Loading...

Follow Eric Edson The Story Solution | Screenwriting Blog on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Hello Writers All,

The first moment it hits you that you might want to write a screenplay, you quickly realize it’s time to get busy learning the elements of screen story structure, character, and scene development.  

Understanding these concepts is essential for the job.  But also, never forget the one basic reason why so many millions of people all over the world love to go to the movies: a good film story sweeps us all into an experience of FEELING DEEPLY.  

Creating a terrific screenplay or novel comes down to a writer’s ability to build, then orchestrate, strong human emotion throughout the story.  

There’s a huge range of emotion present in all fine screenplay writing, of course, but DON’T let that seeming complexity discourage you.  Understanding how to use emotion to keep your script driving ever onward toward a satisfying ending can be a lot simpler than you think if you have the right tools on hand.   

And I’ve got a great one for you!

DOWNLOAD 4 EMOTIONS INFOGRAPHIC BELOW

When writing for screenplay success, whatever your story may be, you need to begin by creating an emotional bond between your audience and the protagonist.  Drawing an audience into caring about your hero by page two is good — by page one is better!  

If your heroine or hero has been introduced at the very start of your story as possessing empathy-creating qualities, your audience will project themselves emotionally into the protagonist.  Now they really care what happens to the hero.  Now your audience steps eagerly into the roller-coaster car that is your story, and they’re ready to share all the deep feelings your protagonist will experience in the journey ahead.              

Audiences, in fact, insist you sweep them along on an ever evolving emotional ride, and bonding them to your hero is a super important first step.  Next, it’s how you orchestrate the rising and falling tempos of emotional conflict between your characters in each and every scene that allows your audience to not just watch the plot action, but to truly live the story. 

The physical dramatic action you write needs to be constructed so as to create the flow and swirl of emotion you want expressed in each scene.  

Ask yourself, “What emotion will my hero be feeling as she or he enters this next scene?”  Make a clear choice here, because the feelings of the other characters in a scene you’re about to write will develop from whatever emotion the protagonist brings into it when the scene begins.  

Then… the way you guarantee conflict in every scene is to MAKE SURE YOUR HERO ENDS THAT SCENE WRAPPED UP IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT EMOTION than the one they started with.  

CHANGE is the dramatic engine that makes screenplays work.  If nothing changes emotionally in a scene—and I mean in every single scene—then the writer still has work to do.

The Four Key Emotions

I’m about to say something you may think strange.  Something that, well, might actually tick you off a bit.  I only ask that you hear me out.

And it’s this:  There are only four categories of emotion that work well in screenwriting.  Those four are:  MAD, SAD, GLAD and SCARED.

“Oh Eric, that’s ridiculous!” you may grumble.  “Any writer can come up with hundreds, maybe thousands of other emotions!”

Think so?  Okay then, go ahead—write some down.  Scribble down as many different kinds of emotion as you can think of.  Then… take a very close look at your list.

What I’ve found is that the slew of other emotions you can name, in truth, are just variations and shadings of feelings that all fit into these four main categories.

A character feeling MAD can be experiencing a range of emotion from slightly irked to seethingly homicidal—but it’s all still about feeling some degree of MAD.  A person who is SCARED can experience emotion in a range stretching from a wee bit worried to utterly horrified.  Take love. Now there’s an emotion with some pretty wild variations to it. But at their core, ALL types of love, from puppy-love to the eternal ever-after kind to the purely platonic type, all really fit into the GLAD category.  And love. Now there’s an emotion with some pretty wild variations to it.  But at its core, ALL types of love, from puppy-love to the eternal kind to the purely platonic type, all really fit into the category of GLAD.

And this simplified concept of emotion “categories” can be a very powerful tool for writers.   

When you sit down to write your next scene, try this:

  • If your hero enters a scene SAD, she must exit that scene somewhere in the MAD, GLAD, or SCARED categories.  
  • If your protagonist launches a scene feeling GLAD, just be sure he ends that scene in the range of SCARED, SAD, or MAD.  

This gives you a simple test to insure your scenes will create and develop rising conflict—and it guarantees that your scenes will go somewhere, build to something, draw your audience ever deeper into the story.

This little tool can ensure that EVERY SCENE YOU WRITE WILL CONTAIN DRAMATIC, EMOTIONAL, STORY-DRIVING CHANGE.  And in all types of narrative writing, meaningful CHANGE is the whole ballgame.

