A Screenwriting Minute With Jurgen Wolff

Attending good workshops is a great way to learn the art and craft of screenwriting, and you also can learn a lot by watching good and bad movies.

Watch once for enjoyment, then once or twice more for analysis. Here are some of the questions to answer:

  • How does the film pull in the viewer in the opening scenes?
  • How soon do we understand whose story it is? How is that conveyed?
  • How soon do we know the basic dramatic conflict? How do we know it?
  • How soon do we meet the opposing forces? What makes them more complex than just plot devices?
  • What do we feel about the protagonist at the start? In the middle? At the end? If this changes, how does the script achieve that?
  • What revives or renews our interest in the middle of the story?
  • What emotions does the film arouse and how?
  • If there’s a strong subplot, how does it relate to the main plot?
  • When the film is over, what are we still thinking about? How does it create that lingering interest?
  • When a film fails to do one of these well, consider how it could have been done better. This process becomes your never-ending film school.

(Jurgen Wolff’s screenwriting blog is at www.ScreenwritingSuccess.com, where you can sign up for his free monthly Brainstorm creativity e-bulletin. His most recent books are Your Creative Writing Masterclass and Your Writing Coach, both published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon and other booksellers.)

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About 

Jurgen Wolff is a writer whose credits include "Family Ties," "Benson," "Love Boat," "Relic Hunter," and the film, "The Real Howard Spitz," starring Kelsey Grammer. I also wrote two TV movies for the Olsen twins back when they were just millionaires instead of billionaires, and the mini-series, "Midnight Man," starring Rob Lowe. Jurgen has been a script doctor on numerous projects.

His books include, "Focus: the power of targeted thinking" (Pearson 2008), "Your Writing Coach" (Nicholas Brealey, 2007) and "Do Something Different" (Virgin Business Books, 2005). He has two more coming out in 2009, "Marketing for Entrepreneurs" and "Creativity Now" (both from Pearson). Previous books also include "Successful Scriptwriting," "Successful Sitcom Writing," and "Top Secrets: Screenwriting." My ebook Time Management for Writers, is available from my website, www.TimetoWrite.com.

Jurgen teachs writing workshops internationally, and divide my time between London and Southern California. He teaches Script Coach at Raindance