New Video: Finding Your Theme

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If you read a lot of screenwriting books, it’s easy start to think of theme as an intellectual tool: something that you apply to your writing in order to make decisions about what should be happening, what your character should be doing or saying or what message your audience should leave the movie believing. But theme actually comes from a much deeper place than that…

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Is Your Structure Oscar Worthy?

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by, Jacob Krueger As writers, we all fantasize about writing an Academy Award Winning screenplay.  We all have visions of ourselves walking that red carpet, holding that gold statue, thanking the people who inspired and believed in us. Watching movies like the ones nominated for this year’s Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, it’s easy […]

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Writing For The A-List Actor

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by, Jacob Krueger There’s a reason why bona-fide movie stars take home bigger paychecks than just about anyone in Hollywood.  And it’s not just their pretty faces and talented performances. Movie stars get movies made.  Because the right star virtually guarantees the one thing every producer is looking for: butts in seats. Look at the Academy […]

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The Difference Between Plot and Structure

by, Jacob Krueger The words plot and structure are often used interchangeably by writers and screenwriting teachers alike.  But the truth is, there’s a profound difference between plot and structure, and confusing the two can be devastating for your writing. No matter how brilliantly it may be executed, plot, on it’s own, is almost always […]

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5 Things To Know About Dealing With Producers

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by, Jacob Krueger When that big door finally cracks open and a producer shows an interest in your script, it tends to come with a flood of emotion, from joy to anxiety. But remember, selling your script is always about the long game, building the long term connections rather than trying to make the sale. […]

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What the heck is an archetype?

by, Jacob Krueger Just about every screenwriting teacher since Joseph Campbell has talked about the vital importance of creating archetypal characters in a screenplay. So why is it that writers attempting to capture these archetypal characters so often end up inadvertently creating paper thin stereotypes again? Much of the confusion comes from the way these […]

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Is Your New Year’s Resolution Killing Your Writing?

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by, Jacob Krueger The idea of a New Year’s resolution is a beautiful one for writers—a New Year, with a new start, and a new commitment to the things that really matter to you. Set your resolutions in the right way, and they can have a permanent transformative effect, not just on your writing, but […]

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Does Your Character Actually Arc?

by, Jacob Krueger Anyone who’s ever taken a class or read a book about how to write a screenplay has heard more than their fair share about the importance of a character’s arc. There’s only one problem: in the best movies a character’s journey rarely looks like an arc at all. In this new video, […]

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How To Find a Great Character

by, Jacob Krueger All writers, at some point in their careers, have found themselves feeling disconnected from their characters. These are the hardest time to be a writer. When the characters aren’t talking to you, the dialogue isn’t flowing, and you feel cut off from your character’s journey, and your creativity as a writer. Often, […]

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How Thanksgiving Can Make You a Better Writer

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by, Jacob Krueger There are days all writers live for:  those great writing days when inspiration is flowing, every moment is connected, and the words are coming so easily it seems like the screenplay is writing itself. On days like these, it’s easy to feel like a writer.  It’s easy feel thankful for your creative […]

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Are You REWRITING From The Right Part of Your Brain?

We all know rewriting can be hell… but it doesn’t have to be.   In this new video, I explore some of the common misperceptions about rewriting, and how they get in the way of the rewrite process.  Learn how to rewrite a screenplay without losing that creative spark that made it worth writing in […]

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Is Your Screenplay Ready For a Star?

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by Jacob Krueger Everybody knows that if you want to get your script made, you’ve got to get an amazing actor to say yes to the leading role. And that doesn’t mean some underappreciated thespian who really deserves her day in the sun.  I’m talking above-the-line talent, a legitimate movie star whose name itself is reason […]

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Writing Your Screenplay Is Like Falling In Love, Part 2

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Falling In Love All Over Again by, Jacob Krueger  In the first article in this series, The Bouncing Block, I talked about how writing a script is like falling in love, and the importance of staying in your relationship with your script even then that honeymoon period starts to fade. But there’s another form of […]

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Are You Bouncing Between Screenplays?

