Archive for the ‘ screenwriting books ’ Category

Article by Danek S. Kaus

Okay, you’ve finished your book, novel or true story, and you’d like to have it made into a movie.

Perhaps you’ve read some books on screenwriting or taken some classes and you’re thinking about writing the screenplay based on the book.

If so, there is something you must keep in mind. You will have to remove much of the content of your book that took you months, perhaps years to write. You may balk at the concept but you must do it.

A book can average 200 – 500 pages and contain 60,000 – 200,000 words. An average screenplay runs 90 – 120 pages, much of it white space, and has about 20,000 – 25,000 words. That’s quite a vast difference.

How do you manage to get all of your story into a screenplay? In most cases, you don’t. It’s a sad but true fact.

That said, what do you cut out?

One step is to keep most of the major scenes and cut those smaller, less important ones. Go through your book and look at it with an eye to what is critical and what is less important.

Do the same thing with dialogue. Keep only what moves the story forward.

Eliminate some or all of the subplots.

You can eliminate some of the characters or combine several of them into one person and let that person serve in the role of what those varying characters did in your book.

And while you’re at it, get rid of any lengthy character descriptions. In a screenplay they are not only unnecessary, they are counterproductive. In screenplays, character descriptions should be purposely vague to give more casting options.

Don’t describe someone’s height, unless it is critical to the story, hair color, eye color, flesh tones, etc. The more specific the description is in a screenplay, the harder it will be to find a leading acting to fit the role.

And finally, don’t mention the race of the character, unless it is an essential part of the story. For example, a police detective can be of any race, unless the detective’s race is an essential part of the story. For true stories, of course, casting directors need to know the race of each person to make it closer to reality.

If you do these things, the more successful you will be when you decide to turn a book into a move.

Danek S. Kaus is a produced screenwriter of an award-winning feature film. He was recently hired by a movie production company to adapt a book into a movie for them. Two of his other screenplays have been optioned by producers. He can help youturn your book into a move He also offers a professional analysis of your screenplay.










Screenwriting Tips

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Turn Your Book into a Movie

Article by Danek S. Kaus

Whether it’s a true story or a novel, most authors dream of having their book become a Hollywood movie.

In fact, a high percentage of movies started out as books, comic books or graphic novels. According to Internet Movie Data Base, over 22,000 movies have been made from books. So far.

If this is your dream, read on. One way to increase your chances of having your book turned into a movie is to write the screenplay version of the book. Producers prefer reading script to reading books because they take less time to read. Most scripts are 90 – 120 pages, with a lot of white space.

If you’re thinking about writing your own screenplay, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. You must write the proper length (see above). Scripts that are too long or too short are immediately thrown away.

2. You must learn screenplay format. There are books that teach this. If your script does not follow proper format, it will be tossed without further consideration.

3. You must get the Hollywood reader’s attention in less than 10 pages. This may mean adapting the beginning of your story. If you don’t get their attention and interest soon, they move on to the next script.

4. A screenplay can only contain what can be shown on the screen — action and dialogue. Unlike a novel, you can’t write about what the character is thinking. But you can reveal their emotions and thoughts through action and dialogue.

5. Every scene must move the story forward in some way.

6. Don’t “direct” the script. Don’t put in camera angles or suggest particular songs to play in the background. That is the director’s prerogative.

7. Consider eliminating subplots and combining two or more characters into one, that is, create composite characters, if there a lot of people in your book.

8. Keep the dialogue short. Novels have more freedom in that regard.

9. Watch lots of movies with the intent of noticing what works and what doesn’t. It will help you become a better screenwriter.

10. Realize that a book is not a movie and a movie is not a book. They have different needs and different rules. Keep this in mind and you will be more successful at adapting your book into a movie.

