What is a short story?
What does someone want when they ask for
“a short story writing sample”?
A short story is a brief narrative of an imaginary or past event written in prose.
SHORT STORY AND RELATED WORDS DEFINED BY OXFORD
Short story has a fully developed theme, but is shorter than a novel.
- Theme is a topic or subject on which a person writes.
- Novel is a fictitious prose story of book length.
- Book is a literary composition of bound written pages.
- Short is not long in duration, brief.
- Story is a narrative of imaginary or past events.
- Narrative is a spoken or written account of connected events in order of happening.
- Prose is the ordinary form of written or spoken language.
- Fiction is an invented idea or imaginary event, person, place or thing.
- Nonfiction is written material other than fiction [ like true events, history, spiritual, or how to do something (technical or guidance)].
SHORT STORY LENGTH
- A short story can be as short as one sentence or as long as 100 pages.
- A short story of 2 to 10 pages is an appropriate length when requested to “submit a short story writing sample” to a literary agent, publisher, or producer (unless otherwise indicated).
- A short story can be read quickly, maybe in a few minutes, but should not take longer than eight hours to read.
WHAT’S IN A SHORT STORY?
- A short story often will have a Beginning (intro to characters and place), Middle (conflict, obstacles, challenges, adventures, conversations, or thoughts), and End (climax, resolution, and new understanding).
- A short story will usually have characters and a story arch.
- A short story may impart some idea or an important moment of one’s life.
- A short story is a window into a private world, made up or real.
SHORT STORY WRITING STYLE
- Although a short story can be told in any writing style, when someone asks you for a “short story writing sample”, they generally want a complete short story written in prose (that is your spoken language with sentences and paragraphs), about 2 to 10 pages, unless otherwise requested.
- Short story usually does not mean poetry or screenplay form unless specifically requested. In such case, they would say, “Please submit a poem” or a “film short script.”
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SHORT STORY AND A TREATMENT?
- A short story could be ALL thoughts if the author chooses to write it that way, whereas a treatment has no internal thoughts, only scene description, action and dialogue.
- Even though a short story and a treatment may both be 5 pages long, the short story is complete, whereas the 5-page treatment represents a larger 120 pages of screenplay or 300 pages of television script series, and therefore a treatment lacks much detail.
- A short story may often be told in an intimate first person narrative, whereas the treatment is usually somewhat detached and written in a third person narrative.
- A short story is usually more fun to read than a treatment. A short story should be complete in its tale and have a unique writer’s voice. All the information needed to understand the story should be within the short story.
- A treatment is a short overview written in prose about a bigger more detailed story and concept. A treatment is not complete and is only meant to express the general idea for a film or TV show. A treatment introduces the characters and overall story arch, but it only gives a few samples of action and dialogue. Lots of details are left out of treatments. A stylistic language does not have to be as magical in a treatment as it should be for a short story. For a treatment, it is in the dialogue samples where a short story writer’s voice or characters would emerge.
WHY IS A MOVIE STUDIO INTERESTED IN MY SHORT STORY?
- Many movies and TV shows are adaptations that were first written as short stories, and then later expanded and adapted for screen. When a short story is expanded, new scenes and more characters are added.
- If you have a strong character or event in your short story, and your short story is popular with the public, you may be approached to sell it for TV or film. Depending on your own writing experience, they would either buy the rights from you and have other professionals develop the story for screen, or if you are in the entertainment industry yourself, they may ask you to flesh out your short story into a spec screenplay.
BREAKING DOWN THE SHORT STORY
Below, I have written a short story, one paragraph, after which I will break it down for you into parts. This is a natural flow, how someone would tell you a simple story.
SHORT STORY EXAMPLE (also a good length for a monologue)
ARCO ON FRANKLIN ~~ One time I was getting gas at the cheapest gas station in Hollywood, along with an impatient line of grumbling people in their cars. This was my gas station. It was closest to my home and cheaper than anywhere else I had seen in Los Angeles. Congregating here were the usual mob of angry frustrated Los Angeles drivers who wanted to get their gas and go. I don’t know what was the ignition, but as I was putting gas into my vehicle, a big gnarly unkempt woman walked up to me and shouted, “Go back to where you came from!” Born and raised in California, with California license plates, and living up the road, I wasn’t sure where she thought I ought to go. To France? To England? From where my distant ancestors had come? Africa? How far back did she want to go with this thing? Buy me a ticket, lady. Send me on my way. Aware of no provocation for her outburst, the situation was absurd. Anyway, that was the last of many confrontations at the Arco on Franklin. I never went back. For only a dollar more, I went up the block to the ever vacant Mobile station. The trouble people will go through to save ten cents a gallon!
