Screenwriting: Write the Shockingly Professional Screenplay



Writing a professional screenplay that stands out from the competition doesn't have to be a confusing mystery or heartbreakingly painful. Let me show you how I've been doing it for years.

My name is Jeffrey Alan Schechter and I've been a working writer for over 20 years. My writing has been nominated for two Emmy awards as well as awards from the Writer's Guild of America, the Writer's Guild of Canada, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. I'm a Gemini award winning producer and the author of the bestselling book My Story Can Beat Up Your Story! , Amazon's top-reviewed book on screenwriting. I'm also the creator and executive producer of the hit show Stitchers currently airing on ABC Family. I know this isn't the least expensive screenwriting course on Udemy but every once in a while you do actually get what you pay for. This course is guaranteed to turn your screenplay into the toughest kid on the block or your money back.

What I teach is no sterile paradigm, no BS system taught by failed writers. This is the same dynamic system that I've used in my 20+ year career as a working writer. It decodes the major storytelling moments shared by the most popular movies of all time so you can use them in your own writing. This system is based on simple to understand principles that I've used to generate millions of dollars in writing assignments and script sales. Seriously. It really works.

WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING? LOTS! Jeff has an acute understanding of the kind of story structure that makes for successful movies. By analyzing blockbusters he extrapolates a story construction model that is surprisingly simple and universally applicable. And, best of all, it works. - Tim Hill, Director. ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS, MAX KEEBLE'S BIG MOVE, MUPPETS IN SPACE

Writers have been searching for the perfect story structure paradigm for 2,500 years. Jeff Schechter may have found it. Take that, Aristotle! - Ian Abrams, Chairman, Dramatic Writing Program, Drexel University. Writer/ Creator EARLY EDITION, UNDERCOVER BLUES.

Screenwriting is an art, and Jeff Schechter conveys both the craft and soul of the trade. A gifted teacher, he provides methods which will help you both structure and elevate your best ideas. - David Sacks, Executive Producer/Writer. THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN, THE SIMPSONS

A refreshing, no-nonsense, incredibly insightful primer for beginners and laser-guided tuner-upper for journeymen. And it's damned entertaining to boot. David N. Weiss, writer, Shrek 2, The Smurfs

Smart and engaging...brims with common-sense methods of breaking down and conquering the most stubborn structural problems in screenwriting.Alvaro Rodriguez, writer, Machete, Shorts

Since I took Jeff's course I've become a Hollywood screenwriter. I recently finished the first draft of a supernatural thriller which I was able to option after my FIRST PITCH to a producer. Now I'm on my next 'gig.' If it wasn't for Jeff I would still be writing my way out of page 55." – Scott M, AUSTRALIA

Jeff breaks down screenwriting structure into small, easy to understand bites. I finally think I'm comprehending screenwriting and how it works, and I owe it all to this class. If you only take one screenwriting class, make sure it's this one!" – Elissa T, LONG BEACH WHAT'S IN THE COURSE?

This course is divided into four sections covering 41 lectures:

SECTION 1 -- STRONG FOUNDATIONS: Three acts, four questions, four archetypes & the perfect elevator pitch. This is the first section of the course but it's anything but basic! In this section you'll learn:

  • An enhanced understanding of the classic three act structure.
  • The critical four questions you need to know about your main character
  • How to craft a central question that charts your hero's physical, emotional, and spiritual journey.
  • How to ensure your main character fulfills his or her story destiny by transitioning through each of the four archetypes
  • How to construct a compelling 'elevator pitch' that lays out your entire story from start to finish

SECTION 2 -- THEME & CHARACTER: Knowing how to weave theme and character into a screenplay has been poorly understood and very under-utilized...until now! In this section we take a deep dive into the easiest way to understand character interactions and thematic integrity. In this section you'll:

  • Learn the power of theme (and scratch your head that so few people use it effectively!)
  • Determine the thematic question, thematic argument, and thematic synthesis of a story (it's easier than it sounds!)
  • Incorporate thematic opposites into your story through characters, props, and architecture.
  • Use the Unity of Opposites to align both the positive and negative characters with theme.
  • Learn how to easily create a cast of as many as 14 characters, both positive and negative, that inform and amplify your hero and villain