Danek S. Kaus is a produced screenwriter of an award-winning film called “The Ante,” which will be out later this year. He was recently hired by a movie company to adapt a book for the big screen. Learn how you can turn your book into a movie at http://yourbookintoamovie.com/ Read his blog http://yourbookintoamovie.blogspot.com/

Danek S. Kaus is a produced screenwriter of an award-winning feature film out later this year. He was recently hired by a movie company to adapt a book for the big screen. Learn how to Turn Your Book into a Movie http://yourbookintoamovie.com










Screenwriting Tips

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Article by Gordon Meyer

It’s Awards Season in Hollywood as the countdown continues to Oscar Night. I don’t know about you, but every year when I watch the Oscars, I love to imagine myself all tuxed out and mingling with Hollywood’s Elite at the Kodak Theatre. The million dollar question is, what’s the real difference between the tens of thousands of unproduced writers out there and the screenwriting members of the Academy sitting at the Kodak?

The obvious answer is, they have big agents who make sure they’re constantly working as writers. They’re the insiders. But even insiders like Paul Haggis, last year’s Oscar winner for both writing and directing CRASH started out as outsiders scrambling to break in.

It’s not about who has the most talent, though talent is important. Nor is about who has the most powerful agent, though again, having a strong agent can be a major asset. It’s about how you see and treat yourself as a professional. Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a young man who very much wanted to be in show business, or more specifically, making movies. He attended one of the best film schools in the world, while there discovered the joys of writing and producing and everyone around him had high expectations about his career. Yet for more years than he cares to admit, that career was stalled.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that young man was me. And this article is for everyone who, like me, has visions of having their name up on the big screen as a writer. It’s all about the importance of getting a balance of what I call “macro training.”

Over the years, I’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars in classes, seminars, books and retreats all intended to teach me to be a better writer. Don’t get me wrong. Many of these classes were well worth the money when it came to teaching me about the CRAFT of screenwriting. I absolutely learned a lot. But talent and craft by themselves are not enough to make you a regularly working professional screenwriter.

I learned through painful experience that if you want to succeed as a professional artist in show business, whether it’s as a writer, actor, director or any other craft that’s employed by the networks and studios, you have to treat your career as a small business with yourself as the CEO. As countless people have said to me over the years, it’s called Show “Business” for a reason.

Eureka! This was the missing piece. When it finally registered with me the importance of treating my artistic endeavors like an entrepreneurial small business, I began to see things in an entirely different light. I call myself a writer and producer – and those are accurate titles – but the business I’m in is really manufacturing, sales and distribution. Huh?

Think about it. As a professional writer, you’re manufacturing a product – the things you write. In order to get paid for that product, you also have to have a sales, marketing and distribution mechanism in place so that the scripts you write can generate money for you.

Of course you have to have the talent and skills to consistently deliver quality scripts and do so on time. But talent and skill alone don’t hack it. If you want to be a successful, consistently and steadily working writer, you have to understand that you’re in the business of creating and selling products. Your products are your scripts.

Like any manufacturer, in addition to dedicating part of your business to developing and creating products, you also need to address the sales, marketing and distribution of those products (scripts) along with the business affairs aspect (contracts, accounting, etc.) of working with your customers (studios, production companies and/or networks). You don’t have to do it all by yourself, but you do need to make sure these aspects of your business as a professional writer are handled. Just by making that shift in the way you see yourself and your career, you’ll immediately transform from would-be writer to an entrepreneurial professional well on the road to success.

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Article by Danek S. Kaus

What do the movies Casablanca, Avatar, The Godfather, Finding Nemo, The Devil Wears Prada, Chinatown, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, When Harry Met Sally, Gladiator, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Kite Runner, Sleepless in Seattle, The Matrix, No Country for Old Men, Once Upon a Time in the West, Million Dollar Baby, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Shrek, Dances with Wolves, Titanic, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Citizen Kane, Wall-E, Pirates of the Caribbean, Slumdog Millionaire, Rocky, It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol all have common?

