Download The Screenwriter’s Bible PDF

TitleThe Screenwriter’s Bible
CategoryArts - Film
File Size4.8 MB
Total Pages398
Table of Contents
                            Title Page
Introduction to the sixth edition of The Bible
BOOK I: How to Write a Screenplay: A Primer
	How stories work
	Situation, conflict, and resolution—the flow of the story
	The lowdown on high concept
	Story-layering, plot, and genre
	Ten keys to creating captivating characters
	Dialogue, subtext, and exposition
	How to make a scene
	Suspense, comedy, and television
BOOK II: 7 Steps to a Stunning Script: A Workbook
	About this workbook
	Step 1—Summon your muse
	Step 2—Dream up your movie idea
	Step 3—Develop your core story
	Step 4—Create your movie people
	Step 5—“Step-out” your story
	Step 6—Write your first draft
	Step 7—Make the necessary revisions
BOOK III: Proper Formatting Technique: A Style Guide
	How to use this guide to craft a compelling and professional screenplay
	Sample script (with cross-reference codes)
	Formatting in a nutshell
	Overall screenplay appearance
	Scene headings (slug lines)
	Narrative description
	How to format TV scripts
	Glossary of terms not discussed elsewhere
BOOK IV: Writing and Revising Your Breakthrough Script: A Script Consultant's View
	The spec script—your key to breaking in
	Key principles and exercises in revising scenes
	When to break formatting rules
	The first 10 pages
BOOK V: How to Sell Your Script: A Marketing Plan
	Five steps to selling your work
		1. Protect your work
		2. Prepare your script for market
		3. Assemble your selling tools
		4. Create your strategic marketing plan
		5. Implement your plan
	How to find an agent
	Crafting the query
	How to pitch without striking out
	Synopses, one-sheets, treatments, and outlines
	How to sell your script without an agent
	Television markets
	Jump-start your career now!
	How to break into Hollywood when you live in Peoria
	A personal challenge
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Praise for The Screenwriter’s Bible

A “bible” for those of all persuasions. Whether you are a rank beginner who needs instruction, or an
old pro who needs reminding, you could not do better than Dave Trottier’s book. A brilliant effort by
a first-class, dedicated teacher.” —William Kelley, Academy Award–Winning Writer,

“Love your book—very practical. I’ve kept it near my desk since high school and I still go back to
it.” —Travis Beacham, Screenwriter, , ,

“An invaluable resource—a treasure chest of useful information—not only for new writers but also
for seasoned veterans.” —Professor Richard Walter, UCLA Screenwriting Faculty Chairman

“Whenever I am writing, I have The Screenwriter’s Bible close at hand for reference.” —Ellen
Sandler, Emmy-Nominated Co-Executive Producer,

“Good, common sense. Sets up practical guidelines without encroaching on the writer’s creativity.
Easy to follow—feels like a workbook that will be used and not just read. The author is encouraging,
but reminds the writer of the realities of the business.”—Candace Monteiro, Partner, Monteiro Rose
Dravis Agency

“Contains chapter and verse on all aspects of screenwriting, and addresses every key and
fundamental principle from how far to indent dialogue to how to speak to the agent’s assistant.”
— Magazine

“Offers all the essential information in one neat, script-sized volume. . . . New screenwriters will
find The Screenwriter’s Bible invaluable; experienced screenwriters will find it an excellent
addition to their reference shelf.” —

“If you have the gift, this book will show you how to use it.” —Victoria Wisdom, Producer-Manager
and Former Literary Agent at ICM and Becsey Wisdom Kalajian

“An excellent resource book and overall guide that can be of tremendous assistance to answering the
many questions that screenwriters have.” —Linda Seger, Author,

“Delivers more in 400 pages than can be found in several screenwriting books. A true gem that
measures up to its title.” —

“The best screenwriting book available, and the book to buy if you’re buying just one.” —Dov S-S
Simens, Founder, Hollywood Film Institute

“Easy to read and surprisingly broad in its coverage.”

