SCREENWRITERS! Pixar Has Launched A FREE Storytelling Course!

SCREENWRITERS! Pixar Has Launched A FREE Storytelling Course!

I feel like the headline for this post is a massive understatement.  Pixar isn’t just putting together a course on their storytelling process.  It covers their ENTIRE creative process covering everything from concept to final animation.

For the purposes of this screenwriting site:) The most useful ‘module’ in this course is devoted to Pixar’s unique brand of story development!

The course is set to roll out throughout 2017 so bookmark the page, visit often, learn from the masters and WRITE!


(Hat tip: Variety)

VIDEO: 29 Screenwriting Mistakes

VIDEO: 29 Screenwriting Mistakes

The good people over at Film Courage routinely adds quality content to their immense collection of screenwriting videos.  Here’s a fantastic example of why their YouTube channel is among the very best for screenwriters:

The hour long video covers everything from plot structure to characters and features a number of extremely knowledgeable industry pros.  Check out the whole video, subscribe to their channel…  Then write!

XTRA | The Best Screenwriting Channels on YouTube

XTRA | The Ultimate Guide To Screenwriting Mistakes

The Best Screenwriting Channels On YouTube

The Best Screenwriting Channels On YouTube

Whether you’re in the mood to watch an interview with a pro screenwriter or simply wish to increase your knowledge of the craft, this list is for you!  Below you’ll find tons of fantastic screenwriting channels on YouTube (plus one equally fantastic channel on Vine).  Each offers a variety of videos including tips, tutorials, interviews, conferences, speeches, round tables, web series & more!

XTRA SPARK | The Ultimate Screenwriting Website Guide

Be sure to tweet @writingspark or email if you spot a channel missing from this list.  Help inspire the aspiring!


BAFTA Online

Film Courage

Script Magazine

Script Lab

Academy Originals

London Screenwriters’ Festival

Six Second Screenwriting Lessons (Vine)

John August

Lessons From The Screenplay

The Hollywood Reporter

FAST Screenplay

The Dialogue

Mark Sanderson

Blue Cat

Screen Craft

Writer’s Guild Foundation

Selling Your Screenplay

WGA West


Story 2 Screen

The Bitter Script Reader

D4 Darious

UCLA Writer’s Program

Scripts & Scribes

Final Draft


Click here for more Screenwriting Videos!

Recommended Screenwriting Spark:

The Top 50 Screenwriting Blog List Includes The Screenwriting Spark!

The Top 50 Screenwriting Blog List Includes The Screenwriting Spark!

The good people at Feedspot have released their list of the Top 50 Screenwriting Blogs.  Coming in at #25?  The Screenwriting Spark!  It’s truly an honor to be named alongside some of my personal favorite screenwriting blogs.  As an aspiring screenwriter myself, I constantly find inspiration on the pages of sites like Go Into The Story, Script Magazine, Bang 2 Write, ScreenCraft, My Blank Page and more!

Congratulations to every website that made Feedspot’s list!

Check out all 50 phenomenal screenwriting blogs here.

The Ultimate Short Film Screenwriting Guide

The Ultimate Short Film Screenwriting Guide

short film script can be many things.  It can be a calling card, a proof of concept, a competition winner, an artistic expression and, of course, a short film.  The obvious goal of any short screenplay is to become a short film but we’ll get to that.  Whether you are planning to produce your screenplay or not, you still have to write something worth producing.

Tackling short film scripts can be intimidating.  After all, completing a short film is a tough task and even if you do finish it, the festival circuit is incredibly competitive.  The competition is equally fierce in short screenplay contests.  But seriously, if you’re focused on these things, your screenplay is doomed before you type FADE IN…

Don’t think about what your screenplay may become at first.  Focus on writing something you can be proud of.  Write a short film that will resonate with readers.  Write something memorable.  Write something amazing!

That doesn’t sound so hard does it?  It shouldn’t matter what challenges lie ahead.  What should matter most is the story you want to tell.

Right now, your challenge isn’t getting a short film into festivals or winning competitions.  Your challenge is to tell a good story.

