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What's New, BlueCat? 
The Official Newsletter of the

BlueCat Screenplay Competition   

August 4th
  • Next DEADLINE: Sept 1st
  • 2 Scripts: Barton Fink & Mud
  • Dead Poets Society: Deconstructing a Classic
  • F for Fake: How to Structure a Video Essay
  • Ask BlueCat Video: Where is the proper place to put a character's actions in a script?
  • 1993 Reservoir Dogs Interview with Quentin Tarantino
  • Blue's Beats #11: Chinatown
  • Honolulu and Pittsburgh Screenwriting Workshops
  • Michael Bay: What is Bayhem?
  • Wes Anderson and Yasujirō Ozu
  • Wolf Children: The Lateral Tracking Shot
  • Upcoming Screenwriting Workshops
Seven Steps to Writing Your Screenplay



1. Choosing a Story

Most professional writers I know have a surplus of ideas. Because of this they tend to think little of them. But choosing a good concept is, in many ways, the most important step of all, assuming you follow through on all the others. You want a concept which, when described, suggests the story to follow. It should excite you and make you think about various scenes you will write. If you are excited by the concept, if you can see the story unfolding in your mind's eye, then there is a good chance others will also be excited by the concept.



2. Planning

Writers plan in different ways, and some don't plan at all. You will eventually find what best works for you, and it may not be a detailed outline (I don't outline myself, though I do keep a notebook handy in which to jot down important information as the writing progresses, so that I won't have to flip back through my pages to rediscover necessary details), but if you're first starting out, I suggest some sort of written plan. It might be a bullet-pointed sheet of paper with the major story beats on it; it might be a couple dozen index cards thumbtacked to the wall above your desk. Either way, I think it's a good idea to have a roadmap handy so that you do not get lost on the way and take unnecessary detours, for those detours will eventually have to be cut from your screenplay, which means the time spent on them was time wasted, no matter how beautiful the scenery.



3. Familiarizing Yourself With the Medium

Once you have some sort of plan, you're ready to begin writing-so long as you're familiar with screenplay format and structure. If you've watched a lot of movies-and I assume you have-you probably have some instinctual grasp of story structure, but formatting is a different matter. If you don't know how to format a script, I suggest reading a few, and not the ones published in book form you can find at your local Barnes & Noble. Websites such as have actual drafts of screenplays available, and these are what you will want to reference. Ignore the transcripts; they are useless. You also may want to download dedicated screenwriting software. I banged out my first script on a typewriter (I've been writing for a long time) and my second in a Word document, formatting as I went, but I don't recommend either of these approaches. I now use Final Draft, but this might be an expense you can't afford. If so, there are free programs available, including Celtx and Page 2 stage. Download one of these and play with its features so that you know what you're doing. You do not want a program designed to help you to interrupt your flow simply because you don't know how to utilize it.


4. Writing

This is, of course, the heart of the job, and if you've planned well it should go rather smoothly. Once you begin a project, I think it's important to write every day until it's finished. If you write a thousand words a day, about five pages, you will be finished in less than a month. This, to me, is a perfectly reasonable goal. If you, however, are a slower writer, try to at least finish one page a day. This will give you a full-length screenplay in a little over three months. The point here is to get the story down on paper.

Remember to write only what will appear in the film. Screenplays are not the place for internal monologues. If you can't see it or hear it, it doesn't belong. This may seem elementary, but I have read many scripts that include not film-able material. What you want is a movie on the page, nothing more and nothing less.


5. Editing

I suggest at least three passes. The first is for story and character. You now know where the drama lies. Milk that drama as much as you can. Cut scenes that do not push the story forward or reveal character, and if the scene does only one of those things, try to make it do more, combing scenes where necessary. Be brutal. Once the story is where you want it to be, go through the script again for dialogue. Read it aloud and where it sounds unnatural, rewrite it. It doesn't need to be grammatical; it needs to be human. People do not speak in complete sentences. They use contractions and say "ain't." They do not explain things that everyone in the room already knows. The third pass is for spelling and grammar. You do not want a poorly-worded sentence or a spelling error to pull the reader from your story. You want every reader to fall into it completely, and this will only happen if you eliminate the errors that will remind them that they are, in fact, reading something that someone else wrote.


