Thursday, January 31, 2013


(Hello! Does anyone want to enter a contest? Check out the Screenwriting Goldmine contest. Read the following info.)

Hi there, 
I'm delighted to launch the 2nd Screenwriting Goldmine International Screenwriting Awards. 
We're back, bigger than before, with renewed ambition to find five great screenwriters and get them in front of as many influential industry professionals and opinion formers as possible.

We accept original movie or tv scripts, from 45 up to 120 pages, any genre, any budget.

Last year's entries included wild science fiction, fantasy and historical drama, contemporary drama, horror, and high concept blockbusters - we welcomed them all!

Read about our expanded judging panel of prominent industry 
figures here:

Last year's finalists met Julia Walsh (Head of Drama Development at ITV), Ben Stoll (Head of Drama Development at C4), Elliot Grove (Head of Raindance Film Festival), Steve Matthews (Producer,
Love/Hate and The Borgias) and Paul Ashton (Development Producer, BBC Writers Room)

Read interviews with the finalists: 

We've got a great list of prizes. As well as industry meetings, we give away cash, software, memberships, script consultancy and other commemorative items.

What's more, this time we have something for the semi- and quarter-finalists too!

Read about the prizes:

So many people who entered the contest last year expressed how satisfying the experience was, how exciting the process was, and how much they enjoyed the whole ride.

Read what people said about entering:

If you have a script ready you can enter now at

Or just go to the (really rather fancy) brand new website and 
have a good old wander around:

To your writing!


Tradejammer Ltd, 63 Lansdowne Place, Hove, E. Sussex, BN3 1FL, United Kingdom

Take the first step forward.

I have been getting a lot of request for loglines. I give different prices . Since I have so many requests for this service, I decided to set a single fix price.

Logline: $5.00 Flat Fee

A synopsis or summery is required. It well be used to form the logline. The logline is just one line.


Critique: $50.00 Flat Fee, 

 Includes evaluating the basis elements of a script

  •  Introduction
  •  Development
  •  Climax
  •  Conclusion
  • Character development 
  •  Mid point development

Critiques also provide suggestions for improvements and enhancement. 

Payments are made by Paypal or cashier check by mail.

Other services are at regular price.

Query Letters: $25.00 Flat Fee  

Editing: $46.00 Flat Fee
  •  Evaluating formatting to industry standards
  •  Spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.

Turnaround time:

Editing: 2 weeks

Critique: 2 weeks
Query Letters: 2 weeks

Feel free to contact me at or
Feel to call me at (360) 696-4298. Ask for Frances.

I also critique and edit books. I am currently organizing the service prices for working on books. If you are interested in me critiquing or editing a novel you have written, feel free contact me.
Film script format, writing film scripts, screenwriting services, coverage service, screenplay formatting margins, screenplay writing, screenplay format example, Search terms: screenplays, screenwriting service, edit and critique service, writing screenplays, screenplay format, loglines, query letter, film scripts, movie scripts, screenplay format, screenplay synopsis, script synopsis, treatment, proofreading service for writers, novels, writing services, fiction writing, film script format, writing film scripts, screenwriting service, coverage service, screenplay critique service, screenplay format margins, screenplay writing, screenplay format example, free writing tutorials,   script consultant, screenwriting jobs, film production companies

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


(Hello! Hears an interesting article to read. It is very relevant. If you are writing a novel, follow the suggestions it gives. When you read any novel, you will see what Jeff is saying.)