SECTION 3 -- BULLETPROOF PLOTTING: This is it! The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The 44 plot points that guarantee a perfect structure as well as the 12 story landmarks that all top films share. In this section we:

  • Work through the 12 foundation plot points of act 1.
  • Use the central cuestion to craft the plot points of act 2 so that they build upon each other in a professional, exciting way
  • Build act 3 using four essential plot points
  • Chart a story course with approximate page counts for the 12 major landmarks of your now bulletproof story

SECTION 4 -- THE TOUGH WRITER'S BUSINESS PLAN: If you want to be a professional writer, you have to treat the business like a business. The 16 lectures in this section cover all the advice I wish someone would have given to me when I was getting started:

  • The Big Lie and the Big Truth about a career in screenwriting
  • The best way to be a working writer according to the Writer's Guild of America.
  • Do you have to move to Los Angeles?
  • What's the best material to be writing right now?
  • Different ways to leverage your time and creativity
  • The surprising reason why you need to write something unproduceable!
  • When should you try to get an agent or a manager?
  • The reality about pitch and script competitions.
  • A solid plan to write 4 pieces of new material in less than a year.

41 lectures, hours of HD video, hundreds of images, clips, charts, and diagrams...this is an entire screenwriting course that you can watch on your computer, your mobile device, or on your tablet whenever you want.

I am so sure that this course will improve your writing that I offer a 30 day NO QUESTIONS ASKED refund policy. Take a month to watch and learn. If you want a refund, just ask and it's yours. Zero risk, maximum benefit!


I hope so. This course represents over 20 years of professional, expert experience and contains information that has truly generated millions of dollars in sales and assignments. So let's roll up our sleeves and get ready to go write something awesome.

Who is the target audience?
  • Screenwriters
  • Novelists
  • Producers
  • Development Executives
  • Story Tellers

  • An eager brain
  • A thirst for success

What Will I Learn?
  • By the end of this course you will be rocking a bulletproof screenplay structure that works across all genres
  • You will have the tools to develop your own Tough Writer's Business Plan
  • You will have the inspiration and guidance you need to finish a spec screenplay, a 1 hour drama, a 1/2 hour pilot, and a 1/2 hour family pilot...all within 1 year and writing only 1 page a day

Curriculum For This Course Expand All Collapse All 41 Lectures 04:21:14 + – Strong Foundations 13 Lectures 57:56

Find out a bit about your teacher, professional (and working!) screenwriting Jeffrey Alan Schechter.

Who is Jeff Schechter & Why Does He Think He Can Beat Up My Story? Preview 01:56 We begin with the best definition of story ever.  Don't be fooled by how seemingly obvious it is.  It isn't. The Best Definition of Story...Ever! Preview 02:06

Every good story is defined by the journey the main character, and his or her journey is defined by the asking -- and answering -- of 4 critical questions. In this lecture we learn the importance of these 4 questions and explore the answer to question #1.

The Critical 4 Questions About Your Hero & Answer #1 Preview 05:19 The top movies at the box office all have sympathetic main characters.  Even those main character whom you don't think are sympathetic actually are.  Here's where you learn not just how, but how to use this important principle to supercharge your writing. How to Make Your Hero Sympathetic Preview 09:57

Your Hero isn't just trying to save the world, but someone very personal to him or her. This is the stakes character and a good stakes character is like money in the bank, baby! The stakes character also plays an important role in understanding the answer to question #2.

Answer #2 & The Stakes Character 04:00

It's the character we love to hate. That being said, there's much more to creating a memorable and exciting villain than making him or her nasty. Knowing how to make your villain intelligently unsympathetic is one of the keys to a well-told story and lies at the heart of the answer to question #3.

Answer #3 & How to Make Your Villain Unsympathetic 04:07

One of the most incredibly powerful tools in your expanding writer's toolbox, a solid working knowledge of the Unity of Opposites and how to use this concept in your writing will instantly elevate your script. This is part 1 of a two part explanation of this concept. Part 2 is in the next section.