“The formatter alone is worth the price of the book.” —Melissa Jones, Hollywood Story Analyst

“Just what the script doctor ordered . . . a ‘must have’ reference tool for new and experienced
screenwriters. Straightforward, to the point, and accurate.” —Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum

Page 199


The dialogue sections of a screenplay consist of three parts: 1) Character cue, 2) Actor’s direction,
and 3) Character’s speech (the dialogue).

(Note: The reference code [R] below and all other alpha codes refer back to examples in the sample


First is the character name or cue, sometimes called the or . It
always appears in CAPS. A character should be referred to by exactly the same name throughout the
screenplay, with rare exceptions. In the narrative description and the dialogue speeches, you may use
a variety of names, but the character cue for a character should be the same throughout the script.

Do not leave a character cue alone at the bottom of a page. The entire dialogue block should appear
intact. For the one exception, see “More,” a little later in the chapter.


What if a character changes his name from Tom to Harry? One solution is to refer to him as
TOM/HARRY or TOM (HARRY) after the name change.

In the movie , we have a case of mistaken identity, but the Cary Grant character is
referred to by his true name in each character cue of the entire script. Whatever you decide, make sure
you don’t confuse the reader.

In stories that span a person’s lifetime, you might refer to the adult as JOE BROWN and the teen or
child as YOUNG JOE BROWN. That maintains the identity of the character while, at the same time,
making clear the approximate age of the character.

What if a character speaks before we see her? What do you call her? You can refer to her in the
character cue by her actual name.


Directly below the character name is the , sometimes called or
or the . The term derives from the tendency in many beginning

screenplays for characters to speak “wryly.” Here’s an example.


Page 200

I’ve had my share of mondo babes.

Wrylies can provide useful and helpful tips to the reader, usually suggesting the or attitude of
the character. However, use wrylies in moderation. Keep in mind that wrylies are not really written
for actors—who largely ignore them—but for the readers of your script. In most cases, the context of
the situation and the character’s actions will speak for themselves. In the case of subtext, use wrylies
only when that subtext is not clear. If Chico says “I love you” in a sarcastic way, and we wouldn’t
guess that he is being sarcastic from the context, then use the wryly.


I love you.

On page 3 of “The Perspicacious Professor,” I use only one wryly, and you could argue for its
omission on grounds that it is redundant—it is already evident by Dr. Format’s action (moonwalking)
that he is “the master” once again.

Generally, don’t use wrylies to describe actions, unless those actions can be described in a few
words, such as “tipping his hat” or “applying suntan lotion to her arms” and if the action is taken by
the person speaking while he is speaking. Wrylies should not extend more than 2 inches from the left
margin to the right margin. Wrylies always begin with a lowercase letter and never begin with the
pronouns “he” or “she.”

Describing brief actions in wrylies is not a bad tactic since some executives read dialogue only. A
few well-placed wrylies can enhance the value and comprehension of a scene. I hasten to add that an
executive seldom reads a script until a coverage is written by a reader (story analyst). Most
professional readers read the entire script.

Don’t describe one character’s actions in the dialogue block of another character, with rare
exceptions. The following is proper.

What do you mean?

(Slim pulls a gun)
Don’t shoot.

The following would be much better form and more immediately clear:

What do you mean?

Slim pulls a gun and points it at Shorty.

Page 398


Numerous links to resources can be found at the Community page of my Web site
These include Internet sites, industry organizations, writer organizations and groups, schools,
software, directories, periodicals, bookstores, and contests. You will also find helpful information on
contests in Book V; use the handy-dandy index to find the exact pages.

When you visit my Web site, make sure you subscribe to my free viewsletter for more screenwriting
tips and tricks at

If you would like copies of all of the worksheets in this book, visit the store at my Web site where
you can purchase them for a nominal fee. Otherwise, please feel free to photocopy anything from The
Bible, as long as it is for your individual use only.

For more information on formatting, consider my book Dr. Format Tells All, which can be purchased
at my Web site store.

For updates and changes to this work, visit and click “Community” and “Book

My “Keep Writing with Dave Trottier” Facebook page is at Also, you
can follow me on Twitter at

My clients and students include two Nicholl winners, a National Play Award winner, and dozens of
working writers. For more information, visit or email me at [email protected]

Visit the Consulting page at for information about my script consulting services. I
also evaluate query letters and one-sheets.

Similer Documents