After successfully engaging the reader, which is Job 1 of writing a novel, Job 2 is to create suspense. When your reader is engaged with your hero and your story world, you can afford to coast along a bit before that engagement begins to diminish (not that you would intentionally do so). But before too long you’re going to need to continue reeling in the reader. He won’t stay with you for the whole book if he gets bored after the opening.
Suspense means different things for different novelists—and different genres. If you’re writing a thriller, you’d better have a roller coaster going pretty much from Page 1. If you’re writing a romance, the suspense is likely driven by whether or not the hero and heroine will finally get together—it’s of the will she or won’t she variety. In an action/adventure, suspense might be in finding out if the hero will save the world or achieve his dream.
But no matter what type of novel you’re writing, there had better be some kind of suspense in it. The reader must be asking, “How will this turn out?”—a question preferably followed by: “I have to find out, and I can’t go to bed until I do!”
—by Jeff Gerke
Some suspense will be created simply by engaging the reader with the main character. We keep reading because we want to see if he reaches his objective, whatever that may be.
Another surge of suspense will be generated when you introduce the villain—that equal and opposite force that’s going to cause fits for your hero. The mere presence of a person who stands to hurt our hero in some way will raise our excruciatingly wonderful anxiety. And excruciatingly wonderful anxiety would be a very nice definition of suspense. We can’t stand it, but we love it.
Let’s look at some other ways to elevate suspense in the first 50 pages of your novel.

Establish What’s at Stake.

If I told you I was going to give you a million dollars, you’d probably be thrilled. If I told you I would give you a million dollars if you could get to Clipperton Island (a tiny atoll about 800 miles southwest of Acapulco) by noon tomorrow, you’d start feeling something else.
That something else—an almost frustrated kind of urgency tinged with the possibility of a great payoff—is what you want your reader feeling as she reads your novel.
There’s a very simple formula for creating the stakes (and thus suspense) in your story: Show your reader something she wants, and then threaten it.
Show her a man longing to be reunited with his son. Show the son wanting to be back with his daddy. Then have someone abduct the boy and smuggle him to another country. Aaagh! How will that man find his little boy? We want to know now!
Show a woman locked into an engagement with an awful man. Show her meeting a wonderful man she really loves and who loves her back. Then bring tremendous forces into play so that the woman feels she must marry the first guy no matter what. No! It can’t be!
Show us a ragtag group of freedom fighters who want only to live free of tyranny. Then show the evil Empire arriving with their Death Star to destroy the rebels’ hidden fortress. Can they be stopped?
You see how it goes. Make us care about something, then put that something in danger. As these examples show, the danger doesn’t have to be life and limb (though it can be). The prospect of the hero not getting what she dreams of (and what we’ve come to dream for her) is terrible enough.
In Dante’s Peak, the stakes are that our hero and the woman and her children he’s come to love may not escape a volcano before it erupts and kills them all … just as another volcano had killed the hero’s fiancĂ©e years before.
In Music and Lyrics, the stakes are that the hero will take glory for himself alone instead of sharing it with his co-writer, and thus lose her love.
In In the Line of Fire, the stakes are that our hero, a Secret Service agent, may not put the puzzle together in time to save the president from an assassination attempt—as he failed to do for John F. Kennedy years before.
What are the stakes in your novel? What does the protagonist long for, and how can you make it look like she won’t get it? More important, what is the precious thing the reader longs for, and how will you threaten it?

Emphasize the Or-Else Factor.

Another way of thinking of stakes is in terms of the or-else factor. The hero will achieve his objective … or else what? What bad thing will happen if he fails? If the protagonist and his crew don’t figure out a way to deflect an incoming asteroid, the or else is that Earth will be destroyed. If our FBI agent undercover in the beauty pageant doesn’t find out who the killer is in time, the or else is that someone will be brutally murdered. The bus can’t drop below 50 miles per hour, or else the bomb will detonate.
You must establish your or-else factor in the first 50 pages of your novel. That doesn’t mean we need to know everything about it in those pages. By the time we reach page 51 we may not know the exact bad thing that might happen, but we will have begun growing very attached to something or someone in the story, which is the first half of the equation.
It probably won’t be until later in the novel that the precise form of that threat to what the reader wants becomes evident. He may know the what and the why, but the exact how will have to wait. We know the Empire wants to destroy the Rebel Alliance, but until the very end of Act 2 we don’t know how they’re going to try to do it. That’s as it should be. But you can’t wait so long to start building our connection with the thing we want—or to start laying the groundwork for how it could be taken away. Those things must be done in the first 50 pages.
Remember: The more you can establish the full magnitude of the stakes in those opening pages, the longer we’ll have to baste in that delicious angst that will inevitably follow.

