Screenplay 101 Workshop


  • The Writers Journey – Christopher Vogler

  • The Story Solution – Eric Edson

  • Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters – Michael Tierno

The Writer’s Journey

  • Hero – To protect and to serve
  • Mentor – a positive figure who aids or trains hero
  • Threshold Guardian- not the main villians, may be a neutral figure.
  • Shapeshifter- change appearances or mood, difficult for hero and audience to pin down.
  • Herald- issue challenges and announce the coming of change
  • Ally- companion, sparring partner, conscience, or comic relief.
  • Shadow- represents energy of the dark side, the unexpressed or rejected.
  • Trickster- energy of mischief and desire for change.


  • Heroes should have personal qualities that are universal and likeable
  • A flaw, personal frustration
  • A past (not a present or future yet)
  • Must haves: Courage, Unfair injury, Skill, Funny, Just plain nice, In Danger, Loved by friends/family, Hard working, Obsessed.
  • Four types of heroes: Anti hero, Tragic hero, Trickster hero, Catalyst hero

4 Different Heroes

  • Anti- Hero(Vogler’s Def.)- Not the opposite of hero, but a specific kind of hero. Like an outlaw or villian that the audience has sympathy for.
    • Examples: As Good As It Gets, Rebel Without a Cause, Casablanca
    • Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson) is a BLEEP! You’re first meeting with the character as he puts a dog down a garbage chute.
    • He has OCD. First guy to care about the waitress. He’s a romance novelist.
    • With hero sympathy the audience can identify with that character or feel for him or her.
  • The Tragic Hero- These are flawed heroes that never overcome their inner demon. Think of The Departed or Scarface. A doomed cop or gangster
  • The Trickster Hero- Always being playful and clowning around. Frat boys type of movie.
  • The Catalyst Hero- Doesn’t have character growth but brings it about in others. Think of Superman, The Fugitive or Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop.


  • Examples: Jiminy Cricket, Godmother in Cinderella, Merlin in King Arthur, Dr. Brown in Back to the Future
  • Inventor, Conscience, Motivation, Teacher
  • Key function is teaching or training the hero.
  • Gift giving like a tool to use to help win over adversary. In Public Enemy, Cagney is given a gun buy a mobster.
  • The gift should be earned by learning, sacrifice, or commitment.
  • Dark Mentors- Public Enemy (Mobster flick)
  • Fallen Mentors- Tom Hanks in League of the Their own
  • Continuing Mentors- Alfred in Batman
  • Multiple Mentors- Harry Potter
  • Comic Mentors- Romantic Comedies
  • Mentor as a Shaman- The Healer, Medicine Man


  • A common shapeshifter is a femme fatale
  • Sometimes a hero becomes a shapeshifter to escape an enemy or get past a Threshold Guardian. Think of Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act.
  • A shadow might become one to lure a hero into danger.

Emotional Journey

By: Allen Palmer
  1. Incomplete
  2. Unsettled
  3. Resistant
  4. Encouraged
  5. Committed
  6. Disoriented
  7. Inauthentic
  8. Confronted
  9. Reborn
  10. Desperate
  11. Decisive
  12. Complete


Character Development

  • How do you create them?
    1. Analysis
    2. Monologue
  • What does a character need?
      • Character arc
      • Emotional Journey
      • Adventure Story
  • Writing down his/her strengths and weaknesses


  • Identify the type of character.
  • Describe the character.
  • Discuss the conflict in the story, particularly in regards to the character’s place in it.

Characters Journal

  • What do you normally wear? How do they normally appear?
  • Is there any disconnection between how they look and sound? Speech pattern?
  • Where would your character hang out?
  • What future can you envision for this person?
  • What crimes are they capable of?
  • What’s their deepest secret? Do they hide things from others?
  • What is there tolerance for risk?
  • What is their highest aspiration?
  • What is their level of self worth?
  • Do they have any hidden wounds? Emotional or physical?
  • What is their biggest fear?
  • What do they remember most about their childhood?
  • What were their teenage years like?
  • What do they look for in a mate? In a friend?

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