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This is the first week that I’ve seen stores reopening and restaurants serving outside. Combined with the mostly beautiful weather, it feels like summer is here, and that happy times are ahead! Don’t focus on the momentary presence of scary statistics, doomsayers, protests and any other upsetting things. Remember that we writers are the ones who see the truth behind appearances, and must bring the real story to our readers and viewers so that the truth is kept alive. What is the real truth? That what we seek is love and harmony, and of course, our civil rights!
In Part 4 of my webinar, How To Use Screenplay Structure To Create The New Stories About Coping With The Pandemicthis week, we focused on how to get our story ideas developed into a rough outline using the 4 Magic Questions of Screenwriting and another powerful technique I call, “Bookending.” In this exercise, you select a mental image and pretend that it must be the first and last location in your screenplay. It’s a fast and powerful way to find a character’s story arc.
Here’s how:
1. Close your eyes, relax and allow an image to form in your mind. If nothing comes right away, think of a favorite line from a song, and imagine what the lyrics “look like.” Once you get an image, write it down.  For example, when I just tried this, I got a mental image of standing in line to buy ice cream cones at the beach.
2. You’re going to use this image as both the beginning and the end of the story you’re telling. Now imagine your main character in this line. Who are they with? Why are they there? How do they feel about getting ice cream? Happy, guilty worried about their weight?
3. Next imagine that this image is the final shot of your film, and your main character is standing in the same line waiting to buy ice cream. Are they with the same person? Do they feel the same way? In what way are they transformed? Were they too skinny and now are at a healthier weight?

Answering this question allows you to know your character’s story arc which then allows you to answer the 4 Magic Questions of Screenwriting. For example, suppose the person online was a self-conscious guy afraid to chat with the girl standing in front of him? At the end of the film, he confidently offers to buy her the ice cream and easily converses with her and gets a dinner invitation? You can easily imagine a story here. With this level of visual connection and understanding of your characters basic want, the 4MQS will lead you to a strong story shape. His dream is to ask the girl out, the nightmare is that he never will, and he would do anything to get the skills and confidence to approach, and the resolution of the dream is Act 3 is that he succeeds.
Once you have created an outline this way, it will be easy to flesh out the story into the scenes, write them and create a terrific story.
Look for invites to up and coming free webinars soon!
I’m excited to share that Episode #24 will be available soon. We had over 10,000 views on jokeonastickfans! Check it out, free subscriptions, lots of laughs!

How to Create New Stories About Coping With the Pandemic
Part 5

Thursday, June 18, 2020
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm EST
via ZOOM

In the 5th section of this interactive webinar, you’ll learn how to use the Mythic Journey Map® to create a foolproof “soft” outline and scenes!  Then, we’ll use the 4 Magic Questions of Screenwriting to create an authentic story arc for your main character. If you want to join please send me an email, and we’ll send you a link. Even if you’re joining for the first time, you can have fun and learn a lot. Join us!


Please email me at if you’d like to attend. 


Here’s to your successful writing,

Professor Marilyn Horowitz

Free Webinar at Commaful!

The Foolproof Storytelling Structure Webinar
Monday, June 15 at 3:00-4:00 pm EST at Commaful, a cool new website that hosts a variety of fan fiction, short stories, poetry and more, all shared in a picturebook-style format.  Using one of her textbooks, The 4 Magic Questions of Screenwriting, New York University Professor Marilyn Horowitz, and co-creator of Jokeonastick, an animated joke website, will show you how to create a strong story outline every single time- no matter how short or long the format is!  Non-members welcome!

Sign up here for the webinar.



Genre Blast Film Festival. Extended deadline is June 26th. Awards include entrance to the festival, forums and discussions. Click here.  

Finish Line Screenplay Competition.Late deadline is June 30th. Cash and other prizes will be awarded. 
Visit the site here for more information. 

Screenplay Drama Screenplay Contest. Final deadline is July 31st. Winners receive introductions to industry executives and will be welcomed to the Screencraft Development Program. Enter here.

Here’s to your successful writing,

Professor Marilyn Horowitz



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