~ THE BEGINNING — INTRO — SET UP
CHARACTER: There’s me, the writer, the every person, getting gas for my car, trying to save money.
BACK HISTORY: This is MY gas station, darn it. I have every right to be here, but so do a lot of other people.
~ THE MIDDLE — ADVENTURE
ACTION: Getting gas, a woman verbally assaults me, without provocation.
~ THE END — CONCLUSION
CLIMAX, WHAT HAPPENED, DECISION, NEW THOUGHT, NEW ACTION: Spend a little more money and have none of the hassle from penny-saving mobs.
FAVORITE SHORT STORY WRITERS AND COLLECTIONS
Tales of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
What are your favorite short stories?
For Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about writing romantic comedies and dramas.
Everyone’s idea of a good romantic movie is different, but certain romantic films sweep the nation.
If you want to write a box office romantic hit, always start by studying the biggest successes and failures.
Below are listed some romantic movie scripts that overwhelmingly won public affections.
Here are some of the reasons why…
What do all great love stories have in common?
1. TABOO !
There is something taboo happening in each of these films: an affair, social class differences, friends crossing the line to become lovers, falling in love with a prostitute, meeting through the Internet, dating a co-worker… What is forbidden is exciting.
2. Focus on ONE COUPLE only
Romantic movies that focus on several couples never do as well as movies that focus on one couple. Two hours is not long enough to get to know two people, much less five or ten or fifteen people. For audiences to fall in love with your lead characters, they need the full two hours and lots of good reasons.
3. Loving you AIN’T EASY
Some of the characters in these movies do immoral things or have fiery tempers. When there are plenty of good reasons why one should NOT love a person, it makes the love all the more powerful, passionate, and painful.
4. Surmounting CONFLICTS
Throw the taboo circumstance on top of the difficult personality, and our characters have some challenges, conflict, and obstacles to overcome. Every good story must have obstacles to overcome. In the older movies listed below, there is no happy ending. Ultimately, they do not overcome the obstacles they face.
5. The FANTASY
The fantasy is, of course, to meet someone and fall in love, to stay in love, to have a best friend for life, to have an ally in the world, someone who understands you, and even maybe financial comfort. Everyone can relate to the search for love. Everyone has a secret hope to find a lasting love. This hope for love is a part of every romantic screenplay. In real life, romantic splits happen more frequently than people finding their soul mates and staying together forever. You will have to choose, as the writer, do you feed into the fantasy or tell the tale of a broken heart?
6. The ROGUE and the DAMSEL IN DISTRESS
I, and most people, love this set up of lead characters, the rogue man who does things his own way, paying no mind to the rules of society, and the beautiful damsel in distress who is always a pain in the ass, but she is just so damn pretty she gets away with anything! There are infinite ways to create these character types and you can change the genders. This is a winning and entertaining combo.
7. The KISS
Every great love story has a frustrating long awaited kiss packed with conflict and emotion. Put some thought into this moment of your script… choose a location that enhances the moment by contrast, put an obstacle to the kiss, add some element that will make the moment memorable.
MOST SUCCESSFUL LOVE STORIES ON SCREEN
Gone With The Wind (1939)
Written by Margaret Mitchell (novel) and Sidney Howard (screenplay)
Starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable
Directed by Victor Fleming
Pitch: A manipulative woman and a roguish man carry on a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Written by Murray Burnett, Joan Alison, Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch, Casey Robinson
Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Pitch: Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.
Love Story (1970)
Written by Erich Segal
Starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal
Directed by Arthur Hiller
Pitch: Law student Oliver and music student Jenny fall in love and vow to be together against the want of their families and society.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Written by Nora Ephron
Starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan
Directed by Rob Reiner
Pitch: Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.
Pretty Woman (1990)
Written by J.F. Lawton
Starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts
Directed by Garry Marshall
Pitch: Rich man falls in love with a prostitute and tries to integrate her into his upscale life.
Written by James Cameron
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet
Directed by James Cameron
Pitch: An aristocratic teenager (promised to a wealthy man by her mother) falls in love with a wild party boy on a lower level of an ill-fated cruise ship.