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by, Jacob Krueger There’s one kind of writer’s block everyone is aware of:  the kind where you’re just not writing.  You know the drill.  You plan a time to sit down in front of your computer… and somehow find yourself reorganizing your Christmas ornaments (in the middle of April).  But there’s another kind of block […]

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Is Your Rewrite a Big Pain In The… Back?

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(Things To Learn About Rewriting From a Truly Great Massage) by, Jacob Krueger You know the spot.  That aching ball of tension in that one spot on your back that no massage therapist can ever seem to reach.   (For me it’s a rock hard curse of muscular agony just below my left shoulder blade). I’ve had […]

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Don’t Make These TV Spec Script Mistakes!

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by, Jacob Krueger In Part 1 of this “What You Need To Get A TV Staff Job” series, I discussed the most important things to consider in writing a spec script for an existing series.  In this installment, I’ll be discussing the big mistakes aspiring staff writers tend to make in writing their spec scripts, […]

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What You Need To Get a TV Staff Job

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by, Jacob Krueger With the announcement of our new TV Writing Class, I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about what you need to do to break in to the TV Writing Business. Television is a special kind of beast, with highly specific parameters that vary from show to show.  Unlike feature film producers, TV […]

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What’s Wrong With Arrested Development?

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By, Jacob Krueger For fans of the original Arrested Development, this weekend was one of the most anticipated TV events in history.  The return, after 8 years, of a show commonly thought of as the funniest sitcom in TV history. So why did so many people end up cutting their long awaited Arrested Development marathon […]

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Branding Yourself as a Writer

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by Jacob Krueger Many of the questions I’ve been getting recently from my students have been about what kinds of scripts young writers should focus on writing. Is it true that you should start out writing thrillers?  Is it okay to write an indie drama or a movie based on your own life?  Is it […]

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Are You Planning Your Script?

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by Jacob Krueger If you’ve ever read one of the popular books on screenwriting, there’s a good chance you’re well on your way to planning your script. Depending on which book you’ve read, you’ve probably got a logline, an outline, pages and pages of character bios, half a trillion note cards thumb-tacked to your walls, […]

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The Truth About Truth & Cliche

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by Jacob Krueger Cliché. If you’re a writer, you’ve probably experienced the terror this word implies about your writing:  boring, tired, overused, uninspired, uncreative, or just plain not good enough. If you’ve ever been part of a writing class, you’ve probably had the dangers of cliché burned into your brain like a mark of shame. […]

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Writing a Screenplay is Like Cooking a Steak

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by, Jacob Krueger As any chef will tell you, there’s a great irony in the cooking of a steak. In order to appreciate the taste of the meat, you’ve got to cook it with all kinds of stuff you’d never want to eat. Gristle.  Fat.  Bones.  They’re all pretty nasty to chew on.  But try […]

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Final Challenge Check In

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Wow!  It’s hard to believe we’ve already reached the official end of the 2013 Screenwriting Challenge  To everyone who participated, congratulations!  You’ve made a huge commitment to your writing life that will continue to pay dividends far into the future. Whether you wrote every day, or whether you pick up your pen and paper for […]

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Challenge Check In #3: Make Your Last Week Count

Can you believe it? Only one week left until the end of the 2013 Screenwriting Challenge! Haven’t picked up the pen yet?  What are you waiting for?  That’s the great thing about the challenge, you can start anytime. So grab your journal, find a pen, and start writing right now.  Start writing as fast as […]

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Challenge Check In #2: What To Do If It’s Just Not Coming?