But remember, too, of course, that this “Four Emotion Categories” thing is just another outlining tool.  It doesn’t let you off the hook as a writer!

To be able to create believable emotional conflict between your characters, you must work ceaselessly to understand the personality makeup of every character in your screenplay or novel: their hopes, wounds, predominant attitudes.  And that means we writers need to get in touch with our OWN emotions to make sense of, and portray well, those inner struggles every person alive must labor through.

Dear writer, know thyself.

Easy to say, not so easy to do.  This job lasts a lifetime. But it’s a big part of what makes our craft of writing screenplays and novels so-o-o darned rewarding.

Think I’m nuts about this emotion categories thing?

TRY IT!

Pick a scene from your favorite movie and name the emotion it starts with.

Now, did it change to another dominant emotion by the end of the scene?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.

My deepest good wishes to you all!     

p.s. Be sure to visit my website at https://www.TheStorySolution.com to download complimentary film structure breakdowns for Back to the Future, Bridesmaids, and Finding Nemo.  (And more breakdowns are on the way!)

About The Story SolutionEric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for writing a screenplay. Regarded as one of the best books on screenwriting, The Story Solution is currently #1 in its category on Amazon China. Visit the website at https://www.TheStorySolution.com to download a complimentary book chapter, view video clips of Eric’s interview with FILM COURAGE, and subscribe to Eric’s podcast. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on novel writing and scriptwriting. The Story Solution is a proud partner with Final Draft and Eric’s revolutionary “Hero Goal Sequences” structure paradigm is now included as an EDU download in Final Draft 10 & 11.

The post The 4 Emotions In Screenplay Writing appeared first on Eric Edson.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Hello Writers All,

Happy Holidays to everyone! I am truly grateful for the many students, aspiring screenwriters, novelists and movie buffs that support us in our efforts to provide tips on scriptwriting and novel writing to the widest possible audience. Last week alone we had visitors to the Story Solution website from 22 countries.  Good heavens…Thank you all!

As anyone who has ever put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard knows, writing a movie script or novel is a tough but exhilarating challenge. There’s a heck of a lot of work to be done in order to develop a story that resonates with agents, readers, producers and audiences. My book, The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take, has plenty of ideas and suggestions for writers that can be used to develop plots and create characters that compel emotional involvement from your readers.

As a writer progresses through the 23 Hero Goal Sequences to build effective structure, you must constantly push your characters into situations of strong conflict, and create powerful scenes with effective dialogue to drive your tale forward.

Two key elements that are necessary to help achieve these goals are surprise and suspense:

Surprise happens when a key story event that your hero or heroine does not see coming suddenly springs up.  Of course, that surprise can be either good or bad. Your lead might open the front door to find a long-lost lover standing there, setting the story stage for an entirely new set of emotions and actions to come. Or the shocking arrival of an evil ghost can jolt your audience and force your hero to take radical defensive action.  Or – a sure grabber – just as an audience relaxes thinking all is resolved and the movie is over, suddenly a hand shoots up from the dirt over a grave, like in the thriller Carrie.  Story surprises come in all shapes and sizes, big and small, shouts or whispers, but a writer needs to build lots of them into every storyline to keep the dramatic action mounting.

Suspense is the rising sense of anticipation that something very bad is about to happen (…occasionally something good but mostly bad). A writer creates suspense so their characters and audience will anxiously await the next plot-shaking event that might pop up any second now… and if you’ve done a good job and your suspense rises relentlessly, you’ve got your audience on the edges of their seats – which is exactly where you want them! Think of the suspenseful build-up toward Alfred Hitchcock’s classic shower scene that is layered in even before the slashing actually starts in Psycho.  No wonder Hitchcock earned the sobriquet “Master of Suspense”.

Adding appropriate amounts of surprise and suspense helps you give both your characters and story more depth when writing your screenplay. Then – okay, now comes the pitch, but also it happens to be the flat out truth – by using my Hero Goal Sequencing paradigm to develop your plot, you will know exactly how many surprises and suspenseful discoveries will be needed in your story, and where along the way in the plot they should appear. 


AND from MWP.com our publisher…

Find the perfect gift 
for any writer at 25% off!