Create a Ticking Time Bomb.

From a fiction writer’s point of view, the great thing about a countdown of any kind is that it increases suspense with every tick of the clock. The doom is hastening toward a conclusion—a negative conclusion, if the hero doesn’t hurry up—and every minute we tarry is another moment lost to avoid that doom.
Your team is behind, and there are only 25 seconds left on the clock to pull out a miracle. In five hours the last ferry leaves, and if she can’t get him on that ferry with her, their future together will be lost. His baby has only six months to live if he can’t find a cure. The race is tomorrow and their car is in pieces all over the garage.
Deadlines are wonderful things in fiction. (Well, they are for your characters. When you’re writing under a deadline, that’s not always so grand. But I digress.)
In fiction, a ticking time bomb is a cut-off moment after which nothing more can be done to avert disaster. Accomplish your goal by then, or you’ve lost.
In Mulan, the ticking time bomb is established from the very beginning: An enemy army is coming and intends to destroy the Han Dynasty. It’s crossed the only major line of defense, the Great Wall of China, and is bearing down on the simple villages of the people. Pretty early in WarGames we see that the WOPR computer is going to try to win a simulated game—by using very real global thermonuclear weaponry—in just over 24 hours. Possibly the best example is Armageddon, in which we learn early on that an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. Our heroes have to deflect or destroy it somehow, or it’s the end of the human race.
Think about your novel. Can you plant a time bomb in it and start it counting down? It can be something large that you establish in a prologue or at some other spot in the first 50 pages, or it can be something that you plant the seeds for early, but that doesn’t really get going until later on.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets is an example of the latter kind. The time bomb is that the golden chamber is going to fill with water and kill everyone—unless our heroes can somehow get out in time. The water level is rising. There’s not much time left. With every second that passes, the water goes up another inch. Soon there will be no chance for escape.
What can you do, on either a grand or a small scale, to use this dynamic in your novel? I can think of no better means of naturally increasing the tension in fiction because even when the writer isn’t paying attention to it, the reader is still feeling it. The reader worries about its inevitable approach at all times. It’s always in the background increasing that excellent suspense.
It’s worth noting that the hero doesn’t need to know the doom is coming. The main characters may be oblivious to the peril that is speeding toward them. It’s enough that the reader knows. And sometimes that’s a more excruciating kind of bliss. Maybe that’s why people love to shout, “Don’t go in there!” to the characters in horror movies. We know what’s about to happen, even if they don’t.
As you think about creating suspense, do you see how a prologue could accomplish this for your story as well? We often hear that agents and editors frown upon prologues, and it’s true that not every novel should begin with one. But there are stories that are well served by this sort of early introduction to the villain and the stakes—and those with ticking time bombs are often among them.
Of course, not every suspenseful novel has a ticking time bomb. But if your story warrants one, it can be an effective suspense-building tool. Explore every option in your fiction writer’s arsenal until you find the best way to get that intense countdown going.
build suspense into your style.
One more tip about increasing suspense. When you want to subtly increase reader tension, use shorter paragraphs.
When I write, I tend to use fairly short paragraphs anyway, as I believe long paragraphs strain the eye and say to the reader, “I’m a boring book; don’t read me!” But when I want to up the tension, I use paragraphs that are even shorter still.
Shorter paragraphs read faster, which causes the eye to more quickly consume a page. This is a sneaky little psychological trick you can use to raise the reader’s heart rate. The eye races across the page. The hands turn the pages more quickly. The pace is subtly sped up, and the result is a feeling of breathlessly sprinting to find out what happens. It’s like faster intercutting in a movie.
Try it. Use longer paragraphs to simulate a slower pace. Then when you’re ready to increase the tempo, start shaving the paragraphs down. See the difference?
Not all suspense needs to be drawn from the plotline. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other ways to vary the style of your writing itself to build further suspense into your story.
This article on novel writing, by Jeff Gerke, first appeared in The First 50 PagesClick here to order your copy.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


(Here is an interesting article that came to me. It is very informing. I wanted to share it with you. The article refers to novel writing, but the principle can be applied to script writing.)

