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Best Screenwriting Tips, Writer's Help & Advice

Find expert screenwriting advice articles, industry leading interviews with writers, expert writing advice, screenwriting tips and answers to commonly raised questions from screenwriters, scriptwriters, filmmakers, and writers of all types. A little insider screenwriting help can go a long way toward improving the writing craft and working with screenwriting software.

How to Write a Screenplay: Script Writing Example & Screenwriting Tips

It's easy to feel intimidated by the thought of writing a screenplay. The rules! The formatting! The binding! Don't let the seemingly endless parade of screenwriting elements scare you away from writing your first script. Since a familiarity with ...

Read more... | Published: 03/09/10 | by Mario O. Moreno and Kay Tuxford

Approaching Character: The Circle of Being

Henry James, the great American novelist, in an essay entitled The Art of Fiction, asks a rhetorical question about the nature of character: "What is character," he writes, "but the determination of incident. And what is incident but the illumin...

Read more... | Published: 03/01/04 | by Syd Field

PASSION: Without It, Forget It

For a new screenwriter, the only way to tear down the Hollywood barriers is to burn them down with your passion. Your passion for the story and for the characters who drive it. Without Passion, your script is no more than a tinker toy network of r...

Read more... | Published: 02/15/04 | by Christopher Keane

Winning Spec Scripts

Our Reader Allen Ventura from Springfield, IL writes: I am a professional writer who has recently turned his hand to screenwriting. Can you give me the insider's view of "spec scripts?" Is this a sound way to proceed or are there better ways to g...

Read more... | Published: 02/15/04 | by Richard Walter

Hang Out With Writers To Succeed!

Our Reader Mark McC from Canyon Country (not too near Hollywood), CA writes: Coming to L.A. has not at all been what I expected. I've tried to follow the experts' advice, like get a job in a production company , but that was impossible. My borin...

Read more... | Published: 02/01/04 | by Richard Walter

Getting Started in L.A.

Each year hundreds of screenplays become feature films. And each year thousands of teleplays become television episodes. Opportunity-wise, televisions's got feature films beat. TV's got the heat. The magic. The glitz. All that's missing is you. H...

Read more... | Published: 02/01/04 | by Larry Brody

Beyond Theme: Story's New Unified Field - Part III

To read Part I of this Series, click here. To read Part II of this Series, click here. In the first two parts of this series I began an examination of the true source of unity in a great story and how that unity can be achieved. I introduced...

Read more... | Published: 01/18/04 | by James Bonnet

Quirky or Plain Crazy - Where Do I Draw the Line for My Character?

Lynn, a Writer/Producer from Palm Springs, CA Asks : In your book REEL PEOPLE you talk a lot about characters that seem to be quite disturbed. Can the theories of personality types apply to characters that are just quirky or eccentric rather than ...

Read more... | Published: 01/05/04 | by Howard Gluss

Character Emotions & Psyche: How They Shape You and Your Characters

" Only connect the prose and the passion,and both will be exalted. " - E. M. Forster Emotions are the lifeblood of characters and of stories. Without emotional characters, you are just writing events, but you're not drawing your audience into ...

Read more... | Published: 01/05/04 | by Rachel Ballon

Interview with: Shawn Lawrence Otto - Screenwriter of HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG

WS: You graduated magna cum laude AND Phi Beta Kappa from a small, private liberal arts college, Macalester in St. Paul. What was your major and did it have any impact on your careers as house painter, apartment house owner, and prize-winning s...

Read more... | Published: 12/19/03 | by The Writers Store

Be a Story Weaver - NOT a Story Mechanic

Too many writers fall into the trap of making Structure their Story God. There's no denying that structure is important, but paying too much attention to structure can destroy your story. We have all seen movies and read novels that feel like "pa...

Read more... | Published: 12/07/03 | by Melanie Ann Phillips

The Power And Importance Of Human Connection To A Great Screenplay

For years I gently browbeat my students. "Dig deeper," I said. "The best stories are about the human heart." I wasn't quite sure what I meant. I knew I didn't mean that old Hollywood saw -- throw in some love interest! I meant something closer ...

