The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting

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University of Texas Press, 2016 M03 1 - 190 pages
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A veteran Hollywood script consultant unlocks the secrets of storytelling in this “clever, fresh way of analyzing structure” (Creative Screenwriting magazine).

Veteran script consultant Jill Chamberlain knows that most first-time screenwriters don’t understand how to tell a story. These writers may have snappy dialogue, interesting characters, and clever plot devices—but what they deliver isn’t a story. It’s a situation. In order to explain the difference, Chamberlain created the Nutshell Technique, a method whereby writers identify eight dynamic, interconnected elements that are required to successfully tell a story.

In this book, Chamberlain uses easy-to-follow diagrams (“nutshells”) to explain how the Nutshell Technique can make or break a film script. She takes readers step-by-step through thirty classic and contemporary movies, showing how such dissimilar screenplays as CasablancaChinatownPulp Fiction, Little Miss SunshineJuno, and Argo all have the same system working behind the scenes. She then teaches readers how to apply these principles to their own screenwriting.

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This book was incredibly insightful. Giving easy to follow instructions and really broke the concept of writing a full-length feature into manageable parts. By far the most informative book on screenplay writing I have come across.


PART ONE The Problem with 99 of Screenplays
The Problem
The Solution
PART TWO The Nutshell Technique Process
How to Use This Section
Climactic Choice
Final Step
PART THREE Advanced Application of the Nutshell Technique

Part 1
Point of No Return
Part 2
Nonlinear Screenplays
Using a Secret Protagonist to Structure

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About the author (2016)

Jill Chamberlain is a sought-after script doctor, story consultant, and screenwriting coach who founded The Screenplay Workshop ( She has taught the Nutshell Technique to more than a thousand screenwriters around the globe, and many of her students have achieved success in Hollywood, having their screenplays optioned, sold, and made into award-winning feature films.

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