January 7, 2013
by Jessica Strawser

It’s said that in life, there are two types of people: those who look at the glass as half empty, and those who see it as half full. But for those of us who’ve set the goal of starting a novel, I think it really comes down to how we view the blank page: those of us who find it exciting—full of possibility, hope, even adventure—and those who see it as intimidating—capable of inducing guilt, anxiety, even dread.

If we’re being honest, we can probably all admit to having shifted between the two camps from time to time. It’s just too easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task.

But what better time to remedy that than at the beginning of a new year, a sort of metaphorical blank page itself? That’s where the January 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine comes in (on newsstands and online now!). Whether you’ve been looking for the best advice on how to start a novel, trying to find ways to rejuvenate a stalled draft, or looking to take your revision across the finish line, this issue is designed to strip away any intimidation until only the excitement of the blank page remains.

It was such a pure pleasure to put together this issue that I wanted to share some of my favorite tips from its pages here.

5 Great Tips for Starting a Novel Right

1. When planning your story’s structure, start with this no-fail method: Create a Doorway of No Return for your protagonist before the 1/5 mark of your book. Everything leading up to that doorway should, well, lead up to that doorway. Look at your own novel-in-progress:

Have you given us a character with following?
Have you created a disturbance for that character in the opening pages?
Have you established the stakes (the higher the better) for the story?
Have you created a scene that will force the character into the conflict/confrontation central to the plot?
Is that scene strong enough—to the point that your character cannot resist walking through that doorway (or has no choice but to do so)?
(Just one of many solid story structure tips from James Scott Bell’s article “The Two Pillars of Novel Structure” featured in the January 2013 Writer’s Digest.)

2. At the beginning of your story, include minimal backstory. In her article “Weaving a Seamless Backstory,” novelist Karen Dionne offers this light bulb moment of insight:

Including backstory in the opening pages is the same as saying to the reader, ‘Wait a minute—hold on. Before I tell you the story, first there’s something about these characters and this situation that you need to know.’

In actuality, there’s very little readers need to know about our characters’ history and motivations that they won’t learn over the course of the book. Interrupting our story to tell the reader about something that happened *before* it began works against the very thing we’re trying so hard to accomplish: engaging the readers and sweeping them up into the world of our novel.

I love showing authors how they’re unwittingly sabotaging their stories up front and then watching their light bulbs go off, because the problem has such an easy fix: All they have to do is isolate the instances of unnecessary backstory, and take them out.

3. To deepen your descriptions, add character-defining sensory details. For example:

No: She was wearing Chanel No. 5.

Yes: She was wearing Chanel No. 5 like in the old days, he noticed—that sophisticated, mind-coat-and-diamonds fragrance that always quickened his pulse.

(You’ll learn ways to call upon all five senses in your work in novelist Elizabeth Sims’ article “Master Description Through Sensory Detail.”)

4. Make secondary characters significant. In her excellent feature article in the latest Writer’s Digest, longtime fiction editor Lisa Rector suggests brainstorming what meaningful thing a minor character might do or say that could impact the outcome of your story. Then, make sure at least one such significant moment between that character and your protagonist occurs early in your story (ideally with others following throughout the narrative). “Characters that are inactive in the opening scenes tend to remain so,” she explains. “In general it’s far more effective to have fewer characters do more.”