The Unity of Opposites, Part 1 07:27

It's the only thing we care about ultimately, and therefore is the only stakes worth writing about. Do we care if Maxine gets the big promotion or if Billy gets the bike? Not really. Life or death is where it's at, and this is the key to answering question #4.

Answer #4: Life & Death 03:12

You may have already discovered this in your writing, but sometimes it's very difficult to figure out who hero of your story is. In this text-based lecture I reveal the 5 question test that will help you determine not only who your hero really is, but who your hero should be. Read on!

The Hero Test 3 pages

Just because the 3 Act Structure has been with us for a long time doesn't mean that it isn't still the easiest way to understand the dynamics of your story. In this lecture we not only power through an exploration of the 4 parts of the 3 acts, but we pull back the curtain on the central question, the engine that is defined by act 1 and which drives acts 2 and 3.

The 3 Act Structure & Central Question 04:38

The day I understood the power of the 4 Archetypes is the day my writing went from 'gifted amateur' status to 'Hollywood pro.' No kidding. The 4 Archetypes is another unique aspect of the My Story Can Beat Up Your Story! system.

The 4 Archetypes 08:27

Here's a wonderful way to incorporate an additional 2 archetypes into the already wonderful 4 Archetypes!

From Innocent to Magician 2 pages

Also known as the 'elevator pitch', the QuickPitch does double-duty. Not only does it tell you if your story can go the distance from FADE IN to FADE OUT, it lays out the entire story based on the 4 Archetypes you learned in the previous lecture.

The QuickPitch 06:47 + – Theme & Character 5 Lectures 57:54

Poorly understood and definitely poorly used, theme has always been a vague concept that writers struggled with to incorporate into their stories. No more! In this lecture we discuss the power of theme and why you need to put it to work for you in your writing.

The Power of Theme 04:04

Building on the previous lecture, rubber hits the road in this detailed exploration of how to incorporate theme into your screenplay. This lecture is called 'Minimum Theme Theory' because this 23 minutes and 18 seconds is the threshold amount of theme theory you need to know to write a professional Hollywood script. Want more? Check out Lecture 15!

Minimum Theme Theory: Heroes Ask Questions, Villains Make Arguments 23:18

The perfect followup to the previous lecture, Thematic Opposites reveals how theme carries through every aspect of your story, from locations to props.

Thematic Opposites 11:21

A thematic approach to character development isn't just for your heroes and villains, but it's for all of your characters. This lecture explores how characters connect to the thematic elements in your story. Powerful stuff.

The Connected Character 03:59

Part 2 of the Unity of Opposites, this lecture shows how to use this amazing concept to build a cast of up to 14 characters, both heroic and villainous. This is the ideal lesson to finish up with before we move on to the next section where you learn the bulletproof structure system that is the heart of the My Story Can Beat Up Your Story! system.

The Unity of Opposites, Part 2 & How to Build Your Cast 15:12 + – Bulletproof Plotting 6 Lectures 01:22:07

Structure gets a bad rap sometimes from people who mistake it for a dry formula. It is far from that. Structure as taught in this lecture is the single most liberating concept you can ever learn.

Structure & The 44 Plot Points: The Science of Story 09:26

Before dissecting structure in detail, it's important to understand the building blocks of structure known as 'plot points.' Even if you think you know what plot points are, take the 5 minutes and 34 seconds to understand how I use the concept. You'll thank me, I promise!

What are 'Plot Points?' 05:34

Every solid house is built on a strong foundation, and your script should be no different. The 12 plot points of Act 1 are explained in detail, and once you nail these then acts 2 and 3 flow like warm honey. Mmmmmm!

The 12 Plot Points of Act 1 28:52

The longest of the acts, act 2 has 28 plot points that build in tension while playing off of your story's central question. If you've ever gotten lost in act 2 before then you will do a jig in the street when these 18 minutes and 36 seconds are over. That's how happy you will be.

The 28 Plot Points of Act 2 18:36

Our deep dive into structure wraps up with the 4 special plot points of act 3. These plot points bring together everything that's come before them, while creating the most satisfying ending possible for your story.

