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How to Write a Screenplay - Free download (copyrighted material)

Explains in detail how to write a screenplay (movie), from planning an idea through developing a plot to finishing the play. Also shows mistakes not to make, and how to correct ones you do make. Has many tips from Writers Workshop Script Doctor. This guide was originally written for the National Writers Workshop program with high school students, and expanded for this offering. Designed to get you writing from the moment you start reading, this electronic book has an easy graphic interface, and contains many examples.

This electronic book is available in several formats.

Writers Workshop Script Doctor, by Dorian Scott Cole. Unavailable - in rewrite. (Primarily for screenplays, but also for visual writing and basic story development in novels and plays)

Find and repair the twenty most common mistakes that keep your screenplay off the producer's desk. 
If you had a ten thousand dollar car sitting in your drive with a flat tire, what would you do with it? Park it behind the garage? Shuffle it around to the car lots trying to sell it as damaged goods? Read a book on how to design a car? Unless you're eccentric or insane (appreciate that I'm on dangerous ground here), you would probably invest a few dollars in fixing the tire - makes sense. But what do you do with a screenplay that doesn't sell? One you have invested a lot of yourself in, with a potential value of forty thousand or more. Keep shuffling it around to agents and contests? Park it on the top shelf of a closet? Read yet another book telling the same old things? Yes! Writers do with their screenplays what they wouldn't do with their car. 

Writers Workshop Script Doctor shows you how to find and repair problems with characterization, plot and structure, scenes, and dialogue. Also packed with information on writing a screenplay, originality, and getting yourself out of mental ruts. A true writers toolkit. Makes a great gift!

The text of this book has been incorporated into the Web site, which has gone well beyond the book.

Wife For Sale 

Comedy (Screenplay and stage play)
Audience: General, business, college, high school
Rating: G

A laid-back television director fantasizes about selling his incessantly nagging wife. His womanizing college buddy believes she is available and begins secretly dating her. The director tries to undo the romance, but she learns of his zany scheme to sell her, and goes for his buddy. (Date is indefinite.)

Amphoteros - Faces to Reveal, faces to hide - a double game.

Drama (Stage play) 
Audience: business, high school, college, general 
Rating: PG-13 (due to a sensitive sexual topic)

Subplot treats the cause and results of rape and sexual harrassment. 

An ambitious amusement park owner invests in a failing plastics factory to streamline and sell it. His unusual plan to expose the poseurs among the staff so he can name a new executive officer brings him and the others face to face with their failings. 

This play is in .rtf format and can be opened on most modern word processors. Download now (or if you can't download, order by e-mail). Copyrighted material. Charge for staged productions. E-mail order is no charge, and will be sent to your e-mail address.

Cult of Superstition 

Drama (Screenplay. Soon to be a stage play.) Does memory repression happen?
Audience: General 
Rating: PG-13(due to a sensitive sexual topic)

(Extensive courtroom drama. Heavy on psychology and social causes. Sensitive treatment of sexual abuse. Loosely based on actual cases. Examines the questions: can memories be totally repressed, and what would cause people in our society to create false memories?) 

A down and out lawyer defends a man who, after being accused by his own daughter, confesses to sex crimes he can't remember. His friend and coworker is obviously guilty. The man realizes he didn't do it, and the lawyer must find a way to absolutely prove that he didn't. 

This screenplay is in .rtf format and can be opened on most modern word processors. Download now (or if you can't download, order by e-mail). Copyrighted material. Options available. E-mail order is no charge, and will be sent to your e-mail address.

Critical information for film students:
This screenplay had a window of opportunity created by an alarming rash of false memories that wrecked many families. It wasn't possible to complete the screenplay during that window, and another fine similar screenplay was filmed and shown as a TV movie. This screenplay will be offered as stage play at a later time.

Riverboat Justice 

Action (Screenplay)
Audience: General, minimal violence
Rating: PG-13 (violence)

A burned out specialist in countersurviellance, and a chemist with a hobby of impersonation, freelance as a comedy team on a gambling riverboat. When they discover the mafia has taken over the catering business and is trying to find a way into riverboat gambling - and the police can't stop them - they plot to run the mafia out of town. They might accomplish the impossible... if arms dealers don't kill them first. 

Read this story online in Lunch Reading, in ten to fifteen minute segments

Critical information on Riverboat Justice for film students:
This screenplay had several modifications after a TV movie studio reader stated what he would prefer to see in it: More high tech, a more hip main character, more diverse action, and a more fully drawn supporting character (Dino). Rewrite. The next reader thought a barely visible miniature drone plane that sprayed poison gas was the same as a stealth bomber - so much for recognizing high tech. Another reader compared using illusions to FX and FX-2 - which leads to the theory that there can only be one magician in the world as the public wouldn't want to see different magic tricks from a different magician - so much for diversification, and further evidence that the readers' basic job is to find a reason to screen out screenplays. And so much for, "It worked before, and this is new and different." Aargh! I rewrote it four times too many, but it's a good story and I like it. It's presented here as an example of an overwritten and overcomplicated plot. It's too busy. It's also an example of putting characterization at the beginning - something I warn everyone against because it obscures the plot and doesn't hook anyone with the first ten to twenty minutes of drama. The first ten pages need to go away, and the arms dealers need to come out of it, but I'm too busy with other projects to invest any more time in it unless someone gets interested in it. 

Priest of Sales

Drama (Play, and Screenplay)
Audience: General, business, college 
Rating: PG-13 (sexual themes)

Addresses modern and classic themes of the physical and mental results of overwork, and of sexuality.

An overworked executive finds her private life destroyed by incessant business demands. While suffering through her employer's scheme to build the business and avoid retirement expenses through burning people out, she tries to save a casanova associate. Through her efforts, she comes to grips with her own sexuality, and rescues the company.

Screen Novel

Note on ratings:
I am not a professional rating agency and I tend to rate more harshly than necessary. But there is no exploitation or gratuitous sex, violence, or language in stories presented here. Use your own best judgment on the suitability for any particular audience. The stories on these pages aren't children's tales and are not suitable for pre-teen computer access or presentation to pre-teens.

Other distribution restrictions: None

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