5. Instead of “write what you know,” try writing what you feel. In an exclusive interview with WD, bestselling Jack Reacher creator Lee Child explains:

The worse [writing advice] is probably Write what you know. Especially in this market. In the thriller genre, for instance, nobody knows anything that’s worth putting in. There are three people in the world who have actually lived this stuff. And so it’s not about what you know. [Write] what you feel is really excellent advice. Because if you substitute Write what you feel, then you can expand that into—if you’re a parent, for instance, especially if you’re a mother, I bet you’ve had an episode where for five seconds you lost your kid at the mall. You turn around, your kid is suddenly not there, and for five seconds your heart is in your mouth and you turn the other way, and there he is. So you’ve gotta remember the feel of those five seconds—that utter panic and disorientation. And then you blow that up: It’s not five seconds, it’s five days—your kid has been kidnapped, your kid is being held by a monster. You use what you feel and expand it, right up as far as you can, and that way you get a sort of authenticity.

(The full interview is filled with helpful, inspiring insights like this one—and especially if you’re writing suspense, I highly recommend it.)

Get More Expert Advice on How to Start a Novel
These tips really are just the tip of the iceberg of valuable information packed into the January 2013 Writer’s Digest. So if you like what you read here, whether you’re starting a novel in 2013 or resolving to finally finish one, be sure to check out the rest of the issue on your favorite newsstand or at The Writer’s Digest Shop, or download it instantly right now.

Jessica Strawser
Editor, Writer’s Digest Magazine

If you would like a detail critique or edit of your script, feel free to use my services.

Dantalian no Shoka
Knowledge is power.

I have been getting a lot of request for loglines. I give different prices . Since I have so many requests for this service, I decided to set a single fix price.

Logline: $5.00 Flat Fee

A synopsis or summery is required. It well be used to form the logline. The logline is just one line.


Critique: $50.00 Flat Fee, 

 Includes evaluating the basis elements of a script

  •  Introduction
  •  Development
  •  Climax
  •  Conclusion
  • Character development 
  •  Mid point development

Critiques also provide suggestions for improvements and enhancement. 

Payments are made by Paypal or cashier check by mail.

Other services are at regular price.

Query Letters: $25.00 Flat Fee  

Editing: $46.00 Flat Fee
  •  Evaluating formatting to industry standards
  •  Spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.

Turnaround time:

Editing: 2 weeks

Critique: 2 weeks
Query Letters: 2 weeks

Feel free to contact me at or
Feel to call me at (360) 696-4298. Ask for Frances.

I also critique and edit books. I am currently organizing the service prices for working on books. If you are interested in me critiquing or editing a novel you have written, feel free contact me.
Film script format, writing film scripts, screenwriting services, coverage service, screenplay formatting margins, screenplay writing, screenplay format example, Search terms: screenplays, screenwriting service, edit and critique service, writing screenplays, screenplay format, loglines, query letter, film scripts, movie scripts, screenplay format, screenplay synopsis, script synopsis, treatment, proofreading service for writers, novels, writing services, fiction writing, film script format, writing film scripts, screenwriting service, coverage service, screenplay critique service, screenplay format margins, screenplay writing, screenplay format example, free writing tutorials,   script consultant, screenwriting jobs, film production companies

Thursday, January 24, 2013


January 18, 2013
 by Zachary Petit

On this day in 1873, writer and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton died. One thing he left behind: The first line from his novel Paul Clifford: “It was a dark and stormy night …”

The sentence went on to serve as the literary posterchild for bad story starters, and it also became the inspiration behind the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which writers compete for top honors by penning egregiously bad fake first lines. (That said, Bulwer-Lytton’s work wasn’t all bad—after all, he gave us the quote “the pen is mightier than the sword” with his play Richelieu.)

Reflecting on awful first lines (and, admittedly, drinking out of this delightful Great First Lines of Literature Mug) got me thinking about the inverse. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite openings. Share yours in the Comments below.