XTRA SPARK: The 15 Platinum Rules of Screenwriting

In the beginning, developing a short screenplay is the same as developing a feature length script.  You need a general idea of what you story is.  Create a logline to build off of.  Next you can expand it into an outline.  If you choose to expand your idea even further you can write a treatment.

The next step is crucial, painful, groundbreaking, frustrating, inspiring, complex, simple and FUN all at once.  So take a deep breath and JUST WRITE IT.

Below you’ll find a ton of articles and resources written to help you write better short screenplays.  Included amongst these screenwriting resources are articles focused on what makes great short films.  They are full of great tips you can work backwards from.  Explore them all and get inspired!

Found an article that belongs in this collection?  Comment with a link below.

MUST READ | The Screenwriter’s Bible


Indievelopment: Making a Short Film – Which Script to Film? | Script Magazine

Character Depth In A Short Film | John August

Scripting A Short Film | John August

Top 10 Tips For Writing A Short Screenplay | The Black Board (View more advice here.)

What About Story Structure For A Short Film? | Go Into The Story

Writing A Short Film From Instinct To Formula | Screen Craft

10 Rules For Writing A Successful Short Script  | Filmmaker IQ

Why You Should Write A Short Film Screenplay | Script Magazine

Learn How Successful Short Films Structure Their Story | CG Director

Writing Short Films: What Is The Point? | The Story Department

The Short Guide to Making an Awesome Short – Part 1: Scripting  | Film Shortage

Writing The Short Film | Gideon’s Screenwriting Tips

7 Rules For Writing Short Films | Raindance

Ask the Screenplay Doctor: To Write or Not Write … a Short Screenplay |  New England Film

Award Winning Story Structure For Film Festivals | Script Magazine

Short Screenplays – Structure | Ruth Atkinson

Short Screenplays – Character | Ruth Atkinson

Writing the short film: Making it something special | IFP

Writing The Short Screenplay | Suite 101

More Tips For Writing Short Screenplays | Suite 101

3 Tips That Will Help You Come Up With Short Film Ideas | The Necessary Theater

8 Top Tips For Writing A Great Short Film | Projector Films

Short Film Script Writing – Keep It Fresh | Indiegogo Blog

The Short Film Is Dead: Time For The Emerging Filmmaker To Get A New Calling Card | No Film School

7 Short Film Screenwriting Tips & Other Life Lessons | Dare My Truth

Tips To Writing A Short Screenplay | Sure Exposure

Writing A Short Film Script | DeviantArt

How To Write An Effective Screenplay For A Short Film | Wiki How

Making A Good Short Screenplay Great | Mdtabish

Writing The Smart Short Film | The Script Lab

Tips For Writing Short Screenplays | Hub Pages

8 Rules For Writing Short Films | Shutter Speed & Aperture

How To Write A Short Film | Suite 101

Make A Short Film? | Scriptwriting In The U.K

The Agony Of Short Film Writing | Movie Outline

3 Keys To Writing A Great Short Screenplay | Screen Craft

What Directing Short Films Taught Me About Writing Short Screenplays | The Screenwriting Spark


10 Things You Must Do To Make Your Short Film Oscar worthy | Film Industry Network

Greatness –  Why Good Isn’t Good Enough | Short of the Week

Confessions Of A Short Film Programmer | Filmmaker Magazine

Why Short Films Are Rejected from Festivals | No Film School

What Makes A Good Short Film? | BBC Film Network

Witty Or Gritty? What Ingredients Make The Best Short Films? | The Guardian

10 Tips For Short Filmmakers & Film Students | Official Screenwriting

5 Tips For A Better Short Film | Talent House

How Long Should A Short Film Be? | The Bitter Script Reader

Roman Coppola On What Makes A Good Short Film | Ideas Tap

Animation: What Makes A Good Short Film? | Scribble Junkies

Get Your Short Film Into Major Film Festivals |  The Athletic Nerd

The Short Filmmakers Guide To Short Films | IFC

Sundance Festival Programmers Reveal Secrets to Successful Submissions | Film Independent

Write, Direct, Repeat: Film Festivals and the Short Film, Part 1 | Script Magazine


While this collection of resources is a great place to start, nothing beats reading screenplays and watching short films.  YouTube, Vimeo and many movie blogs (Geek Tyrant & Film School Rejects to name a few) are absolutely overflowing with incredible shorts.  Remember, every time you hit play you’re enhancing your short film knowledge AND supporting hard working filmmakers & screenwriters.

