Browsed by
Author: Mike Boas

Announcing SCRIPTITUDE: Best Short Screenplays of Upstate NY

Announcing SCRIPTITUDE: Best Short Screenplays of Upstate NY


The Rochester Association for Film Arts and Sciences presents a short script competition open to all residents of upstate NY. Enter to win one of three copies of FINAL DRAFT, as well as a table reading of your script by experienced actors before a live audience.

This is a great opportunity to hear your work and the scripts of other writers performed by dedicated actors!

Write something new, or fix up a screenplay you’ve had in the drawer. But don’t delay! Deadline for entry is February 28. Table reading will be scheduled for an evening in April.


Each screenplay submitted will receive a written critique of their work. First, second, and third place winners will have their screenplays presented at a public table read at the Wegmans Magic Spell Theater at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In addition, the three winners will receive a copy of Final Draft 11.


The cost for each entry is $25. Proceeds go to Rochester Association for Film Arts and Sciences, a not for profit educational corporation run entirely by volunteers.


For full rules, see our listing at

For more about the Rochester Association for Film Arts and Sciences, visit


RAFAS is an educational organization, and we believe in sharing our knowledge with those interested in all aspects of filmmaking. Through the Rochester Writers Workshop, we meet with writers and discuss screenwriting in depth. If you are in the Rochester area, come to one of our Wednesday night meetings! Details are at

Deadline for Entries is February 28, 2019

Submit your screenplay PDF at

Writing a Horror Script

Writing a Horror Script

In honor of Halloween, here’s an article by Karina Wilson posted on the Bluecat Screenplay website:

“The final stage of the action should go all out, with the protagonist drawing on every resource they have to escape — or defeat — the Threat, which responds by attacking with a viciousness we haven’t seen before.”

The Mission Impossible Spoilercasts

The Mission Impossible Spoilercasts

Empire Magazine has a pretty terrific podcast, as I’ve just discovered. And one thing they’re making a habit of is long-form interviews with writer/director Christopher McQuarrie.

You can listen to him discuss (at length) the making of Mission Impossible: Fallout for nearly 6 hours! Most of it is gold. These were two separate interviews, so I forgive him for repeating one or two stories.

From a screenwriting point of view, it’s interesting to discover how much they back into, based on the globe-trotting action set-pieces. For example, they knew they wanted a helicopter chase. They found a country that would let them do it, then they came up with a plot reason for the characters to be there. So the screenplay was secondary to the locations.

McQuarrie’s approach to the villain was similar. Find out what he wanted him to do, then write the plot and motivations to support the end result. Not always the way screenwriters work.

Here’s Part 1.

Here’s Part 3. (There is no Part 2. Well, there’s a Part 2 episode, but it’s the Empire journalists gabbing, with a preview of the Part 3 interview.)

And if that’s not enough, you can go back in time and listen to McQuarrie talk Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation here.

Beware giant blocks of description!

Beware giant blocks of description!

Don’t get carried away with description. Remember, a page should equal about a minute of screen time. If you have a lot of action, be economical with how you describe it, and break up the key moments into new paragraphs.

Also, don’t let those characters monologue too often. There’s a difference between the style of speech in plays and movies.

Read more about “white space” at

Your character’s voice

Your character’s voice

Each of your characters should have a unique way of talking. Writing a British character? Get the language right! Here in the USA, we might say elevator, apartment, and flashlight, but across the pond it’s lift, flat, and torch. This video from Vanity Fair gets into some other saucy slang:

Plot Twists

Plot Twists

I’m not a fan of the plot twist gimmick just for gimmick’s sake. A story has to be good FIRST, and then twist can just add another layer to the fun. There are films that sacrifice logic and character to make the twist work, and that just burns me up.

In any case, this article does a good job of listing all the ways you can write a twist:

How to Write Plot Twists That Really Mess with People’s Heads

  • Anagnorisis: The sudden critical discovery of information, like the true identity of a character (The Sixth Sense, Fight Club, The Usual Suspects)
  • Analepsis: A flashback that reveals new or different information about a past event (MarnieOnce Upon a Time in the West)
  • Unreliable narrator: A realization that the narrator has lied about or manipulated information given throughout the story (Memento, Shutter Island, The Usual Suspects)
  • Peripeteia: A sudden reversal of a character’s fortune (Million Dollar BabyTitanic)
  • Poetic justice: an “ironic twist of fate” in which good is rewarded with or bad is punished by something related to the deed or misdeed (ex: a murderer being shot with the very gun he used to kill his victim, a staunch anti-drug politician being arrested for possession of narcotics)
  • Chekhov’s gun: a character or device that seems to have a minor role suddenly becomes important to the story (Buddy in The Incredibles, Rick’s grenade in The Walking Dead)
  • Red herring: a false piece of information that leads characters in the wrong direction (The DiVinci Code)
  • In medias res: starting from the middle of a narrative in order to deliver information over time (Raging BullKill Bill: Volume 2)
  • Non-linear narrative: a narrative told in non-chronological order, forcing the viewer to piece information together (Pulp FictionMulholland DriveRashomon)
  • Reverse chronology: a narrative told in reverse order, forcing the viewer to piece information together (Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
  • Deus ex machina: A sudden and unexpected introduction of a character, device, or event that ruins or saves the day (War of the Worlds, Avatar)