The Notebook (2004)
Written by Jeremy Leven (screenplay), Jan Sardi (adaptation), Nicholas Sparks (novel)
Starring Rachel McAdams & Ryan Gosling
Directed by Nick Cassavetes
Pitch: A poor and passionate young man falls in love with a rich young woman and gives her a sense of freedom. They are separated by social differences and she marries someone else. Meanwhile, the first love lives their dream, alone.
Written by Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay), Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Pitch: A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire.
Some of my favorite love stories are in science fiction movies and foreign films.
What are your favorite love stories and why?
* How to be Funny *
Here are a few tips on how to write an Oscar winning script.
1) Write a Drama.
2) Live 30 years or more before writing your Oscar winning script.
3) Your subject matter should appeal to people age 30 to 100 because that is the age range of Academy voters.
4) Make the audience laugh or cry.
5) Surf a current debated social-political topic without offending anyone.
6) Create sympathy for the type of character that is usually despised.
7) Base it on a true story or real setting or common event.
8) Keep it simple and realistic. Cutting edge, abstract, and avant-garde movies are appreciated only in small circles.
9) Build your story with a slow, strong, steady pace. Super fast, splashy, action-packed, modern masterpieces seldom win.
10) To get people to watch the film, attach a famous actor with a good reputation, but not so famous that he or she does a disservice to the story and the script is overlooked.
11) Story arch and character developments are mandatory. Audience must learn something as the lead character learns it.
12) Conflict and obstacles are requisite.
13) No one is perfect, nor should be your characters.
14) Don’t write a story that is too disturbing, gross, violent, or outrageous; you don’t want your viewers to walk away sick, upset, or angry. People vote for stories that make them feel good about themselves and their own lives.
15) Impart an indisputable moral message.
16) For an award winning movie script, the lead character must break away from what is expected of him or her. Whatever the person is supposed to do, he or she does the opposite. Macho guy is weak. Prostitute is innocent. Parent is irresponsible. Monster is friendly. Child is brave. Poor person is rich. Dumb person proves smart. You get the idea. Create an unusual twist on the norm.
Click here to read Oscar winning screenplays.
What attributes do you notice Oscar winning scripts to have?
Other helpful screenwriting articles are:
It is really hard for screenwriters to get anyone to read their scripts, so I strongly encourage writers to make their own movies. Getting people to watch a movie is much easier than getting people to read a script. The shorter it is, the greater your odds someone will watch it.
One beautiful thing about humanity is their ability to think big…
… big big big, far beyond what they might be able to do today, therefore, it can sometimes be a hindrance, this ability to think big, because it takes a lot of small steps to get someplace, steps that people don’t want to take.
Instead of holding out for that million-dollar 3-picture deal (that is never going to just fall on your lap), how about you start with whatever resources you have around you right now? If you truly love storytelling, then do it! You don’t have to be rich to tell a story. If you can eke out a little bit of time and a little bit of ingenuity, you can make a movie.
Here is a fun project to test your creative juices.
Can you make a movie with no money, no time, possibly no actors, and tell a full and complete story with character arch in less than two minutes?
How? You ask.
If you have a mobile smart phone, then you have video and online access to YouTube, therefore you can make a movie. There are also lots of other ways you can make a movie.
Let’s Start with Story and Character.
Without story and character(s), you have a blob of color and sound, which is ok too, but we screenwriters, we want to write something, we want to say something, and we to connect with our human audience.
No matter if your movie is 2 minutes or 2 hours, something has to happen, right? Since this is a short short, let’s keep it to one event.
Although your character doesn’t necessarily have to have a change of heart, it is more interesting if your character learns something new and we learn with him or her.
How are you going to do that?
There needs to be an action…
…an event, a happening, a cause that will create the effect of your character thinking differently or behaving differently. Something has to happen that propels your character along an interesting and new path.
If no fictitious ideas come to mind, think about your own life in the past year… Think about one single moment, one thing you saw, one thing you read, or one thing you dreamt that permanently changed your way of thinking. That’s a story. That’s a character arch. What was that thing? It can be small or large, but it should have meaning and resonate with people.
Take that one moment that affected you and brainstorm with it… Imagine different scenarios and different characters involved and affected by that one moment, and choose the most interesting character and moment of them all.
Sometimes, we are just bystanders or observers of something interesting, so it doesn’t have to be your personal event, it can be someone else’s; maybe you were just passing by, but it personally affected you anyway.