You have access to an unlimited amount of short films.  Become a student of the craft and challenge yourself to become a better screenwriter every single day.  Your own personal College Of Short Films is a few clicks away at ALL TIMES.

Just remember:

There may be an unlimited amount of shorts out there but there are also unlimited story ideas in your own imagination.  It’s time to write them down and share them with the world!

Click here for more Ultimate Screenwriting Guides.

The Ultimate List of Screenwriting Rules, Tips, Laws, Principles, Guidelines & More

The Ultimate List of Screenwriting Rules, Tips, Laws, Principles, Guidelines & More

Screenwriting rules…  Foolproof tips and guidelines to help you craft something inspiring.  Laws and principles that lead you down the creative path without losing your way.  Of course, rules in any creative medium are always meant to be bent, broken and reshaped depending on the project.  Regardless, there are so many sound tips out there it was time someone collected them in one place.

Below is an absolutely gigantic collection of screenwriting rules.  Over 50 articles by screenwriters of all levels written to inspire screenwriters.  There are literally hundreds of amazing tips for you to digest and apply to your own writing.

SPARK PLUG | The Ultimate Guide To Screenwriting Mistakes

What do these lists have in common?  Click here to see The Platinum Rules of Screenwriting.


Joss Whedon’s 10 commandments of screenwriting | Danny Stack

Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling

The new 10 commandments of screenwriting | Screenwriting U

12 Essential screenwriting tips for aspiring screenwriters | What Culture

11 Laws of great storytelling | Writer’s Store

So-Called Screenwriting Rules: 15 Part Series | Go Into The Story

10 Power principals to screenwriting success | Filmmaker IQ

Billy Wilder’s 10 commandments of screenwriting | Seraphic Secret

McKee and Me: Commandments and principles | Write, Write, Write

20 Common sense script rules in no particular order | Screenwriters University

10 Screenwriting insights I wish I had 25 years ago | Cracking Yarns

Screenwriting’s #1 Rule | Flying Wrestler

Screenwriting: How to break the rules | Script Shadow

The road ahead: 10 Tips for the screenwriter | Word & Film

5 Simple rules for turning your cool idea into a screenplay | IO9

13 Things you should do to get your screenplay rejected | The Screenplay Writers

10 Crucial screenwriting tips | Screenwriting Goldmine

8 Essential screenwriting principals | Go Into The Story

12 Rules of screenwriting | Talentville

The 5 S’s of screenwriting: Principals of storytelling | Movie Outline

Top 5 screenwriting mistakes | Stigmata Script

10 Writing tips for authors from a screenwriting guru | Where Writers Win

6 Basic rules all screenwriters should follow | Suite 101

12 Screenwriting principals | Write, Write, Write

The Screenwriting rules of Charlie Kaufman | Go Into The Story

Thirteen screenwriting rules that can never be broken | Pete McCormack

The unrules of screenwriting | L.A Screenwriters

12 Screenwriting tips for beginners | Screenwriting For Hollywood

7 screenwriting rules that are killing your creativity | Script Quack

First 10 pages: 5 Major rules | The Script Lab

The ten rules of screenwriting | Film Slate

Screenwriting: Can you break the rules? | The Single Screenwriter

30 Scriptwriting tips in one post | Galley Cat

Breaking the screenwriting rules | Writer’s Store

Meet the reader: The (real) rules of screenwriting | Script Magazine

How to write Groundhog Day: 10 Rules for screenwriters | The Daily Beast

8 Rules for surviving screenwriting | Darlene Craviotto

10 basic rules of screenwriting | Startup Nation

The unrules of screenwriting: Rick Suvalles List | Scooty Woopin’ A Way

5 Screenwriting rules to improve your writing | Hardy Stevenson

Breaking the screenwriting rules from the inside out | Lee Jessop

6 Tips For Writing A (Money-Making) Script From A Billion Dollar Screenwriting Duo | Fast To Create

Screenwriting: A few hard and fast rules | Persistent Pen

Top 10 screenwriting tips from script to screen | Filmmaker Magazine

10 Rules for using parentheticals | Script Wrecked

Do you believe in script writing rules? | Script Larva

12 Rules to get your screenplay rejected right away | EZine Articles

The ridiculous rules of screenwriting | Lisa McNamee

The 5 immutable laws of screenwriting | About Freelance Writing

36 Basic screenwriting tips | Unforeseen Consequences

7 Strategy tips from the world of screenwriting | Big Spaceship

