These articles are an assortment of information and advice. Feel free to dip in and out as you like. If you have the time then perhaps you could visit the Tracks section, which contains articles and examples linked together into a series.

By The Lens contains 21 articles in total.

Most recent articles...

Romantic Comedies

The structure of a romantic comedy and how to write one.

Film Terminology

A few basic concepts to find your way around the language used by the industry.

By The Lens - User Guide

What's on the site and how to find your way around.

Heroes and Villains

What makes a movie character into a movie hero, why that's different from a protagonist. How a villain differs from a hero and how to write an anti-hero.

Genre films

What the movie industry means when it uses the term 'genre'. How genre films are made and the conventions used in the films. A brief introduction to 'tropes' and why as a writer you should know about them and care about them.

Adapting novels - Introduction

Turning a novel into a screenplay isn't a process that can be done to a simple formula. It is possible, however, to look at the underlying process in a series of steps. This article explains how to approach this task without dwelling too much on the detail of the process.

Anatomy of a disaster movie

Disaster movies go through periods of popularity and periods of neglect. The well-structured disaster plot is a thoroughly satisfying and entertaining film, with a huge potential market, plenty of opportunity for heroism and enough set-pieces and visual elements to make a fine event movie. This is a brief description of what goes into a disaster movie and how to make it compelling.

Science-fiction genres

Science-fiction films include many of the most financially successful releases in the cinema. This is a brief survey of the major types.

Horror film genres

Horror films are an extremely important part of the global market and they have one additional trait that makes them very interesting for the writer: A horror film can often be made relatively cheaply compared to its potential market. Here we take a brief look at the major sub-genres and tonal choices. Where a selection of film examples are offered it is because they are excellent examples of the type, not necessarily that they are the finest horror films ever made.

Building characters

What a character needs to have in order to be fully realised for the screen. How this differs from characters used in novels and plays.

Television conventions

A quick look at television writing for drama. How scripts are prepared and how the format differs from film.

Storytelling traditions

A short warning on the subject of how people tell stories. Examples of what a story is for, how it's conveyed, how to turn a simple tale into a classic fable.

Shakespeare on film

A brief history of the way Shakespeare has been portrayed on film, the choices made and the results.

Writing dialogue

How to write good dialogue, making characters seem real and involved in the story. Common mistakes to avoid.

The scene

What a scene is, how it's constructed, what it does and how to build it so it drives character and plot together.

The third act

How the third act of a feature film screenplay is constructed. What happens at the end of the movie.

The second act

How to construct the second act of a screenplay. What happens and how is it portrayed.

The first act

What to include when writing the first act of a screenplay. This description is tailored to the classic feature film script, but parts of it are relevant for other formats.

Tools for writing screenplays

How to use computer programs to make screenplays for the standard format.

The screenplay format

How screenplays are presented in formatting terms. How this informs the production and the reader. How to make a screenplay follow the rules of formatting.

The first workshop in the Introduction to Screenwriting series is now available as a downloadable pack under Resources