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.
—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

A screaming comes across the sky.
—Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
—George Orwell, 1984

It was a pleasure to burn.
—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.
—Stephen King, The Gunslinger

Mother died today.
—Albert Camus, The Stranger

The flash projected the outline of the hanged man onto the wall.
—Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Club Dumas

This is a tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast.
—Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
—Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

If you’re going to read this, don’t bother.
—Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
—Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

True! – nervous – very, very nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?
—Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
—J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

I am a sick man … I am a spiteful man.
—Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.
—Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

It was love at first sight.
—Joseph Heller, Catch 22

Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.
—Arthur C. Clarke,  2001: A Space Odyssey

So, what goes into a great first line? We commissioned writer Jacob M. Appel to do a piece for the magazine on this very subject. Here are some tips from his article “Better Starts for Better Stories” (check out the full piece here):

7 WAYS TO START by Jacob M. Appel

1. A statement of eternal principle.
This technique is a staple of European classics. Think of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”) and Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”). Of course, the story or novel you write must confirm the proposed principle. If it turned out that Mr. Darcy didn’t want to wed, or that Anna was happily married, these openings would certainly leave readers wanting. (An excellent contemporary example is from Jane Hamilton’s The Book of Ruth: “What it begins with, I know finally, is the kernel of meanness in people’s hearts. …”)

2. A statement of simple fact.
The entire weight of the narrative can sometimes be conveyed in a single statement. Think of, “I had a farm in Africa” (Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa) or, “It was a pleasure to burn” (Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451) or, “I am an invisible man” (Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man). No gimmicks. No fireworks. Just—as Mr. Gradgrind demands in the opening line of Charles Dickens’ Hard Times—the facts.

3. A statement of paired facts.
In many cases, two facts combined are more powerful than either one on its own. The paradigmatic example is the opening line of Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter: “In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together.” A town with two mutes is not necessarily compelling, nor are two inseparable men. But a town with two inseparable mutes? Now that locks in our interest.

4. A statement of simple fact laced with significance.
Because readers don’t read backward, it’s possible to bury a key piece of a story in an opening so that, by the time it becomes relevant, the reader has forgotten it. Agatha Christie mysteries do this often. The key to solving the crime in Murder on the Orient Express, for example, is embedded innocuously in the opening sentence. So is the key to the heroine’s psyche in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, the opening of which explains, “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful. …”

5. A statement to introduce voice.
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.” Vladimir Nabokov’s celebrated opening is not designed to convey characterization or plot, though both are present, so much as to introduce his distinctive style. Anthony Burgess opens A Clockwork Orange (“What’s it going to be then, eh?”) without any plot, characterization or setting at all—merely the ominous voice that will accompany the reader through the text. Stories that begin with a highly unusual voice often withhold other craft elements for a few sentences—a reasonable choice, as the reader may need to adjust to a new form of language before being able to absorb much in the way of content.

6. A statement to establish mood.
Contextual information not directly related to the story can often color our understanding of the coming narrative. Take Sylvia Plath’s opening to The Bell Jar: “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” While the Rosenberg execution has nothing to do with the content of the narrative, it sets an ominous tone for what follows.

7. A statement that serves as a frame.
Sometimes, the best way to begin a story is to announce that you’re about to tell a story. English storytellers have been doing this since at least the first recorded use of the phrase “Once upon a time” in the 14th century. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn starts off this way, as does J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. After all, a brilliant opening can be as straightforward as: “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler …” (which really does start exactly that way).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Free Download: 2013 Oscar Nominated Screenplays

It's that time of year again. OSCAR TIME!
The following list of nominated screenplays was sent to me along with write up. Read and feel free to download the screenplays.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Written by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin (Zeitlin is also nominated for Best Director)
Synopsis:  In an isolated Louisiana swampland known as the Bathtub, young Hushpuppy and her father are part of a community that lives outside of the structure of modern society.  When rising flood waters threaten the area, the young girl’s resourcefulness and lively imagination are called into play as the region’s residents face the approaching disaster.
Adapted from:
Lucy Alibar’s play, Juicy and Delicious
Fun Facts:
  • Zeitlin and Alibar originally met at summer camp as teenagers.
  • This is Behn Zeitlin’s first feature length film (and he landed an Oscar nom. Not a bad start).
My Thoughts:
Quite simply, it’s a beautiful story, beautifully told. That’s really all there is to say about Beasts.