When telling the story, put yourself in the shoes of the most interesting character involved and tell it from their perspective, no matter how good or bad that person happens to be.
Tell a story that will affect and change your viewers because your character has been affected and changed.
This is our goal with film and cinema and any type of storytelling, at least my ultimate goal, to say something meaningful to the world in a very short amount of time, whether it be two minutes or two hours.
Use What You’ve Got!
Once you have a moment and a character that you want to explore on film, now you need to think of the free-est possible way to do it.
Whatever your assets and creative strengths are, they are probably different from mine or other people’s.
Maybe you have time, money, or equipment at your disposal? A nice camera? Some willing friends to act? Some creative friends to do props, set, and makeup? A massive catalog of profound photos you took? A supportive family?
Maybe you like drawing cartoons? Or doing photography? Or making Play-Doh clay figure stop motion animation with your digital camera and your kids’ help? Maybe you have a go-pro camera and are an adrenalin junky?
Everyone has different things at their disposal and different amounts of time or money. You are going to do the best you can do with the best of what you have.
Show a change.
For this project, your character needs to go from being a worm to a butterfly in under two minutes.
The main thing I am asking here is that you have a story and character arch in your movie. Something should be happening other than filming something pretty, or funny, or scary that has no story arch. Those types of movie clips are good for YouTube and for TV clips, but they are not full complete stories, which as a screenwriter, you need to be practicing the development of characters and stories that have something to say.
For one of my shorts, I used an ad lib script, meaning I did not write a script for it at all, it was just an idea in my head. With ad lib scripts, you can save money by letting the images and concept dictate the dialog on the spot.
Either you can narrate, as I did, or your actors can ad lib, which saves time (and time is money) because the actors don’t have to memorize an entire screenplay. They just have to get across a general feeling and idea, which can be more fun, more liberating, more natural sounding, and more magical.
Ad lib allows art to take on its own form and surprise you.
Some directors prefer to let their actors alter the script with the natural flow of ad libbing. In this way, cinema has taken a great departure from theater plays, novels, and poetry, where the written word is sacred.
Ad lib can be great for emotional human concept movies like dramas, romance, and comedy, where the stiffness of a script might not play out well.
Sticking to a screenplay would be important for convoluted detailed stories that are true or have a thick plots, like with mysteries, thrillers, suspense, and sci-fi.
Life is full of opportunities for you, even if you have no disposable money. Look around you; be creative.
Today is Veterans Day in the United States.
To honor veterans and soldiers around the world who have a story to tell, this article is for you.
Writing military movies is extremely difficult. You have to walk the thin red line between a gruesome reality, idealistic fantasy, and the emotional realm, while also catering to what the majority of people find acceptable to watch on screen.
Every military veteran surely has a personal story to tell, even if it is just one of boredom, such as in Jarhead (2005), or one of fear, as in Oscar winner The Hurt Locker (2008), or one of being an arms dealer businessman, as in the great Lord of War (2005).
Then there are street war films like groundbreaking City of God (2002) that have more freedom but also have some of the same development obstacles.
How do you explain the unexplainable and mention the unmentionables of war in a reasonable way without coming across as unpatriotic, unsympathetic to the military, or uncaring to humanity as a whole?
Telling the story of what you experienced is a moral challenge in and of itself that may become the subject of your script: a conflict between actions, feelings, and public perception.
There are thousands, if not millions of military people who have a story to tell, so what makes your story unique and attractive to the masses?
The public wants to watch your war story for a few possible reasons: 1) they can relate to it; 2) it is something new they never considered; 3) shock value, 4) current propaganda, 5) for pure entertainment, or 6) to right the wrongs, or perhaps, to wrong the rights.
To have a big hit of a movie, people must sympathize with your lead character(s). My articles about understanding your audience and how to write a likable bad guy will help you to write your military characters.
One of the best war movies of all time is All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). If you want to write a war movie, you must watch this movie because no film, after all these years, outshines it.
In short, to have popular characters, you have to show reasonable motivations. Some common war story motivations are the drive to survive, the conflict between duty and morals, maintaining sanity in the face of madness, and stories of love and hope.
Your audience will skew male, so action, suspense, artillery, machinery, and sexy women usually go over well.
Military stories tend to be one-sided and only appeal to one’s own nation.
