Saturday, October 29, 2005

Submission Guidelines (magazines, publishers, and more)

This category will include submission guidelines to magazines, anthologies, agents, e-zines, book publishers, management firms, prodcos, and anywhere else that a writer's work (be it poetry or screenplay or magazine article or whatEVER) can be submitted.

Part One

Part Two

Greetings from Hell

Okay, so this post isn't strictly writing-related, but I did have to pack up the car and that included my computer that I use to write, so does that count?

The firestorm has been over for several weeks and I feel like I'm still decompressing. In the days immediately following, when I'd go to the store, anytime someone asked, "And how did you do in the fire? Are you all right?," I'd just burst into tears.

I live with my Mother and am her sole caregiver. She is bedridden and on oxygen. She can't get up and run when there is an emergency. She can't be transferred to the car, she can only be laterally transferred to an ambulance gurney.

At 3:30 in the morning, a man who lives several blocks away and much closer to the actual flames of the fire pounded on my front door. He said the mandatory evacuation order had been given and he was worried that I wouldn't have enough time to get my Mother to safety.

He was right. I couldn't get my Mother anywhere. I called 911 and they sent out an ambulance but the ambulance crew said Medicare would not pay for the ride unless the fire department made our little section of street a mandatory evacuation. They were ordering everyone out but just for one little section of houses, it was technically not mandatory. See the photos below of just how close disaster came to our home.

I freaked out just a bit and the ambulance crew said not to panic, if we were about to be burned alive they would just get my Mom in the ambulance and drive her out of there. But, there was nowhere to take her. Red Cross shelters do not provide for elderly or disabled evacuees.

We were stuck. The firemen told us not to worry until we saw all our neighbors leave. I watched all the neighbors leave. My Mom and I and the ambulance guys were the only ones left on our street.

I watched a wall of flame come at us. At some point in the nightmare, the ambulance guys had to leave. We were alone. I guess I was waiting for the worst. But the angels were watching over us and the worst passed over us. We survived.

There is a hate site on the web where the site owner has posted that she wishes for my Mother's death and that I will kill myself. The "lady" will be disappointed to learn that we are just fine. She can go back to her life of pretending to be an authentic reporter for a major New York newspaper while allowing the wholesale plaigarizing of other reporters' and writers' works to be published on her hate site. I have no particular feelings toward her other than a general sense of pity. What she has brought upon herself by her own actions is nothing to do with me.

I repeat, WE SURVIVED.

Queen of PGL (Project Greenlight)

Project Greenlight was a great dream spearheaded by actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. They thought to back an online screenplay and filmmaking contest to "open the back door to Hollywood" for a deserving person of great talent who simply lacked any Hollywood connections to get them through that front door.

Through access to Project Greenlight's messageboards and chat, hundreds of PGL members formed real-life friendships as well as participating in the online community which was the most powerful and the very best thing to ever come out of the Project Greenlight experiment.

One thing the community did was to have get-togethers or parties a few times with folks flying in to Los Angeles from all points of the United States map. We were thrilled to meet each other.

For our second party event, held at Mr. Pockets in Redondo Beach, CA., the PGL community decided to spoof the old prom king and prom queen "thing" and so we campaigned and voted for our favorites. Everyone who participated did so with a great sense of humor, making many jokes and silly campaign stealth posts in a competitor's messageboard thread. It was great fun and not for a second did any participant ever think they were really running for the king and queen of anything. It was always just a joke.

I was campaign manager for two of the King candidates (FredCleveland and BadDavid) and did my duty, Photoshopping up some doozies for "campaign posters" to be dropped into various messageboard threads. Clearly, the whole thing was a spoof when I, a "campaign manager," somehow was named one of the finalists for Queen when I hadn't ever campaigned for the honor!

And so three ladies and three fellas stood before the partying crowd at Mr. Pockets to see which of them would be crowned the King and Queen of PGL. That final determination would be made by a Senior Vice-President at Miramax Pictures who made his choice based on writing samples from each of the six finalists. We had been given a choice of several topics. I chose, "Why Am I A Writer?"

In the next couple of years to follow, I was shocked to discover that there were PGL members who did not take such a lighthearted approach as most of us did to the whole King and Queen of PGL thing. They would express their jealousy and hostility and hatred many times over, across cyberspace, in numerous writing communities. Some of them, in fact, were quite consumed by their own envy even to the exclusion of representing themselves as intelligent mature adults to the rest of the online writing world. They..simply..went..crazy.

Oh well. You can be friendly and helpful and welcoming and encouraging to the Nth degree and still, if someone out there in this world picks to not like you because of their own personal issues, there's not much else to be done other than be the best human you know how to be and leave it at that.

And so, here is my "winning" entry and the reason I am the Queen of PGL...

"The Danger Zone," a little story I wrote for Des Steele

Writing the Short Story

This is a form that I've come to enjoy very much. I've written a few stories (and will include one in my next post). I have to confess that I am only recently rediscovering the "rules" for short stories and short fiction so my sample story should NOT be used as any sort of example of how to do it right. I'd like to share some of the resources I've collected on writing the short story so here they are...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Why Write? (with quotes on the writing and creative process)

So... why do you write? Is it a hobby, a life's avocation, a precious dream, a way to vent... what moves you to put your words to any form for others to see?

