Showing posts with label Screenwriting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Screenwriting. Show all posts

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hermosa Beach. Pier Ave. Writers Group!

There's more to do on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach than partying, tanning, and rollerblading! Now there's our newest writers group! This group is the same format as all the groups we've been successfully running since 2003. Better yet, it's in a parking-friendly part of Pier Ave, at Planet Earth Eco Cafe. The group starts at 7:30pm on Wednesday, May 11th and the cafe will be closed to the public during group (the cafe closes at 5pm daily, but go there and stop in before 5pm because they have yummy drinks and vegan and vegetarian food). Part writing workshop, part critique group, part creativity booster, our groups are more than just a group of writers gathering together to review each other's work. They are professionally led by a qualified moderator so you not only benefit from peer review of your work, but you also get critique on anything you bring in from our professional group leader.

We are delighted to announce that our Pier Avenue writers group will be run by Miranda Valentine:

Miranda Valentine is an East Coast native soaking up sunny Southern California, where she lives with her husband and two rescue dogs, Bailey & Lola. She holds a Master of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California, where she was fortunate to learn from some of the best writers in the business, including The New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear, The Atlantic Monthly editor and memoirist Sandra Tsing Loh, and best selling novelist Gina Nahai. While her first love is the short story, she adores her work as a contributing writer for Bunker Hill Magazine and, and as the editor of the popular lifestyle blog Everything Sounds Better in French. She is currently working on a memoir about love, loss, and what to do when your ex’s new wife appears naked on your computer screen. It’s tentatively titled “Reboot”. Just kidding...

Writers of all skills, levels, and genres are welcome in our groups. It works for everyone whether you write poetry, memoir, literary or genre fiction, essays, or screenplays and we hire moderators for their specific ability to provide cross-genre feedback, and for their overall supportive nature.

Los Angeles Writers Group, Hermosa Beach
Date: Starts Wednesday, May 11th and meets once a week for 8 Weeks
Time: 7:30pm - 10:00pm

Fill your notebook.(tm)

Email any questions you may have to

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Myth of the Three-Act Screenplay Structure

I'm delighted to present a guest blog post from Rob Tobin, author of The Screenwriting Formula and the recent novel, urban fantasy e-novel God Wars: Living with Angels:


Feature film screenplays fall naturally into four acts, not the traditionally accepted three acts. In fact the three-act structure comes from the “traditional” theater and was imposed on the film world even though it entailed ignoring the mid-second act break that in effect breaks a feature film screenplay into four acts, not three.

This accounts for the well-known difficulty writers have with the second act -- writers get bogged down in trying to write from page 30 (approximately) to page 90 (approximately).

Most feature scripts have a first act in which the hero, the hero’s flaw and the hero’s world are introduced, and ends with a life changing event (usually instigated by the opponent) that throws the story in a new direction.

The second act begins the process of the hero and ally trying to overcome the hero’s flaw in order to be able to respond to the opponent’s challenge.

There are usually two struggles going on here: the hero and ally trying to overcome the hero’s flaw; and the hero trying to hold onto to his or her flaw because usually the hero views that flaw not as a flaw but as a defense against some kind of hurt or danger. So while the ally is trying to help the hero overcome that flaw, the hero is resisting letting it go.

About halfway through the second act the struggle between the hero and ally comes to a head and the hero breaks, giving in to the ally so that from that point onward they work fully as a team to overcome the hero’s flaw and prepare the hero to meet the opponent in the traditional third act.

Then comes the third act in which the opponent and hero go at it fully.

Thus you have four segments, not three. Knowing this makes it easier to write that second act, writing from the life changing event at the end of act one, to the mid-second act break in which the hero and ally’s struggle peaks, and then from the mid-second act break to the end of the second act at which point the hero has overcome his or her flaw and is ready to confront the opponent in the final battle scene.

If you have questions about the three-act vs. four-act structure, feel free to contact me at Feel even freer to buy my screenwriting book “The Screenwriting Formula,” which discusses the four-act structure among other things. And in the meantime, good writing to you!

If you like action-filled, darkly humorous fantasies about witches, demons, angels, zombies and three-foot-tall aliens with really bad attitudes, Rob's urban fantasy e-novel God Wars: Living with Angels is now available to download from the following sites, for only $2.99:,, and View the first two Book Trailers at

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Should you read in the genre you write?

Someone recently asked me why it's important to read in the genre they write, i.e., if you write science fiction, should you read science fiction, if you are a memoirist, should you read other memoirs?

In response, I asked him if he had a day job.
He did.
I asked him what he did.
He was an engineer.
I then asked, "If you'd never opened a physics book, how would that affect your job?"
He replied, "Well, I'd loose a great deal of feel for what it is I do and why things work."


Reading in your genre is not setting yourself up as a plagiarist. It is not distracting you from your writing. It is your homework, your business. If you are writing Fantasy fiction, you need to read as much Fantasy as possible. That is your job. You need to understand the conceits and structure of your genre. You need to know what's already out there. You need a background sense of what you should be aiming for in your finished product. You need to understand how to incorporate theme and foreshadowing into your prose. You need to understand how to organically set up a fantastical world. You can't work in a field you know nothing about. Well, perhaps you can, but you will likely be inefficient and ineffective.

I've heard people give writers advice to avoid reading about a subject they are writing, or in a genre they are writing because it will 'unduly influence their writing, and that they need to remain original.' I can't disagree more with this statement. This is like telling a painter never to look at other paintings. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Studying other painters is part of what makes someone a great painter.

It's okay to be influenced. All artists have influences who have inspired their work. This is not a bad thing. This is an imagination booster, not a route to being a copycat. This is true even for screenwriters.

Read in your genre.

Photo by Lienhard Schulz (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Steve Kaplan's Comedy Intensive

We just found out about this weekend intensive - looks like a good one to check out if you're wanting to write comedy:
Steve Kaplan's Comedy Intensive is returning to L.A. on Decmeber 4-5, 2010. The seminar is The Industry's #1 Course on Comedy, attracting top writers, producers, directors and executives from such companies as Dreamworks, Disney, Aardman Animation, NBC, Touchstone, ABC and more.
For almost 20 years, Steve Kaplan has been the industry's most respected and sought-after expert on comedy. In addition to being a regular consultant and script doctor to such companies as Disney, Dreamworks, HBO, Paramount and others, Steve has taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale and other top universities, and created the HBO Workspace and the HBO New Writers Program, teaching and mentoring some of the biggest writers, producers and directors in comedy today.
His former students' accomplishments are unmatched: They have been nominated for 43 Emmy Awards, 1 Academy Award, 3 Golden Globe Awards, 1 American Comedy Award, 6 Writers' Guild of America Awards and several others. They've WON 10 Emmys, 1 Oscar, 2 WGA Awards and the American Comedy Award. His Comedy Intensive offers proven and practical methods and principles that help you reveal and understand comedy from the inside out.
Whether you're writing a comedy screenplay, working on a sitcom script, or producing or directing a comedy film or television series, Steve Kaplan's Comedy Intensive is a must for any serious professional. It is ideal for screenwriters, TV writers, producers, directors and more.
Steve Kaplan's Comedy Intensive will be held on December 4 & 5, 2010 at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel, located at 1755 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028. It will run from 9:30AM to 5:00PM on both days. There is a $325.00 registration fee for the seminar. Please visit for more information about the seminar and registration.

Thursday, June 03, 2010 Member - 1st Place, Round 1 - NYCMidnight

WOO HOO!!! - A big shout out to member Brittany Klaus for winning FIRST PLACE in Round 1 of the NYCMidnight screenwriting contest.  The second round is this weekend and she has 24 hours to write a 15-page screenplay so let's send our writerly vibes her way!


Screamfest 2010 Call For Entries are now open for new feature length and short films and unproduced screenplays.  Winning films receive the coveted golden skull designed by legendary Stan Winston.  Winning screenplay receives $2,000 cash and Movie Magic Screenwriter. For more information or to download a submission form, go to

Screamfest discovered the box office hit PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.  Are you the next big thing?

"A launching pad for burgeoning directors and screenwriters, Screamfest is dedicated to celebrating the often neglected and underappreciated horror genre.  Formed in 2001, Screamfest is one of the leading festivals of its kind and many of the movies and moviemakers showcased here have found distribution...." -MOVIEMAKER MAGAZINE

"When all other festivals were rejecting PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, Screamfest was the first and only festival at the time that accepted us.  We had a great premiere screening and got positive reviews as a result.  Shortly after, we got the attention of CAA and many distributors.  The rest, as they say, is history! But it all started at Srceamfest!" -Oren Peli

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Your Hyphenate Brain – How Fiction Writers Can Play the Hollywood Game to Their Advantage

Today we're happy and excited to feature Zoë Green, a guest writer for!

Zoë Green has recently been hired to write projects for Rob Reiner and George Clooney and is currently writing a superhero(ine) movie for Stan Lee. To learn about writing for film/TV visit her site


Picture the scene. A young woman emerges from film school, secures a literary agent and writes her first screenplay with the idea that she will sell it to Hollywood. It hits all the right notes – it’s a big budget sci-fi / fantasy extravaganza, and is hailed by all studio readers as a unique blend of character and ‘world building’. Compliments fly. High powered meetings ensue. But alas, no studio can actually buy it. The reason? The work is original and not based on an existing underlying intellectual property.

A number of years have passed. I (the young woman in question) have been lucky enough to build a screenwriting career from this original screenplay. It did the work of a good spec – it got me many meetings which led to much free ‘take’ work which led (eventually and often in anti linear fashion) to a number of TV and movie sales. But the cold hard truth remains that in today’s sputtering spec market an original screenplay will rarely sell unless it happens to be a commercial enough twist on a public domain concept to pique the interest of a studio. All those of you who want to see your own stories up there on screen may as well hang up your hats. But wait! There’s another way. Call it the double-edged sword. The buyers want original content to turn into movies. They are gasping for it – to the extent that producers rabidly comb short story websites, galley manuscripts, random tiny comic book imprints and blogs to find something, anything, with an existing built in audience, however tiny. So if you’re an aspiring screenwriter with a fictional bent, consider yourself as the progenitor of a multi-faceted creature ‘the idea’ and make sure that it exists in the right format for them to find. Come up with a high concept idea and get it published. Almost anywhere. And then make damn sure you have the screenwriting skills to insist that you get first pass at the script when they come clamoring to option it. It will serve you to have the screenplay version already written. They may well buy it from you and you could suddenly find yourself a card-carrying member of the WGA. You may even then be asked to write the tie-in movie novel in an interesting reversal of media. Result!

Remember this --- producers and studios have an endless devouring need for new material. So understand that a person who can strategically write both fiction and film may well be the only kind of person who can retain any kind of control over original ideas in this very precarious, ever shifting game.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Writers Group Starts April 1st - No Joke

Hey all you wonderful writing peeps, this is just a reminder that Sanora has a new writers group starting on Thursday, April 1st.

So if you live in Glendale, Los Feliz, anywhere on the Eastside of Hollywood or LA, or out the Alta Dena/Pasadena/La Canada way, this group is for you!

In fact, Sanora's groups are fabulous and creatively inspirational so even if you don't live in those areas, her group is truly worth the drive. It's a Thursday, man, so you can do the drive, because driving home is no problem traffic-wise after group and then you just have to make it through Friday and voila! the weekend is there, ready for you to channel all that creative inspiration you got from Sanora's group and finish up those stories or poems or essays or scenes you wrote on Thursday....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

LA Comedy Scripts Screenplay Competition Deadline Approaching

For all you screenwriters out there, don't forget that the deadline for the L.A. Comedy Scripts Screenplay Competition is November 2nd. Details below:

Editor/Contact Name : Jeannie Roshar
Contact E-Mail : jeannie[at]
Deadline Date (if any) : 02-Nov-2009
Publication Type :
Website URL : L.A. Comedy Scripts Screenplay Competition
Genre(s) : Comedy Short Screenplays
Comedy Feature Screenplays
Half-Hour Comedy TV Pilot Scripts
Details : L.A. Comedy Scripts is now accepting submissions for the 2010 season!

The L.A. Comedy Scripts Screenplay Competition is held in conjunction with the L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival. Comedy screenwriters from around the world compete for over $10,000 in cash and prizes, including travel, accommodations and two VIP passes to the festival in Los Angeles, CA.

In 2009, winning scripts were read and requested by some of the biggest names in the industry, including:

* The Gersh Agency
* Mosaic Media Group
* Benderspink
* Principato-Young Entertainment
* Generate
* Underground Films
* The Gold Company
* 3 Arts Entertainment
* Larger Than Life
* Stars Road Entertainment
* Manus Entertainment
* Gunn Films

So, you think you're funny? Submit your feature-length/short comedy screenplay or your half-hour comedy TV pilot script today! Regular Deadline: November 2nd, 2009.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New L.A. writer

I started writing "for real" in January. Although I used an unusual process to get there, I now have a complete screenplay. Two weeks ago I began work on another one, and decided that one of Sanora's workshops might help ease me into my new effort. Grease the creative skids, if you will. Little did I realize how much the exercises would help stimulate the creative process. It's difficult to explain, but the exercises seem to be like watering a plant. In the past, the concept might have been there, but I needed a boost to begin that first sentence and it was always difficult for me to write with clarity. Or FINISH writing something at all! I especially love/hate the "freewrite" exercises. I always knew that "editing-as-you-go" was death, but the thought of surrendering to the freewriting process was terrifying! Don't lift the pen? Don't scratch out? No editing as I go? The truth is it enables the ideas to flow, by definition, unchecked. Don't get me wrong: writing is never (for me) smooth sailing, but I am now able to allow myself to just sit and write and see what happens. And what is happening seems to be pretty cool. Thanks, 'Nora!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Create your own animated short film on

Here is site that lets you create your own short film in an easy to use online interface! Fun for writers who have written a short film and want to see it come to life.

A quick note about their fine print terms of use. From their site:
"All content of any type on the Site is the property of Xtranormal. Though you remain the owner of your personal content, by posting personal User Content on the Site you automatically grant Xtranormal and all other users a full licence to use such User Content"
Granting them and everyone on their site a free license notwithstanding, it might be a great way to show off your screenwriting skills.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Writing a Screenplay?

John August explains how to write better scene descriptions in an easy-to-follow video: - Writing better scene descriptions

Go to for tons of useful information about screenwriting. In the above link, John works through writing a scene on video, so that you can observe how he works to improve his scene description.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Screamfest Screenwriting Contest - Early Deadline June 15

9th Annual Screamfest Horror Film Festival & Screenplay Competition announces its call for entries.

Prizes include cash, software and an amazing trophy.

Genre(s) : Horror / Thriller

Deadlines and submission fees:
  • (Early) June 15th $30

  • (Regular) July 15th $50

  • (FINAL) Aug. 15th $60
For more information and to download the submission form go to:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Writers Group for Screenwriters

12-Weeks + 10-pages a week = complete draft. Apply now by emailing is pleased to announce the next 12-Week Writers Group for Intermediate to Advanced Screenwriters.

Start Date: Thursday May 21st for 12 weeks
Start Time: 7:00pm - 10:30 pm
Cost: $480
Moderated by: Rob Tobin, author of two books, "The Screenwriting Formula" and "How to Write High Structure, High Concept Movies".

For more information on how the group works and how to apply, visit

Monday, April 06, 2009

2009 Silver Screenwriting Competition Call For Submissions

All submissions must be postmarked by May 1st, 2009 by 11:59pm
Early bird deadline: March 15th, 2009 by 11:59pm - $45
Final deadline: May 1st, 2009 by 11:59pm - $55

Winners announced: September 15th, 2009

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Draft of Screenplay? Check!

Draft of Screenplay? Check! Congrats to our Screenwriting Group members who finished their first drafts!

Nearly all the fabulous writers who took's Writers Group for Screenwriters finished an entire draft of their screenplays! They worked very hard writing 10 pages a week, absorbing feedback, and incorporating it into their next 10 pages.

We've scheduled the next Writers Group for Screenwriters. This group is an intense group that requires you to show up with an outline on your first night, and bring in 10 pages every week thereafter for a live read and feedback from your group members, as moderated by Rob Tobin.

Date: Thursday, May 21st for 12 weeks

Cost: $480.00

To apply: Send a writing sample to

visit for more information on how the group works.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Interview with Rob Tobin

Read an online interview with Rob Tobin, our screenwriting group moderator on ScriptLinks.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Screenwriting Group extended to 12 weeks Writers Group for Screenwriters members unanimously decide to extend group for four weeks! Originally an 8-week group, we are now a 12-week group!

Our new screenwriting group is a smash hit! Our moderator, Rob Tobin, runs a tight peer-to-peer feedback group while providing expert insight and guidance on our projects. I say 'our' because I am taking the group myself! To get into the group, applicants had to submit a writing sample, and once accepted, had to bring an outline of our project on the first night. We read our outlines to the group and received feedback on the outlines from all group members and from Rob.

From week two on, we were expected to bring in 10 pages a week, which we live read and give each other feedback on, while Rob oversees this process and adds in his expertise and wisdom. The writers in the group are not only talented writers, but they offer excellent insights and feedback on our works in progress.

The reason everyone wanted the group to extend for four additional weeks is so they can complete almost all of their screenplay during the course of the group.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Community Written Screenplay is holding a contest where writers submit the next 10 pages of an ongoing script to create a "community-sourced screenplay." It costs $10 to submit, but what fun! From their site:

Cowrite is developing a community-created movie script. Every other week the best ten-page script entry selected by the Cowrite judges will be added to the developing story until the screenplay is completed and ready to be sold! Learn more



(Packages: $40 for 5 submissions, $75 for 11 submissions. Includes extended deadline entries and can be used for any of the 11 biweekly entry periods)



*Entry fees must be made with a credit card online