If you can appeal to an international audience, then you probably will have tapped into the essence of humanity itself and will have created a huge commercial success. Usually, you have to turn to science fiction or fantasy to do this, thereby not naming any particular nation as the bad guy, and use fictitious beings and nations to address current political issues at home. Great sci-fi fantasy war movies that have worldwide appeal are Star Wars (1977), Avatar (2009), and Lord of the Rings (2001).
If you want to write a script, you have to read scripts to know how they are structured and function. Start by studying the war scripts of those who have marched before you.
To read scripts, click on the titles below or this list here of successful military war movie scripts for more screenplays.
Some of these scripts may have been written by individuals who have no real military experience at all, but maybe they were adapted from a novel by a veteran.
What is important for you to focus on is not the reality of their stories, but rather their ability to entertain and present a story that the masses want to watch.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Novel by Joseph Conrad
Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola, John Milius, and Michael Herr
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and Dennis Hopper
During wartime, who can say what is sane? Surfing, slaughtering, and sloshing, this is a bizarre psychedelic tale of one Captain Willard on a secret mission in Cambodia to hunt down highly decorated Colonel Kurtz who has set himself up as a local spiritual leader.
CLEAN “What did you put in all those ammo boxes?”
WILLARD “Rocks, sand — those two men who deserted.”
CHIEF “Shit! Fucking arrows! They’re shooting fucking arrows at us.”
MOONBY “I said to myself, why didn’t he shoot me? He didn’t shoot me, because I had a stash like you wouldn’t believe. — Opium — cocaine — uncut Heroin; the Gold of the Golden Triangle. and Acid — I make Koolaid that makes purple Owsley come on like piss. Now I’m Kurtz’ own Disciple — I listen he talks. About everything! Everything. I forgot there’s such a thing as sleep. Everything. Of love, too.”
Apocalypse Now had 8 Oscar nominations and 2 wins for Best Cinematography and Sound.
Forty years later, Apocalypse Now is still chilling and psychologically disturbing. This movie is all over the place as it visits the strangest circumstances of the Vietnam war.
Tom writes, “Many people complain about the ending, but I think it’s perfect. Nothing is explicitly stated, and no grand meaning is given to the prior events, but that is the point. War is chaos. Kurtz, despite making some sense, is actually “insane”. Willard kills him, as per his orders, but he has been changed by the whole ordeal, as has the audience, as has America after Vietnam. The script is good, this draft is OK, but the film itself is a masterwork, particularly the Redux. It is so beautiful and haunting.”
To read more comments, click here.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Novel by Gustav Hasford
Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, Gustav Hasford, and Michael Herr
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey and Vincent D’Onofrio
From bootcamp to the streets of Vietnam, this 1960s U.S. Marines story Full Metal Jacket is tough to swallow, as is war.
SERGEANT ”I want it so sanitary and spotless and sparkling that the Virgin Mary herself would he proud to go in there and take a dump.”
SERGEANT ”What is your major malfunction, numbnuts?!! Didn’t Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?!!!”
Full Metal Jacket had 1 Oscar nomination and 1 win for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Stanley Kubrick is my favorite director, so much that I named my female dog after him. All his films blow my mind, this is no exception. The distinct movie score, music, and sound effects are particularly outstanding and withstand the test of time, as does the dark twisted humor of the script.
Veteran Richard Stafford writes, “I spent a total of 5 yrs and and 3 months in Viet-Nam (3 tours plus 3 extensions). I was in the Infantry and my last tour I was in the Air Wing Helicopters. I found the movie starting from Bootcamp through the very end more realistic than any movie I have watched on the Viet-Nam War. I am a Disabled Marine Veteran and I enjoyed your movie very much. Respectfully, Richard Stafford, USMC DV Retired.”
Anonymous writes, “The older Marines in my family have been known to remark how very closely the movie Full Metal Jacket stayed to actual situations in boot camp, but my uncle who served in the Vietnam conflict said that had they made it more realistic, the average american would protest against the treatment of the soldiers.”
Gaffa writes, “Funny in parts, but on the other hand very serious.”
The Mouse Avenger writes, “As a general rule, I don’t usually enjoy war movies, but in this case, I make an exception for Full Metal Jacket. Not only did Stanley Kubrick, one of my favorite directors (the greatest of all time, in fact!), direct this movie, but the characters, music, cinematography, script, acting, & everything else about it are just absolutely wonderful beyond description.”
To read more comments, click here.
