Go Into The Story Resource: So-Called Screenwriting ‘Rules’

A comprehensive series on the most significant of the supposed screenwriting ‘rules,’ hopefully to put things into proper perspective: Tools, not rules.

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On May 16, 2019, Go Into The Story turns 11 years old — you can read the very first blog post here. I led with this paragraph:

Welcome to Go Into The Story! Right now, it’s nothing but a humble, threadbare blog, but I hope it will evolve into an active resource for aspiring screenwriters, as well as a community for anyone interested in storytelling and the creative life.

And evolve it did! To the point where it was recently named “Best of the Best” Scriptwriting Website in the 20th Annual Writer’s Digest Best Websites for Writers list.

To celebrate 11 years of blogging about screenwriting, writing, Hollywood, movies, TV, and the creative life, each day in May, I’m going to feature a piece of Go Into The Story trivia, plus a writing resource you can find in the site’s archives. This is not an exercise in self-congratulations so much as I figured readers could use some tips about how to best use the site. With — to date — 26,360 articles and over 100 archive topics, there is a LOT of content here. Hopefully, these posts for the next 31 days will clue in more recent followers and remind long-time readers about resources you can use to facilitate deepening your understanding of the writing craft.

Today’s trivia: I’m sometimes asked, “Scott, why don’t you do advertising on your site? Or use Patreon to solicit donations? Something to make money off your blog?”

To answer this, we need to go back in time. In 2008, when I launched the Go Into The Story, there were a lot of skeezy websites and outfits, often with uninformed content — most of these ‘gurus’ had never sold a script, worked in Hollywood as a writer, or had a movie or TV series produced — while charging fees, often a lot, to dispense their ‘wisdom’.

That bothered me. The only guarantee about trying to work as a writer in the film and TV business is there is NO guarantee you’ll ever make any money from your efforts. The competition is fierce and the odds against financial success extremely long. Therefore, one should be careful about how they spend their money in an attempt to learn the craft.

So I decided to do what I could to combat two things:

  • Provide boots-on-the-ground information about the craft and business of screenwriting based on my many years working in Hollywood so readers would have that available to counteract progenitors of misinformation.
  • Give that content away for free. The opinions expressed here are my own. You can take them or leave them, but one thing is for sure: You don’t have to pay for them.

While the landscape of the online screenwriting universe today is perhaps less Wild, Wild West than it used to be, there are even more ways to spend hard-earned dollars on various screenplay contests, webinars, consultations, programs, and so forth. Approach with caution.

Therefore, as my blog enters its second decade of existence, I will continue to do what I’ve always done: No ads. No solicitations for money.

Just one screenwriter’s take on things. Five posts. Every day. For free.

Today’s Go Into The Story resource: So-Called Screenwriting ‘Rules’.

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In the spirit of what I noted above, here is a series I ran some years ago which takes on some thoroughly misguided ‘wisdom’ based on the premise there are something known as screenwriting ‘rules’.

Fact: There are no screenwriting ‘rules’. If there were, there’d be a rulebook. There conventions, principles, expectations, but no rules.

Focus on your creativity, not picayune format and style issues. Write a great script. Everything else is secondary to that.

Part 1: The Organic Nature of the Screenplay

Part 2: The Emergence of the Selling Script

Part 3: The Evolution of Screenplay Format and Style

Part 4: There are no screenwriting ‘rules’

Part 5: There are expectations

Part 6: We See / We Hear

Part 7: Unfilmables

Part 8: Action Paragraphs — 3 Lines Max

Part 9: CUT TO (Transitions)

Part 10: Parentheticals

Part 11: Flashbacks

Part 12: Voice-Over Narration

Part 13: Sympathetic Protagonist

Part 14: Protagonist and Shifting Goals

Part 15: Certain Events by Certain Pages

Each day this month, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for supporting Go Into The Story. I’d love to hear from you in RESPONSES. When did you start following the blog? What are your favorite features? And as always, if you have any suggestions, feel free to suggest away.

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