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Twitter Screenwriting Tips: Story Outline Essentials - "Therefore ... But ... Because"

After joining Twitter in 2008, Script has read countless screenwriting tips from professional writers and industry executives. We're launching a new column to share some of the best writing tips we see on Twitter to help you learn more about the screenwriting business and improve your craft. Let's start with story outline.

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Believe it or not, you can find great writing information on Twitter, but you have to dig through a lot of shouting and hostility. Many writers have left the platform for exactly that reason, but @scriptmag is holding strong and still discovering great advice. We're launching our "Twitter Screenwriting Tips" column to share writing tips with you so you don't have to go down the rabbit hole of social media yourself, unless you really want to suck up a few hours of your otherwise productive day.

Let's get started.

What do most screenwriters strive for? A literary manager. What better way to launch our new column than with a tip from John Zaozirny, Literary Manager and Head of Bellevue Productions.

John has a must-follow Twitter account, @johnzaozirny, as he often creates "threads" to read, full of advice on specific subjects. Recently, he shared a video by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, discussing how they outline and break story. 

"This 2-minute long clip of Trey Parker and Matt Stone guest-lecturing at NYU for an MTVU show (!!!!) is so brilliant and simple, yet I don't feel like it's been seen or appreciated widely enough. It's essential viewing. 1/2" 

john twitter screenwriting tip 1

"The entire "therefore --> but" plotting dynamic is not only absolutely necessary for scripts, but even more so for loglines/concepts. Worth walking through your outline to see if it matches up to this dynamic of "therefore --> but," rather than "and then... and then..." 2/2"

john twitter screenwriting tip 2

Here's the video...

Such simple advice, but it could change the game for your stories, your loglines, your query letters... everything!

No matter how you break story, whether it be with index cards, white boards, Word docs, or using a software program, try putting the words "therefore," "but," and "because" at the top of your outline document to remind yourself to push your characters and plot further. Don't "and then" us, entertain us!

Wait, there's more!

As any good procrastinating writer does, I dove a little deeper into videos of Trey and Matt and found this gem from the 2002 Emmys. For those writers and independent filmmakers who want to create out-of-the-box stories, here's a peek at how two writers with no animation skills created one of the hottest adult animation shows we'll probably ever see.

Bottom-line Twitter Screenwriting Tip lesson...

Whether you're an outliner or a "pantser," anytime you beat out your plot, push the boundaries, challenge your characters, and elevate the conflict. 

The second lesson? Follow our growing "Twitter Tips" list to peruse the best screenwriting advice on Twitter. If you're Twitter-phobic, no worries, we've got your back. Stay tuned for more tips right here on Script! 

What are your favorite Twitter writing accounts to follow? Shout them out in the comments below and we'll keep an eye on them, too! 

Follow more Twitter Screenwriting Tips articles here.

More articles by Jeanne Veillette Bowerman

Learn more tips about story structure with our SU course, The Fundamentals of Screenwriting: Give your Script a Solid Foundation


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