We’re now more than halfway through the 2013 Screenwriting Challenge. For those of you who are still writing every day, congratulations! You’re taking a giant step toward becoming the writer you want to be. But what if you’re struggling? What if your writing schedule is spotty or uneven? What if there have been some days […]

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Screenwriting Challenge Check In

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We’re now a week into the 2013 Screenwriting Challenge, and the response has been tremendous. I’ve heard from so many of you, expressing the excitement of those who are enjoying the challenge, as well as the questions of those who are struggling with it. Here are some of the common questions that tend to come […]

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2013 Screenwriting Challenge

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Begin Your New Year WRITE! With My 5th Annual 2013 SCREENWRITING CHALLENGE Why The Challenge? Let’s face it, the holidays are a brutal time for writers. We all do our best writing when we get into a rhythm. But during the holiday season that rhythm can be impossible to maintain. Schedules get jammed with Christmas […]

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What Is Your Character’s Wish-Song?

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I recently saw a trailer for the film version of Les Miserables—a series of evocative images, underscored by Fantine’s tear-inducing musical theme: I Dreamed a Dream. Yeah, I found myself emotionally moved by a promotional trailer. But more importantly, I found myself thinking about the power of a wish-song to provide an emotional structure for your character’s journey, even if you’re not writing a musical.

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Creating The Perfect Villain

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By, Jacob Krueger Creating a believable antagonist is about more than just coming up with nefarious plans.  It’s about stepping into the world view of your villain, and asking yourself what really makes them tick.  When written right, a great villian not only ups the stakes of your screenplay, but also pushes your main character […]

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What’s The Itch Your Character Can’t Scratch?

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By, Jacob Krueger In his recent TED talk, embedded below, Andrew Stanton, Academy Award winning screenwriter of WALL-E, TOY STORY and countless other Pixar movies, spoke about the powerful forces that make us care about a character. Stanton describes this as the character’s spine, a singular subconscious need—an itch they can’t scratch—which drives every action […]

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THE SIXTH SENSE: Is Your Idea Good Enough?

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By, Jacob Krueger I recently received the following question from a student: “I’m having trouble making an idea stick. Or should I say I’m having trouble sticking to an idea… Something draws me head over heels into an idea like into a dream, and then — it’s like falling out of love — a critical […]

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John Cleese: The Top 5 Things You Need For Creativity

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John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, speaks about what it takes to get into “the open mode” required for creativity, and why that’s so vital for creating your best work…

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What Picasso Can Teach You As A Screenwriter

During a recent trip to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, I saw an exhibit that demonstrated a great secret that screenwriters can learn from painters…

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The Truth About Awesome Dialogue

I’m about to say something radical: just because your character SAYS something doesn’t make it dialogue.

Real dialogue, good dialogue (and the kind of dialogue you actually want in your screenplay) is distinguished from all the other stuff your character says by one simple quality…

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Where Is Your Character Going?

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I’m writing this from the air on my way to Costa Rica, thinking about the importance of location, both in screenplays and in life.

We behave differently in different places, and so do our characters. Travelling abroad, we speak to people we wouldn’t necessarily speak to, face fears we wouldn’t normally face, and get in touch with aspects of ourselves we wouldn’t normally recognize. New locations break us out of our routines, and open us to new experiences.

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Is Your Screenplay a Fish?

By, Jacob Krueger If Hollywood is a giant shark tank, then what does that make your script? In this video, Award Winning Screenwriter Jacob Krueger talks about what it takes to get your script noticed in the feeding frenzy, and how you know when your script is ready to enter the tank.

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What Makes a Script Commercial

By, Jacob Krueger Everybody wants to sell their script, but how are you supposed to know what makes a movie commercial? And how can you sell your screenplay without selling your soul? In this video, I discuss the question of why producers choose some scripts and not others, and an organic approach to writing a […]

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What To Do When You Pitch Your Script

If you’re a screenwriter, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of desperation that comes with trying to sell your script. In this new video, I discuss how you can find the confidence to pitch to the right people, in the right ways, and give both your script, and potential producers, the respect they deserve.

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Who is Writing Your Coverage Notes?