Life of Pi

Written by David Magee (previously nominated for Finding Neverland (2004))
Synopsis: Young Pi, the son of zookeepers in Pondicherry, India, finds the world he knows swept away when his family sells the zoo and sets sail for Canada with a few of its remaining animals.  A storm capsizes the ship and only Pi escapes, set adrift in a lifeboat that is also the refuge of an enormous Bengal tiger.
Adapted From:
Yann Martel’s  2001 novel Life of Pi
Fun Facts:
Magee also wrote the script for Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2008)
My thoughts:
While most of the attention has been going to the film’s Director, Ang Lee, it’s Magee’s work that molded what many considered to be an unfilmable book into a Best Picture Nominee.


Written by Tony Kushner (previously nominated for Munich (2005)
Synopsis: With the Civil War coming to a close and the freedom granted to the slaves by the Emancipation Proclamation called into question, Abraham Lincoln seeks to pass a thirteenth amendment to the Constitution that will outlaw slavery everywhere in the United States.  Facing opposition from many quarters in Congress, Lincoln uses his vast political powers to gain allies in his fight.
Adapted From:
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s non-fiction  account of the time, Team of Rivals
Fun Facts:
Kushner won the Pulitzer Prize for his play, Angels in America
My thoughts:
Kushner does a great job of showing the toll that great actions can take on great men, and the script reads as slightly less schmaltzy than it became after Spielberg got his hands on it.

Silver Linings Playbook

Written by David O. Russell (Russell is also nominated for Best Director)
Synopsis: Pat Solatano is released into his parents’ care after eight months of treatment for a bipolar disorder.  His recovery seems far from certain, however, when he stops taking his medication and becomes increasingly obsessed with winning back his estranged wife, a plan that leads him to embark on a complicated relationship with a troubled young woman whose husband has died.
Adapted From:
Matthew Quick’s 2012 novel Silver Linings Playbook
Fun Facts:
  • Previously received a Best Director nomination for The Fighter (2010)
  • Also wrote and directed Three Kings (1994) and Flirting With Disaster (1999)
My thoughts:
It’s a beautifully quirky script that sings off the page. Russell (and some of the credit has to go to Quick) have proved that the Romantic Comedy genre isn’t dead, it’s just waiting for someone to care enough to do something original with it.

And the winner is…

For my money, Silver Linings Playbook should take home for the Oscar for not only being a slick and smart script, but for revitalizing an entire genre. David O. Russell has had a distinctly hit or miss career, but Silver Linings has him back at the top of his game. I think the Academy get this one right – Russell will, and should, win the night.

Best Screenplay, Original


Written by Michael Haneke (Haneke is also nominated for Best Director)
Synopsis: In the final months of her life, a retired music teacher and her husband of sixty years struggle with the debilitating effects of two strokes on both her health and her quality of life.  As Georges cares for the increasingly unhappy Anne, the pair finds the nature of their life together irrevocably changed.
Fun Facts:
  • Haneke has 23 writing credits stretching all the way back to 1974
  • He wrote and directed the original Funny Games (1997), which was remade by Hollywood in 2007 with Naomi Watts and Tim Roth
My thoughts:
The script for Amour is a character piece of true pain and beauty. It’s a shining example to all writers of what you can do while still writing to your budget.

Django Unchained

Written by Quentin Tarantino
Synopsis: German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz buys a slave named Django and promises him his freedom once he has helped Schultz track down the criminals he is seeking.  But Django has a wife who was sold off years ago, and his partnership with Schultz may offer him a chance to find her.
Fun Facts:
This is Quentin Tarantino’s fifth Academy Award nomination, having previously been nominated in Best Original Screenplay and Best Director categories for Inglorious Basterds (2009) and Pulp Fiction (1994), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
My thoughts:
Django is one of those scripts that the more I think about it, the less I like it. It’s overly long (landing right around 200 pages), doesn’t feature any real character arc for its Protagonist, and doesn’t feature any real subplots to the main narrative (not a necessity, but it would be a plus). All in all, it’s my least favorite work of Tarantino’s to date (excluding Grindhouse and Four Rooms).


