Screenwriting Tip #99
Voice-over usually feels like scaffolding. You know-something you left in there when you were constructing the first draft, but really should have torn out after it served its purpose.

Screenwriting Tip #120
Always remember that funny trumps everything. Your script could be written in crayon with your name spelled wrong on the cover, but if it's genuinely funny, none of that matters.

Screenwriting Tip #156
The easiest way to write kick-ass protagonists is to make them incredibly good at what they do.

Confused at the outline stage? Stuck in the swamp of Act Two? Don't know who your protagonist is or where she's going?

You might feel like a hack. But don't worry-you're not alone. Even the most experienced writers feel like this at times. Sometimes we just need a few short pointers and reminders to set us on the path again.

Xander Bennett worked as a script reader in the trenches of Hollywood, reading and covering hundreds of mediocre screenplays. After months of reading about heroic Sea World trainers, transgendered circus detectives and crime-fighting chupacabras, he couldn't take it any more. Xander started a blog called 'Screenwriting Tips, You Hack', a place designed to provide short, witty tips on screenwriting for amateur writers all the way up to journeymen scribes.

This book is the evolution of that blog. Dozens of the best scripts (along with many brand-new ones) have been expanded into bite-sized chapters full of funny, insightful, highly usable advice. Let Xander's pain be your gain as you learn about the differences between film and television structure, how to force yourself to write when you really don't want to, and why you probably shouldn't base your first spec script around an alien invasion.

chapter |12 pages

Fade In

Before You Put Digits to Keyboard

chapter |9 pages

No Idea

Concept Is King

chapter |10 pages

Rebel without a Plan

Outlining Is the Best Present You Can Give Your Future Self

chapter |12 pages

Inciting Incident

Away We Go

chapter |13 pages


Learn the Rules or Get Off the Field

chapter |8 pages

Description and Word choice

Say What You Mean

chapter |11 pages

Your Protagonist

The Most Interesting Girl in the Room

chapter |10 pages

Showing Character

Surprises, Sock Puppets, and Bad, Bad Men

chapter |11 pages


We Need to Talk

chapter |13 pages


Waiter, There's a Comedy in My Thriller

chapter |12 pages


Writing Equals Ass on Chair (So Buy a Decent Chair)

chapter |8 pages

The Dark Point

Why Are You Doing This Again?

chapter |10 pages

Advanced Structure

Getting from Good to Great

chapter |14 pages


Now the Real Work Begins

chapter |9 pages

Common Mistakes

Don't Be That Guy

chapter |8 pages

Extremely Specific Mistakes

Hey You! Yes, You

chapter |12 pages

Selling Yourself

Loglines, Queries, and Managers

chapter |3 pages

Fade Out

Why We Write