Promises, Promises

So you want to write a movie? You’ve come to the right place!

The Inner Movie Axiom takes you the shortest distance from your great idea to a completed screenplay.

It covers everything you need to know about structure, content, and characters; it even tells you where to set the tabs on the typewriter. [Michael Angelo]

The Inner Movie Method will help you find out what you want to write and then help you write it.

How to use this book

This book is divided into three sections: Beginning, Middle and End, just like a screenplay.  Beginning is set-up, middle is action, and end is resolution.  We’ll set up your movie.  You’ll write the movie.  We’ll resolve any obstacles that keep you from finishing your movie.


This is where we’ll work out everything you’ll need to write your movie. We’ll find your story, discover your characters, work out the best structure for your story, and then show you how it should look on the page.

Here’s a sample of what you will get:

  • How to know what your idea is: Exercises to find out what you want to say. Actions to get you to say it.
  • How to tell if your idea is really a movie: Find out if your idea is a song, a play, or a novel, rather than a movie, and what to do if it is.
  • How to become a technical expert in 2 pages: Type the 2-Page Picture Show and thereby discover all you’ll need to know about screenplay form.


Here’s where you’ll do it. You’ll write a fast random draft from your heart: you’ll rewrite from your head.  This section shows every step you need to take and when you need to take it to complete your script.

Here are some questions you’ll find answered:

  • How did I lose my hero and how do I get him back?
  • What’s my story again? I keep forgetting.
  • How come nothing’s happening?
  • How do I get my characters to talk like real people?
  • I know the beginning and I know the end, now how do I get here from there?


We’ll go hand in hand, step-by-step, all the way through your movie. You’ll even learn:

  • How to Know When You’re Done: Test questions that can only be answered when the script is absolutely finished.
  • How to Pick Two People for a Test Reading (excluding all members of your immediate household): Questions you ask the reader to find out if you said what you wanted to say. Questions to have the reader ask you to find out if you’ve said it the best possible way.


This is where we’ll demystify any blocks, doubts, or circumstantial difficulties you might have along the way.

No other screenwriting book deals with the fact that you think you’re going to die of this. You’ll use this section to identify why you’ve stopped, so you can take action to keep going.  We’ll cover:

    • How to keep going when you think you can’t. Statements you can have a loved one say to you. Confidence builders, including “How to Write a Fan Letter to Yourself.”
  • Why you have to believe you can do it and what to do when you don’t.
  • Why you get the flu when you’re on page 90.


  • Exercises to keep going. Pick one; pick ten – don’t stop.

And if it’s too hard and you just can’t go on, the Inner Movie Method covers such details as

  • Where to arrange your workspace.


  • How to schedule work time.
  • What to say to your spouse when you can’t come to bed.

Chances are you’ll want to go directly to the section on how much money you’re going to make. In There’s No Business Like Show Business, you’ll find answers to these questions.

  • Do I need an agent?
  • How do I get an agent?
  • What do I do until I get an agent? And we’ll go even further.
  • How do I know when I’m in the business?
  • Can I succeed in Hollywood if I live in Buffalo?

The Inner Movie Method asks all the obscure questions you haven’t thought of and answers all the questions you already have.

We won’t say “this is the definition of this” and “that is the meaning of that.” You just start right in, right away, and finish before you can worry about how to begin.

So, grab a pencil and the blank page you haven’t been able to fill; we’re going to write a movie. The Inner Movie.



A colleague at the Writer’s Guild, upon hearing about How to Write a Movie in 21 Days said, “What are you, crazy?  It’s almost impossible to write a movie no matter how much time you have.”

Here’s a secret:

My colleague is right.

And yet there are thousands of people trying to do the impossible.

That’s why the Inner Movie Method was created – to find ways to make an impossible thing possible.

Here’s what the Inner Movie Method is, in one line: Write from your heart; rewrite from your head.

Since no one in their right mind can write a movie, let’s not use the mind. Let’s use the heart.

Your heart is smarter than you think it is, and it knows the movie that you want to write, so we circumvent all the doubt, the unfamiliarity with the form, and we go directly to the heart.

How to put your head in your heart’s hand

Writing is schizophrenic in that it uses two parts of you. There’s the heart part, which already feels your movie, and the head part, which gets it on paper.

We humans are schizophrenic in that we must juggle our right and left brains, our conscious and unconscious, our analytical and intuitive faculties.

Harmony in our lives comes in balancing these three aspects of ourselves and knowing when to use which.

When we create, there are four distinct modes we use:

Exploration. Take it all in, do research, ask questions, be aware of connections, make sense out of nonsense.

Creation. Brainstorm, play with all the material, shake it, smell it, look at it upside down, see it in new ways from all angles through unlimited thinking.

Decision. Now hone and decide what way to look at it.  Eliminate everything that doesn’t serve your single vision.

Action. Put it into being.  Schedule and plan and implement.

