Welcome to DAY SIX in the thirty days to a first draft screenwriting thread.

A strong DESIRE is important in developing a good story. Today you’re going to write in your character’s voice. You’re going to have them talk about what they want most in the world.

In musicals, this is called “THE I WANT SONG”

Dorothy dreams of being anywhere but in Kansas

Hamilton dreams of doing something great in “my shot”

Elsa dreams of getting away from everyone so she can stop being repressed and just let it go.

The story is strong because right off the bat the audience knows what the character wants, why and what they might be willing to do to get it.

Movies have I want songs too. Olive in little Miss Sunshine wants to be a beauty pageant winner. The Batman wants to find a way to change Gotham City. Inception’s Cobb wants to find a way to get back to his children. Woody wants to be Andy’s one and only.

The strong desire of the character is what drives them.

Write a page monologue of your character talking about what they want, why, and how they are going to get it. This sets the stakes for the story.

When you’re done, do the same for your MAIN ANTAGONIST.

Now you know what they want, you have an outline for act one, conflict, a setting, stakes. It’s time to start writing. Tomorrow.



Welcome to DAY TWO in the thirty days to a first draft screenwriting thread.

Today we’re going to create the protagonist. Your protagonist or hero is the one who needs to carry the movie, so they better be interesting as hell.

You need to pick the most interesting protagonist possible.

One trick is to pick someone who is ill-suited for the job at hand. For example: Let’s go back to the GODFATHER,Remember the logline: The task is, after Don Corleone is shot you must take over the family business and root out your enemies.

You could make this movie with Sonny (James Caan’s Character) as the main character and it’d still be a good movie, but it wouldn’t be great. Sonny is suited for the job he’s a violent tough guy and criminal.

What makes it great as they pick MICHAEL instead. Micheal wants nothing to do with the family business he’s rejected his father’s lifestyle. This is what makes him a great protagonist. This also brings in a sense of irony that makes the story so fascinating, We’re going to take Michael, a man who rejects the mafia and is against everything it stands for, and turn him into the godfather

So pick your protagonist. Give him a name even if it’s just a temporary one. No time to labor over decisions like this. You can always change it later. That’s what find & replace is for.


Write about your protagonist for a couple of paragraphs. What do they do for a living? What are their flaws? What drives them? What is their philosophy? Do they have any unique physical attributes?

Now surround them with the supporting cast. Does the character have a BEST FRIEND? A MOTHER and Father? An antagonist? An inner antagonist–that’s someone who appears to be on their side but opposes them. Do they have a mentor? A boss? A love interest? List out your cast and give everybody a name. Again, don’t wait to name them. That will always stall you.  Write about each person and make bold decisions about who they should be.

It can be helpful to cast them. Grab pictures on the internet of actors you’d like to use to play the character. Or use your friends. It can be a short cut that kickstarts your imagination to base characters on people you know or actors you like.

If you want more ideas on creating a character, check out this video on Creating Characters using great Television icons.


Now you have your cast. Tomorrow we’ll add an ANTAGONIST.


Welcome to DAY ONE in the thirty days to a first draft screenwriting thread.

The first few days will be spent outlining and planning.

We’re going to write a logline or elevator pitch. I always start with this, because if you can’t write an elevator pitch then you don’t know what you are writing. You’ll also use this all the time. Contests will ask you for one and when anyone asks you what your screenplay is about, you should be able to rattle it off in one minute.

A good logline has four elements:

  • Who your protagonist is.
  • What is the inciting Incident, this is the event that kicks the story off.
  • What is their goal?
  • And finally, what makes it difficult? This could be a dilemma or could be the cause of the conflict.

So for example: Let’s take the THE GODFATHER.

How do we describe the protagonist? Michael Corleone. The reluctant son of a Mafia Crime boss.

What happens to him? His father is shot and injured, leaving Michael to take over the family.

What is his goal? To root out his father’s enemies.

And finally.. what makes it hard. What creates a dilemma?

What makes The Godfather interesting is Michael wants nothing to do with organized crime. This creates an irony.



Let’s put it all together now…

Michael Corleone is the son of mafia crime boss who wants nothing to do with the criminal world. When the Godfather is shot, Michael must take over the family and root out his father’s enemies.

That’s 35 words. You want to keep it under 50. The contests all ask for a logline and they always want it under 50.

So write down a logline for your film using the four elements:

One. Who your protagonist is? Two: What happens to them. Three: What’s their goal? Four: what brings the conflict. If you know these four things you can begin writing.

Tomorrow we’ll pick the protagonist…