Essential Free Screenwriting Resources

by David Joyner

I’m a beginner at screenwriting and far from an expert. However, I have spent a good amount of
time (okay, way too much time) on the interwebs and have collected a number of good resources for screenwriters of all levels.

Two of the best sites, in my opinion, are Go Into The Story (GITS) and The Black Board.

GITS is a very active blog by Scott Myers, averaging over 5 posts per day. The posts include interviews with screenwriters, writing advice, a daily post on examples of movie dialogue, a monthly script analysis, and more. My favorite feature is the weekly “Saturday Hot Links.”

Once a year, Scott runs a free program called “Go On Your Own Quest,” where he very generously guides writers over a period of 24 weeks (at no charge) through a start-to-finish process of writing their own scripts. Scott also teaches classes (which are not free), both online at screenwritingmasterclass.com and in person at the University of North Carolina. Scott also continues to write screenplays himself. (He is a busy man!)

One of his famous principles is “The 1,2,7,14 Formula:”

  1. Read 1 screenplay per week.
  2. Watch 2 movies per week.
  3. Write 7 pages per week.
  4. Work 14 hours per week prepping a story.

There are other great things I could say about this site, but it’s best if you visit it yourself. You can also sign up for a daily email summary of the posts that day.

The Black Board is a moderated screenwriting forum headed by Shaula Evans. It was founded with the support of Scott Myers and is now sponsored by Go Into The Story and The Black List as their official writing community. You can ask about plots, story ideas, characters, loglines, structure, formatting, genres, and more. There are a number of very talented screenwriters active on the site from whom you can get feedback and advice. You will even see me there, as I am honored to help Shaula out as one of the moderators. You do have to sign up and agree to some legalese (basically, “be nice and don’t steal ideas from others”), but if you have a Gmail, Facebook, or Twitter account, you can log in that way. The Black Board is a great site with a very nice and encouraging community of writers.

There are dozens of other good sites for screenwriters, but I’ll mention just one more:

  • The Script Lab’s screenwriting section ( thescriptlab.com/screenwriting/)

The screenwriting section of The Script Lab has multiple writers and lots of advice on all aspects of screenwriting. I’ll end my review with this quote I found there by North by Northwest scriptwriter Ernest Lehman:

One of the tricks is to have the exposition conveyed in a scene of conflict, so that a character is forced to say things you want the audience to know. As, for example, if he is defending himself against somebody’s attack, his words or defense seem justified even though his words are actually expository words. Something appears to be happening, so the audience believes it is witnessing a scene (which it is), not listening to expository speeches.

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4 Comments to “Essential Free Screenwriting Resources”

  1. David and the MWA, thank you for the lovely write-up. I hope your members will visit us at The Black Board if we can provide you with any support for your writing. Our primary focus at the moment is on screenwriting, with plans to open a TV wing later in the spring and other projects in the works, but with discussions on plot, characters, dialogue, and other storytelling fundamentals, all writers are welcome.

    Shaula

  2. Thanks David for the great write up. The Blackboard is what it is because of the members input.
    And to become a member, dive in and join us. 🙂
    Go Into the Story is an amazing resource for screenwriters or wannabe screenwriters or just thinking about dipping a toe in the waters screenwriters. Roll up your jeans and splash in.

    Look I don’t know what’s up with all the water metaphors either….

  3. Great write up about GITS and the Black Board David. Hopefully this will encourage more people to check both the blog and the forum out.

    For me, the Black Board is turning into the best resource for writers on the Internet.

  4. David, thanks for the kind words. There is some wonderful synergy between what is happening with GoIntoTheStory and TheBlackBoard. Not only are both free online resources, they provide solid information and as well as inspiration. Thanks, too, for your participation. It’s writers such as yourself who are the backbone of both communities.

    Onward and upward!

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