They are all based on the story-telling and screenwriting template known as The Hero’s Journey, or the Monomyth, as described by Joseph Campbell, author of the ground-breaking book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, first published in 1949.

Campbell studied myths from different cultures that have lasted for thousands of years and believes that they all carry common threads that touch us on a deep level. Hundreds of successful movies, many of which won the Oscar for best picture, employ the template of The Hero’s Journey.

Many successful books have also benefited from this structure, and the screenplays based upon them were made into blockbuster movies, such as The Godfather, No Country for Old Men and Q & A (Slumdog Millionaire).

Although you may think that using a template constricts creativity, the wide variety of films listed above should convince you otherwise. You would be hard-pressed to convince untrained observers that all of these movies are essentially the same story, but they are. And yet they’re not. That is part of the beauty and magic of this template. You can tell so many different kinds of stories with it.

What makes them different are the characters and their situations, their overall goals, the setting, the obstacles, pacing, themes, the surprise elements, plot twists, approaches to creating suspense, the dialogue, use of humor or lack of it, the genre and more.

So what is The Hero’s Journey? It is essentially a series of progressive steps, experiences and changes that the Hero undergoes in an attempt to solve the main story problem. Please be aware, lest the PC police are reading this, Hero is not a gender-specific term. It is an archetype. It represents a focal point in the form of a person, male or female, for the story. The Mentor, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, is also an archetype, and is also found in many of the best stories.

It is important to notice that the journey, though often a physical one, such as in Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings, can also be an internal one, such as the character arc of Michael Corleone in The Godfather or Andy in The Devil Wears Prada.

Many of the best screenplays use both the inner and the outer journeys. The bottom line is, if you want to be successful at screenwriting, you may want to study and master The Hero’s Journey.

Danek S. Kaus is a produced screenwriter of an award-winning thriller. Recently a movie production company hired him to adapt a book for the big screen. Novelists and true story book authors have also hired him to adapt their books into screenplays. You can learn more about his services on his website.










Screenwriting Tips

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Article by Laura Cross

Your book cover is an essential marketing piece. Most readers decide to buy a book based on the cover and the table of contents. When it comes to creating the design of your book cover, there are numerous do-it-yourself software programs available. They consist of templates, which allow you to drop in an image and some sales copy and, voila, you have a book cover. Well, not quite.

CONSIDER HIRING A PROFESSIONAL BOOK-COVER DESIGNERYour cover is such an important element for the overall success of your book, unless you have a degree in graphic design from a prestigious art school, I don’t recommend designing your own book cover. Before hiring an artist, review their portfolio and make sure you understand everything that is included with their fee (will they work with your interior designer, do they provide several mock-ups to select from, how many revisions are included?) Expect to pay between 0-,000 for a professionally designed cover. The cost is well worth the investment. See the difference between using an unqualified artist and a professional book-cover designer on the “Before and After” page at George Foster’s website: fostercovers.com/before_after

Here are 12 Tips to help you create the best book cover possible:

THE FRONT COVER

1. KNOW WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE EXPECTS OF YOUR BOOK COVERBook covers for specific genres have certain similar qualities. Historical books use photographs on the cover. Medical books usually have a white background and modern lettering. Study other books in your category to get a feel for their design traits.

2. ATTRACT READERS WITH EMOTIONThe goal of the front cover is to grab a potential reader’s attention and make him want to learn more by reading the back copy and the table of contents. What attracts a reader to the cover is an emotional feeling they get from the visual elements (including the color, fonts, and images) and the title. The cover should be minimal, not chaotic, and evoke an emotional response from the reader. When the reader views your book cover do they feel comforted, peaceful, successful, motivated, inspired, hungry, secure, adventurous, interested, curious, concerned, empowered, intrigued?

