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How to Write a Movie: Screenwriting fundamentals.

Remodeling... continuously. Please pardon the heterogeneity and potsherds on older pages.
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What does it take to make a story rise to the top? Since 1990 I have had the privilege of critiquing screenplays from individuals, a few studio writers, and seeing some pilots. Most of the time they are in the "good range," but rarely rise to excellent or superior... and they aren't that difficult to fix. All of the information necessary to make a screenplay rise above the rest is on the menu button at left, marked "Screen Writing." A few hints are here.

What's New?

Articles and Series with something for everyone
•  How Does Feedback Help People?
•  Nicholl Reader Judging Criteria
•  Story idea: Paranoia: Psychological thriller. A skeptic finds paranoia is real as he fights for his life.

Author's latest book, Genre: Fantasy. Length: Novella - PG, 14 and over.

A corrupt governor dies in a fit of stupidity. He is uncertain of his life standing, so finds himself journeying in Hell. He is given a second chance, and is assigned to find damaged and lost, but wonderfully colorful souls in Hell, from any time period, who might redeem themselves through a second chance, and bring this rogues gallery into situations to better themselves in a new town in Asphedolus. The Too Stupid To Live series.

•  Putting Variety in Stories: Easier than it seems. Story architecture.
•  Should I write that? Story architecture.
•  Movie Review: Spy.
•  What is the Most Important Element in Your Story? Story architecture.
•  Pushing a Rope Leadership, on
•  About the business of screenwriting, in What does it take to make a story rise to the top?.
•  Story idea: Mars Problems. The race to Mars gets treacherous.
•  Everything Communicates in a movie.
•  Editorial: Leadership - July 4th., 2014 - Our strongest Presidents - the Challenges for Democracy
•  Editorial: Permanent Political Gridlock and the future of politics - the Challenges for Democracy
•  Editorial: The Challenge of War - Challenges series
•  Film Violence - revisited

Interview With A Gremlin

STL Comedy - Movie Stream Productions - Author's production Interview With The Gremlin - PG to PG-13

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Why is this Web site here? Mission and advertising

The mission of this Web site: The Visual Writer Web site freely presents industry worthy advice gained from experience and contacts and best practices, since 1996. The author has done research to create advances in the field of writing and semiotics, plus created and provided tools for schools to promote student interest in writing and for others to do unbiased critiques of writing and movies. Around 100 free nonfiction books are downloaded from it monthly, as well as the ~600 Web pages of information. It has promoted groups and free services. It has presented "how to" information on creating high quality market winning screenplays, novels, nonfiction, and journalism. Information presented on this site, and by the author in other venues, has also often influenced or prompted news stories, information put in novels, and nonfiction.

In addition, this Web site provides informed information on the human condition, which writers write about. Some of these articles are even helpful to individuals in their personal lives, as well as to writers creating works. This site also asks an important question: "What kind of world are we creating?" by including commentary on important issues of the day that are important to writers and others, particularly if it can help avoid disinformation, propaganda, and bias. Controversial topics are not avoided on this site. Children are overly protected from entry by Safe-surf ratings where needed. The limited advertising on this site has yet to pay any of its expenses, which are carried by the author. Some advertising is used to pay for the author's movie Production projects. Information on production is on the author's Movie Stream Productions Web site.

More on mission.