Screenplay by Oliver Stone
Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe
Platoon takes a dark path to the Vietnam war as it tells the story of going from feeling very important, wanting to be patriotic and to serve one’s country, to feeling not important at all out in the jungles of Vietnam, playing out the struggle between good and evil, right and wrong.
CHRIS “I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves – and the enemy was in us.”
Platoon had 8 Oscar nominations and 4 wins for Best Picture, Director, Editor, and Sound.
Mark Davies from Chester, England says, “Oliver Stone’s Platoon is quite simply the best Vietnam war film ever made in my opinion.”
Andrew Phillips writes, “I Served in Nam, and found it to be the same way as portrayed in the movie, a bloody shit hole. This movie just reminds me of the horrors of the war and reminds me of what I went threw.”
Craig writes [edited for clarity], “Platoon is a metaphor film. Stone made it look real though. I saw little in this film that represented my experience [in the 60's], except for the 24 hr fear, the heat, the tension and some the bullshit we all saw and heard from Command. The troops in the 60′s were better mentally and we had a some seasoned Korea and WWII experienced officers and senior NCO’s. By the early to mid-70′s [the time of Platoon], it was different. Lots of drugs, many professional soldiers rotated out and wounded etc. [Platoon] looks more like a diary.”
Three Kings (1999)
Story by John Ridley
Screenplay by David O. Russell
Directed by David O. Russell
Starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube
A few American soldiers in Iraq intend to do a hefty gold theft and have conflict over what to do with the locals in their way.
TROY ”You think I don’t know what I’m saying. I know what I’m saying. We’re gonna do more than steal, that’s what I’m saying. We’re gonna help these people out.”
Three Kings is no Oscar winner, but it does have a lot of fans. Dealing with a war that we are still fighting is often too sensitive for its citizens to handle, hence why people are still telling World War II stories from 70 years ago!
NamDC from Palm Springs, California writes, “I avoided this film for some time because I have a strong dislike of war films, particularly relatively recent wars. Too bad for me. I finally rented it because of the impressive works I’ve seen by Mr. Russell. This is not a war film, even though it takes place during a war, and in a war zone. This is a film of humanity. Like many other films that I find excellent, this film deals with the human condition on many levels. There’s pathos, humor, love, violence, ad infinitum. You’d get a sterilized version of what this film shows on the evening news. It shows that our soldiers, just as ourselves, are human, with all our frailties. And, I believe, it gives an honest account of what life is like for the people of the Middle East. Fine acting by truly fine actors, great cinematography, and a very intelligent script make this a must see film.”
To read more comments, click here.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Mélanie Laurent, and Christoph Waltz
During World War II, we follow an alternate reality of two main fantasy stories that start in different places and come together in a French movie house in the end. There is the story of a French girl’s revenge for her slaughtered family and there is the story of a secret American military terror task force.
COLONEL LANDA ”Unless some fool is stupid enough to try and handle a live one, rats don’t make it a practice of biting human beings. Rats were the cause of the bubonic plague, but that was some time ago. In all your born days, has a rat ever caused you to be sick a day in your life? I purpose to you, any disease a rat could spread, a squirrel could equally carry. Yet I assume you don’t share the same animosity with squirrels that you do with rats, do you? Yet, they are both rodent’s, are they not? And except for the fact that one has a big bushy tail, while the other has a long repugnant tail of rodent skin, they even rather look alike, don’t they?”
LIETENANT ALDO ”We’re gonna be dropped into France, dressed as civilians. And once we’re in enemy territory, as a bushwackin, guerrilla army, we’re gonna be doin one thing, and one thing only, Killin Nazi’s. The Members of the National Socialist Party, have conquered Europe through murder, torture, intimidation, and terror. And that’s exactly what we’re gonna do to them. Now I don’t know bout y’all? But I sure as hell, didnt come down from the goddamn Smoky mountains, cross five thousand miles of water, fight my way through half Sicily, and then jump out of a fuckin air-o-plane, to teach the Nazi’s lessons in humanity. Nazi ain’t got no humanity.”
Inglourious Basterds had 8 Oscar nominations and 1 win for Best Supporting Actor.
Basterds has mixed reviews due to its stylized fantasy script.
Of all military movies, I was least of all looking forward to another Nazi World War II movie, but Inglourious Basterds became one of my favorite movies: dark, twisted, superb performances, beautiful cinematography, and most important, a creative script with careful suspenseful pacing, this wacky convoluted war fantasy is unique.
