The screenwriter’s GPS for writing a great screenplay!

Avoid the wrong turns, dead ends, gaping p(l)otholes, and other obstacles commonly encountered when writing a screenplay. The Screenwriter’s Roadmap: 21 Ways to Jumpstart Your Story keeps you on route and helps you reach your final destination: a completed screenplay that’s full of surprises, emotionally resonant, and ready for the marketplace.

Neil Landau, an established Hollywood screenwriter and script doctor, provides 21 questions for you to ask yourself as you write, to help you nail down your screenplay’s story structure, deepen its character arcs, bolster stakes, heighten suspense, and diagnose and repair its potential weaknesses. These 21 vital questions have been field-tested and utilized in the creation of some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and critically acclaimed films.

Each chapter is augmented by end of chapter "homework" assignments, examples from recent blockbusters and timeless classic films, as well as interviews with some of Hollywood’s most successful screenwriters including Scott Z. Burns (Contagion), Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy), Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island), David Koepp (Spider Man), Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can), Eric Roth (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close), David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Rises), , Billy Ray (The Hunger Games), Melissa Rosenberg (the Twilight trilogy), Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air), and many others.


Key Features

* The ideal tool to perfect your screenplay, with cutting insight from a 20+ year Hollywood screenwriting veteran on what it takes to write a successful screenplay
* Revealing interviews with Hollywood screenwriting and directing heavyweights sprinkled throughout
* The book also includes end of chapter exercises and examples from the latest Hollywood hits, providing practical and inspirational confidence


aspiring screenwriters; indie filmmakers

Table of Contents

GuidePost 1: Clarify the Central Conflict of Your Premise
GuidePost 2: Think of Setting and Time Period as Another Character
GuidePost 3: Create an Iconic Protagonist with a Core Contradiction
GuidePost 4: Give Your Protagonist Something to Win and Something to Lose
GuidePost 5: Determine Your Protagonist’s Most Significant Weakness and how they’ll overcome it
GuidePost 6: Drafting the Architectural Foundation
GuidePost 7: Hook Your Audience into the Plight of Your Protagonist by Page 10
GuidePost 8: Inject a Potent Antagonistic Force to Obstruct the Goals of Your Protagonist
GuidePost 9: Plunge Your Protagonist into Crisis at the End of Act One (no later than page 25)
GuidePost 10: Fuelling and Consistently Stoking the Dramatic Fire
GuidePost 11: Infuse Your Story with a Central Mystery
GuidePost 12: The Center Can Hold: Ratcheting up the Stakes at the Midpoint of Act 2
GuidePost 13: Thicken the Plot with a Pivotal Character
GuidePost 14: Compel your Protagonist into Epiphany in Act 3
GuidePost 15: Situate Your Protagonist at a Crossroads at the End of Act 2
GuidePost 16: Set the Clock Ticking
GuidePost 17: Heighten the Climax
Guidepost 18: Pay-off the Setups
GuidePost 19: Crafting the Inevitable Conclusion
GuidePost 20: Illuminate the Central Thematic Question
GuidePost 21: Rewrites: Reconnecting to the Emotional Core of Your Screenplay


No. of pages:
© 2012
Focal Press
Print ISBN:
Electronic ISBN:

About the author

Neil Landau

Neil Landau is the author of 101 Things I Learned in Film School (Grand Central Publishing, 2010). Neil’s numerous TV and movie screenwriting credits include the cult hit "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead” (1991, and slated for remake by the Mark Gordon Company); the forthcoming 3D animated feature” “Tad Jones” (from El Toro Pictures/Warner Bros., 2012). His new screenplay is being developed for Goldmann Pictures (“300”). Landau is also Executive Producing “The Last Days of Superman” (NOT a superhero movie) for Menshikov Films (2011). His TV credits include the original "Melrose Place" (1997), "The Magnificent Seven" (1998), "Doogie Howser, M.D." (1990), "The Secret World of Alex Mack" (1994), “Twice in a Lifetime” (2001), and MTV's "Undressed” (1999), plus TV pilots for CBS, ABC, Lifetime, and Freemantle. As a Script Consultant, Neil worked for Sony Pictures (2005-2008), and most recently for El Toro Pictures on “Lope” (Warner Bros., 2010) and “Bruc” (Universal, 2010). He served as Vice-President of Scripted Development for Amedia Film Group in Moscow, Russia (2007-08). He currently teaches in the MFA in Screenwriting and Producing Programs at both UCLA School of Film & Television and USC School of Cinematic Arts, and is a faculty advisor in the MFA in Writing Program at Goddard College. Neil graduated from UCLA’s School of Film & Television, B.A., 1985.