In my lifetime, I suppose I have been motivated to write for different reasons with varying degrees of success. And exactly what is success for a writer, anyway? Is it measured by celebrity status or financial gain regardless of how well or how poorly the writer can actually write? I think I let go of that sort of thinking a very long time ago. Now I love craft for craft's sake, I suppose. I enjoy challenge and I love the satisfying feeling of having created something and done it to perfection, or as near to perfect as I am able to achieve. I love that.

But mostly, I write because it is the only time I feel 100% alive and human. All the other minutes of the day are just marking time. I can't NOT write (double negative intended). It is who I am.

I'd love to hear what other writers (of any kind) have to say on the subject of writing. What it means to you, how you go about it, how you define success and any great moments you'd care to share.

Meanwhile, here is what some other folks have had to say on the subject of writing:

Record-Breaking Movies

These lists are from the Internet Movie Database.

These are the top 25 grossing movies of all time for the U.S. (click on the IMDb link above to get more lists):

1. Titanic (1997)

2. Star Wars (1977)

3. Shrek 2 (2004)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

5. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

6. Spider-Man (2002)

7. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)

8. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

9. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

The Passion of the Christ (2004)

11. Jurassic Park (1993)

12. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

13. Finding Nemo (2003)

14. Forrest Gump (1994)

15. The Lion King (1994)

16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)

17. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

18. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002)

19. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

20. Independence Day (1996)

21. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

22. The Sixth Sense (1999)

23. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

24. Home Alone (1990)

25. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

And these are the Worst Movies of All Time (as voted on the IMDb website):

1. Monster a-Go Go (1965)

2. SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004)

3. The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

4. The Skydivers (1963)

5. Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996)

6. Future War (1997)

7. The Final Sacrifice (1990)

8. Night Train to Mundo Fine (1966)

9. 'Manos' the Hands of Fate (1966)

10. From Justin to Kelly (2003)

11. Space Mutiny (1988)

12. Daniel - Der Zauberer (2004)

13. Santa with Muscles (1996)

14. Hobgoblins (1987)

15. The Wild World of Batwoman (1966)

16. Quest of the Delta Knights (1993)

17. Tangents (1994)

18. The Creeping Terror (1964)

19. Troll 2 (1990)

20. Girl in Gold Boots (1969)

21. Ator l'invincibile 2 (1984)

22. Werewolf (1996)

23. Stjerner uden hjerner (1997)

24. Nuevos extraterrestres, Los (1983)

25. Eegah (1962)'s Top Selling Authors of All Time

I was actually looking for a general list of best selling authors of all time, not just restricted to one online retailer's sales figures, but haven't found that list yet. Meanwhile, here's the Amazon list:

1. J.K. Rowling
2. Spencer Johnson
3. Nora Roberts
4. Dan Brown
5. Dr. Seuss
6. John Grisham
7. Stephen King
8. J.R.R. Tolkien
9. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
10. Jim Collins
11. Phil McGraw
12. Robert Atkins
13. C.S. Lewis
14. Mitch Albom
15. Ken Blanchard
16. James Patterson
17. Stephen R. Covey
18. Mary Pope Osborne
19. Marcus Buckingham
20. Lemony Snicket
21. John C. Maxwell
22. Janet Evanovich
23. Robert T. Kiyosaki
24. Arthur Agatston
25. Tom Clancy

Screenplay and Novel Basics - Naming Your Character - Part Three

And here are even more great resources for character names for you...
Pet Name Generator for Lovers
Baby Names & Naming Traditions

Muse Creation Software - Muse Names is probably the largest database of names and meanings you'll find commercially available. Over 40,000 names and meanings, from over 70 origins, are all searchable by name, origin, gender, and/or meaning. In addition, a numerological reading is given for each name, providing insight into traits a person with that name may exhibit. Favourite names can be saved for later review, and the database can be edited to add or revise name records. A certificate can be printed for any given name, proclaiming meaning and origin.

ALSO ON THIS PAGE:The Dogwood Compendium of Names is the 16-bit names database for Windows. A collection of over 29,000 names from over 50 ethnic origins means instant access to the perfect name for your baby, or your fictional character. In seconds you can have the meaning of a name, or search the entire name database for names meaning "beautiful" or "pure" or "butterfly." You can search by name, by ethnic origin, by meaning, or by gender. The Dogwood Compendium of Names is an editable database, and also prints certificates.

Behind the Name
Names for specific ages - This site only has maybe 30 examples per decade, but it's a start. They sell a book, but you can get the info you need for free if you like the names they have listed.
The Name Machine - The Name Machine analyzes first names and their popularity over the past 102 years.
Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names - This searchable resource for the SSA government website allows websurfers to find the most popular names for a given decade.
Random Baby Namer
French Name Search
iVillage Name Finder
Top 100 Names of the Year
Baby Name Wizard
Baby Name Finder - Find baby names by sex, ethnic origin, number of syllables, and more!
Baby Namer - A database of over 20,000 baby names, which includes features such as meaning, origin, teasing nicknames and variations of the name.
Random Name Generator - Random Name Generator is great for writers who need a little help creating character names. Random Name Generator uses an editable seed file to create random male and female names with optional nicknames. Some of the features and capabilities of Random Name Generator are: a) Over 150 million possible names with the registered version; b) Copy names to clipboard for use in other applications; c) Editable seed file; d) 'How Do I' help section walks you through all procedures; e) On-line.
Native American Indian Male and Female Names and Native American Names for English-Speaking Children
Meanings of many Spanish and Mexican surnames
50 Most Common Surnames in the United States

