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Screenwriting Tricks For Authors (and Screenwriters!) [Kindle Edition]

Alexandra Sokoloff
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 263 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

Are you finally committed to writing that novel but have no idea how to get started? Or are you a published author - but know you need some plotting help to move your books and career up to that next level?

Screenwriting is a compressed and dynamic storytelling form and the techniques of screenwriting are easily adaptable to novel writing. You can jump-start your plot and bring your characters and scenes vibrantly alive on the page - by watching your favorite movies and learning from the storytelling tricks of great filmmakers.

With this workbook, based on award-winning author/ screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff’s internationally acclaimed Screenwriting Tricks For Authors blog and workshops, you'll learn how to use techniques of film writing such as:

- the High Concept Premise
- the Three-Act, Eight-Sequence Structure
- the Storyboard Grid
- the Index Card Method of Plotting

- as well as tricks of film pacing and suspense, character arc and drive, visual storytelling, and building image systems - to structure and color your novel for maximum emotional impact, unbearable suspense and riveting pacing, no matter what genre you're writing in.

You'll create your own personalized workbook of genre tricks based on your favorite books and movies and tailored to your own brand of storytelling, and a collage book to build visual image systems. And the emphasis on premise is invaluable for crafting that all-important query and pitch.

In this rapidly changing world of publishing, more and more agents and editors are looking for novels that have the pacing, emotional excitement, and big, unique, "high concept" premises of Hollywood movies (and the potential for that movie or TV sale!).

Whether you're just starting to develop a book or script, or rewriting for maximum impact, this workbook will guide you through an easy, effective and fun process to help you make your book or script the best it can be.

Includes detailed film breakdowns and analysis as well as chapters and resources on how to get a literary agent, writing a query letter, professional networking, and screenwriting contests.

"Sokoloff's advice is spot-on, and her teaching style is direct and effective. A must-have book for authors and screenwriters."
- JA Konrath, A Newbie's Guide To Publishing

Editorial Reviews


"Sokoloff's advice is spot-on, and her teaching style is direct and effective. A must-have book for authors and screenwriters."
--- JA Konrath, bestselling author of  A Newbie's Guide To Publishing

"Sokoloff is a generous mentor with the gifted ability to address a storyteller's practical concerns while encouraging artistic integrity and every author's unique voice.  Only three of my half dozen novels have been written with her unwitting guidance, but I can guarantee that with this book at my fingertips, all my future work- and my reading audience - will benefit from her advice. Recommended without reservation. "  
--- Vicki Pettersson, bestselling author of the Sign of the Zodiac series

"I loved this book! Alexandra Sokoloff breaks down the screenwriting process in easy-to-understand steps with examples from current movies and the BEST practical examples. Her unique and always lots of fun lessons are empowering for first-time writers as well as those with finished screenplays looking to take their project to the next level. Indispensable."
--- George LaVoo, co-writer Real Women Have Curves, writer/director A Dog Year

From the Inside Flap




1. The Master List
2. What's Your Premise?
3. What is "High Concept"?
4. The Three-Act, Eight-Sequence Structure
5. The Index Card Method and Story Elements Checklist
6. Elements of Act I
7. Hero/ine, Protagonist, Main Character
8. Protagonist Case Study: Jake Gittes
9. What Makes a Great Villain?
10. Villains, Part 2: The Forces of Antagonism
11. Elements of Act Two
12. Elements of Act Two, Part 2
13. Elements of Act Three
14. What Makes a Great Climax?
15. Visual Storytelling
16. Creating Suspense
17. Plants and Payoffs
18. The Big Twist
19. Character Introductions
20. Fairy Tale Structure
21. Meta Structure
22. Your First Draft is Always Going to Suck
23. Top Ten Things I Know About Editing
24. Life is a Pitch Meeting


25. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
26. Romancing the Stone
27. Chinatown
28. The Mist
29. Act Climaxes and Turning Points


30. How Do I Get a Literary Agent?
31. Internet Resources for Writers
32. So You Want to Know About Screenwriting
33. Recommended Reading

Figure 1: Story Grid

Product Details

  • File Size: 392 KB
  • Print Length: 263 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0032JSJ9U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,002 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Save your money--Buy this book! November 7, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think it was Blake Snyder in his book, Save the Cat, that said writers will do anything to keep from working--from writing--the single activity they love most in the world. He was right, of course, and one of the things writers do to procrastinate is buy books on writing. This is the perfect outlet, as the primary reason we don't want to write is because the editor in our heads keeps telling us we're just not good enough.

Me, yes, I'm a writer, and as such, I am a procrastinator and collector of fine books on writing. Honestly, there is no book on the subject, in print or out, that I do not own.

And just as Blake Snyder said his book was the last book on screen writing anyone would ever need, Sokoloff's Screen-writing Tricks for Authors is the last book on novel writing you'll ever need. She has condensed the best of the best--at least the most relevant to today's audience--into a no-word-wasted just-the-facts-maam book that no serious writer should be without.

If you buy another book on writing without reading this one first, you'll be wasting money.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended without reservation June 19, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
I've been following Alexandra Sokoloff's advice for years now, hunting down informative gems in blog entries and online posts every time a structural problem arose in one of my WIPs. To say I'm thrilled that she finally compiled (and augmented) that advice in one place is an understatement. Sokoloff is a generous mentor with the gifted ability to address a storyteller's practical concerns while encouraging artistic integrity and every author's unique voice. Only three of my half dozen novels have been written with her unwitting guidance, but I can guarantee that with this book at my fingertips, all my future work - and my reading audience - will benefit from her advice.