Dr. Sam from Lebanon writes, “One thing I hate about a movie is when it treats audience as bunch of dumb people. Now I know Tarantino’s style is based on fantasy and fictitious plots, but come on…”
Produpp from United Kingdom writes, “Inglorious Basterds makes no apologies, asks for no forgiveness, it’s a no holds barred assault on the senses. Tarantino doesn’t care if he offends, if he steps all over stereotypes and clichés, this is film making at it purest. It’s great to see a film maker whose work clearly isn’t interfeared with by the powers that be. Tarantino is a master of effortlessly cranking up immense tension and suddenly mixing it with laugh out loud moments; you’re not sure if you should be looking away in disgust or rolling around laughing, either way it’s a roller coaster and one not to be missed! It’s not for everyone, certainly if you’re not a fan of Tarantino’s style, this may be a little hard to swallow, but never-the-less, it is a film which simply has to be seen. No self respecting film fan should miss this. And the performance of Christoph Waltz… Oscar don’t you dare ignore him!!”
Ron writes, “This screenplay is exhausting to read. I know Tarantino is one of Hollywood’s “wonder boys” but since the man obviously can’t write, he should at least hire someone to correct his spelling and grammar. I’ve seen better written stories come out of the second grade.”
(Tarantino may not have written this version of the script.)
To read more comments, click here.
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If you are strong in vision and story, but weak in grammar and spelling, to play it safe, make sure to have a friend or family member edit your script before sending it off to anyone in the biz.
What is your favorite war movie script and why?
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Click on the title for scripts. If any of these script links in red do not work, please let me know.
To secure work and love you need good manners.
When we don’t get the guidance we need from our parents, teachers, and community, we end up lost on a long road of rejection and financial struggle, not understanding why.
Interviews, dates, meetings, and auditions are sensitive times when one little tiny thing can blow an enormous opportunity.
Being yourself and having an interesting personality is important, but because each of these things listed below has caused myself or others to lose a job, when in doubt, you might want to err on the side of caution.
40 NO-NONSENSE TIPS on
(List also good to trigger ideas for writing comedy)
1) Wear appropriate clothes for the meeting. Figure out what that is.
2) Be careful of how revealing your clothes are.
MEN: Pull up your pants and do not expose your underwear or butt unless you are auditioning for the part of a bum or street gangster.
WOMEN: Unless you are auditioning to play a prostitute, consider how much leg, midriff, and cleavage you are showing and limit it.
3) Silence your cell phone or turn it off. Vibrate is not silent. Don’t even look at it! Not in the waiting room. Not in the meeting. Stop. Put it away.
4) Do not slouch in the chair or put your feet up on any furniture.
5) Do not sit on the floor.
6) Do not bring in food or drink unless instructed to do so for a lunch or dinner meeting. Do not put your drink or trash on anyone else’s space. Do not leave any trash behind.
7) Do not chew gum, smoke, or make gross noises with your mouth.
8) Be clean and do not wear perfume.
9) NEVER speak over another person who is talking. Do not speak until summoned.
10) When you are not the focus of the meeting, keep quiet during your first group meeting so you can observe what is proper protocol and what type of information interests the group.
11) Don’t brag or show off.
12) If you are going to name-drop, it must be relevant and true.
13) Wear clean closed-toed shoes. Lots of people are offended by toes, especially unkempt ones. Don’t wear hooker high heels unless for a specific character.
14) Don’t write emails any much longer than the ones you receive unless specific information is requested.
15) Don’t be desperate or crazy. Don’t keep calling or writing. Time to move on after three unreturned phone calls or messages.
16) Listen! Look. Give your undivided attention. Best way to fail a new relationship encounter (or an old one) is to ignore the person or be distracted.
17) Don’t start making jokes until you know your audience and know what they think is funny.
18) Avoid discussions on politics, religion, violence, and sex all together… unless one of those topics is the business.
19) Never say “I hate…” because chances are, the person across from you loves it.
20) Don’t play mind games. Be honest, forthright, and available.
21) Don’t be a door matt. Stand by your true beliefs, quietly. Don’t waver back and forth depending on what the other person says.
22) Be OPEN MINDED to new ideas and negotiations. Say, “I will think about it,” even if you disagree. You never know.
23) Be wrong and apologize when you make a remarkable error or offense. One time is sufficient.
24) Be confident, but not arrogant: know you are good, but don’t tell everyone about it.