The three C’s of screenwriting | Script Magazine

Screenwriting: 10 things you need & 10 things that really, really help | Screenwriting Spark

Click here for more Screenwriting Resources.

Have you found/created an article that belongs here?  Tweet @writingspark with #inspiretheaspiring or comment with link below!

How To Lose A Screenwriting Competition: A Personal Tale

How To Lose A Screenwriting Competition: A Personal Tale

I’ve been writing about screenwriting and collecting screenwriting resources for a long time.  Long before I established The Screenwriting Spark as a central hub for my obsession.  Honestly, I’ve been addicted to the idea of writing screenplays since high school.  In the beginning, it was my super hobby.  I asked for screenwriting books for Christmas and birthdays.  I crept out of bed in the middle of the night to write on my Dad’s computer using a rough Microsoft word template for formatting.  That was only the beginning…

I didn’t realize just how much it meant to me until a few years ago.  A massive rift split my extended family apart.  (Long story) It was the angriest I’ve ever been.  Angry enough that I talked to a professional about how to handle it.  During those talks I learned that I needed something to occupy my mind in order to deal with stress and anxiety.  It started during college.  I became a workaholic (and a hobby-holic) around the same time my anxiety issues began.  Instead of lying in bed thinking about everything that could go wrong in my life, I thought about writing movies.

Screenwriting became my sanctuary.

As a result, I was never really interested in sending my work out into the world.  We produced some short films back in the day but I kept most of my work to myself.  Especially my feature length scripts.

I’m 33 years old now.  I’m married and we have a beautiful daughter who turns three next year.  When my daughter was born, I set screenwriting aside for obvious reasons and it took a while to get back to it.  It wasn’t until late 2015 that I began a new project.  It was a drama about people with powers called: Hero Down.

I was obsessed all over again.  Only this time, I challenged myself to write something worth sending out into the world.  For years, I avoided professional criticism because I wrote for myself.  You could make the argument that I simply didn’t want the bubble to burst.  Screenwriters all share an infectious enthusiasm for their scripts.  We all think we are writing something worthy of the big screen.  It’s the day dream that fuels us all.  I’ve felt that way my whole life.  I love talking about my scripts until someone asks to read them of course.  Then I get anxious.  I’m terrified.  I tell people I write for myself and my scripts collect dust in the dark depths of my hard drive.  The truth is, I’m afraid to put my words in the hands of others.

However, becoming a father taught me about REAL fear.  Fear of not doing the right thing for my little girl.  Fear of not being a good father… It opened my eyes about life and how short it is.  So why not give screenwriting a real shot?

I wrote and rewrote Hero Down for months and for the first time in history, I entered a screenwriting competition.  The 2016 Nicholl Fellowship.

I had different day dreams after that.  What if my screenplay made it through the first round?  What if it won the whole thing?  What if the bubble bursts and I really am writing only for myself?  Could I still put my heart and soul into a story knowing I would be the only one to see it?  I’ve learned enough about screenwriting over the last few years to call myself an expert.

Full disclosure: I consider an ‘expert’ someone who knows enough about a particular topic to teach someone who knows absolutely nothing.  Maybe expert is a stretch.  Maybe I’m just extremely knowledgeable?  Either way, I can teach screenwriting theory, structure, formatting and more.  But that doesn’t mean I know how to write a screenplay that sells for millions of dollars in Hollywood.  It certainly doesn’t mean I’m destined to become a working screenwriter in Hollywood.  It’s not impossible but… You get the idea…

I waited months, daydreaming about winning and pondering my aspirations if I failed.  My anxiety was so bad in the past I used to sweat through my sheets and grind my teeth when I slept.  I truly believe my wife and daughter cured me because my mind rarely wanders to dark places anymore.  I have way too much to be thankful for. So where does that put screenwriting if my work isn’t good enough to be noticed in a major competition?