3. MAKE THE FRONT COVER EASY TO READ

The front cover must stand out and be easy to read (think about what it will look like as a thumbnail on your website or Amazon.com). Place the title near the top of the cover on a clean background (NEVER place your title over a busy background). Don’t clutter the cover with several illustrations. Use one strong image that relates to the book’s content. Do not use the word “by” in front of the author’s name.

4. USE COLOR TO CONVEY THE RIGHT MESSAGEColor is a powerful tool. Choose your background color carefully to convey the right message. White conveys credibility, purity, and health. Red is warm, sexy, and exciting, and represents power, vitality, and action. Men relate blue to dependability, trustworthiness, and intelligence, while women often view it as sad and depressing. Black is authoritative, romantic, and mysterious. Yellow is joyous and energetic, often associated with home and happiness. Green conveys growth, prosperity, nature, and leisure.

5. USE FONTS TO CONVEY THE RIGHT FEELINGThe font you select for your title, subtitle and author name has a dramatic effect on the feeling of the book. Check out http://www.my-fonts.com or http://www.store.adobe.com/type where you can type in your book’s title and see how it ‘feels’ with the different fonts.

THE SPINE

6. CONSIDER USING A STACKED TITLE ON THE SPINEWhen your book is displayed in a bookstore, the first thing a potential reader will see is the book’s spine. Ensure it is attractive and legible by stacking the characters of the book title on the spine.

THE BACK COVER

7. USE BENEFITS AND PROMISES TO SELL THE BOOKYou’ve attracted a potential reader with your cover design, now you need to hook them with compelling benefits by telling the reader what’s in it for them if they buy the book. Will they become the best trout fisher they can be, learn how to navigate New York on a day, be inspired and motivated by a memoirist’s triumphant story, or discover how the founding fathers created the Declaration of Independence? Write a concise, brief (two to four sentences) statement describing the content of the book followed by several benefit bullet points and end with a ‘call to action’ that tells the potential reader why they need to buy the book. The back cover of Dara Mark’s book Inside Story concludes with: “It is a must-have book for any serious screenwriter, playwright, or novelist” – wow, if you identify yourself as any one of those, you’re going to want to purchase the book!

8. CREATE AN ARRESTING HEADLINE

Write a powerful headline addressed to the reader that helps him or her relate to, and identify with, the content. The back cover headline for Inside Story is: “What IS the secret to writing a great screenplay?” Most potential readers who pick up this book are searching for the answer to that question. The headline quickly and efficiently lets the reader know the answer is contained in the contents of the book.

9. USE ENDORSEMENTS AND QUOTESTestimonials, endorsements and quotes are a phenomenal selling tool. If someone else thinks a book is good, then it must have merit. The back cover testimonial for Inside Story reads: “Destined to become the gold standard for books on screenwriting!” That’s an impressive quote.

10. SHOW YOU ARE THE ULTIMATE EXPERT TO AUTHOR THIS BOOKAt the very bottom of the back cover (sometimes placed directly across from the ISBN), include a brief, one to two sentence only, biography highlighting why you are qualified to write this book and help the reader. This is not a full biography – you will include that in the ‘About the Author’ section inside the book. The goal here is to let the potential reader know you are an expert.

11. LIST THE BOOK CATEGORYBy listing your book’s category/subcategory (such as “true crime/current events” or “self-help/psychology”) on the upper left-hand corner of the back cover, your book will be properly categorized on the bookstore shelf (or virtual shelf, in the case of online booksellers).

12. INSERT AN ISBN & BAR CODEYou need an ISBN and Bar Code for your book to be sold through booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can purchase an ISBN at http://www.bowkerbarcode.com/barcode(you need to obtain your ISBN prior to getting your bar code.)

You may reprint this article as long as you include all of the following information:Laura Cross is a business strategist, author, and professional ghostwriter. She provides business, publishing, and platform strategies to help entrepreneurs get known as the go-to experts in their field, become published authors, attract high-paying clients, garner major media, and earn more money with less effort by packaging their expertise. Grab a copy of the Free Audio CD

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