Screenplay and Novel Basics - Naming Your Character - Part Two

And here are some more great resources for character names for you...
Problems With Names & How To Avoid Them
DADA's Little Baby Namer
Naming Prompts - Suggests 100 ways to think about naming.
Hebrew Baby Name Finder
Computer Naming Concepts
Names for Bands OR Weird Band Names OR Mark Rahner's List of Band Names OR The Swarming Midget Band Name Archive OR Picking A Name For Your Band! OR Band-O-Matic!
Names for Animals and Cat Names with Personality for your Kitty
American Name Society
Baby Names with a difference
First Name Almanac - When you select an individual's name from First Name Almanac's database of more than 18,500 first names, the program retrieves the meaning of the name, the local origin and root of the name, and, optionally, lets you include astrological information and other personal traits in its customized printout. Standard printouts are designed to fit on readily available paper stock, mugs and other marketable items. A second version, First Name Almanac Pro, contains dozens of personalized poems and verses for all occasions, and allows you to add your own personalized sentiments to the beginning and end of each printout. This program can also create a poem out of the letters of any first name (such as "M is for..." and so on).
African Names
Names of India
Name Nerds - This is the site for all who are looking for a name, who love names, or who have a name. Founded by name connoisseurs, red by name geeks, genealogists, expectant parents and those curious about their own name alike. There is bound to be something for you and everyone else! Includes:Irish Names: Traditional, Modern, and In-Between Unusual, Unique and Creative Names, Scottish First Names
Chris Pound's language machines - scripts generate random names, vocabularies, kung-fu moves, creatures, spells, and so on. Most people use them in role-playing games. Some people use them in designing their own SF/Fantasy languages. See the related links and the credits at the bottom of the page for proof that other people actually care about this stuff! Or just try the kung-fu move generator, and be amused.
Name Thesaurus


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Screenplay and Novel Basics - Naming Your Characters - Part One

The names you give your characters can and will influence how your audience and/or readers feel about those characters. Names can also serve to keep characters identifiable as individuals and not to be confused with other players in your story (one mistake of new writers is to have all characters seem very much the same). Picking that exactly perfect name for a "person" that you have created is not always an easy task. Here are some "character naming" links to help you along that way...
December Fifth Creations - offers baby-naming and character-naming software for parents and writers
Name Locator General Search Engine
Biblical Baby Names
Women of the Bible
Men of the Bible
Names of Gangs and Biker Gang Individual Nicknames
"Nickname" from Wikipedia
Russian names with their nicknames
18th and 19th Century American Nicknames
Common Nicknames in English
Celebrity Nicknames
Common Nicknames & Their Given Name Equivalents
Glossary of Last Name Meanings and Origins
Given Name Index
Last Name Meanings - Find the ethnic origin and meaning of last names.Surname dictionary and genealogy helps include names of Irish, German, English, French, Italian, and Jewish descent.


Screenplay and Novel Basics - Creating & Developing Characters

Regardless of which "school of rules" or guru's style of screenwriting or novel writing you choose to follow, regardless of how many special effects and thrilling explosions your script may have, no matter how hip and cool your setting or dialogue or theme may be, if your reader or audience cannot wrap themselves up in your characters and their fate, you don't have much of anything.

Your audience must give a damn about your characters in order to give a damn about your story, movie, or novel.

The first clue: Your characters must feel like living breathing flesh and blood folks, three-dimensional in every way. They can't just be a typed name on a sheet of paper. They must live.

Your audience or readership may adore them, hate them, fear them but that audience must feel something. By the end of your story and your main character's journey, they cannot have remained stagnant - they must have undergone some significant change or growth. They cannot be exactly the same person they were when your story started. And that's where you come in, Writer. That's what writing is for, after all.

Sure, there are different takes on the subjects of characters and characterization. It can be possible (though it is not the norm) to have a main character NOT significantly change but the story will still have taken your audience or readers on a journey because that character may have acted as a catalyst of change upon those around him. I think Orson Welles,' "The Stranger," is one example of this - the stranger was always who he was and we, and the people of the town, react as more and more clues to the stranger's identity are revealed. And the people of the town are the changed ones by story's end. The audience, still, was quite intrigued by the stranger.

The audience was intrigued. Hooked. And with nary a car chase in sight. And that was because of how the characters were crafted and how they interacted with one another.

The chickflick of all chickflicks, "Steel Magnolias," is memorable mostly because of the well-defined separate personalities of the female characters.

Who your characters are, how passionate is their desire to reach their goal, what actions they take to get there, what opposition they face and the conflict it creates and what they do to resolve it can have your audience glued to their seats.

But it all starts with a character. So... how DO we as writers play at being gods and bring forth Life? Well, I've gathered a collection of helpful articles and resources to help you figure some of that out. And here's just the first bunch (more posts to follow)...

Congratulations, Pete Jones!


Fox falls for Jones' 'HALL PASS'
Farrelly brothers to produce
by Michael Fleming

In a high six-figure deal, 20th Century Fox has purchased "Hall Pass," a spec script by Pete Jones. Conundrum's Peter and Bobby Farrelly and BradleyThomas will produce the film, which could shape up asa directing vehicle for the sibs behind "There's Something About Mary." Jones, best known as the subject of the first "ProjectGreenlight" with his movie "Stolen Summer," has scripted a relationship comedy in which a married couple find themselves going through the motions. The wife gives her husband a "hall pass," which means permission to engage in extracurriculars. Complications ensue. Conundrum's Mark Charpentier brought in the project, which was packaged by CAA, with Jones' attorney Jeffrey Abrams assisting. Fox's Debbie Liebling will oversee the pic.