25) Don’t speak negative words about anyone: it will come back to haunt you.
26) Don’t curse.
27) Don’t be vulgar, crass, or crude, unless you are a comedian and that is your schtick.
28) Don’t whine or complain… not about your health, your family, your job, traffic, or anything. Put a lid on it. No one cares. It just makes people not like you. Everyone has troubles. Save it for your best friend.
29) If you have nothing nice or interesting to say, don’t say anything. When people ask your “honest opinion,” they are lying. Tread lightly.
30) Look for something positive before you ever decide to utter something negative.
31) Don’t over apologize for every little silly thing, that becomes awkward and sets you beneath the other person. Just say “Excuse me” or “Pardon me” for the small stuff, not “I’m sorry” every minute.
32) Look a person in the eyes.
33) Save your hugs for your besties, a hand shake is appropriate for first meetings. If other person offers a hug, great. Notice (by distance and hidden hands) if the person does not want to shake hands (germs) and give them their space. Don’t make a big deal of it.
34) Don’t reschedule more than twice. Work it out.
35) A great way to limit your life opportunities is to blather on about your drug and alcohol usage.
36) When you feel really nervous, instead of trying to say something clever, keep quiet. Mysterious intrigue is better than idiot.
37) Do not talk for more than a minute at a time, unless you are giving a lecture. No one likes to be verbally steam rolled by the other person.
38) If you were scouted on the street by a casting director for a TV show, it is because they like how you look right then, don’t show up for the audition looking like a different person with different hair and different clothes. If you were sloven, that means sloven is the desired look (but not stinky).
39) Being cruel is not funny or cool.
40) Send a Thank You message or note, when possible.
What embarrassing moments have you had that you wish you could go back and change?
What have you seen other people do that kept them from getting a job or second date?
A Screenplay Option is an Agreement between Writer and Producer that allows Producer exclusive rights to Writer’s story and the time to secure commitments with financiers and talent.
The Agreement will state the Option Payment (often only $1) and the Option to Purchase the script. The Purchase price may be 2% of the total budget that has been acquired to make the movie, or it may be a fixed amount like $200,000 or $1,000,000.
There is much confusion and debate over $1 Options. Let’s debunk some myths.
Having worked in the legal departments of some of the biggest Hollywood TV Networks and Film Studios, I can tell you that $1 Options are common and normal. There is nothing wrong with them or to be feared. Many purchased scripts that I dealt with, first had a $1 Option Agreement. Therefore, in my opinion, you would be a fool to turn down $1 Options simply because of the $1.
These $1 Options are usually with unknown writers. Unknown writers, who have not yet proved themselves in sales or with a large fan base, are a greater financial risk for studios and networks.
When you grant a Producer a $1 Option, you are simply giving your confidence to one person (or company) to sell your script or to produce the money to make the movie. The $1 makes it official and contractually binding.
The Option amount of $1 or $1,000 or $10,000 is comparatively little to what you could make if you sell your script.
What matters most when going into an Option Agreement is WHO IS THE PRODUCER? Is this Producer trustworthy? Do they have a track record of success? Do they get movies made? Do they get writers paid?
Who cares if your Option is $1 if you sell your script 6 months later for $400,000 thanks to a Producer who knows what he is doing and knows all the right people in town?
BEWARE of shady conmen who call themselves Producers in Hollywood: sadly, there are many. Do your homework and investigate before signing any agreements with anyone.
6 months or 1 year are good and common Option Agreement terms. More time than that and you will may become frustrated. If the Producer is making some good headway and contracts are being written, then you may give that Producer another 3 or 6 months Option Extension.
A 2 year Option Agreement for $1 may cause you anguish — I advise against that. If the Producer pays $10,000 or a substantial fee to show a real genuine commitment to getting your script made, then that is a little more reasonable for a 2 year Option Agreement.
While the Producer is trying to get your story made into a movie, you should be busy writing new stories to sell.
If you are a famous author, best selling novelist, or have a story that is in high demand (for whatever reason), then the $1 Option is not the best bet for you. You need to sell high while you are hot, or at least get a significant financial commitment up front when doing an Option Agreement.
The $1 Options are more for unknown writers or basic stories, not so much for high concept movies or famous writers.
A $1 Option may also be between a writer and producer who have worked successfully together in the past, just to have a contract and to show their commitment to each other in good faith.
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Have your ever Optioned a Screenplay?
Please share your experience in the comments section.