Patterns Of Screen Writing/Style Guide

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This book is a scientific treatment of screenwriting within the Patterns model. Patterns work best when presented in a systematic and structured fashion. Contributors should conform to the structure of the rest of the text. If you are not able to do so, add your comments in the talk page.

Book Structure

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Each pattern has it own page. Like oother Patterns manuals, this text groups the Patterns thematically by the overriding screenwriting concern which they address. One reason the craft can seem complex is because most patterns also affect secondary screenwriting concerns.


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The text has many technical terms. Thus a Glossary.

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The print version of the book made available by incorporating (transculding) the other pages. Elements which are redundant in the print version, require a scripting element which hides them when the are incorporated into the print version. For an example see the navigation template.

Page Templates

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A pattern template is now available. It is based on the pattern. In addition an accelerated pattern creation toll has been the main page.


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The template for an anti-patterns will be added once an anti-pattern is added. Once available an accelerated pattern element will be added on the main page.


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the template of smell will be added once a smell page is added. Once available an accelerated pattern element will be added on the main page. Unlike Patterns and Anti-patterns smells document symptoms that predict weakness in a screenplay. This more than pattens and anti patterns, is an essentially a critical decision and therefore inherently subjective. Therefore script smells are best investigated collaboratively.


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In this text examples reference films. While any film can be used to source an example, some choices have greater merit than others. The two conflicting principles behind example selection are:

  • Provide examples from a short list of films familiar to most readers. (Primary example)
  • Offer the readers an opportunity to experience a broader body of works. (secondary examples)

Additional guidelines are:

  • Steer clear of film rife with structural defects &emdash; The merit of a critical discussion derives as much from the knowledge of the critic as the craftsmanship of the art.
  • Some film considered as paragons of structure include
    • Thelma and Louise.
    • Working Girl.
    • The Three Days Of The Condor.
    • North by Northwest.
    • Silence Of The Lambs.
    • Dances With Wolves.
    • Witness.
    • Terminator 2.
  • Some critically acclaimed films are considered structural conundrums. They can also provide interesting source of examples. They include:
    • Mystic River.
    • Postcards From the Edge.
    • Tender Mercies
    • Ordinary People
  • All things equal choose the better written film. For instance, a film which won an academy award for best screenplay is better than one that was only nominated or won no awards.
  • All other things equal choose the more famous film. A block buster is better than an art house classic which is still better than a direct to video release.
  • All things equal choose a film already used in the text.
  • All things equal choose a film that is in English.

Actors and Characters

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  • Question: Should we refer to characters via their name or via the name of the character they portray.
  • Since this is a book on screenwriting, not acting or casting we focus on characters and less about actor. While actors are important from a screenwriters perspective since they provide the interpretation of their parts and since they have the power to get their parts changed.
In ther text we refer to actors by the characters by they portray and indicate the actor's name only in the first reference to help the reader identify the character. The actor should also be included in the people list so we add a reference to the person.
To make this systematic the template {{:Patterns Of Screen Writing/person|Sean Penn|char=Jimmy Markum}} which produces Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn)[P 1]
It is also possible to refer to a person using the template {{:Patterns Of Screen Writing/person|Woody Allen}} which produces Woody Allen [P 2]





  1. Sean Penn
  2. Woody Allen