Pete is an old pal from Project Greenlight days and I always said he was the perfect person to have been picked the winner of the first PGL contest. He's a real nice guy and he deserves all the success that's sure to come his way. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

Now Showing! Ten Fun Things for Writers!

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10 Fun Things for Writers
Greatest Film Misquotes - EXAMPLE: "Elementary, my dear Watson!" - was a phrase never spoken by the lead character in the many Sherlock Holmes novels from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Microsoft's Templates for Movie Fans & Movie Writers - This page has links to templates for a screenplay, movie collection database (keep track of your DVD's!), video face labels, video collection database, and event tickets.

How to Begin a Movie - Seriously. This is how every single movie script ever written must begin.

Jerry Bruckheimer Plot Generator

Adventure Maker - a revolutionary, easy-to-use, powerful, and inexpensive toolkit to create point-and-click games and multimedia software in minutes, without any scripting or programming. It is particularly suitable for the creation of first-person and third-person adventure games, Myst-like games, educational software, presentations, and interactive tours. It can generate single stand-alone files, for Internet or CD distribution.

Emusements Name That Quizzes - Can you Name That Movie in 5 actors? In 4 actors? In 3 actors? In 2 actors? How about that TV show? How many actors will it take? Conversely, can you Name That Actor (or Actress) in 5 movies, 4 movies, 3 movies, or just 2 movies?

Brain Bashers - an exciting collection of brain teasers, puzzles, riddles, games and optical illusions. With thousands of brain teasers and puzzles, over one hundred awards, BrainBashers is updated with optical illusions and games regularly and has 5 new puzzles added each week.

Shakespearean Insulter

Buzztime Internet Games - very fun and competitive against other online players. Various trivia games, including Entertainment Trivia. - a fun and very easy way to keep track of all your bookmarks and research.

Writing and Me - Coloring Outside the Lines

Just some random stuff...

For more than a year before I finally reached The Big Day and started kindergarten, I'd been begging my Mother (a kindergarten teacher) to teach me how to write. The physical act of writing, that is. I'd been writing stories inside my head for a very long time and only lacked the academic skill to put the words to paper. I was extremely frustrated and anxious because I thought I had good stories and I would forget them before I ever learned how to write.

Well, against her better judgement, Mom did teach me how to write at an extremely early age. I think she'd seen kids who just didn't fit in with other kids and she didn't want that for me. In a sense, she was right because I was punished my very first day of kindergarten. The teacher was explaining what the alphabet was and then she taught class how to write the letter "A." I wrote out the entire alphabet. I thought the teacher would be proud of me. She made me stand in the corner and explained about the sin of coloring outside the lines (except that's not what she called it back then) and not following directions.

I hated kindergarten after that. I'd been looking forward to it for so long and in one instant, a teacher made me hate school. And I've been writing... and coloring outside the lines... ever since.

When your creativity and curiosity and entire soul cannot be constrained by groupthink or the heavy-handedness of a society that frowns upon independence of thought and expression, it does set you apart from the sheep, the clique-joiners, the idealogues who can only blather on in the approved groupspeak of their selected dogma and you find yourself almost an observer to Life at times even though necessity makes you be a participant on a daily basis.

But you enter a peculiar zone without rules for the brain and it liberates. And you create. And that's worth the price of admission. Yes, indeedy.

So, my fellow travelers, don't be scared to step outside the lines. It's kind of fun here. And I'd enjoy the company.

Happy 50th Birthday, "Rebel Without a Cause!"

Birth of a rebellion
Reviewed By Roger Moore Sentinel Movie Critic Posted October 16, 2005

Live Fast, Die Young:The Wild Ride of 'Making Rebel Without a Cause' By Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel.Touchstone, $24.95, 372 pages.

Fifty years ago this month, a movie came out that hearkened a cultural revolution, nothing less than the rise of the teenager in American society. Rebel Without a Cause signaled and triggered a seismic shift in American pop-culture priorities, both documenting the restless energy and lack of direction of a new generation of American youth, and magnifying that restlessness -- by encouraging imitation."Troubled teens" and "juvenile delinquents" became the anti-culture's heroes. And the anti-culture became the only culture for baby boomers ready to embrace their own music, their own mores and their own icons.After this movie, who didn't imitate James Dean, the title character, a handsome and sensitive punk all too ready to live up to that teen credo of the Atomic Age -- "Live fast, die young"?Journalists Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel take us back to that era, onto the set and into the Chateau Marmont, where Rebel director Nicholas Ray, a disciple of Elia Kazan, drilled his young troops into convincing impressionist sketches of teen gangs, girls with father issues and gay men who didn't understand the attraction they felt for their own sex because society didn't talk about such things.It's a big, lurid film with a lot to answer for, the authors say. Basically, they see Rebel as the first brick in the edifice of youth culture, the first shot in the sexual revolution and the movie that made the 1960s possible.


Screenplay Basics - Plot and structure - Part Five

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Keeping Your Computer Safe

You write with your computer, you might visit writer workshops or messageboards online, maybe you pay bills online. Heck, a lot of your life is invested in what your computer can do for you. So it would be wise for you to ask yourself, what can I do for it? Keeping it healthy ought to be your number one computer/internet priority.

