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Writing A Great Script Fast In A Nutshell

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Download the "Writing A Great Script Fast In A Nutshell" Workbook PDF or Microsoft Word Workbook DOC to answer the questions in this free online screenwriting class.

Just watch the movies and answer the questions at each step to end up with a great story idea fast! Go to Step 1.

Questions To Answer:

Step 1: Story Goal Questions To Consider

1) Do you want to write a script, make a film and/or write a novel using this step-by-step story engine process?


2) If you want to write a script or make a film do you want to do a short, feature or series?

3) What is you goal in finishing this story project? To get a job, to win an award, to make money or raise awareness about an issue?


4) If you are planning on making the film yourself which digital filmmaking tools are you planning to use DV, 2D, 3D or combinations?


Step 2: Basic Three Act Story Structure Sentence

1) Do you want to write a script, make a film and/or write a novel using this step-by-step story engine process?


2) If you want to write a script or make a film do you want to do a short, feature or series?

3) What is you goal in finishing this story project? To get a job, to win an award, to make money or raise awareness about an issue?


4) If you are planning on making the film yourself which digital filmmaking tools are you planning to use DV, 2D, 3D or combinations?


Step 2.2: Basic Three Act Story Structure Sentence

It is a story about a protagonist (lead character) who wants something (plot goal) that forces him/her to take action. He/she meets with an escalating array of conflicts (obstacles) leading to a climax and resolution.

Protagonist: Lead character and focus of the plot. Usually the first character you see. Viewer teddy bear - get your audience attached to this character and worried about their well being.

Antagonist: Character or thing standing in the way of the protagonist accomplishing his or her goals. Make the audience very afraid of this thing or character.

Any quick ideas for a great lead protagonist or antagonist placed into the above story sentence? Fill in the sentence blanks with a story you make up off the top of your head to practice three act structure ideas.


Step 3: Brainstorming For Characters:

List 5 possible main characters for a film you would love to see in a story. Attach an age, sex, location, occupation, visual style and dreamcast with a favorite actor. Make sure these are characters you would love to see in a film. Use the brainstorming lists below to get more ideas to fill into this example chart:

Body Type
Visual Style
Dog head detective
Nicolas Cage
Mt Shasta
New Age
Angelina Jolie

Tall blond athletic

High tech explorer
Peter Weller
Skinny NYC Party Girl

shock performance artist

Hip NYC artist

Naomi Watts

Polar bear
Intuit Indian
Owen Wilson

Occupational Ideas: Pick ones that seem fun visually or match characters you might want to develop. Feel free to combine occupations such as a Circus Clown Professional Surfer, Matchmaker Wizard or a Tour Guide Astronaut.

Astronaut Musician Professional soccer player Talk-show host Dictator
Hunter Housewife Fashion designer Cowboy

Professional Surfer

Bum Student Circus clown Cook Matchmaker
Wizard Researcher Tour guide Shaman Slave
Belly dancer Sheriff Spaceship commander Teacher Reporter
Soldier Psychiatrist Gangster Guru Hairdresser
Poet Witchdoctor Magician Construction worker Burglar
Stockbroker Government employee Investment banker Novelist Pirate
Policeman Lifeguard Hands-on healer Computer programmer Game designer
Butler Astrologer Advertising executive Astronomer Accountant
Car thief Knight King/Queen Clerk Mailman
Fireman Hit man Retired Archeologist Chemist Congressman
Cartoonist Model Clown Comedian Wrestler
Veterinarian Priest Detective Dentist Doctor
Witch Lawyer Artist Plumber DJ/VJ
Student Mortician Vagabond Warrior Editor
Explorer Fisherman Fortune teller Politician Engineer
Landscaper Actor Racecar driver Painter President

Visual Styles/Attitudes: What one or two words would best describe the appearance of your character style wise?

French Chic Hippie Student
Punk Biker Trucker
Goth 1950's Cocktail Hour Techno
Yuppie Small Town Native Indian
Country Beachy Four Seasons
New Age Nerd Hot
Nervous Servant Dad
Old Money Bookish Dirty


Dreamcasting: Attach a famous actor to dreamcast your main character idea. Feel free to change their real ages or even use dead ones to describe their essence. If you are thinking about an animated character dreamcast for the voice actor.

Female Actors:

Angelina Jolie Drew Barrymoore
Meryl Streep Marilyn Monroe
Lucille Ball Angela Lansbury
Elizabeth Taylor Dolly Parton
Nicole Kidman Kathy Bates
Cameron Diaz Sissy Spacek
Halle Berry Diane Lane
Reese Witherspoon Shirley MacLaine
Angelica Huston Jodie Foster
Kate Winslet Julia Roberts
Jennifer Lopez Parker Posey
Catherine Zeta Jones Kate Hudson
Gwyneth Paltrow Whoopie Goldberg
Sandra Bullock Uma Thurman
Claire Danes Goldie Hawn
Naomi Watts Sigourney Weaver
Oprah Winfrey Kristen Dunst

Male Actors:

Jack Nicholson Samuel L. Jackson
Anthony Hopkins Harrison Ford
Jeff Goldblum Christopher Walken
Ben Affleck Val Kilmer
Bruce Lee Sean Penn
Billy Bob Thornton Nicholas Cage
Richard Gere Clint Eastwood
Ed Harris Kevin Costner
Jackie Chan Tom Cruise
Robin Williams Billy Crystal
Keanu Reeves Arnold Schwarzenegger
Bruce Willis Michael Douglas
Leonardo DeCaprio Matthew McConaughey
Tom Hanks Denzel Washington
James Woods Edward Norto
Brad Pitt Owen Wilson
John Travolta Ryan Gosling

Make sure your Top 5 Possible Leading Character Ideas are ones you would love to see in a story!


Step 4: Film World Settings

What film worlds or settings have you always wanted to see in a film or story? List your Top 5 Favorite Film World Settings with dates, visual styles and a few adjectives to really SEE these locations.

Think of places you have always wanted to see in a film. These sets do not have to relate to the characters you just did but may be places some of them would live. If you are making the film yourself think also of local settings you could shoot or animate.

Favorite Film World Setting Examples:

1) NYC 3012 as a green gold beehive hippie Utopian city

2) Surface of Mars during an expedition

3) Ancient Egypt at it’s height

4) Lost underground city under Mt St. Helena

5) Prague 1992


Step 5: Favorite Subjects

What are your top 5 Favorite Subjects or areas of interest? Make sure these are subjects you would love to see in a film.


Subjects you like to study or research

Mystical creatures

Favorite subjects in books, movies, comic books

Favorite myths or cultures

Things you like to do for fun

Places or historical events

Urban Legends


Step 6: Story Flavors & Genres

List your Top 5 Favorite Story Flavors using the list below to help you come up with ideas. Think also of combining Story Flavors such as an animated supernatural comedy or a romantic crime thriller.

1) Action/adventure: Big adventures, hero survival, daring stunts, and action sequences.
2) Animation: Far-out or surreal visual elements with objects that can turn into other things. These stories usually show us something real actors or sets cannot do as easily, such as talking animals or living toys.
3) Ensemble:Stories about groups of characters unified by same theme.
4) Experimental: Avant-garde rule breakers. Creating films that audiences may not even understand.
5) Biography: Find meaning of the person's life (theme), and make the person the hero (or anti-hero) in his or her own tale.
6) Buddy: Friendship or nonromantic close relationships developed over a series of events.
7) City symphony: Films about a single location with different perspectives, characters, events, and time frames.
8) Comedy: Show how characters in the best situations still manage to mess up or create fish out of water tales. These stories are often used to showcase the brutality of social life.
9) Crime: Murder mystery, detectives solving cases, reporters investigating crimes, prison stories, heists, spy stories, criminals/victims getting revenge, courtroom dramas, organized crime.
10) Disillusionment: Protagonist's view of life changes from positive to negative.
11) Documentary: True story about event, people, process, subject or place.
12) Drama: Passion, madness, dreams of human heart.
13) Education: Protagonist changes worldview from negative to positive by learning something new.
14) Fantasy: New-world rules playing with time, space, and laws of nature.
15) Historical: Stories from the past often work great to show us some themes of our present situations at a comfortable distance.
16) Horror: Bad, evil, scary, creepy things.
17) Journey: Trip, road trip, or travel tale.
18) Love story: What gets in the way of romantic love?
19) Maturation: Coming-of-age story.
20) Mockumentary: Fiction that looks like a real documentary.
21) Music video: Short film for a song and hopefully some story, theme, or context.
22) Musical: Songs used to tell stories from any genre. What are the new digitally enhanced musicals going to look like?
23) Myth: Hero journeys, ancestral memories, prehistory, moral conduct, or urban legends.
24) Obsession/addiction/temptation: Willpower versus obsessions/addictions/temptations.
25) Personal anthology: Video diaries, personal events.
26) Postmodern: No single lead protagonist with distortion of time and space.
27) Punishment: Good protagonist turns bad and is >punished.
28) Psychodrama: Madmen, serial killers, crazy people, nuthouses.
29) Reality shows: Real-life, voyeuristic-style stories. TV shows such as The Osbournes or Survivor.
30) Redemption: Protagonist goes from morally bad to good.
31) Science fiction: Possible future, unknown past.
32) Societal problems: Political, racial, medical, educational, business, environmental, family.
33) Sports: Big character change in relationship to sporting event.
34) Supernatural: Spiritual or freaky occurrence in unseen realms.
35) Tragedy: Cautionary tales, somber themes, catastrophic characters.
36) War: Combat, prowar/antiwar.
37) Western: Wild West. Good versus evil. Gun fights, cowboys, bank robberies, cattle drives, Indians, ranches, horses and saloons.

What new Favorite Story Flavor Combinations can you create that you would just love to see in a film?


Step 7: Digital Filmmaking Techniques

If you are planning on making the film, what Top 5 Digital Filmmaking Techniques do you think you may want to use? If you are really good at 3D animation, or taking a 3D class, you would concentrate on that style. If you draw and want to try doing simple 2D animations in After Effects or Flash you would list those ideas.

Even if you are just writing a story or script and do not plan on making the film, try picking what production style would best match the story. If you are doing a 2D or 3D animated story you want to make sure and include events and characters that take advantage of all the wild things animation can show.

DV (Digital Video) 2D Animation 3D Animation
DV actors on real sets hand drawn characters 3D characters - anything goes!
bluescreen actors hand drawn sets 3D Settings - anything goes!
DV backgrounds pan and scan photos 3D make up
bluescreen body parts animated cut up photos 3D tidal waves
bluescreen pet heads photo collage backgrounds Maya 3D hair
DV with paint FX hand made or string puppets particle FX
DV with 2D animated filter look old toys moved with hands inside a 3D cat's brain

Look at ways to combine favorite digital filmmaking visual styles, such as a 3D character on DV sets, or a 2D hand drawn character on 3D sets.

Step 8: Story Concept Brainstorming Sentences

Fill in the following chart with the Top 5 Favorite Lists you just created:

Characters Settings Subjects Genres Software
Bigfoot teenage girl, new age shaman, 16 Angelina Jolie lost underground ancient city Bigfoots Comedy 3D bigfoots
Tall blond Nordic archeologist 32, explorer, Peter Weller Prague 1992 Lost cities Animated supernatural comedy 2D photo collage sets
NYC party girl 28 hip techno, shock artist, Naomi Watts Tunnel crypts under Paris 2007 shamans Romantic myth thriller 2D lightening bolt FX
Polar bear boy 9, fat orphan, Owen Wilson Inside a cat's brain Native Americans Buddy spiritual adventure bluescreen actors
Dog headed Gothic detective, 32, Nicolas Cage Lightening bolt storm crop circles Mockumentary horror hand drawn 2D characters

Create 3 Story Concept Sentences using the above chart to fill in these spaces:

It is a story about a Top 5 Character who lives in a Top 5 Film World/Setting. This story explores the subject of Top 5 Subject in a Top 5 Story Flavor using Top 5 Software.

Be flexible with how you phrase the sentence to make it sound best. Feel free to add things not on the lists if you come up with better ideas. Your goal is to end up with at least one Favorite Story Sentence you would love to see as a film. Here are some more examples:

It is a story about a 3D teenage bigfoot girl who lives in a lost underground city. This story explores the subject of shamanism in a supernatural animated comedy using 3D bigfoots on 3D sets.

It is a story about a dog headed gothic detective living in Prague investigating a series of bigfoot sightings in an animated crime thriller comedy using bluescreen actors, 2D photo collage sets and 3D bigfoots.

It is a story about a fat polar bear orphan boy living in Alaska trying to survive global warming in an animated comedy using 3D creatures, 3D sets and some DV sets.

Pick your favorite Story Sentence to develop for the rest of this Writing A Great Script Fast Nutshell Sample Workshop. Make sure it is a story idea you would stand in line in the rain on a dark cold night to see!

Coming up next we will be adding plot goals and an antagonist to this one favorite story sentence idea..

Step 9: Pick A Plot Goal

Choose 1-2 main plot goals for your Final Story Idea Sentence:

Plot Goal #1:

Plot Goal #2 (optional):

Make sure the goals sound fun visually and see how you can use favorite subjects or goals. Be specific about the goal such as what type of race they want to win.

To slay monster To win the race To rule the world To stop a bomb
To defeat an enemy To win political office To become king/queen To get revenge
To save the world To cure disease To stop natural disaster To fall in love
To get the girl/guy To solve a crime
To solve a mystery
To steal something
To win war
To stop war
To get rich To advance spiritually
To become famous To become successful To blackmail someone To get someone to do something
To get someone to do something To find meaning in life To solve murder To catch a killer
To solve/fix a problem To understand something To learn a new skill To become a top warrior
To become a leader To fight for a just cause To do what is right To help people
To find treasure To get around the system To stop a bad thing from happening To become a better person
To evolve to a higher state of being To survive a dangerous vision quest To travel to distant lands To prove a theory
To get a promotion To get a date To explore new territory To fix broken transportation
To invent a new device To make something new To have a successful art show/event To save a current relationship
To defeat evil      


Step 10: Pick An Antagonist

Who or what is standing in the way of you character accomplishing the plot goal you just chose?

This antagonist could be a madman, boss, family member, teacher, enemy, competitor or organization. You want to create a great original antagonist - think back to the antagonists in your favorite films or stories to get ideas. Many stories have more than one single antagonist, and may have a series of encounters or groups, trying to stop your protagonist from acheiving their plot goals.

Competitor Madman
Pirate Outlaw
Monster Natural disaster
Family member Authority figure
Boss Commander
Lawyer Evil person
Protagonist himself/herself Bad alien

Corporation or head of corporation
Someone blackmailing someone
Robot Cursed object
Social pressure Criminal
Spirit Leader
The system The police
Enemy The government
Local bully A teacher or mentor
Organization or head of organization Dangerous animal
Thug or gang Characters with different viewpoints
Character seeking revenge Disease

Antagonist Idea For Your Story:


How is the plot goal for this antagonist in opposition with the protagonist’s plot goal?






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