Written by John Gatins (first-time Academy Award nominee)
Synopsis: When commercial airline pilot Whip Whitaker reports for his next flight after a night of drinking, his crew suspects that he may not be fit to fly the plane.  Following a crash during which he executes a daring series of maneuvers that saves the lives of nearly everyone on board, Whitaker is proclaimed a hero…until a blood test taken at the crash scene reveals both alcohol and drugs in his system.
Fun Facts:
Gatins has been in the game a while, having previously written Hard Ball (2001), Coach Carter (2005), and Real Steel (2011)
My thoughts:
I didn’t personally care for Flight outside of the amazingly terrifying crash sequence at the beginning. The script reads more like a Hallmark Movie that a major motion picture and, especially towards the end, gets more than a little preachy. Without Denzel’s stellar performance (as usual) I don’t think Flight would have taken off the way it has.

Moonrise Kingdom

Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola (Coppola is a first-time Academy Award nominee)
Synopsis: Suzy lives with her family in an island lighthouse off the east coast, where she has won the heart of twelve-year-old Sam, an orphaned Scout spending his summer at camp.  Over the year since their first meeting, the two have grown closer through their letters to each other and are planning to run off together for a week in the wilderness when Sam returns to camp.
Fun Facts:
  • Wes Anderson received a previous nomination in the Best Screenplay category for The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), and directed The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) which was nominated as Best Animated Film.
  • Roman Coppola also co-wrote Anderson’s last film, The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
  • Anderson co-wrote his first feature film, Bottle Rocket (1996) with his college friend, Owen Wilson. The film was originally a short which garnered a lot of attention at Sundance, eventually landing in front of James L. Brooks, who decided to ask Anderson to create a feature length version.
My thoughts:
The script for Moonrise Kingdom has all of the trademark Wes Anderson aspects you’ve come to expect (for good or bad depending on your opinion of the auteur), but it recaptured some of the heart that has been missing from a lot of his work since Rushmore (1998).

Zero Dark Thirty

Written by Mark Boal
Synopsis: In the aftermath of 9/11, as the trail in the hunt for Osama bin Laden seems to grow cold, a determined CIA agent begins a painstaking, decade-long search for the Al Qaeda leader.  For Maya, direct experience of terrorism steels her resolve to find bin Laden and leads her to trust her own instincts regarding the best course of investigation to pursue.
Fun Facts:
  • Boal was a freelance journalist when he wrote a 2004 article called “Death and Dishonor” which was published by Playboy magazine. Writer/director Paul Haggis read the article, and used it as inspiration for his film, In The Valley of Elah (2007). And that was his break into Hollywood.
  • Boal is a previous Oscar winner, having taken home statues as a writer and producer for The Hurt Locker(2009)
My thoughts:
Zero Dark Thirty is another gritty war drama that captures the dedication (and obsession) that it took to capture Osama bin Laden. While I didn’t find the script as captivating as The Hurt Locker due to a lack of character development (unlike Django, I felt this was justified from a story aspect, but it kept me at arms-length from the Protagonist), it’s still an extremely well written script that’s taut with drama.

And the winner is…

This is a tough one. The smart money is on Mark Boal to take home his second Academy Award for Zero Dark Thirty. A lot of voters simply won’t be able to resist the story of how we brought down the mastermind behind 9-11, and I won’t be terribly disappointed when it does win. But if it was my choice (and it’s not), I’d let Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola take the little golden man home. Moonrise Kingdom is the lovely, quirky, heartfelt story we’ve been waiting for from Anderson for some time, and his unique voice is one that deserves to be rewarded.