Screenwriting Secrets by John Scott Lewinski

Screenwriting Secrets » John Truby's Blockbuster

Blockbuster is easily the most "Hollywood" of the available story development software packages. While not as technologically advanced as Dramatica, it is a very solid, thorough and effective tool for beginner or advanced film and TV writers. John Truby is an experienced Hollywood writing coach and script doctor. As the designer of the software that bears his name, his influence is evident throughout its functions.

Blockbuster offers writers several choices at its outset. You can begin analysis and development on a script of your own. Or, you can take a cyber-version of John Truby's focused writing course through your computer. Either way, Truby boasts that his software will help you "write your best script ever -- guaranteed."

The product's interface is simple; just point, click and type. The look of the program is no-nonsense and stripped down, but it keeps the user moving smoothly through script development.

The software presents its information and functions at three different levels of complexity; Quickstory, Advanced and Professional.

Quickstory lets a writer get right to work on his or her story. You can develop a new plot from scratch by following Blockbuster's steps or reanalyze and improve a pre-existing script. The Brainstorm Pad allows you to get your initial script ideas down on screen. From there, you can advance to Scene Ideas and list in order the scene concepts you have to flesh out your plot concept. The Cast function lets you invent your characters' descriptions and devise his or her roll in the screenplay (Opponent, Ally or Sub-Plot Character, for example).

Other Quickstory work options include the Structure tools that lead through the traditional elements of a universal plot. Truby's software works within the popularly accepted theory that a good, effective story begins with a protagonist with a Problem or Need. The other structure elements include Desire, Opponent, Plan, Battle, Self-Revelation and New Equilibrium. The Structure functions allow a writer to define and outline each of these elements one at a time.

Truby also uses the Hollywood model that effective Hollywood stories use the 22 Step model. While constructing a Scene List with Blockbuster, the writer assigns one of the 22 step functions to those scenes. Blockbuster then allows you to move and rearrange scenes to fit Hollywood functions.

If a writer chooses to move up into the Advanced and Professional levels of Blockbuster, he or she moves even further into the tight requirements and restrictions of top-shelf Hollywood writing.

In the Advanced level, a writer deals with questions of Premise, Genre, Conflict and Plot. Truby also offers a Dialogue Coach function to polish the words flowing from your characters' mouths.

The Professional level gives a writer the most sophisticated, Hollywood Insider look at the writing process. The analysis and development options here include Theme, Reveals, Characters Arc and Action Tracks. If you don't know exactly what those buzzwords mean, Blockbuster is more than able to educate you.

This top level also offers one of Blockbuster's most impressive and attractive tools, the Script Doctor option. It allows you to import material into Blockbuster, where the software's tools and manipulate and reshape it into a Hollywood quality script.

Finally, the software includes adequate Help functions and a solid list of example plots (including such hit films as "Star Wars," "The Verdict," "Ordinary People," "Beverly Hills Cop," "Jurassic Park" "Witness" and "Jaws") to show you how the pros did it.

You can tell this program came straight out of Hollywood. The whole feel of the software is solid, stringent, no-nonsense and very functional -- exactly what Hollywood writing demands!

To order the latest edition of John Truby's Blockbuster, click here.

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