In storytelling, there has always been an argument for powerful shorts and I’m not referring to dirty laundry here.

Writers of prose have long known that the best way to get your book published is to first be published in short form, Stephen King broke into writing with stories in some little-know sci-fi magazine and nowadays, bloggers are notorious for getting book deals.

For screenwriters, the short has been more of a treatment to see if an idea can flesh itself out into something larger.  But, with the increasing popularity and inevitability of web-series’, writers have been challenged to produce short-form material.


Everyday I see dozens of notices from directors, DPs and producers looking for short screenplays (3-5 pages) to showcase their work (and yours).  Granted these aren’t the dream-come-true spec sales many people start writing screenplays for but the stepping stone (that those that write because they’d otherwise explode) use to break in.  I’m posting about it because last week two things came across my periphery that should make you take note.

1) THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER ran an article based on a NEW YORKER exclusive (really THR, no journalists working last week?) that YouTube is going pro.  Meaning they are going to start developing content with known actors/directors (presumably this means they’ll need writers) and they are investing a lot of coin with the thinking they’ll make more in ad revenue. The article.

2) CREATIVE SCREENWRITING sent out their Cyberspace open 1st scene prompt.  For those that don’t know this is a short scene writing tournament.  I personally love this, because I love the challenge of writing 3-5 pages of stellar material in less than 2 days and the realization that if I can do that a fully stellar 100 or so pages is only about a month long process – really!  The Writer’s Store recently started a similar project with really big names attached (it’s called the industry insider) and I imagine you will continue to see more of these.

Here’s the prompt they sent Friday night, to be turned around by Monday a.m.:

The Premise:

Your PROTAGONIST and his or her LOVE INTEREST are at odds. One of the protagonist’s schemes has gone terribly awry, and the love interest has had it. Write a scene in which they have it out – but in an unconventional way. Their words seem measured and reasonable; but the subtext says another thing entirely. You may use additional characters other than the ones specified.

Note From Contest Management:

This is going to take some crafty, non-on the nose writing here. For example, they can talk about boiling water, but it’s clear they’re really talking about something else. Use sarcasm or body language or timing or other means to convey your true meaning.

If you missed signing up, they’ll do it again so be on the watch. It’s a great exercise and also a wonderful way to get around any ‘blockage’ you may have and it gives you material when you get a request for one of those powerful shorts.

Stay tooned…