I’ve worked so hard on The Screenwriting Spark, selling myself as an aspiring screenwriter who is addicted to the craft.  Yet regular visitors will notice I haven’t created a lot of new content in the last year.  Honestly, once I hit submit and sent Hero Down into the world, I stopped thinking about writing new screenplays all together.  What does that say about my ‘addiction’?  What does it say about my super hobby?  What does it say about me?

I started doubting myself and my ability to write entertaining screenplays.  What would I write next if I won a screenwriting competition?  Am I an aspiring screenwriter or am I someone who simply loves to write screenplays?  All of these questions piled up in my mind.  What does screenwriting mean to me in 2016?

Finally, the Nicholl Fellowship results arrived…

I didn’t make it past the first round…

I won’t lie to you, it hurt…  A lot…

I received a letter that explained my scores were split.  One reviewer gave me a positive score the other did not.  My total score wasn’t enough to merit a third reader and move on in the competition.  Now what?  I actually agreed with the majority of the reader’s comments and I understand my mistakes.  I’m actually okay with losing.  I would be delusional to think I could write one script, enter it and live out my Hollywood dreams.  It would have been nice but I’m a realistic person.  My goal was to get through the first round and I truly believed Hero Down was my best work.

That’s what I’m struggling with now.  It’s not the loss.  It’s my own brain.  If I believe something is good enough and it’s not, how can I trust my judgement moving forward?  You have to be honest with yourself.  Losing that screenwriting competition was a huge let down considering the literal decades of build-up.  One of the reader’s pointed out a few typos.  I can admit to it.  There are probably typos in this very article.  The other had issues with my villain.  I thought I found all the typos.  I STILL love my villain.

I thought I would be writing a new screenplay by now but I’m not.  I’ll be honest…  I don’t want to write a new screenplay right now.  I don’t mean that as a negative comment either.  I’m okay with it.  It’s been a nice break.

It’s been a little over a month since the results were released.  And I’m happy to report I’ve moved on and answered all the questions that dominated my brain.  I see the loss as a tremendous positive now.  Why?  Because I did it!  I wrote a screenplay and got over my fear of sending it out.  I let people read my work for the first time and it feels great to get that weight off my shoulders.  You could say that getting one positive review is a good start but that’s irrelevant.  I just did something I should have done in college or even high school.  I should have collected negative reviews like trophies.  That’s how you learn.  I haven’t written a single word in months yet I believe, I’m a better screenwriter now than I’ve ever been.

When I lost, I thought my confidence would fade away and I would give up the craft.  It was unlikely but the option was definitely on the table.  That’s honestly how it felt at first.  But, like any relationship, if you love something, you can never give up.  Screenwriting is a part of me forever even though I don’t know when I’ll write again.

I actually know the story I want to tell next.  I’ve been developing it for a little over a year here and there.  I have notes, character breakdowns and an extremely rough outline.  But I don’t want to write it right now.  I’m taking a break to gather my thoughts and apply what I’ve learned in the last few weeks.  More importantly, I want to apply what I’ve learned about myself.

It’s okay to lose a screenwriting competition.  It’s okay to take a break as well.  If I rushed into another screenplay it would become work.  I write screenplays because it’s fun. I’ll get back to it.  Months from now, when I finish another screenplay, I’ll be that much better.  It’s one loss!  I’m also obsessed with sports and I know you can’t quit after a loss.  You get your ass back on the field.  So let’s call this my official unofficial screenwriting off season.  I’m making some roster changes and crafting new strategies for what lies ahead.

When I’m ready, I’ll write something better than Hero Down and I WILL send it out into the world again.  Just to see what happens.  Losing a screenwriting competition helped me get over my own self-doubt.  It’s in the past now just like this loss.

My next screenplay is going to be great and if I don’t win a competition next year I’ll just write a better one.

The Best Websites To Download & Read Screenplays

The Best Websites To Download & Read Screenplays

Read screenplays!  Read screenplays!  Read screenplays!!!