As a side note, I generally don't like books with exercises. Everything I write is for use, not play, yet I felt no resistance in performing Sokoloff's suggested exercises because they're relevant and applicable to the story structure of everything I write - shorts, novellas, and full-length fiction. There are no shortcuts to craft, but this book can help authors avoid the structural pitfalls that might otherwise keep a story from being finished, or from selling. Recommended without reservation.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An oustanding approach to writing January 3, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
Sokoloff's book is a valuable addition to any writer's library, whether published or unpublished. Ms. Sokoloff draws upon her years of experience as a successful screenwriter to explain how to structure a novel. Complete with useful exercises. Highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worthwhile July 30, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Sokoloff covers Story Structure (three acts, eight sequences), Story Breakdowns, and The Business. Her workbook approach is based on developing your own Writer's Notebook, with lists of favorite movies/openings/endings, etc., and why they work for you. I'm not very good at that sort of thing, not patient enough, perhaps, but her suggestions are sound.

As the title suggests, much of the book is based on the analysis of various movies, used to illustrate all aspects of story structure. Most of the examples I have seen, and her descriptions are make even unfamiliar films useful. One of her favorite examples is Chinatown, which I haven't seen in a very long time--I was inspired to track down a copy at Half-Price Books. She includes a sort of viewer's guide for the movies she analyzes in detail, giving the timing for important points.

When I looked up the book for this review, I discovered that Sokoloff has issued a second collection: Writing Love, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II, with the emphasis on romance. I write romance, soI downloaded it immediately. I suspect it covers much the same territory with different examples, but for $2.99, how far wrong can you go?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total Game Changer October 15, 2013
By Elise
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've never heard of Alexandra Sokoloff, but I'm just starting Chapter 6 (11% into the book on Kindle) and she has already completely altered my view on how to write a novel. I have at least 5 books that I've started, yet haven't gotten past page 30 before getting stuck and giving up. I've read tons of articles on outlining, but Chapter 5: The Index Card Method has completely altered my view on how it needs to be done and the benefit it will have when writing and completing a novel. I cannot believe this book on the Kindle is only $2.99. If you're a complete amateur like me but know you have a story inside of you the world needs to read, buy this book. I promise you won't regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource for story structure December 1, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've been following Sokoloff's posts on the mystery writer blog Murderati, and on her website, when this book was mentioned. It was one of my very first Kindle purchases and has really proven to be incredibly useful in my own attempts at creative writing. Sokoloff applies classic screenwriting structure, and the kind of mythic/classic story structure that humans enjoy so much (e.g., the hero's quest and chosen one story lines seen in Greek myth, later myths and legends and movies like Star Wars, Chinatown and The Matrix), and sets out clear lessons for how to understand and use such structure in novels. The book is very clear and very helpful as a guide, and I've turned to my bookmarked pages for elements of the three Acts of a story (movie or book) and how to establish the same with index cards and notes in your own writing, many times. This is a great resource for a very reasonable price.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is an excellent book and will continue to be a reference for me in years to come.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for aspiring fiction writers of any genre
I found Alexandra Sokoloff through another book (Write Good or Die) and after reading a couple of articles by her in that book as well as her blog, I was eager to see a complete... Read more
Published 2 months ago by KatieF
5.0 out of 5 stars Good focused message for a novelist and writer.
I have written and published my first novel, and I am in the middle of writing my second novel. On a recommendation from a friend who is also a novelist I picked up Mrs. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Louis C Kirby
5.0 out of 5 stars Such practical, no bullshit, valuable advice
Learned so much from Alexandra's book the first time, then retread it once I sold my novel to a major house at auction. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Petunia888
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended!
Excellent advice and techniques here. Highly recommend reading before plotting your next novel.
Published 3 months ago by P. K. Hrezo
3.0 out of 5 stars Great advice.
Great advice.
Published 3 months ago by Michael Adante
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent advice from a brilliant screenwriter
Excellent advice for writers, and there's a lot more on Alexandra's website. I find her writing to be straight-forward and easily digested. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ancient Grey-bearded Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A terrific book for anyone interested in writing a screen play or movie!
Published 6 months ago by A reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for learning story structure
This book teaches the basics of story structure and plot devices used successfully by screenwriters and authors for years. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Shae Lyn Hamrick
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful but perhaps unnecessary
There's some very good advice here (if prone toward the formulaic), but nothing that you can't find in her online blog.
Published 10 months ago by Wolf Lahti
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More About the Author

Alexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the supernatural thrillers THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE SHIFTERS, and THE SPACE BETWEEN, and the Thriller Award-nominated, Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI series (HUNTRESS MOON, BLOOD MOON, COLD MOON). The New York Times Book Review called her a "daughter of Mary Shelley," and her books "Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre."

As a screenwriter she has sold original horror and thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has also written two non-fiction workbooks: SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS and WRITING LOVE, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (, and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA, west and the Board of the Mystery Writers of America.

Alex is a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in theater and minored in everything Berkeley has a reputation for. In her spare time (!) she performs with Heather Graham's all-author Slush Pile Players, and dances like a fiend. She is also very active on Facebook. But not an addict. Seriously, it's under control.

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