Marshall Thornton

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Marshall Thornton has an MFA from UCLA in screenwriting. He spent ten years writing spec scripts and has been a semi-finalist or better in the Nicholl, Samuel Goldwyn, American Accolades, One-In-Ten and Austin Film Festival contests. As a novelist, he writes the Lambda Award-winning Boystown Mysteries. The eight book series follows the cases of a gay detective in turbulent 1980s Chicago. Marshall has also been known to write the occasional romantic comedy. You can find him online at marshallthorntonauthor.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @mrshllthornton

Posts by Marshall Thornton 25 results

5 Tips to Make Exposition Invisible

A hundred years ago it was popular to start a story with two maids working in a foyer talking about the crisis the family of the house was facing. They would then leave and the play would begin. That kind of thing is far from acceptable these days. In fact, you have to do the opposite. You have to make your exposition invisible. Here are five tips to doing just that.

Taking the note: “Good idea, but not so good execution”

Very often screenwriters will get a funky note that goes something like this, “It was a good idea but the execution wasn’t there.” Like many notes you’ll get in your career, it could mean a lot of things. To help you sort out what it means, let’s go over a few terms.

Five Tips for Writing Fast

As a screenwriter, there are times you’ll be asked to write fast. Whether it’s a class, a contest, an opportunity to submit, or an assignment—a screenwriter’s life is full of deadlines. And, at the beginning of your career, you’ll get this question “We really liked your script, what else do you have?” In that moment, you’ll realize just how important writing fast can be. Here are a few ideas on how to get those juices flowing and keep them flowing.

Writing What’s Not There: Subtext in Film

For many of us, just hearing the word subtext gives us a flashback to our high school English class. In that class, the teacher probably discussed subtext in terms of dialogue and left it at that. But, subtext really refers to all that is not spoken and encompasses much more than simply dialogue. Subtext is important in all genres but works ...

What is the Narrative Question?

The narrative question is what’s happening in the audiences’ mind or, more specifically, what you want happening in their minds. At any given point in a film, there is a question in your audience is thinking about. As the writer, you should know what that question is. And, you should have put it there.

5 Tips for Your First Ten Pages

You’ve probably had this feeling: very early in a movie (or a book) you think, "wow, this is going to be really, really good." And whenever you have that feeling you’re almost always right. So, why does that happen? It happens because the writer made it happen. The writer took care to make sure you knew exactly what was going on, and they did ...

5 Conflict Management Tips for Screenwriters

Most screenwriters prefer to keep the drama in their scripts. Occasionally, when working with agents, managers, development people, producers, directors and actors conflict will arise. How you deal with conflict is a huge issue and most of us spend a great deal of time trying to get good at it. Here are five ideas to put in your back pocket should the need arise.

What to Expect from a Writer’s Strike

What Would a Strike Mean To New Screenwriters? Hard to say. It’s easier to figure out what it doesn’t mean to new screenwriters than what it does. We're here to help you navigate this possible strike.

Blurbs and Loglines and Synopses… Oh My!

One of the most dreaded tasks of screenwriting is writing about your work. You’ve just spent months or even years crafting your screenplay. You’ve whittled it down to a lean mean one hundred and two pages and now you’re asked to cut it down to a one or two-page synopsis, or a single paragraph blurb or, worst of all, a single sentence ...

5 Tips for Writing Visually

Of course, films are visual. That’s not news. Screenplays, though, aren’t always very visual and they really should be. The more you use visual techniques in your script the easier it will be for people to see your script as a movie and for it to eventually to become one. Here are five ideas for writing more visually.

How to Write a Great Query Letter

From time to time all aspiring writers have to face the dreaded query letter—whether you’re looking for an agent or a manager you’re going to have to bite the bullet and write those letters. While this may seem like just a boring business letter, it’s actually a time to show off your talent as a writer and your understanding of the business.

The Road To Oscar: Best Original Screenplay

The hardest thing to write and get made these days is an original script. Here are the five nominees for Best Original Screenplay and a bit about how their screenwriters got the films made.
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