The 4 Special Plot Points of Act 3 06:00

Sometimes it's helpful to take a less granular view of your story. Instead of 44 plot points, the Guide presents you with a 12 section overview of your story. Not a replacement for the plot points, but another handy way to look at your story. It is truly a 'guide' in the best sense of the word.

Getting Less Granular: The Guide 13:39 + – The Tough Writer's Business Plan 16 Lectures 55:17

In my opinion, any course on screenwriting that does NOT discuss the realities of the Hollywood writing business is a dishonest course. By understanding the business, the challenges, the obstacles, and the strategy of working writers, you will have even more tools to enable you to push through and power forward a career in writing. This lecture begins the Tough Writer's Business Plan section by pulling back the curtain on the Big Lie about screenwriting as well as revealing the very hopeful Big Truth.

The Big Lie & the Big Truth 05:18

In case you think becoming a member of the Writer's Guild of America (or any writer's guild, for that matter) translates into a license to print money, this short lecture uses the WGA's own numbers to show what the challenges are that face you. I'm not trying to crush anyone's spirit, but by understanding who in the WGA is working you will make a better and more informed decision about what to write.

Welcome to WGAVille 02:34

Failure thrives on inaction! What follows in this and the next 11 lectures are the 12 rules I strongly recommend following that comprise a rock-solid, smart business plan.

Rule #1 - Don't Do Anything Stupid 02:06

Can you make it without living in Los Angeles? Absolutely. Is it easier if you do live in Los Angeles? As the title of this lecture indicates...absolutely. Don't lose heart, but do be informed.

Rule #2 - Move to Los Angeles 02:08

Networking is a crucial component of making it as a writer. Regardless of where you live, the opportunities for networking are huge.

Rule #3 - Network 04:56

Writing is an art, but it's also a business. If you want professional success you had better treat the business like a business.

Rule #4 - Treat the Business Like A Business 05:23

If you write only one type of material it's like trying to win a raffle with only one ticket. Sure it can be done, but I'd rather have a whack of tickets in that hat when it comes time to pick a winner, wouldn't you? The key is to diversify your samples.

Rule #5 - Diversify 05:08

Working on your own material is great, but you can increase your professional exposure by casting a wider net. There's nothing stopping you from putting on that producer hat along with your writer's cap.

Rule #6 - Be the Producer 03:51

Really? Write something so outrageous that it simply can't be made? How is that a good idea? Take 4 minutes and 52 seconds to find out.

Rule #7 - Write Something Unproduceable 04:52

Writing is a party and you'd never come to a party empty-handed would you? I didn't think so!

Rule #8 - Bring Something to the Party 02:05

You know that burning desire you have to get an agent or a manager? Put it aside. You have a job to do and (likely) that job right now isn't getting representation.

Rule #9 - Agents & Managers Are For Later 05:15

There are a lot of pitch competitions and workshops out there. I'm not saying they don't have a place, but if you must go, go in with your eyes open.

Rule #10 - Pitchfests Aren't About Selling 02:13

You can't buy a latte in Los Angeles without running into a semi-quarter-half-finalist of some script competition or another. Do script contests help or hurt your career? Find out in this lecture.

Rule #11 - Script Competitions...Meh 03:03

At some point it becomes time to stop working on your screenplay and send it out into the world. Like a parent sending a child to school for the first time, you stay awake at night wondering if it will be warmly welcomed or pantsed in the locker room. The good news is that, even though you should turn in everything with trembling hands, there are things you can do to stack the deck in your screenplay's favor.

Rule #12 - Trembling Hands 02:40

Who doesn't like a good challenge, especially one that will help you generate 4 pieces of incredible material within one year? Take the My Story Can Beat Up Your Story! Challenge and 365 days from now you will thank me.

The My Story Can Beat Up Your Story! Challenge 02:11

In this final lecture, I cover the most salient points of the business plan. It's a 'call to action' not to be ignored.

The Tough Writer Business Plan Recap 01:34 + – Final Thoughts and Supplemental Material
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