Michael Wiese Productions has released their 2018 PDF Catalog of Screenwriting Books and all books are now 25% off!  Be sure order early to get your book gifts in time for the holidays.

To download and view the MWP 2018 catalog (2.3 MB pdf), click the image below. To receive this catalog in the mail, please send a request to: mwpsales@mwp.com

May the spirit of the Holidays bring you love, laughter and a warm heart. May you enjoy this time with your family and friends.

I know I’m profoundly grateful for my own.

Thanks again for your continued support and appreciation.

Eric Edson  

p.s. Be sure to visit my website at https://www.TheStorySolution.com to download complimentary film structure breakdowns for Back to the Future, Bridesmaids, and Finding Nemo.  (And more breakdowns are on the way!)


About The Story Solution: 
Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing a screenplay or novel. Regarded as one of the best books on narrative writing, The Story Solution is currently #1 in several categories on China Amazon. Visit the website at https://www.TheStorySolution.com to download a complimentary book chapter, view video clips of Eric’s interview with Film Courage, and subscribe to Eric’s podcast. “Like” us on Facebook.

The post Writing With Surprise and Suspense appeared first on Eric Edson.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Hello Writers All,

I launched my latest CSUN graduate course in screenwriting last night, to a room full of talented and eager students pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree.  I got home around midnight pretty wiped out… but glowing inside.  I enjoy few things more than spending an evening with a bunch of plucky writers, talking about character development and story construction as I offer up scores of practical writing tools and tips.  I love educating writers.   All types, all backgrounds and ages.  And yes, okay it’s true, the required reading for this course is The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take.

A great deal of what I’ve learned as a professional screenwriter over the past many years is packed into the book, along with googobs of practical NEW TOOLS to make the process of writing movies and novels far, far less daunting than it’s been up to now.

I’m deeply grateful to so many of you from all over the world who have gotten in touch to tell me how much The Story Solution has helped you.  Just between us… I’ll let it slip out here that because of your encouragement, I’m now hard at work on the next book: The Story Solution Workbook: ABCs of Great Movie Writing, which will take writers through the whole process, brick by brick, for constructing and writing a terrific screenplay or novel.

As you may already know, a few years ago The Story Solution was published in China.  While I hoped at that time my Hero Goal Sequencing approach to story structure might appeal to Chinese writers eager to expand their world view on writing a movie script, the book’s reception in China has exceeded my wildest expectations.  If I may share a moment of personal pride – on Amazon China, The Story Solution has once again hit #1 in three different book categories: #1 in Television and Film, #1 in Animation, and #1 in books on Graphic Novels, all at the same time.

I am honored to share my experience with so many thoughtful new Chinese screenwriters. Clearly these emerging up-and-comers are focused and serious about learning the most effective way of writing a screenplay.

If you are excited about creating dynamic characters and audience-engaging story lines in your scriptwriting, I truly believe my book The Story Solution can help.  Help a whole lot.  Read it (the first chapter can be downloaded gratis), visit my website, watch the YouTube videos from my Film Courageinterview, and download three complimentary movie breakdowns which analyze story structures using the very effective and revealing Hero Goal Sequences approach, for “Finding Nemo,” “Back to the Future,” and “Bridesmaids.”

Last year was our best-selling kindle year EVER! This year, as of August 2018, we’ve already surpassed 2017 and we’ve still got 1/3rd of the year to go!

My deepest thanks to you all.

p.s. Be sure to visit my website athttp://www.thestorysolution.com to download complimentary film structure breakdowns for Back to the Future, Bridesmaids, and Finding Nemo. 


About The Story Solution:
Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing screenplays and novels. Regarded as one of the best books on screenwriting, The Story Solution is currently #1 in its category on Amazon China. Visit the website at http://www.thestorysolution.com to download a complimentary book chapter and listen to clips about creating characters. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on scriptwriting.

The post The Story Solution Hits #1 in 3 Categories on Amazon China. appeared first on Eric Edson.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Posted originally on LA-SCREENWRITER.COM by Angela Bourassa, April 19, 2018
Katniss Everdeen, in The Hunger Games, always finds a way to take control.  SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

 

by Eric Edson (The Story Solution)

When you sit down to write a movie, sometimes you’ve got so many great characters running around in your head – all doing terrific stuff while you chase after them to get it written – that it’s easy to lose track of one particular character you should maybe keep an eye on.  Your lead.