There are several ways to do that. One is to be informed. Another is to install an excellent virus protection program and probably a firewall couldn't hurt. Pop-up blockers also come in handy although they do need to be disabled to conduct business on most secure sites (which are excessively fond of pop-ups).

If you have your own ideas and suggestions on how to stay safe and sensible online, please do leave your comments.

Virus/Trojan Alerts and Libraries
McAfee Virus Info Library
WW3-CA Alerts
US-CERT Advisories
Microsoft Knowledge Base

Virus and Email Hoaxes, Frauds, Spam & Other Annoyances
McAfee List of Virus Hoaxes
Anti-Phishing Working Group
Library of spoof email hoax scams and fake web pages
Schemes, Scams, Frauds
Fight Spam on the Internet!
Spam Laws

Security Software
Reviews of the Top Antivirus Programs
Yahoo Directory for Virus Protection Software
Zone Labs
Personal Firewall Reviews
Security Downloads from ZDNet

Computer/Internet News
ZDNet Technology News
Wired News
NY Times Technology

Kid Internet Safety
McGruff® Internet Safety
FBI's National Sex Offender Registry

Screenplay Basics - Plot and Structure - Part Four

This is the fourth post in a series of five posts (and it looks like I have so many useful resources to share that I might even have to start a new series of links!) on the subject of Plot and Structure. Here, I'll post some of my remaining links on the subject.

Character as Plot
20 Master Plot Exercises
Organizing Your Plot Structure
A Simple Explanation of Plot
The Plot's the Thing (.pdf file)
Thinking about Plot
Plotting Without Fears
Structure of a Play
Plot: Strengthen Weak Or Unfocused Plots
How To Use Motivation To Form Characters And Plot

Software for Writers et al - Part One

This will be the first of several lists pertaining to software that may be useful to writers. Enjoy!

Movie Magic Screenwriter - The award-winning script formatting tool that lets you write your finished screenplay, teleplay, stage play, multi-media script, or novel without worrying about formatting technicalities. Combines the most features, superior ease-of-use, incredible reliability, and maximum flexibility into an industry standard program used by the top writers in Hollywood and around the world.

Final Draft - Use your creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling word processor specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays. It combines powerful word processing with professional script formatting in one self-contained, easy-to-use package. There is no need to learn about script formatting rules – Final Draft automatically paginates and formats your script to industry standards as you write.

What-If Creator Sci-Fi Edition 1.1 - Plan the details of your sci-fi novel, develop plot ideas, and write your story. - A new approach to office productivity software, 1.1 gives you everything you'd expect in office software. You can create dynamic documents, analyse data, design eye-catching presentations, produce dramatic illustrations, and open up your databases. You can publish your work in Portable Document Format (.pdf), and release your graphics in Flash (.swf) format - without needing any additional software.

TreePad's Writer's Outliner - TreePad's Writer's Outliner is a great utility to use to organize your writing projects. The bigger the project, the more useful you'll find the program. TreePad helps you organize information, outline writing projects and it has hundreds of other potential uses. It works in the same way as Windows Explorer, with a tree structure you can create to store your information. It's ideal for writers wanting to gather facts, bibliographical entries, notes quotations and even first drafts.

SuperNotecard (formerly Miss Lonelynotes) -SuperNotecard 1.6 arrives with a set of incredible enhancements:
Craft your next screenplay with the help of SuperNotecard's automatically indented dialog and capitalized slug lines. Time scenes and instantly calculate the length of your script.
Deck Work
Control the size and shape of your cards as you arrange them with the new, space-efficient, flattened mode. Alt-click cards to quickly view their content. Make the background orange and increase the size of the categorization markers to aid your yes.
Deck and Card Flags and Categories
Flag and categorize decks as well as cards. Use the toolbar to assign (or unassign) an entire deck and its contents to a category.
...and lots more!
Dramatica Pro - Dramatica Pro works with you to develop stronger, richer characters that leap off the page while weaving your themes into your plot seamlessly. Plus, it helps you identify and eliminate unwanted story choices before they become problems. Choose the Ultimate Creative Writing Partner that 10 time NY Times Best-selling author Tracy Hickman uses. Dramatica Pro gives you ACTIVE GUIDANCE not just a fill-in-the-blank template. Perfect for beginning writers-learn while you develop your story. Perfect for advanced writers-apply what you know to maximize your creativity. Print story reports, character reports, or your full treatment. Export your story into StoryView or Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000.
Story View - Structure your ideas with StoryView's traditional Outline View or remarkable Timeline View to get a stronger visual sense of your story. The Tracking Feature allows you to show connections between events and characters, objects or key words, revealing the rhythms and patterns of your story in seconds. StoryView lets you see your story like never before!Instantly change the sequence of events by clicking and dragging Event Boxes -- Size Event Boxes to represent the duration of an event or its importance -- Customize StoryView to your personal structuring style or choose one of the many pre-built templates -- Import a story or script you've already written to analyze it and get through the rewriting phase faster -- Export into Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000.
The Writer's DreamKit - The Writer's DreamKit is a proven software program designed by writers for writers -- a complete step-by-step fiction writing system designed for the aspiring writer. The Writer's DreamKit StoryGuide handholds you from initial idea all the way through to completed narrative treatment, inspiring you and supporting you along the way. It's like having a successful author as your writing partner, sitting by your side and mentoring you! Structure your Plot -- Illustrate your Story -- Create Scenes -- Develop your Characters -- The End Result-Gain deeper insight into your story with the Writer's Dreamkit's StoryGuide and detailed reports. Export your story treatment -- containing the scene-by-scene narrative plot synopsis (novelists) or treatment (scriptwriters) -- into your favorite word processor for further rewriting.
Writer's Blocks - Writer's Blocks is a powerful tool that will help you get your ideas out of your head and onto the page faster than ever before. Use blocks, to capture, organize, outline, and structure your notes. By combining our acclaimed visual outliner with our innovative word processor you can now use one tool from brainstorm to rewrite. Writers, novelists, authors, journalists, researchers, screenwriters, attorneys, students, and technical writers will be more productive with Writer's Blocks.
Sophocles - Sophocles is a new screenplay software program that emphasizes the writing process. While other script writing software puts the focus on margins and page breaks, Sophocles was conceptualized from the start as a story creation tool for screenwriters. By allowing you to easily navigate and manipulate your story elements, Sophocles helps you craft a tighter, smoother flowing screenplay.

