Skip to main content

The Screenwriter's Workbook

So, when we were last together, gentle reader, I had fifteen pages and a severe case of writer's block, not exactly how I had hoped my first attempt at writing a feature length screenplay would wind up.  But, truth be told, it was exactly what I had always feared would happen if I made an attempt to write something other than a short.  Now that fear was proving to be a reality and every other form of fear and self doubt was beginning to find its own voice and shout from the rooftops.  It was a discouraging place to be, but all was not lost.  Help was on the way, via the United States Postal Service.  Help was also taking its sweet time in arriving due to my desire to have everything shipped to me free of charge, but it was on the way nonetheless.  One afternoon, five to nine days after I had placed my order, I was rewarded when opening my mailbox with not only two utility bills and an offer to get cheaper car insurance, but a small key.  Oh yes, Christmas had arrived again.  That small key would open the larger receptacle used for holding packages too large to place in my normal mailbox.  It was my sincerest hope that inside that larger receptacle there would be another key.  The key to my future!  Dum-dum-duuuuuummmm!

Okay, the key to my future may be a lot of pressure to put on a paperback book that was purchased, at least in part, to avoid paying the shipping cost of some movies on dvd, but The Screenwriter's Workbook had arrived, and I was excited by its arrival.  As had been the case with How to Write a Movie in 21 Days, I was once again ready, if not eager, to actually dive into the book and begin to put into practice the instruction within.  I was moreover pleased to read in the "how to use this book" section, that author Syd Field recommended reading the book all the way through, then going back reading it a second time and doing the exercises.  Since I was clay to be molded by his hands, I set off with that goal in mind and began to read.

I have read a few different screenwriting books over the years.  I do not consider myself, nor represent myself to you, gentle reader as, an expert on the subject, but The Screenwriter's Workbook was far from my first book on the subject.  It was however, the book that I had been looking for all along.  Even in the  early chapters, things that previously might as well been the mysteries of the universe, began to make more sense.  For the first time, I was able to understand what I needed to do to make an idea into a screenplay, and how to make that screenplay work.  I wasn't just reading this book, I was understanding it, and I was seeing how to do the things written in it.  Now to be fair, there may be a couple of different reasons for this seemingly sudden revelation.  It could be partly due to all of the previous reading I had already done.  I had been introduced to a lot of the same information a few different ways, so it may just be that Syd Field was the author I  just happened to be reading when this information finally got through my thick skull and into my gray matter.  I'm sure this played a part.  But, another key element of the book was its use of structure.  Like I mentioned last week, a lot of people dislike structure and find it kills creativity.  I, on the other hand, really need some structure in order to create.  I've always been one to assemble my pieces before trying to put them together.  I like to see all of the elements separately, and then try to put them together to form the whole.  In reading The Screenwriter's Workbook I could begin to see what pieces I would need to tell the story, create them as pieces, then put them together as a screenplay.  Previously I had been trying to create the pieces while creating the screenplay.  I would get stuck on one piece and find myself blocked, not knowing what to do, or what should happen next.

So needless to say, when it came to The Screenwriter's Workbook, I was a believer.  It wasn't long before I had finished reading the book and was going through it a second time doing the exercises.  It had transformed the way I saw the world.  What I had learned in the book was always on my mind.  I would make mental notes of different plot points as I watched movies, testing the book's theories, and pretty much worked Syd Field and The Screenwriter's Workbook into every conversation that I had with anyone.  Yep, I was one of those people.  I had found something new that worked for me, and I was gonna tell the world.  My writer's block was lifted, and my fifteen pages began to multiply and started to look like they might actually grow into a feature length screenplay.  The words weren't exactly pouring out like magic, but I could finally at least see the potential of conquering this particular mountain.  As I continued to work on my screenplay, little did I know that just around the corner was an event that someone actually described as "Your Big Break".


  1. Hi Matt, it's Dawn from Authentic Blogger and Healing Morning blog. I decided to not wait until this weekend to visit & I'm glad I made that decision! I really enjoy your writing. I am now following and interested to poke through your archives, as well as learn more of your writing journey. I'm in the midst of fine tuning a manuscript that I plan on getting out there via the traditional publishing route (when I figure out how to break through the glass wall and find a literary agent), so it will be fun watching you go through your own steps here of achieving your dream.

    I sent you a friend request on FB and will eventually get around to the Twitter thing also. In the meantime, happy writing and happy achieving! Oh, and as a side note, I liked the sound effects in your first paragraph. ;-)

    ~ Dawn

  2. Hey Dawn, thanks so much for stopping by!! The Matthew 13 Blog is very excited to count you among its gentle readers! I appreciate you not only taking the time to read, but taking those few extra minutes to leave some encouraging feedback as well. It is very... well... encouraging!

    I too wish you good fortune as you follow your dreams and hope your manuscript finds a home where people are excited about it. I'm sure you have a very long reading list, but I've recently discovered Joe Konrath's blog. As someone looking to publish a book you might find it interesting. If so you can check it out here @

    I hope it has useful information for you. Anyway, thanks again for stopping by and I'm sure I'll see you around the Authentic Blogger page!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Rolling with the Punches

So, last week I began to tell you, gentle reader, the tale of the first day of shooting on my latest film project "Relationship Rewind".  It was a tale of grand plans, and meticulous designs... which were abandoned almost immediately.  All my great ideas for cinematic lighting, stereophonic sound, and coverage of every scene from every angle, were jetisoned in the wake of people looking at me and waiting for me to get this proverbial show on the road.  I could handle this, I was just going to have to scale down my ideas, but I could keep moving forward.  Then I got hit again.

I had just completed the first few shots of a movie I had been trying to pull together for over a year and a half.  I was happy with the footage I had gotten from this first position, and it was time to move the camera.  The camera I was using is notorious for having a less than stellar battery life, so (having planed for this) I had plugged the camera into the wall, so as not to run out of battery powe…

All Your Questions will be Answered

It's no secret, to those who know me.  I spend some time in front of the television.  Well, maybe more than just "some".  Many people would probably look at my definition of "some" and redefine it as "a lot".  In a culture where the average person watches approximately four hours of television a day, I can honestly say, I'm above average.  Which is almost always a good thing to be able to say, right?  Truth be told, I enjoys me some TV, but I won't watch just anything.  I have to be drawn in by either the story, or by the characters.  There was one show, in particular, that drew me in.  It had all the makings of a great story.  There was a plane crash, a tropical island with polar bears, some sort of smoke monster, and people who were once in wheelchairs could walk again.  Week after week I would watch this show and get more and more drawn in, as more and more mysterious things began to happen.  After a few years there were those that became d…

Everybody has a Plan, until...

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has been quoted as saying "Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face".  I'm here to tell you, it's true gentle reader.  It is true.

Yesterday was the first day of principal photography on my latest film project "Relationship Rewind".  This has been a project a long time in the making.  It took a little over a year to write the script (Not because the script took that long to write, but because there were short periods of writing in between long stretches of dreaming of what it would be like to film something I had already written).  So in short, the script took a year to write because of my old friend, procrastination.  Preproduction, or getting all the pieces into place after the script had been written, has taken a little over eighteen months.  I'm sure there was some procrastination in that time table as well, but far less than when writing the script.  As I mentioned in my last post, there were e…