•  Propaganda Oh, how are you deceived! Learn to recognize how others deceive and manipulate you, and get smarter than them, in this 10 part series on sister site One Spirit Resources. Stop polarization.
•  Writing Comedy, 3 of 3 Length format for Writing comedy
•  Writing Comedy, 2 of 3 Writing comedy one-liners
•  Writing Comedy, 1 of 3 The highest art is 90% perspiration and 5% inspiration.
•  Get your grammar on! Links offsite.
•  How To Get People to Do Anything You Want. Dangerous communication. Are We Creating the World We Want?
•  Are We Creating the World We Want? The Impact of Political Party on the Economy, in The Challenges For Capitalism Series
•  Are We Creating the World We Want? Or are special interests and polarizing voices leading us down a trail of self-destruction? Writers and leaders raise the consciousness of our world.
•  The writer's, director's, and editor's job - a step beyond "show don't tell". Writers and director's believe their job is to "tell a story in a visual medium." The following is a subtle shift, but often a very important one: "The writer and director's job is to understand what the audience wants or needs to see, and give that to them, so that they can imagine the story." - Dorian Cole. From The MSP Insider, on the Movie Stream Productions Web site.
•  Will artificial sweeteners make you gain 10 pounds? Update Sugar: The Imperfect Chemical. Writers should always be wary of how research is interpreted or misinterpreted and how others try to mislead us.
Nowhere Man: A frustrated psychiatrist has a crisis with his incurable wife, and an unsolvable, rapidly spreading, medical epidemic spiraling out of control, plus religious fanatics and conspiracy theorists. He must tackle a crisis in his own beliefs and confidence to resolve them all. Total Immersion: Two people strike out in relationships, then avoid people in a 3D virtual world. Work in that world forces an awkward intimacy. Their friends and work push them to confront and overcome their fears, bringing them together.
•  The Challenge of Polarization: Will our economy fail due to Congressional inaction?
•  Writing for the Market, on Movie Stream Productions:
Writing for the Market, and Loving It
Architecting a Story for the Market
•  Honoring Comedy II. Comedian Chevy Chase added to the honorees.
•  Successful Thinking in College Dealing successfully with philosophy and the unknown, On sister site
•  Should We Dumb Down Communications and lose the ability to think? What's In A Word series.
•  Would you like to review screenplays and movies? Following are guides for doing reviews:
•  Philosophy of Democracy What new challenges are we seeing? A capstone article in the Challenges Series.
•  The Reckoning Religions implore us over and over to work for justice for our fellow people in this world. This documentary about The Promise of Justice, is about the worldwide battle for justice. - Watch the movie online on the Skylight Pictures Web site.
•  Movie Review: The Karate Kid (2010) Excellent example of the ability to change settings, characters, etc. Examples of visual writing, and the use of the set as a third character.
•  Nowhere Man development continues - see the blog entries: 20 - Development - Re-architecting.
•  Say It Visually.
•  The Tradition of the Christmas Monkey.
•  Eight steps to sparkling characters. What is it about a character that sparkles? Learn how to make them sparkle in Story Architecture.

Blog entries. Directory.

•  How To Write Visually. What is this thing called visual writing, and how do you do it?
•  Worth a second look! Scott Myers' Web site, Go Into The Story offers expertise and information about the movie industry in a daily blog. I learned that comedy is the current big seller. Props to Scott Meyers! (Links to an external site).
•  Copyrights on Images and Content. Is copyright law practical?
•  Beyond Postmodernism - What did we learn, and what will be the next philosophy?
•  Conversations with a Cat. Just for fun.
•  Conveying meaning through non-verbal action. A movie scene study for individuals and groups.
•  Communicating the Message Effectively. Create drama better by learning the basics of effective communication. Whether in drama, speaking, or ministry, many of the principles of effective communication are the same - On sister site One Spirit
•  Story idea: Reality fiction - live! A story idea about real writers and for real writers.
•  Movie Review: Forbidden Kingdom - very entertaining movie with Jackie Chan and Jet Li.
•  Why is this Web site free? Don't you get what you pay for?
•  Polarization: What divides us is how we choose to divide ourselves. Expanding Horizons series: Words and concepts that open windows to new worlds
•  Story idea: One Week To Live (Drama)

My new book, Ontology of God: The voices of the ancients speak, looks at what we can learn through the ages regarding the history of several aspects of religious development as affected by the ancient societies they were in, including law, mercy, and love.

Ontology of God: The voices of the ancients speak. Description.
by Dorian Scott Cole. Available now on


  • Soft cover
  • ebook: Microsoft Reader download (coming)
  • ebook: MobiBook download (coming)
  • ebook: PDF download (coming)
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Echoing through time are the voices of ancient people telling us about God. From Mesopotamia and Egypt 5000 years ago, often from even earlier oral traditions, every civilization has been inspired to tell us about God. Their voices vary widely and even conflict. Is there a common message that they thought was so important that they had to pass it on? In this book, the ancient voices speak.

This study follows the thread of the basic religious concepts of law, mercy, and love that are prominent in many religions. Major religions around the world are investigated up to the launch of the Common Era when most religions had been developed, including religions that later developed independently such as the Mayan.

These are messages refined by the fire of experience through the ages. The repeated messages collectively bear the tests of validity.

This study also looks at the many methods we use to try to understand God and religious literature. Is the nature of God reflected in what he asks of us? The premise is that it is.

By understanding the nature of God, perhaps we can filter out the many competing voices that tell us that God stands for such things as the murder of innocents and destruction.

The very nature of religion is illuminated in the light of the voices from the ages. But is ancient religion a path that we have lost, or does history hammer out newer voices to bear the truth of new experience as people try to understand their relationship with God?

