screenwriter's toolkit creative screenwriting exercises (Get the book for all 101 exercises)

Advancing Action

05.13.2005 · Posted in Writing Dialogue

Dialogue can be used as an exposition of character. It can also be used to advance action. Advancing action moves the plot forward from one scene to the next. Your task: Write a 2-page scene where dialogue is used to advance action. ...

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Creative Instruction

01.11.2007 · Posted in Action

Beyond storytelling, the screenplay is a map for actors and filmmakers. The screenwriter conveys creative instruction through action elements in the script. The Exercise You’ll need a partner. Partner A is to instruct partner B how to put on a shoe (preferably one with laces). To do this, partner B must take off one of ...

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In The Bedroom

10.19.2005 · Posted in Hal Ackerman, Scenes

Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman Two people are in bed. A siren or alarm is heard. Or the phone rings. Or a doorbell. WRITE THE SCENE. You will have to ask yourself: Who are these people? Who are they to each other? What are the immediate circumstances? How does the alarm affect them? What do they ...

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Has It Been Done?

01.31.2007 · Posted in Research

When developing an idea, two good questions to ask are: Has this been done before? If so, how is my project unique? Your Task: Research your idea. Check out the IMdB search function and do a word search in the “plots” category. This will search the plot summaries of the movies within the database. ...

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Made You Laugh

05.06.2005 · Posted in Genre

Focusing on comedies, let’s take a look at what makes you laugh. The Exercise Watch a comedy that you think is actually funny. Watch it again. On the second time through, note the jokes that made you laugh. Journal What are the common threads in the jokes that really make me laugh? ...

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Editing Practice

10.08.2005 · Posted in Rewriting/Editing

Editing our own scripts is sometimes wrought with our own defensiveness and inability to let go of what we originally put on the page. Practicing with other scripts can improve our skills and help us see that no matter how done we think a script is, it can always use a little more work. Your ...

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Character Descriptions

05.13.2005 · Posted in Characters

Here’s a test on creating effective character descriptions. The Exercise Pick ten characters you’ve seen in movies. Write a 1-sentence description for each of them. Make it as accurate as possible. Bring these descriptions to friends who have seen these movies. Can they guess who you’re referring to? ...

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Feedback: Out Loud

06.28.2005 · Posted in Rewriting/Editing

The first time I had my screenplay read out loud, I immediately knew many of the things that had to change. Try it! Your Task: Get hold of a finished screenplay. Get a group of people (at least 2 others). Assign parts to each person and read the screenplay out loud. Finished? Now, have each ...

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The Hero's Journey

05.06.2005 · Posted in Plot

A Hero is often considered to be someone who was born with extraordinary talents and abilities. But are heroes really superior beings? I think not. In my opinion, heroes are everyday people who take on challenging obstacles to reach noble goals. Everyone has been or will be a hero in their lifetime. Your task: Write ...

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Tarrantino Exercise

10.19.2005 · Posted in Hal Ackerman, Writing Dialogue

Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman 1.Open the phone book Yellow Pages to two random pages, and select two businesses. Move two characters from Point A to Point B by whatever means you invent. Invent a good reason for the journey. Reveal that intent skillfully. If it’s huge, understate it. If it’s trivial, exaggerate. 2. Pick one ...

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