Screenwriting Tricks for Authors

What Should I Be Doing Right Now? (For my book or script)

For the New Year I’ve been focusing on motivational tricks to get you writing again. Next month I’ll be covering essential Story Elements from the beginning of Act I. But since people are naturally at different stages of their books and scripts, I thought I’d try a prescription more tailored to where YOU are in the process.


If you are writing your first book or script

or thinking about it, these are the two things I recommend right off:

1. First, make a Master List.

We’ve been talking about how to use different kinds of Master Lists. But coming up with that first key list of ten books and films  that are similar in genre, tone, structure, character, look, theme—or anything that you feel is somehow like the book or script you want to write— is SO important. It will get your creative brain focused on what you truly, deeply want to do with your own story.

And of course, start watching those movies and re-reading those books, to feed yourself some inspiration. You want to surround yourself with your story world, so you’re thinking about it all day and all night, consciously and subconsciously and unconsciously. And when I talk about these elements of dramatic structure, you can see how they work in stories that mean something to you.

2. Brainstorm your story on Index Cards.

You already have much more story than you think you have, and this is a shockingly fast—and fun!—way to get it all out in no particular order so you can start to put it in order. The Index Card Method and Story Structure Grid


If you’re rewriting, or somewhere in the middle –

then the best thing you could be doing right now is harder for me to pinpoint—unless of course you tell mewhere you are and what you’re struggling with! But in general:

First, keep going, of course!

1. Finish the book you’re on.

Don’t run after a shiny new idea!

If you’ve been falling behind on regular work sessions, re-commit to

2. 15 minutes a day.

3. Review the essential elements of each Act

– Especially but not only the act that you’re currently in, and make sure you’re covering them:

Note: the above posts will certainly help you with Story Elements—but if you haven’t bought one of the Screenwriting Tricks workbooks yet— why not? They both have all the concepts I talk about here and much more, presented in an order I’ve developed over decades that works.The books have helped countless writers write books, get book deals, and launch indie careers. What I post here/send out to you is great supplementalmaterial, and I’m using some more current examples, but it’s no substitute for the step-by-step process of the workbooks and/or the online class.

This next one is for sure, for sure, for sure:

4. Make sure you’re clear on what a SETPIECE  is!

and why it’s one of the two or three most important things you can do for your book or script!

And no matter where you are in your process –

5. Pick a movie and study it for structure.

If the things I talk about here have been resonating with you, NOTHING is going to get you further than watching and really studying a movie of your choice, following along with my breakdown notes.

This week I’m continuing the breakdown of The Hunger Games. If you’d like more video breakdowns, Like and Subscribe on YouTube and let me know in the Comments what movies you’d like to see me do!

That should keep you busy for a while! I want everyone here to have a book by the end of the year, or a script much sooner than that.

Let me know how I can help!

All material ©Alexandra Sokoloff, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors

Subscribe for free to get these posts in your inbox:

Subscribe now