Throughout my journey with Main Character May, I’ve relied on a variety of sources to bring you the most practical insights about protagonists. Here, I’ve provided my thoughts on two more books I’ve referenced that are filled with great information.

Writing Short Films by Linda J. Cowgill

Don’t let the title of this book fool you.  Cowgill states, “This book is designed specifically for those wanting to make a narrative-driven short film, and who recognize before production can begin a completed script must be in hand” (Cowgill x).  I, however, feel that the content in Writing Short Films can also be applied to full-length screenplays and novels since the author does an excellent job breaking down and explaining all aspects of the story structure, character development, and the writing process.

Writing Short Films gives the reader a complete picture of what it takes to craft an effective narrative with strong characters, no matter how short you wish it to be.  I also like that Cowgill provides plenty of useful exercises at the end of each chapter to get the reader thinking creatively about the topics presented.

Cowgill even provides encouragement to those who feel overwhelmed by the task at hand, writing that “the key to starting is simple: All it takes is a commitment to a process that follows certain steps and leads to putting words on paper” (4).  If you take the time to study this book and its great information, there’s no telling how strong of a script or book you can craft.

Alternative Scriptwriting by Ken Dancyger & Jeff Rush

While the traditional three-act story structure dominates mainstream entertainment, this book proves there’s more than one way to tell a story.  In Alternative Scriptwriting, authors Ken Dancyger and Jeff Rush showcase how each genre has the ability to be skewed from its normal structure to create more dynamic and intriguing stories.

The authors state that “this book proceeds to encourage the writer to consider alternative approaches to both conventional and offbeat film stories” (Dancyger & Rush ix).  As the book unfolds, they discuss the conventions of story and genre and how these elements can be altered to produce a unique approach to storytelling.

Dancyger and Jeff Rush provide a wide range of Case Studies of films that have bucked traditional trends and are worth studying for their unique perspectives. They explore everything from passive main characters to two-act structure and working against genre tropes with in-depth analysis, examples, and insights.

Alternative Scriptwriting is an engaging read that showcases how sometimes breaking away from traditional narratives can be a liberating and creatively freeing adventure.


Books like Writing Short Films and Alternative Scriptwriting are always handy to reference when you get stuck during the writing process or need some quick inspiration. They also provide valuable insight and tools for strengthening your stories and characters.

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