Read more... | Published: 11/21/03 | by Claudia Johnson

Truby On Structure: Mystic River, Runaway Jury & Intolerable Cruelty

Warning: If you haven't seen these movies, the following article contains spoilers which may impair your viewing pleasure. Mystic River Mystic River is a classic example of what is referred to as an "actor's movie." Big monologues, gnashi...

Read more... | Published: 11/21/03 | by John Truby

Beyond Theme: Story's New Unified Field - Part II

In Part I of this series ( read Part I here ), I began an examination of the true source of unity in a great story and how that unity can be achieved. I introduced you to four of the elements that can influence that unity and add significantly to ...

Read more... | Published: 11/06/03 | by James Bonnet

Story Weaving - Story Structure for Passionate Writers

We all know that a story needs a sound structure. But no one reads a book or goes to a movie to enjoy a good structure. And no author writes because he or she is driven to create a great structure. Rather, audiences and authors come to opposite si...

Read more... | Published: 10/26/03 | by Melanie Ann Phillips

Richard Walter's Greatest Hits Or The Reader's Backflip

When I speak to screenwriters they remind me of rules I wrote in my first screenwriting book. The following rules - principles, actually - come from my 27 years chairing the graduate Screenwriting program in the film school at UCLA: 1. It's quite...

Read more... | Published: 10/12/03 | by Richard Walter

Capturing the Reel Racist - A Debate

A Reader Asks: I have read your book REEL PEOPLE on developing psychologically sound characters. I am working on a character who has to transition from being somewhat of a racist into being a full-blown racist with murderous intentions. Can you g...

Read more... | Published: 10/12/03 | by Howard Gluss

Why Story Structure is the Key to Success

There is a system of thought known as the As-If Philosophy. In a nutshell, the As-If Philosophy says: We know we will die, but we act "as if" we will live forever. The ironic result is that our lives are not nearly as fulfilling as they could be. ...

Read more... | Published: 10/02/03 | by John Truby

Beyond Theme: Story's New Unified Field

What is the true source of unity in a great story and how is that unity achieved? According to the dictionary, unity is the state of being one. And today it is generally agreed that a story should be about one thing - but what is that one thing? I...

Read more... | Published: 09/14/03 | by James Bonnet

Hero is a Four-Letter Word

Part Three: Hero and Villian Mix It Up We've seen how both Hero and Villain are actually composed of several different qualities. And, we've seen that for every quality the Hero possesses, the Villain has a counterpart. When these qualities are ...

Read more... | Published: 09/14/03 | by Melanie Ann Phillips

Structure and Character - Excerpted with Permission from the Book "Story" - Part One

Plot or character? Which is more important? This debate is as old as the art. Aristotle weighed each side and concluded that story is primary, character secondary. His view held sway until, with the evolution of the novel, the pendulum of opinion ...

Read more... | Published: 09/08/03 | by Robert McKee

Structure and Character - Excerpted with Permission from the Book "Story" - Part Two

Character Arc Taking the principle further yet: The finest writing not only reveals true character, but arcs or changes that inner nature, for better or worse, over the course of the telling. In The Verdict , protagonist Frank Galvin first ...

Read more... | Published: 09/08/03 | by Robert McKee

How to Write a Logline that Sells

Have you ever been stuck listening to a friend tell you a joke that seems to go on without ever reaching the punch line? Your mind starts wandering and you stop paying attention as the joke painfully loses its momentum. Pitching your ideas effect...

Read more... | Published: 08/29/03 | by Jonathan Treisman

Finding the Right Writing Partner

Some of the greatest movies and TV series have been written by script partners, from Billy Wilder's legendary collaborations with Charles Brackett and I.A.L. Diamond to the Academy Award-winning work of the Coen Brothers. Each year the list of scr...

Read more... | Published: 08/17/03 | by Claudia Johnson

Hero is a Four-Letter Word: The Villain

Reader response has been overwhelming on this article series - impatiently awaiting our second installment. We're glad to present today: Part Two Equally well known as the Hero is the Villain. And just as the Hero is actually made up of severa...

Read more... | Published: 08/17/03 | by Melanie Ann Phillips