If the protagonist mostly stands around watching everybody else whiz past, you’ve got a story problem.

I rank a Passive Central Character as one of the major assassins of new screenplays.

That’s why I harangue my graduate students in our Cal State Northridge Screenwriting program to remember this: your hero or heroine must always take purposeful dramatic action and lead the way in every scene of every movie you write.  Movies must move, and you’ve only got about 100 minutes of screen time.  Just focus on the deeds undertaken by your protagonist that drive the storyline forward. All other characters function solely as story assistants who either serve to support or attack the hero’s efforts.

Even in those few scenes where the lead may not physically be present – say, a cutaway moment to see what the scheming adversary is up to – conflict taking place there still must relate directly to the action your heroine or hero is pursuing elsewhere at that moment.

So in any film story that works, the protagonist needs to have a physical, three-dimensional goal they’re chasing after.

The hero often has an inner goal, too.  There’s a struggle going on inside the lead character, some personal emotional conflict that must be overcome in order to reach their outer goal.  Lots of good movies have this character growth going on.  But just like with outer goals, in film stories only active behavior can reveal the heroine’s inner struggle.

That way, the audience can watch it happen.  It’s what makes a story a movie and not a novel.

And your protagonist must want to reach their goal a who-o-o-le lot.  High stakes are incredibly important in movies – meaning that if the protagonist does not achieve the goal, something awful will happen.

John Krasinski’s character continually works to protect his family in A Quiet Place. Photo Credit: Jonny Cournoyer
Then the critical task for your hero becomes fighting everything and everyone standing in the way of their attempt to stop that Very Bad Thing from taking place.

What sort of specific goal you choose depends on the genre of your story, of course.  But in all genres there are really only four goal categories that work well: Win, Stop, Escape, or Retrieve.

Now before you start hollering in protest at this idea, let me add that each of the four categories contains thousands of more specific versions of these goals you can explore.  There’s a slue of ways to WIN.  Scads of ways to RETRIEVE.  Take a close look at the protagonist’s main story goal in any hugely successful movie and you’ll see that all of those goals, in fact, fit into one of these four general categories.

It’s because only these four broad goals supply a physical, visible finish-line.  They provide a clear endpoint for any story, and your audience craves resolution.

The Awful Thing your lead must prevent can range from the destruction of planet Earth, to the loss of the protagonist’s one true love.  But whether you’re writing a small family story or a sci-fi epic, the hero’s physical pursuit of some high stakes goal is essential.

Lucky for us humans, we can experience a psychological phenomenon called “identification.”  As an audience, we project ourselves emotionally into the heroine or hero and in our imagination we become the protagonist so we can personally live out their adventure.  That’s what elevates any story to one we can really care about.

It’s why we all love the movies so much!  We get to experience a tale from inside the perspective and emotions of a worthy hero.

The protagonist can gather other secondary ally characters to help out on their crusade, sure.  But your lead must take complete responsibility for choosing, then pursuing, each story action.  If the hero leaves it up to others to do all the heavy plot-lifting, audiences will soon lose interest.

Photo Credit Atsushi Nishijima

For an example, think A Wrinkle In Time.  It’s a visually gorgeous, deeply felt and sincerely well-intentioned movie.  But it stumbled at the box office because, for all the marvelous acting, the story as written had a mostly passive central character.

If you enjoy spending time with protagonists who sit around feeling lots of stuff but who don’t really get around to doing very much, read 19th century novels.  I love those books, too.  But just be aware that novels and movies communicate story in very, very different ways.

Now I am NOT saying that your lead can never sit down or have a kick-back moment.  Sure they can.  A plot action-line needs pace variation just like a symphony does.  But even in the quieter moments purposeful dramatic action must press the story onward.

So, yep, in visual storytelling your hero or heroine must avoid passivity at all costs.  Both physically and emotionally, they gotta keep moving.

~

Eric Edson has written seventeen feature screenplays on assignment.  He is Professor of Screenwriting at California State University, Northridge and co-creator of the MFA in Screenwriting program there. Eric’s book The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take provides concrete insights about writing a screenplay and is currently #1 in its category on China Amazon. Eric’s in-depth interview with Film Courage can be found on YouTube. Visit his website The Story Solution to download a complimentary book chapter and to see video clips. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on scriptwriting.