Professional Screenwriting Format Default format settings derived from a sample of 25 modern Hollywood screenplays.

Story Centered Design An interface that directs your attention away from mundane formatting issues while directing it towards the actual creative screenwriting process.

Get the Big Picture Tools to help you stay oriented within your story-space, and to easily navigate related scenes and plot points.

Easy to Use A clean, uncluttered interface, and an extremely shallow learning curve. If you have prior word processor experience
, you can get up to speed in minutes.
The Writer's Organizer - The Writer's Organizer helps writers organize their ideas, submissions, and stories. It also helps writers build worlds, generate random names, brainstorm and create characters. Other features: automatic cover letter generation, access to online market download site, simplified user interface, organize images too.
The Scriptwriters Toolkit
Movie Outline Software
Story Master Pro - Story Master Pro is a software product created to help novelist & short story writers plan and organize story information.
Hollywood Screenplay - The only COMPLETE SUITE OF SOFTWARE for writers... screenplay formatter, novel formatter, story developer, plot selector, character namer, submissions manager, and more!
Great Dialogue Software
Power Writer™ The first Word Processor with fully integrated Story Development and Outlining Tools
Power Structure™ The award-winning Story Development software designed for writers who know how to write
Power Tracker™ Submission, File and Expense Management for Writers
FrameForge™ 3D Studio The future of Storyboarding - Don't Draw Storyboards. Direct Them!
All of the above can be found HERE
Screenplay Outliner - Screenplay Outliner is the shareware program for Windows that makes organizing your story ideas, and then outlining them, simple. Finally, you have one program that lets you store and develop and outline your ideas in one place.
Mindstar Cinergy Script Writing Software
Screenplay Template for Word
WriteItNow Novel Writing Software
Main Features: Write and store complete novels Keep background details of characters, events, locations and ideas. Display charts of events and relationships Generate characters, names and ideas Registered users can generate characters and background notes using add-ons Powerful search options Download stories at Context sensitive help Record all manuscript submissions Sample story with tutorial. 100,000 word spelling checker Auto-scale charts 100 step undo and redo RTF output. Create a neatly formatted manuscript with two key-presses FAQ. Frequently asked questions.
Story Bones - With Story Bones your stories will be cohesive and engaging with characters that sparkle. Story Bones was developed to assist writers in making sure things happen when and how they are supposed to happen. Plot/Subplot interweaving, Pace, Climax, Setbacks, Continuity and more are enforced to assist you in constructing a story with a solid plot and story line that won't fall flat, hit a deadend or runaway to nowhere.
Manuscript Tracking Software
Comedy Writer
My Writer's Notebook
ParaMind Brainstorming Software - ParaMind offers you a quick way to develop ideas much like a person with a high IQ develops ideas. ParaMind creates in seconds thousands of idea combinations that are directly related to the idea that you type on to its screen.
FirstAid for Writers®
Liquid Story Binder - Liquid Story Binder is a uniquely designed word processor for professional and aspiring authors, poets, and screenwriters. It is for those who require the editing ability of a commercial word processor as well as a document tracking system. It is for those who want the freedom to create and revise but are tired of losing track of their work. Spellchecking, thesaurus, document indexing, checklistings, image gallery, notes, multiple backups.
Simon Skill Systems - providing screenwriting software and multicolumn scripting software for television commercials, etc. Includes online newsletter
I will be adding to this list in future posts!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Screenplay Basics - Plot and Structure - Part Three

This is the third post in a series of five posts on the subject of Plot and Structure. Here, I'll post some of my remaining links on the subject.

Plot Structure of a Feature Film
What is the Three Act Structure?
Sample Film Plot Analyses
Hatch's Plot Bank
Modern Fiction Story Structures
PLOT ARC - The events that happen while the characters make other plans
CHARACTER ARC - The emotional roller-coaster that the character suffers in dealing with the Plot
Truby on Structure: Cold Mountain
CLASSIC ROMANCE PLOTS (for novels but could spark ideas for other forms of writing)
PLOTTING: Polti's 36 Dramatic Situations
The Elements of Plot Development

Goodnight, Rosa Parks. Sleep Well.

Image hosted by
Rosa Parks.
Sleep well.
Your courage
showed me the way.

Screenplay Basics - Plot and Structure - Part Two

If you've already had a look-see at Michael Hauge's website or done at least your first (of many) reads of Christopher Vogler's, "The Writer's Journey," then you now have a pretty good foundation for understanding plot and structure and all the rest is just icing on the cake. That's what this second of five posts on "Plot and Structure" is for: to give you plenty of icing. Enjoy and don't let the profusion of different points of view on the same subject matter confuse you. Put two gurus together and you'll get three opinions. Keep what makes sense to you or is applicable to any current projects and save the rest for a rainy day.

Plot - The thing that Moves Your Story - From the article on the Visual Writer Website: "The easiest way to plot a story is to know two things: What your characters want, and what the situation is. When the characters are put in a situation, they are going to start working to get what they want."

Also: "...remember that each scene is a little story in itself, so you have several little stories to write for your screenplay. "

There's a bit more, including subplot and even review questions. Go see...

Copyright © 1994, 1998 Dorian Scott Cole

What A Plot IS - From another wonderful website for writers called, "Story is Promise," comes this article that includes the following insight on the relationship between a plot and a story: "Understanding what a plot is creates a foundation for an ability to create one. Unfortunately for most writers, they are consumed with the idea of creating the effect of what a plot does without first understanding what a plot is." ©2000 Bill Johnson Read More...

Although the article is geared toward the writer of novels and narrative stories, its basic sense of what a plot IS works well for screenwriters, too.

Structure:A framework for your words by Christopher Meeks

"Underneath all good writing is a strong structure. You may not see it, but it's there. Narrative or not? Throughout the Web, you'll notice two ways to structure your words: Tell the facts or tell the story."
Thinking about Plot - a very short and simple explanation of plot and its basic elements. Again, geared toward the narrative writer but still making sense for the screenwriter.

Plot Point Checklist for Screenwriters - "This is the basic outline of the average movie made today. Give or take a few minutes."

To the Rebel Artiste Self-Proclaimed Experts who piss on the notion of structure... talk to the hand.

To the rest of you who simply want a well-rounded view of the subject of screenwriting, this little webpage will give you a basic plot structure to aim for but remember, every writer has to create their own skillset, their own bedrock of knowledge and then use all that to write with their own voice.

Dramatic Structure from Scriptseeker - What a shame that this website seemingly no longer exists (the url is a broken link). I did, however, manage to save the following paragraphs:

"It can be argued that the primary purpose of art is to provide pleasure. That said, pleasure can be defined as the release from tension. The greater tension we are released from, the greater pleasure we feel. Climactic dramatic structure in a script is specifically designed to create, build, and eventually release tension, thus providing an audience with pleasure.

The source of dramatic tension in a script comes through conflict. Two opposing forces are matched against each other and the dramatic tension of the story builds as they struggle to resolve their differences."

Folks, please let me know if this website has come back online or if you discover it has changed servers (web address).

The Need for Structure - from Writer/Director Josh Becker and posted on the HollywoodLitSales Website, comes the following:

"Acts one and two must end in places that are definitive; a position of no recourse for the lead character. If acts one and two don't end that way, they're wrong."


"Screenwriting is a craft, and a very difficult one at that. You must master a craft before hoping to go beyond craft to art."

And, finally:

"Damn near all of the great film directors -- Wyler, Hitchcock, Ford, Huston, Hawks -- saw themselves as craftsman, not artists."

Go read the rest...

Genre Fools, but Structure Rules - " structure– how the characters are revealed and how the story unfolds."

"Many writers don’t bother building a unique structure for their story; they merely grab their script’s genre by the throat and cling to it as their lifeline. The genre cliches become the spine of their story. Genre and structure are NOT the same thing."

"Genre refers to the story elements the audience expects the movie to explore, like romance, danger, humor, horror, war, alien worlds, crime, or technology. The structure of a movie is the arrangement of scenes that reveals character and unfolds action - path of the storytelling. Don’t let your story genre limit your structural choices. Great story structure transcends any trendy genre elements that attempt to stifle it."

"Genre supports structure -- but doesn't replace it!"

Original article by Lenore Wright. First published on the Breaking In website, another fantastic resource for screenwriters. It seems the original url to the article is now a broken link so I have linked to the Google cache page for this article. That link, too, will eventually expire. There are a couple of websites that catalog old articles that can't be found anywhere else and I'd appreciate it if someone could leave a comment here to provide any such links to those websites.

Why Story Structure is the Key to Success - by John Truby

1. American Film is All About Story - Why? Because film is the art of change and the art of juxtaposition. The combination of these two things means: Film (and TV) are the closest media to pure story, much more than novels or plays, and Story structure is the key to a great script.

2. Hollywood is in the Business of Buying and Selling Genres - The first trick to genre writing is that you have to hit all the story beats unique to that form. Each genre is complex, so that alone is difficult. But there’s more. You have to hit all those beats in an original way.

Do read the complete article to get the benefit of Mr. Truby's expertise.

Plot Tips from the Storymind Website includes:

  • Plot Holes
  • Subplots
  • A Story's "Limit"
  • How characters, plot, and theme interrelate
  • True Liabilities
  • Illegal Plot Progressions
  • Storyweaving and Storytelling
  • Jurassic Park: Building a Better dinosaur

...and a lot more!

Nine Act Structure Homepage - "This page is devoted entirely to story structure in film and interactive games. "

Learn about the Nine-Act Structure:
Caveat Scriptor: an introduction to me and the Nine-Act Structure.
The Anatomy of a Screenplay is a good place to start.
The Two-Goal Structure my story structure paradigm.
The Nine-Act Structure is a refinement of the two-goal structure.
A Structural Analysis of Myst for game designers.
What people are saying about the Nine-Act Structure - selected comments.

It's an interesting website and yet another point of view to consider.

Structure and Character - from the Book "Story" - by Robert McKee

"We cannot ask which is more important, structure or character, because structure is character; character is structure. They're the same thing, and therefore one cannot be more important than the other. Yet the argument goes on because of a widely held confusion over two crucial aspects of the fictional role - the difference between CHARACTER and CHARACTERIZATION." Read more...

Five power-points in stories Copyright © 1997, Dorian Scott Cole

"A powerful plot may sell a story even with weak characters. Plot is that valuable. In a recent survey, most movie-goers listed plot as the single most decisive element in what drew them to see the movie. In the highly competitive screenplay arena, good plots must be exceptional. In this writing tip I give clues to strategic points that make powerful plots.

Avoid formulas - Caution! Don't use this section as a formula. I often read stories which sound like they originated from a plot point machine, and they are so predictable and stereotypical in form that they sound unreal. Instant story in a can, just add water. These clues to creating stories are a guide, not a blueprint."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Screenplay Basics - Plot and Structure

Plot... Structure... Plot structure... Story structure... Storytelling... Plot Point... Turning Points... Crisis... Resolution... Inciting Incident... Three acts... Non-linear... Two Goal Structure...

How is a person supposed to learn THE RULES when they keep changing them around? And how is a body ever supposed to keep track of all the latest buzzwords?

What does it all mean?

Create a picture in your mind of a road leading off into the distance. That road is the journey your main character (of your screenplay or novel or story) must take in order to get your story told. Their journey IS your story.

But, that road is not a straight and simple line. It has potholes and bumps and twists and turns and eek! detours and forks and turn-outs and all manner of possible distraction and confusion for your audience or reader. Not to mention that main character who must somehow find his/her way until they reach The End.

It helps me keep things straight in my mind to imagine that STRUCTURE becomes the road signs that tell you and your audience where that main character needs to be headed along that road. Structure, to me, is the progression of dramatic underpinnings or lynchpins upon which the actions done by and to your main character is PLOTTED OUT.

That's just my opinion and my own way of muddling through the work of crafting a good story. You may have a different approach and if it helps you to create work that propels you toward success, then stick with the methods and ways of thinking that work best for you.

You see, there are no real rules engraved in stone when it comes to dramatic writing. It will help a new writer greatly to not only find a writing method that works for them but to also make sure it "works" just as well for their intended target (which is usually a Hollywood reader or agent or prodco, etc.). And that's why most folks that are in the movie-making business appreciate a standard of communication that everyone can comprehend - i.e., "the rules," such as they are. There's a reason for having what's called "standard" format or "standard" structure. People can follow along when you do that.

Note to Would-be Rebels: Heck yeah, don't go from point A to point B, don't even have a main character, don't have conflict, don't have drama, don't even print things out nice and pretty. Scribble your magnum opus down on toilet paper. Use purple crayon. I sure wouldn't dream of shattering your visionary genius and taking away your fun.

So while Junior is over there in the corner playing with his crayons, let's have a look at what some folks who know what the heck they are talking about have to say on the important subjects of plot and story and structure.

Christopher Vogler's, "The Writer's Journey," is an absolute must-read for ANY writer of stories, no matter what form they might take. He explains the mythic understructure of ALL well-told stories and he uses movies that have actually made it to screen as his examples. Once you've absorbed every word he put into that volume, you will understand your own stories that much better and you will be able to make them shine as dramatic works.

I intend to do an extensive discussion of Vogler's book at some point so I won't try to mash it all down into one sentence or even one paragraph here. That would be doing a disservice to anyone who wants to understand what the man has to say.

So, my first "lesson" on structure and plot is, "GET VOGLER'S BOOK AND READ IT THEN READ IT AGAIN! AND AGAIN!"

Michael Hauge is another of the screenwriting gurus who knows his stuff. I had the good fortune to be his screenwriting student at U.C.L.A. For the enormous amount of information and learning that went on in his class, it was never boring and you never once felt compelled to glance at the clock to see how much time was left. This guy is great. A non-boring professor. It doesn't get better than that.

Mr. Hauge has his own website where he shares some of his knowledge and wisdom with anyone who cares to drop by and I recommend that you do just that.

Mr. Hauge has created a model for screenplay structure that develops around six basic stages and five key turning points. He uses a graphic image to show how all the elements fall into place. His model for dramatic structure is worth printing out and sticking to the shelf or wall above your computer screen.

Mr. Hauge's six basic stages are: Setup, New situation, Progress, Complications & Higher Stakes, Final Push, and Aftermath. His five key turning points (remember those "lynchpins" or "road signs" I was talking about?) fall into place along the way, between or during one of the six basic stages. The five key turning points are: Point #1 "Opportunity" (About 10% into the story and between Setup and New situation); Point #2 "Change of Plans" (25% into the story and between New Situation and Progress); Point #3 "Point of No Return" (at the 50% halfway mark in your story between Progress and Complications/Higher stakes); #4 "Major Setback" (75% of the way through your story); and #5 "Climax" (90-99% into your story).

As YOU write, if you can strive to meet those goals, you will discover that your story actually does "hang together." And it will make sense to whoever reads it. Please do visit Mr. Hauge's website for more detailed descriptions of these elements.