There really is no better way to learn the craft than to dive into the classics.  Below you’ll find the largest screenplay libraries on the web featuring thousands of screenplays ready to be devoured.  Can’t decide which screenplays to read?  The Screenwriting Spark has you covered with hundreds of recommendations.  Click the link below to get started.


Pick your favorites.  Get inspired. Then write!

Joblo’s Movie Screenplays

The Internet Movie Script Database


The Screenplay Database

Go Into The Story Free Script Downloads


Screenplay Explorer

Movie Scripts & Screenplays

Simply Scripts

L.A Screenwriter Script Index

Daily Script


Awesome Film

Screenplays For You

Screenplays Online

The Script Lab

The Weekly Script

Lee Thomson

Horror Lair

BBC Writer’s Room

FREE APP ALERT| John August’s Weekend Read

Looking for more great Screenwriting Apps? Check out The Ultimate Screenwriting Software Guide!

Recommended Screenwriting Spark:

The Screenwriter’s Guide To Character Introductions

The Screenwriter’s Guide To Character Introductions


SPARK PLUG | 13 Screenwriting Books To Help You Write Better Characters

SPARK PLUG | 6 Resources To Help You Name Your Character


How To Introduce A Character | John August

Minor Characters Don’t Need Major Introductions | Writer’s Store

Character Introductions | Go Into The Story

Crucial Tip for Writing Your Screenplay: Hero Introductions | Scribe Meets World

Compelling Characters & The First Impression | Script Anatomy

Character Introductions | Alexandra Sokoloff

Introduce Your Character To The Reader | Screenwriter To Screenwriter

Character Introductions & Voice | Just Effing Entertain Me

How Best To Introduce A Character | Bang 2 Write

Character Introductions | Let’s Schmooze

When Characters Have Multiple Names | John August

How To Introduce A Character In A Script | Mentorless

4 Rules For Writing Amazing Character Introductions | Landlocked Screenwriter

Introducing Your Main Character | Gideon’s Screenwriting Tips

Cliched Character Introductions | Script Magazine

Finding Your Character’s Voice | Gideon’s Screenwriting Tips

Introducing Too Many Characters At Once | The Athletic Nerd

Three Ways To Introduce Your Protagonist | Jared’s Inkwell

Writing Great Character Introductions: T2 | Script Doctor Eric

Dual Protagonists | NYC Screenwriters Collective

Generic Character Introductions/Names | Screenwriting Goldmine


Character Introductions Part 1: Why Are They So Important?

Character Introductions Part 2: Making A Strong First Impression

Character Introductions Part 3: Editorializing

Character Introductions Part 4: Narrative Voice


Introducing A Main Character In Act 2

Introducing A Main Character After The Inciting Incident

Withholding A Characters Name Until It Is Spoken In Dialogue

Introducing Characters That Are Heard Before They Are Seen


10 Ways To An Unforgettable Intro | Empire

50 Greatest Movie Entrances Of All Time | Total Film

Film’s Greatest Entrances | Shortlist

20 Best Movie Entrances Of All Time | Taste Of Cinema

First Impressions: The Best Character Introductions | io9

Five Of The Best Character Entrances In Movies | Yahoo Movies

Top 10 Film Character Introductions | The Script Lab

Greatest Character Introductions | The Guardian

Top 10 Movie Character Introductions | And So It Begins

Unfortgettable Screenplay Character Introductions | Screenwriting U



I’ve included the following clip from Pirates of the Caribbean as it’s one of my favorite character entrances of all time:


Click here for more Ultimate Guides.

Click here for more Screenwriting Resources.

Click here for more Screenwriting Development.

Recommended Screenwriting Spark:

20 Incredible Screenwriting Videos!

20 Incredible Screenwriting Videos!


Below you’ll find a selection of screenwriting videos featuring professional screenwriters discussing their inspiration, process & the business of screenwriting.  The videos include roundtables, interviews, documentaries, lectures and much more.

Check them all out.  Then write!

XTRA SPARK | The Best Screenwriting Channels On YouTube





















Click here for more Screenwriting Videos!