The post Why Your Protagonist MUST Keep Moving appeared first on Eric Edson.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 16, 2018, Northridge, CA: Eric Edson, author of The Story Solution23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take, will be a guest speaker on the panel “Navigating the Amazon: Building Your Author Platform” at the upcoming Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference. Since 1972, writers from around the world have gathered at this prestigious conference to meet with fellow storytellers, celebrate well-known authors, and network with publishing professionals.

The 46th Annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference will convene at the charming beachside Santa Barbara Hyatt June 17-22 for a week-long journey into the world of writing.

The panel discussion in which Edson is participating will be held on Friday, June 22, 4:00 p.m. in SB Hyatt room Vista III. Eric Edson has written screenplays on assignment for such companies as Sony-Columbia, Warner Brothers, Disney, 20th Fox, Showtime, and CBS. He is Professor of Screenwriting and Emeritus Director of the Graduate Program in Screenwriting at Cal State University, Northridge. His book, The Story Solution, presents a unique approach to building powerful stories for screenplays and novels.

Eric has partnered with SEO marketing executive Taylor Reaume to build a strong author platform online and create a unique social media presence, with a focus on great educational content for writers.

Edson recently completed a series of video interviews providing screenwriting insights for the online filmmaking community Film Courage.

“I look forward to being a part of this panel at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference,” commented Edson. “Becoming a screenwriter and writing a good screenplay is hard work, and I greatly enjoy sharing what I have learned with aspiring screenwriters.”

Other members included on the panel with Eric are moderator & author Marla Miller, author Janet Randall, marketing professional Taylor Reaume, and screenplay writer Cathy Byrd. This session will be open to registered conference attendees, and to the public for $10 at the door. The conference also includes five days of workshops, five keynote presentations by successful authors, book signings with author-speakers, and optional one-on-one manuscript consultations.


p.s. Be sure to visit my website athttps://www.thestorysolution.com to download complimentary film structure breakdowns for Back to the Future, Bridesmaids, and Finding Nemo. 


About The Story Solution:
Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing screenplays and novels. Regarded as one of the best books on screenwriting, The Story Solution is currently #1 in its category on Amazon China. Visit the website at https://www.thestorysolution.com to download a complimentary book chapter and listen to clips about creating characters. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on scriptwriting.

The post Eric Edson Speaking At Santa Barbara Writers Conference appeared first on Eric Edson.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Hello Writers All,

On March 3, 2018, 10:00am-11:30am Pacific Standard Time, Michael Wiese Productions will host a panel of top MWP authors for their annual Pre-Oscars Bash at the LA Film Studies Center, where they will dish and talk about their favorite picks and pans for the 2018 Oscars.

The event will be live-streamed for FREE on the MWP Facebook page for all to see and engage in the discussion of what to expect from this years Oscars. All you need to do is visit the MWP Facebook page at the date and time to join in.

MWP Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/mwpfilmbooks/

There are 50 RESERVED SEATS AVAILABLE to actually be in the audience for this LIVE EVENT!

Click here to access the EVITE

The audience will be packed with smart, enthusiastic movie buffs, screenwriters and producers. Attendees must show up on time at The LA Film Academy on March 3rd promptly at 10AM and be an enthusiastic LIVE AUDIENCE (Seating is LIMITED TO 50 PEOPLE).

Click here to access the event on Facebook

This event is completely FREE but we highly recommend that you pre-register!


 


About The Story Solution: 
Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing a screenplay. Regarded as one of the best books on screenwritingThe Story Solution is currently #1 in its category on China Amazon. Visit the website at https://www.thestorysolution.com to download a complimentary book chapter and to see video clips of Eric being interviewed by FILM COURAGE, and subscribe to Eric’s podcast. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on writing a movie script and scriptwriting.

The post Annual MWP Pre Oscars Bash at the LA Film Film Studies Center appeared first on Eric Edson.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Hello Writers All,

Valentine’s Day is upon us, and while love is in the air, you may be thinking about creating some romance in your screenplay, too.

It’s interesting that in many of the screenplays I read by newcomers, there’s very little romance, and few romantic relationships to be found.

That’s a shame!  

Including a LOVE INTEREST character for your protagonist, in any story, is one of the strongest subplots you can offer.  So strong, in fact that you may find it becoming the main storyline!

Just don’t forget, as my good friend Michael Hauge says, when two characters meet and see the possibility of romance in each other’s eyes, it’s because they recognize immediately that they are “meeting on the level of essence”.  

Michael is saying that what sets potential lovers apart from other characters in a story is that they recognize a truth in each other about who they REALLY are underneath their worldly masks, and so they feel that special spark of excitement about the future.  Check out Michael Hauge’s blog here.

Some of the most famous movie scenes of all time are created from the emotional power of two people connecting in this way.

If you’re searching for another Jerry Maguire ‘you had me at hello’ moment for your script, there is a section in my book, The Story Solution, which covers character dynamics and goes into the creation of a LOVE INTEREST character that really works.

Whether you’re new to the screenwriting game or a professional looking to add strings to your bow, my book gives you the tools to craft a compelling, passionate journey in your storytelling.  The Story Solution can be a useful weapon in your scriptwriting arsenal.

Wishing everyone love and gratitude on this Valentine’s Day!

Eric


p.s. Be sure to visit my website athttp://www.thestorysolution.com to download complimentary film structure breakdowns for Back to the Future, Bridesmaids, and Finding Nemo. 


About The Story Solution: 
Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing a screenplay. Regarded as one of the best books on screenwritingThe Story Solution is currently #1 in its category on China Amazon. Visit the website at http://www.thestorysolution.com to download a complimentary book chapter and to see video clips of Eric being interviewed by FILM COURAGE, and subscribe to Eric’s podcast. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on writing a movie script and scriptwriting.

The post Your Romantic Screenplay Starts Here. appeared first on Eric Edson.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Hello Writers All,

So you want to be a writer? Not just any old writer, but a really good one?

Desire and passion are the right stuff to help you build your stories.  But the number one thing you need to produce in order to become a paid scriptwriting success, no matter how many drafts it takes, is a top-notch screenplay writing sample. Not just a mediocre draft, not the “I feel it could use some more work but hey I’m tuckered out” version.  I mean a really polished script.  

Because that’s how you will get noticed in filmmaking or TV-making circles.

And it takes time and learning to become that accomplished.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to become a skilled scriptwriter more quickly.

Okay, okay yeah, here’s the part where I mention my website.  I offer screenwriting tips on my blog, and you can also read my book The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take to get insights on creating strong characters and building solid, audience-ready plots.  

There are also many other excellent screenwriting blogs and YouTube channels to learn from. (Don’t miss the great YouTube channel “Film Courage”!)  As well, there are online libraries of produced screenplays available free for downloading.  Reading scores of professional scripts is critical to writing success.

And take advantage of The Story Solution’s partnership with Final Draft, the world’s most popular screenwriting software. My proven Hero Goal Sequences® Story Structure Paradigm is now available as a downloadable template included in Final Draft 10 (under “edu templates”).

Then too, you really should consider learning to create great scripts for film and TV in a classroom.  Yes, I’m a university professor myself so I am partial to classrooms.  But there’s more to it than that.  

You might already have the passion and natural talent to be a writer, but attending film school can give you the necessary skills, tools, experience and contacts you need to become a bona fide screenwriter in a much shorter period of time.  Yes, it costs money.  But so do medical schools, business schools and law schools.  In so many ways film school can really pay off for the committed screenwriter.  Here are ten of the better reasons:

  1.       There Is A Right Way And A Wrong Way to Build Stories That Grip Audiences.

This architectural skill MUST be mastered and it’s nowhere near as easy as it looks.  There’s a structure through which visual storytelling communicates both consciously and unconsciously with an audience. You also need a great story idea, of course, and then you need to add characters, write believable dialogue, and create dramatic tension throughout your story to keep an audience glued to their chairs. Film school breaks down all these elements into core fundamentals that you practice daily with mentor-instructors who are themselves experienced professional writers and filmmakers.  There is no other professional experience in the world available for screenwriters that can hold a candle to this one.