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The following text was taken verbatim from the website of a prominent coverage company, one of thousands of such services offering coverage as a form of “development notes” for young writers. What’s interesting (and horrifying) about this text is that this doesn’t come from the sales side of the website-it comes from a FAQ on the recruitment side, hiring readers to provide these coverage services to writers…

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Formatting PART 2: The Goldilocks Syndrome

As I discussed in part 1 of this article, for a producer, reading a truly great script is like finding a hidden spring in the middle of a vast desert. But industry executives are so used to seeing mirages, that unless you show them in the right way, they may not even recognize real water when they see it.

That’s bad news for a lot of writers. But it’s good news for you. Because if you understand the ways that producers form their first impressions of a script, you can use them to your advantage, to start winning over your readers from the very first page.

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These Three Letters Are Not Your Friends

By, Jacob Krueger Want to revolutionize your writing in three letters or less?  Do a hunt through your writing for these three letters: I-N-G. No, I’m not talking about the internet bank. I’m talking about the three letters that turn verbs into nouns (gerunds for you English teachers) grinding your story to a halt and […]

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Happy Passover! (The Passover Question For Screenwriters)

By, Jacob Krueger After hearing my nieces sing the four questions at tonight’s seder, I felt compelled to repost this oldie but goodie: The Passover Question (For Screenwriters)

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What Kind of Clothes Is Your Screenplay Wearing?

By, Jacob Krueger What’s The Number One Reason A Screenplay Gets Rejected? Imagine you’re about to interview for the job of a lifetime. If you get the job, you’ll potentially make hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, doing what you most love in the world. How would you dress for that interview? Would […]

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Announcing: The Winner of the 2012 Screenwriting Fellowship

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By, Jacob Krueger After several months of reading hundreds of scripts, Jacob Krueger Studio is pleased to announce the winner of the 2012 Jacob Krueger Screenwriting Fellowship. Congratulations to our Fellowship Winner: DAN GUNDERMAN   Screenplay: “Jayhawkers” Dan has won a Full Scholarship to our Screenwriting Retreat in Costa Rica!     We still have a […]

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Facing The Blank Page

By, Jacob Krueger How To Face The Blank Page Whether you’re brand new to writing or have been writing for years, there is a common fear you share with all writers: the fear of the blank page. When we dream about writing, we can imagine the blank page as a place of possibility, excitement and […]

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What’s The Point of Structure?

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Every screenwriter is obsessed with structure.  And if you’re a writer, then you’ve probably had the frustrating experience of trying to make sense of at least a dozen conflicting terms and approaches, from Aristotle to Syd Field: Three Act Structure, Hero’s Journey, Plot, Multiplot, Sequences, Formulas, Archetypes, Turns, Twists, Pinches, Plot Points, Act Breaks, Inciting […]

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THE SOCIAL NETWORK: Is The Audience Listening To Your Dialogue?

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By, Jacob Krueger Remember the first scene of The Social Network? Aaron Sorkin’s spitfire banter ricocheting at high velocity between Mark Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Erica. The scene is so brilliantly written, you probably barely noticed that you didn’t understand half of what these characters were saying to each other! With characters talking faster than […]

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The Power of the First and Last Image

By, Jacob Krueger Does a chain email hold the secret to your script? A friend of mine recently sent me a chain email.  Normally, I just delete these without reading.  But because of the person who had sent it, I decided to take a look. The email went something like this: “Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch […]

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Rule #6: You Need To Make Writing a Full Time Job

by, Jacob Krueger 100 Rules and How To Break Them Rule #6: You Need To Make Writing a Full Time Job Check out 100 Rules And How To Break Them for more tips. If you’re a writer, at some point you’ve probably heard yourself say some version of the following sentence: “If I could just get (one […]

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Should You Write An Ensemble Piece?

By, Jacob Krueger What do most of Robert Altman’s films, and screenplays like Crash and The Tree of Life have in common? They’re all ensemble pieces. So why do so many screenwriting teachers warn against writing for ensembles? And should you dare to write an ensemble piece yourself? Check out this new video for Scriptmag, […]

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