About the author: Dorian Scott Cole is an independent, cross-disciplinary scholar with education and experience in psychology, philosophy, religion, language, visual semiotics, and technology. Other books and publications: How to Write a Screenplay, Writers Workshop Script Doctor,, and

Reading type: Mainstream Scholarly Specialist

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The Visual Writer Web site is a resource sites for story writers (including journalistic and other nonfiction stories) for screen, stage, and print.

This site empahsizes the visual qualities of a story, and good storytelling techniques.

The overriding concern of this site is what kind of world we are creating through the narratives that influence the meaning frameworks of our lives. Stories tell and reinforce narratives, and sometimes even originate narratives. Narratives stimulate diversity and empowerment, or diminish human potential. No specific philosophy or religion is promoted on this site, but they are discussed, and philosophy, religion, and spirituality are encouraged.

The articles are meant to challenge people to research stories more thoroughly and portray society more accurately, but do no harm.

Terms of Use

The information on this Web site is freely presented, but that doesn't mean that it is "public domain." The information provided here is copyrighted material, is subject to national and international law, and can't be distributed in any form by any person or institution, in whole or in part, for any commercial purpose or for the purpose of providing collections of information, or as part of another person's or institution's work. Standard citations, properly attributed, including quotes and brief portions of material of course are acceptable and encouraged. Provisions have been made and displayed on individual articles and index pages that permit the distribution of articles in non-commercial enterprises, such as in educational institutions and writers groups, as long as the author's name, Web address, and copyright notice appear on the page. Any other use requires arrangements through direct consultation with the author. Preferrably, articles will be distributed as complete works.

Linking to this site is encouraged. The pages on this site are set up to fully enable the function of the overall site, so the point of entry is irrelevant. Including any page on this site within another site through linking, copying, or by any other means is prohibited. Linking to any graphics file or program on this site is prohibited. Linking to pages on this site so that a page appears within a frameset on another site is discouraged.

Caching of this site is discouraged since caches that don't update on a daily basis provide out of date resources, and caches prevent having accurate knowledge of page visitation and demographics.

Plagiarism (copying)

While properly attributed quotes from this site are encouraged, unattributed copying and other improper use are likely to be discovered. This site is routinely scanned by antiplagiarism companies such as which detect improper use of material.

•  Copyright © 1996 - 2012, Dorian Scott Cole for all content including all text and images.
•  International rights reserved.
•  Some resource material used on this site predates 1996, and is copyrighted material.
•  Registrations pending
•  VisualWord is a trademark for printed materials produced by The Visual Writer, LLC.
•  Writers Port and WritersPort are trademarks of The Visual Writer, LLC.
•  The Visual Writer Web site is a production of TechGenie Media.
•  The Visual Writer, LLC. Communications Services is a company name and trademark.
•  The javascript menu system used on portions of this site is a result of the fine skill and graciousness of Angus Turnbull, and the scripts are available for free from his Web site,
•  Some of the popup tooltips used on this site are a result of the fine skill and graciousness of © Erik Bosrup, OverLIB
•  The Visual Writer, LLC. is not associated with Visual Tools, Inc., a maker of writing correction programs using the VisualWriter trademark on writing correction programs.
•  The Visual Writer, LLC. is not associated with PACEL Corp. Pacel's Visual Writer is a suite of software programs that allow you to create Interactive Electronic Documents without writing any code.

The Visual Writer. Mission Statement

Who visits The Visual Writer Web site?

  • Growth: doubled in "user sessions" every 12-24 months (consistently from 1996 to 2002).
  • Peak: Peak visits surpass 12,000 individual users per month (2 pages per session).
  • Demographics: 42% Hollywood area, 33% other US, 25% international (over 80 countries).
  • Retention and New: over 60% of those visiting return, with 10 to 15% new visitors each month.
  • Top 3 Category popularity (ranking of these 3 varies each month):
    • How To Write A Movie
    • Human Condition
    • Critiques (See Movie Critic)


•  Links on this server are no longer case sensitive.

•  Coding meets XHTML (HTML 5) standards.

The Visual Writer Web site was established in 1996, and provides free content and resources to communicators world-wide. Its content was born free and will remain free. Information (education) should be freely shared with all who want it, while skill in using information is what has commercial value.

Welcome to all! I hope you are challenged by these pages.


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The Visual Writer Web site is a production of TechGenie Media.


Other distribution restrictions: None

All pages on this site, copyright © 1996 - 2010, Dorian Scott Cole