  1. You Must Learn To Write With Clarity And Depth.

Making it look simple isn’t simple at all.  Very far from it.  In a film/screenwriting M.F.A. program, you gain a huge advantage over your competition by learning and mastering all the concepts and tools in a screenwriter’s toolkit so you never have to waste time floundering in confusion, or being gripped by writer’s block.  When you get hired to write a script, the producer is not going to coddle you.  You need to be a knowledgeable pro right now – so you better be ready to rock.  Remember, when getting launched as a screenwriter (or TV writer, or creative executive, or studio production executive, or independent producer, or director, or or or) the definition of luck is when preparation meets opportunity.  What you learn in film school gives you the confidence to analyze dramatic material quickly, accurately, and to see in any script exactly what works, what doesn’t work, and how to fix it.  When opportunity arrives, you will be very, very ready.     

  1.      You Can Grow Your Personal Network.

Every screenwriter needs industry contacts and friends in the business.  So…why not get to know all those other film school students sitting right beside you in class?  You work together and grow together and come trust each other’s opinions.  In film school you gain life-long friendships who share your passions and who understand that helping each other out is good for everybody.  After film school, writers also need a network of knowledgeable, insightful, trusted friends and mentors to react to the material they write so that the work can continue to grow and improve.  You build relationships that become invaluable going forward.

  1. You Can Get Out of Jail.

Writers spend way too much time alone.  And the more isolated you are, the more self-isolating your temperament becomes, as well as less self-confident.  Film school puts you in the active thick of what you love to do.  In the old days, the 1920s Paris literati had the Les Deux Magots Cafe where Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir and James Joyce came to talk stories, share opinions and argue about their art.  And Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound had Gertrude Stein’s parlor soirees to discuss each other’s work.  In our current era, what a growing number of all the creative people in Hollywood have in common is film school.  

  1. You Can Create More, and Better, Work Samples.

It is important to have a large polished portfolio of scripts and treatments in order to be taken seriously as a screenwriter by agents and producers.  Film school works with you to build your portfolio, teaches you to expand into various genres, and to have well thought-out, pitchable ideas at the ready for when that big break comes.

  1. Get the Straight Truth From Instructor-Professionals.

It’s nice when mom or dad tells you how great they think your writing is.  Maybe they’ll even take you out to dinner to celebrate your finishing that new script.  But unless mom is an established film producer, you most likely are not getting any knowledgeable, experience-based criticism. To become a better writer you need to hear the straight truth that only a circle of mentor professionals and insightful fellow students can provide. Film school puts you in the midst of people who share your passion for creating the best script you can write.  Knowledgeable criticism is essential for refining any screenplay.

  1. It Helps You Master The Rewriting Process.

Ever hear the writer Lin-Manuel Miranda talk about the work he put into creating “Hamilton,” the smash Broadway musical?  He spent years creating, writing, honing and revising – but it all paid off with a record run and 11 Tony Awards. This is what it takes to create a great Hollywood script, too. Film school gives you the motivation and environment to create and refine not only one but several scripts as you come to understand the essential process of rewriting.  And it shows you what you’re really capable of as a writer.  You come out the other side a changed, more confident and committed writer than you ever thought you could be.

  1.   You’ll Learn How The Industry Works.

 Film school offers the advantage of getting students launched into the film and TV industries and teaching them how the business actually works, through internships at some of the most important Hollywood companies.  Most Master of Fine Arts graduate programs in screenwriting or film have top-notch sponsored internship programs.  And some undergraduate film programs (such as the one at Cal State Northridge) have excellent internship connections as well.

  1. You Will Have Instructors Who Love To Teach.

Film school is a very unique environment.  All the instructors have already worked creatively in film and TV, and they truly love writing just like you do.  They enjoy being around eager students of all ages and backgrounds.  They love engaging in the back and forth of creative dialogue.  Respect is mutual, and enthusiasm abounds.  You learn from the best, and the relationships, experiences and knowledge acquired in film school will inevitably change you for the better and remain with you forever.  I have never heard anyone say they regretted going to film school.

  1. The M.F.A. Degree Qualifies You To Teach At Colleges And Universities Worldwide

Each year at Cal State Northridge, a number of our newly entering M.F.A. in Screenwriting students come to us already accomplished professional screen and TV writers.  They come to get that required M.F.A. degree in order to teach screenwriting and film at the university level.  These student-professionals wonderfully augment our program for ALL students, and each brings a whole career’s worth of experience with them.  Many mature professionals see the great value of a graduate degree in screenwriting/film because they now plan to transition into teaching at the university level.  On the other hand, I earned my two M.F.A.s at the very beginning of my career because I wanted to become a master at this craft, and I already knew, too, that someday I wanted to teach.  Sooner or later.  It works either way.

