has put a lot of thought and effort into their work - traits of professional screenwriters.

Surprise Your Reader: Shawshank Redemption

How to surprise your reader?

There are many techniques:

Great examples

Screenwriting is packed with great examples, including:

The Sixth Sense

I don't want to give it away but if you haven't watched this movie then do so. It was a huge spec script sale for M. Night Shyamalan that propelled him into writer/director stardom.

Fight Club

Did you suspect it? I sure as hell didn't. Blew me away. Fantastic script by Jim Uhls (based on Chuck Palahniuk's novel), brilliantly filmed by David Fincher.

Se7en

Brilliantly written by Andrew Kevin Walker - the end scene kept most moviegoers talking for long after the movie, generated fanatic word-of-mouth. Great casting and perfect execution by David Fincher.

Trucker

You may have not heard about this one. Get it on VOD. It's written and directed by James Mottern. As the title suggests, it's about a long distance truck driver. What's the surprise? The trucker's a woman (played by the excellent Michelle Monaghan). That one turning-convention-on-its-head move made the movie exponentially better. The script sold, the screenwriter even got to direct it.

Salt

A CIA operative movie. The original draft (titled Edwin A. Salt) the writer (Kurt Wimmer) shopped to Hollywood had a male lead. Angelina Jolie told her agency she wanted to play a female James Bond. They got on their phones. A package was created: Salt, Angelina Jolie, Phillip Noyce (director), Sony. Kurt Wimmer got to rewrite his original spec with Oscar-winning screenwriter Brian Helgeland, the female Salt was born. A nail-biting, twisting espionage movie starring kickass Jolie was produced. Salt was a global hit.


Surprise Your Reader: Trucker

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Put your Characters in the Worst Possible Situations

The Stakes: Set Them High

External links

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How Angelina Jolie fought to keep Salt from becoming "pretty"

Salt: Inside Angelina Jolie's Stunts, Hospital Stay

IMDB: Salt

IMDB: Trucker

Wikipedia: The Sixth Sense

Wikipedia: Shawshank Redemption