24 hours

You’ve been hired by a major motion picture company to do a re-write on a screenplay that’s in pre-production. And, you have 24 hours to do it. Your task: Download a script for one of your favorite movies. Re-write the ending in the next 24-hours.

Rewriting Genre

Taking a movie out of the genre it was written for can be an excellent lesson in understanding what a genre is.

The Exercise

Re-write your favorite scene from a movie as if it were part of

  • A western
  • A horror film
  • A science fiction film.
  • Can't Stand It

    I was talking to a grocery store clerk about writing the other day, when he asked, “How do you write about characters that you can’t stand?” I responded with saying, “finding compassion for our characters gives us the ability to understand them more which helps when we write their lives.” Your task: Pick a person you dislike. Write a 1-page synopsis for a plot based on their life as a hero’s journey.

    The Hero's Journey

    A Hero is often considered to be someone who was born with extraordinary talents and abilities. But are heroes really superior beings? I think not. In my opinion, heroes are everyday people who take on challenging obstacles to reach noble goals. Everyone has been or will be a hero in their lifetime. Your task: Write a 1-page synopsis of your life as a hero’s journey. Identify the goal you’re working toward and 3 challenges faced. Craft this synopsis in a creative way, telling your story interestingly.

    Character Autobiography

    Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman

    Write the full name of your character down the left side of a page, one successive letter on each line. On each line, write a true statement about the character (or from his/her voice) beginning the first word of each line with each successive letter of the character?ǂÄôs name. So for a character named Holmeyer:

    He lives with a rabbit
    Open hearted
    Loves bridges
    Means well
    Ebbs when he should flow
    Yearns for love
    Even tempered
    Runs from life

    Try it with all your main characters. (Try it with your own name)

    The Interview

    You’ve finished a draft of your script! Congratulations. Now it’s time to re-write. Before you get started, get someone else to help you clear your thoughts. Your Task: Get Interviewed! Have a friend interview you about your script. Here are some questions: What do you like about your work? What do you want to change? What should never be changed? Why? How do you feel about writing? What about yourself as a writer? If you had to give up your script to a production company today, what would you be embarrassed about? What are you proud of? Hope that gets you started!

    Tarrantino Exercise

    Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman

    1.Open the phone book Yellow Pages to two random pages, and select two businesses. Move two characters from Point A to Point B by whatever means you invent. Invent a good reason for the journey. Reveal that intent skillfully. If it’s huge, understate it. If it’s trivial, exaggerate.

    2. Pick one of the following topics and write a dialogue scene between those two characters, exploring and disputing the topic fully.
    a. Standard shift vs. automatic transmission
    b. Leaf blowers
    c. Teeth
    d. Class seating on airplanes
    e. Vegetarianism
    f. Paying for cable TV
    g. Burning CDs
    h. Any other mundane topic in the world.

    As in every good scene, use the interchange not only to explore the issue, but in doing so, reveal who the characters are, individually and in their relationship to each other.

    3. Orchestrate part 2 into part 1 and write a sequence of scenes.

    Defense Against the Critics

    Can you defend the choices you’ve made in your own writing? Try it. Your Task: Take a screenplay that you’ve written. Pick out the major plot points and defend your decisions for the way you’ve written them. Write a short essay detailing the decisions you’ve made for the plot of your story and defend these choices against potential criticism.

    Being The Writer I Want To Be

    What internal or external forces impede your ability to write? Our capacity to understand and permeate these forces can build our power as a writer.

    The Exercise

    List 10 things that stop you from being the writer you want to be.
    Brainstorm three possible solutions for overcoming each obstacle on your list.
    Plan a date on your calendar to work on one of these solutions.

    Beyond Google

    Google has become so popular as a search tool that it often becomes the only instrument used when doing internet research. Expanding our horizons gives us more information from a variety of sources. Your Task: Read “Conducting Research on the Internet.” Now, using 3 methods from this article, research a random subject to come up with 5 facts.

    creative screenwriting exercises (Get the book for all 101 exercises)