Yes, film school costs money.  Anything worthwhile does.  But shop around, because the price of a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting degree can vary a great deal.  One of the qualitatively best, and at the same time least expensive, M.F.A. programs can be found at California State University, Northridge.  Florida State has a top-rated program, too.  As does Arizona.  Along with many others.  And there are scholarships, financial assistance and loans available.  I was paying off my American Film Institute loan for years after I got my degree there, but AFI kept the payments down and even during my struggling years it wasn’t that bad.  We got through okay.  And eventually with that M.F.A. degree on my wall, I became a tenured full-professor.  Frankly,  I wouldn’t trade my film school experiences for anything.

Here’s wishing you a joyful, creative, and productive 2018!

Eric


p.s. Be sure to visit my website at https://www.thestorysolution.com to download complimentary film structure breakdowns for Back to the Future, Bridesmaids, and Finding Nemo. 

About The Story Solution: Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing a screenplay. Regarded as one of the best books on screenwritingThe Story Solution is currently #1 in its category on China Amazon. Visit the website at https://www.thestorysolution.com to download a complimentary book chapter and to see video and hear audio clips about creating characters. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on writing a movie script and scriptwriting.

The post Top 10 Reasons Why Film School Is More Valuable Than You Think appeared first on Eric Edson.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Hello Writers All,

Consider this your personal invitation to participate in a series of live webinars with the newly formed Entertainment Industry Association of Consultants and Educators (eiACE). This is a non-profit organization, committed to elevating the art and craft of storytelling by bringing together the most highly-regarded, leading professionals in the field. They’ve designed this series of “TED”-style talks in a way which enables participants to Power Up their experience in the entertainment industry.

Hosted live at the Relativity School Studio in Los Angeles, each of the up-coming webinars will feature a group of our top industry educators. Choose one, choose all, for only $39 each using coupon code EIACEORG!

Not able to view the live webinar at its scheduled time? Don’t worry – the webinar recording will be available for you to stream at your convenience following the event.

Sign Up Here

All Very Best Wishes,

About The Story Solution: Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing a screenplay. Regarded as one of the best books on screenwritingThe Story Solution is currently #1 in its category on China Amazon. Visit the website at https://www.thestorysolution.com to download a complimentary book chapter and to see video and hear audio clips about creating characters. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on writing a movie script and scriptwriting.

The post Power Up Your Premise, Power Up Your Story, Power Up Your Career. appeared first on Eric Edson.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Hello Writers All,

I hope everyone is having a great summer thus far.  It’s time for a Giveaway! Yes free stuff alert, because I just launched a GoodReads.com giveaway for The Story Solution.

You can go for one of 25 signed copies of The Story Solution being offered by entering the giveaway for free here! Must enter between Aug 9th – Sept. 9th. If you’re interested in reading a sample, just click here.

I am asking for an honest review in exchange for entering the giveaway, because on the internet it’s all about reviews! So… I must step out of my comfort zone here to ask all you good folks to leave a review on either Amazon or GoodReads or both; every one helps! Many of you have been fantastic in showing your support and from my heart, It’s truly appreciated.

The book has really taken off in China, reaching the #1 slot on Amazon China for “Film and TV” books, and also hitting #1 in the categories of “Animation” and “Graphic Novels”.

As a reminder, I recently completed a series of video interviews for the online screenwriting community Film Courage. Also, there’s another terrific series of webinars coming up soon from my friends and colleagues, the professional consultants and educators at eiACE that you should check out.

Hope everyone is in the mood to write! Feel free to look me up on Facebook to say hello! I can’t always be speedy about it, but I aim to answer all messages that come my way!

All Very Best Wishes,


About The Story Solution: Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing a screenplay. Regarded as one of the best books on screenwritingThe Story Solution is currently #1 in its category on China Amazon. Visit the website at https://www.thestorysolution.com to download a complimentary book chapter and to see video and hear audio clips about creating characters. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on writing a movie script and scriptwriting.

The post Good Reads Book Giveaway Contest appeared first on Eric Edson.

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview