Preface Blueprint for Screenwritirig

"The inner shape of a man's life is what he writes from and about."

—Ross MacDonald

Blueprint for Screenwritirig is designed for anyone who wants to write a screenplay from beginning screenplay writers to professionals writers. It is for you writers who want to have a blueprint to refer to when you write your script, so you'll have the correct story structure and extensive knowledge of character development.

If you complete the Blueprint for Screenwriting exercises given to you at the end of each chapter you will master the craft of structuring a story for films and television movies. Your blueprint will enable you to take your original idea and work it through until you have a completed screenplay, which will be professionally written and structured. Your well-crafted screenplay will showcase your writing ability and illustrate that you know how to structure your writing and develop memorable characters.

Think of yourself as the architect of your screenplay. Just as an architect first creates a blueprint before constructing a building, you, too, must create a blueprint before constructing your script. A blueprint keeps you headed in the right direction, gives structure to your story and allows you to master the step-by-step techniques necessary for writing a successful script.

Most people have the mistaken notion that writing a screenplay is easy, until they try to write one. They soon discover they don't know what to do next and usually give up after realizing how difficult it really is. How many of you have tried to write a feature film or television movie and failed? Did you get bogged down in the middle, have trouble developing the right structure, or just didn't know what to do? You probably got frustrated and quit, because you didn't know where to go, how to get there and what to do next. These problems happened because you didn't have a plan or a blueprint to follow.

This book will act as your guide and show you how to develop the right story structure before you start writing your screenplay. By building your blueprint first, every time you start a screenplay it will not be written by accident or chance, but through the knowledge of craft you'll learn in this book.

I first began teaching screenplay writing workshops at UCLA extension in the Writer's Program over twenty years ago and also conducted screenwriting seminars at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Eventually, I became an adjunct Professor in the highly-respected School of Cinema and Television at University of Southern California, where I taught screenwriting and character development to writing students in the film school.

Over the past two decades I've taught thousands of screenplay writers throughout the United States and Europe how to create a blueprint for screenwriting. These writing workshops were always well attended and it was not surprising that so many people wanted to learn the craft of screenwriting. The film and television industries afford writers great financial opportunities that few other industries offer. Where else can an unknown writer break in at the top by selling a million dollar script?

All it takes to make you an overnight success is just one exciting, fabulous script. Sounds easy enough doesn't it? Well, it isn't! Like all overnight successes you must first pay your dues by learning plot, dialogue, theme, narrative, exposition, visual imagery, sound, action, and mastering the craft of story, with an emphasis on structure and character development.

Of course, if you don't want to sell your script that's just fine—to just write for your self. However, most writers who consulted with me about their screenplay did so because they wanted to write the best one possible, so that a producer or studio executive would turn it into a motion picture. It wasn't just for the money, but because they wanted to share their vision and point-of-view with audiences throughout the world. So you see, it isn't mutually exclusive to want to be commercial and to also want to write a great script. In fact, if you don't write a terrific screenplay you won't sell it. In either case you still want to write a great script.

Originally, I wrote this book for the thousands of writing students taking my workshops and classes who wanted to refer to my lectures. I self-published my classroom exercises in a book called Blueprint For Writing to be used by writers as a helpful resource for them to create a blueprint to follow when writing. In fact, I used it as the text for my screenplay writing classes at USC Film School and other universities.

My purpose for writing Blueprint For Screenwriting is to teach you how to "demystify" the writing process. I want to give writers who haven't taken my workshops the same tools I have given my students: to develop a blueprint to follow every time you start a new screenplay—from original concept through to completed script.

Many individuals who attend my workshops were people already working in the industry. Some are screenplay writers, producers, assistant directors, readers, development executives, actors, and editors. Why do all these people take writing courses in structure and character development if they are already in the business? Surprisingly enough, many of them don't know how to structure a script and want to learn the basics of what it takes to create a great story and develop realistic and memorable characters.

After following the principles in Blueprint for Screenwriting many students have had their screenplays optioned or sold. Some have gotten staff positions on situation comedies and hour episodic dramas for television. Others have received writing assignments from production companies and networks, after their screenplays were read by story editors and producers. They received assignments be cause the development executives or producers recognized these writers understood the basics of screenplay writing. These entertainment industry executives were willing to risk money on these writers, because they had proven themselves to be capable of laying out a plot structure and develop credible characters.

If you want to be a successful writer it doesn't matter whether or not you have prior writing experience. What does matter is a willingness to learn the fundamentals of screenwriting and to work hard developing your craft. Those who succeed as screenwriters never give up but write and rewrite and rewrite. They have the most important ingredient for writing success—perseverance and a strong desire to become a screenwriter. They are able to call themselves writers because they have mastered their craft by doing the difficult work of writing and not because they just want to be known as writers!

This book is written for those of you who don't happen to live in Hollywood, California, or New York City, New York, where many classes in screenplay writing are taught. It is for you who live in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, or Duluth, Minnesota, or Palm Beach, Florida and want to learn an easy-to-follow method of writing. A method that will work over and over again.

By working Blueprint for Screenwriting, you will have a step-by-step plan and guide to follow every inch of the way—from getting started to completing your script. This book can be a creative tool for you. All you need to do is work it! By doing so you'll develop your ability as a writer. Your finished screenplay will be the calling card you need to open doors for you! You'll be able to call yourself a screenwriter, because you will know how to build your story, develop credible characters and put them into a solid structure which works over and over again.

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