6. Querying

Once your script is where you want it to be, it is time to send out query letters. I suggest first writing a template. It should read something like this:


Dear Mr. Warden,

I recently completed a screenplay called A Penny for Your Thoughts about a successful businessman who inadvertently sells his thoughts for a penny to a fellow he meets in a bar. As he loses his memory and the man who purchased his thoughts takes over his life, he must race against time to find the penny, which he left at the bar, and buy back his thoughts before he loses himself completely.

This is my first feature-length screenplay. However, I minored in Film at California State University, Long Beach, have attended one of Robert McKee's conferences, and have published short stories in Weird Tales and Asimov's Science Fiction magazine.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.


Ryan David Jahn


Once you have a template, go to the WGA website and find their list of signatory agencies. These are the folks to whom you want to submit. But before you send off your letter, you should do some legwork. Find out which agents represent writers who are doing similar stuff to you, and use that knowledge to personalize each letter you submit. If the agents you reach understand you are not blindly sending out letters, if they understand you are submitting to them for a reason beyond the fact that they are agents, if they understand that you know something about them, they are much more likely to at least consider your letter.



7. Doing it All Again

Once you complete that last step, you begin again immediately, because, above all, writers write.



Read More BlueCat Screenwriting Articles  

Next Analysis DEADLINE: Sept 1st

midnight PDT 


All submissions will receive script analysis by October 1st

$40 Shorts | $60 Features

Dead Poets Society: Deconstructing a Classic

Tom Schulman, writer of Dead Poets Society, deconstructs the story's journey from script to screen, along with his unique working relationships on set with Robin Williams and director Peter Weir. 

F for Fake: How to Structure a Video Essay


What can Orson Welles' 1937 masterpiece, F for Fake, teach us about narrative structure? Find out in this short video. 
Reservoir Dogs
Interview with Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino comments on the runaway success of Reservoir Dogs in this rare interview form 1993. 

Honolulu Workshop
November 20th, 2015


Pittsburgh Workshop
November 9th, 2015 6:00am-10:00pm
Michael Bay: What is Bayhem?

Love him or hate him, Bay has something valuable to tech us about visual perception. This video explores "Bayhem" - his style of camera movement, composition, and editing that creates something overblown, dynamic, distinct. 



Barton Fink
by Joel and Ethan Coen

by Jeff Nichols

ASK BLUECAT Video Series
Over our history, BlueCat's often been asked questions from our community, topics ranging from script formatting, improving dialogue or finding representation.  BlueCat founder and judge Gordy Hoffman attempts to answers your questions in our video feature, Ask BlueCat.

Q: Where is the proper place to put a character's action in the script?


Dog Bowl Movie Merchandise

Support Gordy Hoffman's new short film, Dog Bowl, by purchasing a 

hoodie or t-shirt!

Blue's Beats:
BlueCat Blog Series

Blue's Beats is a new blog series where we break down various nominated feature screenplays by identifying and discussing their important beats.  

Today we'llbe taking a look at the 1974 neo-noir mystery,
Chinatownwritten by Robert Towne and directed by Roman Polanski. The film was won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Wes Anderson and Yasujirō Ozu

This video essay explores the stylistic similarities between Wes Anderson and Japanese filmmaking legend Yasujirō Ozu. 

Wolf Children: The Lateral Tracking Shot

Take a look at the unique and memorable lateral tracking shots in Mamoru Hasoda's 2012 animated feature, Wolf Children

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Upcoming BlueCat Screenwriting Workshops

BlueCat Screenplay Workshops are an intensive opportunity to certifiably improve your script in a small group environment, led by award winning screenwriter and BlueCat founder Gordy Hoffman.

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