There’s Something Deeper Going On…

According to William Indick, author of Psychology for Screenwriters, “film is an extremely powerful psychological force.” If this is true, then we don’t just go to the movies to be entertained. There is something deeper going on.

There is nothing like a film that jolts your emotions. Whether you are moved to tears, or nearly fallout on the floor laughing, when your reactions to a story are vivid, you will remember the story long after you’ve digested the popcorn and moved on with life; it is indelible. But lasting connections do not just happen, especially in works of literature or in film. It is the result of calculated writing, which includes an understanding of human behavior and the relationship between conflict and human emotion.

Thank you screenwriter J.V. Hart and WriterDuet creator/software developer Guy Goldstein for creating a new story-mapping tool kit for screenwriters, which not only focuses on the plot, but the emotional journey of your characters.

I am excited to see how the collaborative efforts of these two masterminds will pay off!  I have used WriterDuet since it was first launched a few years ago, and I continue to stay amazed.  Screenwriter J.V. Hart has certainly seen his share of success with screenplays like:  Hook, Dracula, Tuck Everlasting, Muppet Treasure Island,  and Contact, and while HartChart is not new, it’s going live,  and I can hardly wait until its launching at the Austin Film Festival in October!

Details and Sign-Up here:  HartChart

Good News for Screenwriters

Recently, I posted something about, the free online screenwriting program that allows you to write collaboratively, seeing all edits as you write. Whether you’re writing with a writing partner, or as a group, or working on screenplay solo, WriterDuet is a great program; it has my endorsement.  Another wonderful perk…WriterDuet has a page for outlining, story-boarding and creating index cards. With the flick of a finger, using the command key, we can go back and forth between our notes, and insert right into the script!

With the increasing popularity of WriterDuet, there have been requests for a desktop version, which is in the works. This will be fully compatible with the free web app, and will feature offline access to your scripts while saving your files automatically to your hard drive.

A Kickstarter campaign for the desktop version has been launched, and we’d love your support, and greatly appreciate your help promoting this campaign:

Please check it out!


To collaborate or not to collaborate…that is the question

I’ve been writing screenplays for a long time.  Without dating myself, well over 20 years, but in all that time, I’ve only collaborated once on a script.  Well, that is until recently.  Truthfully, I don’t think it’s something  you just “do” for the heck of it.  It has to be for “all” the right reasons, and there are definitely pros and cons to working collaboratively on a project.

Unless you are working with a writing group on a television series, then first and foremost, you must pick a writing partner that you can trust.  In addition to trust, you both need to have similar writing styles and similar goals.  Once that’s established you absolutely MUST sign a contract first, no matter what.  There are a number of things that need to be established, such as:  Who is writing what?  How much responsibility each of you share?  Will it be 50/50? What are the particulars you’re looking for?  Even if you are writing with your best friend, all the more reason to have a contract between you; if not, it could cost you your friendship.  About now, you might be rolling your eyes, assuring me (under your breath), “that will never happen.”  You know the old adage… “Never say never…”

So, as I was saying…Until now, I’ve only used a writing partner once.  It was when writing a comedy, and it was a great experience.  I do think that comedy lends itself to partner collaboration much more than drama.  Partly because comedy is so subjective.  What one person thinks is funny, another might not, and this is an important reality that can be easily explored when writing comedy with a partner. It’s a great way to test dialogue.

The truth is, collaborative writing is an intimate venture.  You have to be willing to be completely transparent, and sometimes brutally honest with your writing partner.  You also have to be able to accept criticism too.  There are a lot of odd little irritations that surface when working on a project with a partner.  However, it can be incredibly fun and rewarding, especially for the partners that have worked through all the initial kinks and established some preliminary ground rules.

So, I am now on my 3rd collaborative screenplay, and it’s (of course) another comedy.  We’ve really been having an amazing time.  It’s a lot of fun watching a writing rhythm develop with your partner.  We’re mid-way, and in a really good place.

One of the things that has really made our process productive is using the new online screenwriting program WriterDuet.  I must say, I’m IMPRESSED!  This (free) program allows us to write collaboratively, whether we’re together or apart, and we can see all of the edits immediately.  In addition to the edits, the program saves a history of all of the changes we’ve made, so if we decide we liked something previously written, we can revert back.  Another wonderful perk…WriterDuet has a page for outlining, story-boarding and creating index cards. With the flick of a finger, using the command key, we can go back and forth between our notes, and insert right into the script!

If you’re considering writing with a partner (or even alone), please check out  It has my endorsement.

Check it out!

Formatting a screenplay — it’s getting easier and easier!

Anyone who has had exposure to screenwriting for whatever reason knows that a script is very structured, and highly formatted.  For those who “dream” of writing a screenplay, you should know that formatting and good structure are paramount.

I’m totally dating myself here, but I remember when formatting a script meant hours upon hours of setting tabs and margins on a computer or typewriter– yes, I go that far back!  It was an arduous task.

Thanks to brilliant program developers, screenwriters today have wonderful options to help with the formatting process.  Frankly, we’re pretty spoiled.  My brother is an animator, and he’s done a lot of work for Disney.  He too remembers when it was all about hand drawing each second of film frame by frame.  Talk about painstaking…  Now, everything is done on a computer.

You can imagine my excitement when Final Draft, the scriptwriting software first came on the market.  I remember nearly frothing at the mouth with excitement as I waited for my first copy of the program to arrive in the mail, and screenwriting’s never been the same since.  Formatting a script is getting easier and easier!

I don’t often promote things here, but I’d like to personally endorse a great screenwriting program that a friend of mine created.  In fact, I am doing some work for him as a community liaison for his company.  Let me introduce you to is a scriptwriting program that is completely free and SSL Secure. Some of the perks are: Collaborative writing–seeing all edits immediately, it’s user friendly, has intuitive interface, access your script from anywhere, more focused on writing than production, grammar checker, converts to Celtx and other screenwriting formats (including Final Draft).  A desktop is also in the works.

My main reason for sharing this with you is for exposure.  Since the online program is completely free, there is nothing to sell.  I also teach screenwriting, and I’ve suggested this site to various students who could not afford to purchase scriptwriting software.  It’s been wonderful way for them to be able write their screenplay in format.

I don’t generally write with a partner, but as of late, I have been working on two feature-length comedies with a partner.  We’ve been suing the collaborative feature on WriterDuet, and we’re so impressed.  Basically, we don’t have to be in the same room or even the same city.  She was in NYC recently, and we worked on a scene using this feature — simultaneously writing on the same script, video chatting, sending messages and editing TOGETHER while away.  We worked without having to email scripts or even pick up the phone.  Another great thing about this feature is that you can see all the edits immediately, track your changes, and see who made what change in the line-by-line history.

No matter what level of writer you are, WriterDuet is simply a good idea.  It’s intuitive, user-friendly, and best of all… the price is right!

So, try it… you’ll like it.  🙂

Here’s what others are saying about WriterDuet: