Last night I schelpped over to my local Barnes and Noble to see what gems of knowledge I could discover in the screenwriting section. I gathered up the books they had and headed over to the kids section, where I found a big table with teensy little chairs. Resting my chin on my knees due to the size of the furniture I was sitting on, I began soaking up what I needed to know about screenwriting.

Screenwriting for Dummies, on page 99, gave me some sage advice on how to devise a plot for my screenplay. A recipe for a plot = take one routine, add an obstacle and stir. Brilliant. That seems rather simple, and me likey simple.

The only book I found that was written by someone that has sold a screenplay was Secrets of Screenwriting by Tom Lazarus. Little Tommy sold Stigmata and made some mad cash. Apparently not enough though, cause he wrote this book afterwards. After that, he worked on a fake reality show for the Playboy channel. IMDB doesn’t list anything else for him after that. Hrm. Think on that and make what you will of it.

Tommy had this little nugget of info for me on what I simply must accomplish in my opening. (starting on page 120.) I should set up the story within the first 10 pages, but 5 is even better. I have to establish the location, introduce the main character and his needs – because it will always be a him because women are out and men are in. (my note, not his) I have to establish style, I assume he means something along the lines of tone and not letting the audience know that plaids are in this season. Ah yes, the next item on the nifty checklist is atmosphere, where I shall create the tone with weather, lighting, mood and appearance. Hrm, maybe it actually IS about the plaids. My next tip is to create a ‘sense of cinema’ where I go for visuals. I need to create tension, conflict for the well being of the character, issues/themes, blah, blah, blah. THEN, after this amazing opening that I have written SOMETHING will happen. This something should be one of the following: kidnapping, a problem, a mystery, a crisis, a conflit, a question, a challenge or an ultimatum.

Fascinating, yes?

Now, I wonder where I can find a bowl large enough to assemble my plot ingredients? And more importantly, if I sell a shitty script do I get to work with the Playboy channel?