These modes will not occur linearly. One minute you need to brainstorm, the next you need to come in out of the “brainstorm” and dry your socks.

This dance between the modes occurs naturally. Your heart knows when to use which, but your head doesn’t always believe this.  The head believes that this mode-changing is its job, and so it interferes with the heart, tries to grab the throttle, and messes with the whole natural process.

It’s a simple mix-up to solve. The Inner Movie Method keeps your mind busy with jobs that your mind can do very well.

That leaves your heart deliciously free to create a great movie.

The Inner Movie Method assigns specific jobs to your head and your heart so that each part of you is doing the job it does best and then not interfering with one another.

What are these jobs and who’s going to do them?

You’ll need techniques to find out who your story is about and what the story is about.

Once you know who and what you’ll need to know how you’re going to write it.

You need techniques to structure your story so that you have a beginning, middle, and end.

You’ll need techniques to get the story on the paper so that it looks like a movie.

You’ll need exercises that continue to help you keep your horse before your cart.

You’ll need a shoulder to cry on and someone to celebrate with.

Here are some of the specific jobs we give to your head.


Before you even start writing you’ll know what goes on pages 1, 3, 10, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, and 120 of your screenplay. It’s a map to get you through the Act II desert so you don’t aimlessly wander off the page.


One of the major fears of first-time screenwriters is how it’s supposed to look on the page. Actually, screenplay formatting is the easiest facet of the whole thing.  So, we’ll make you a technical whiz by typing two pages.  Once you have the bones you can get on to the meat.

Here are a few heart jobs:


This is how we find out what’s in your heart. We’re not going to try and let our mind figure it out or analyse or guess.

We’ll do this very simply. We’re going to ask.  It’s a way to find out fast what’s on your heart’s mind.  Once we circumvent your head, it’s wonderfully easy to tap your wellspring of feelings.  And feelings are going to write your movie.

As an 8-minute author you will experience quick breakthroughs to what you really want to, what you really hope, and what you really care to say. And you’re going to keep in touch with yourself all the way.

When you see this line ~~~~~~~~~~~~ that’s your chance to write.  At first these are small exercises that are designed to get your movie out 8 minutes at a time.  Later it’s the techniques that you will use to actually write your movie.

8-Minute Author (The respondant here did exactly what the Pope wanted him to do.)


You’ll need techniques to find who this is about and what the story is. There is a section on the specific life themes we all tend to land on at specific ages in our lives.  You can look up your age and realize that the central life question that you are experiencing in your life is exactly the issue of your movie.  By writing it you will answer it.


You will need techniques to keep going. In Embracing the Impossible Obstacle we will identify your block and “cure it” whether it’s an Outer Obstacle – family, job, time and place; or an Inner Obstacle – heebie-jeebies, procrastination, lack of belief in yourself.

How does all this breakdown into 21 days?

First you’ll get ready, you’ll know who it’s about, what it’s about, how and where it’s going to take place. You’ll find a visual aid, brainstorm, know your hero, have the title, the logline and your workspace.

From Day 1 to Day 7 you will write a very fast random draft. We’ll show which pages to write each day and what you’ll need to cover.  You will work for no more than 3 hours on any day (and usually less).  That way you can still keep the day job and your life.

On Day 8 you rest.

On Day you read your random draft.

From Day 10 to Day 17 you rewrite. You’ll do specific pages each day.  We’ll tell you which ones and what to do with them.

From Day 18 to Day 21 you tweak and polish.

On Day 21 you celebrate.

The days you can be as short as 10 minutes and at no time longer than 3 hours. The 2 hours do not have be consecutive so that you can break it down into 8- and 10-minute intervals throughout the day.

Not only are we going to make a hard thing simple. We’ll also have some fun.

Random yammerings

Once we get your head out of the way, your heart is free to work on the movie. We’ll start with a stream-of-unconsciousness.  All you do is dump down everything on the page that you already have in your heart about your movie.  This will seem like random yammerings to you.  There is power in understanding that random yammerings are actually connected ideas that together create a whole new picture.

Think of a dream. Until you figure out its meaning, it’s just a hodge-podge of weird images.  But a dream is actually a night movie designed to tell you a story.

The power of juxtaposition

Here’s an example:


How’s your wife? You haven’t brought her around lately.


She’s fine. Did you hear Jack’s getting a divorce?

From this short exchange, can you guess the relationship between Ralph and his wife? Do you see how seemingly unrelated thoughts placed together tell a story?

With the Inner Movie Method, our first draft is a random draft. There’s no anxiety because, after all, this is only a random draft.  Then we rewrite from the head.  We hone, modify, eliminate.  Once our heart produces a random draft, our head can read it to find out what it’s about.

Try it with a dream. When you wake up, you ask, “What was that all about?”  Your mind tries to make sense of it [zoetrope].  But try this – instead; jot down everything you remember.  You’ll find you remember more and more as you jot.  Later, look over the random notes and the meaning will hit you.  First heart then head and it will all make sense.  First you put your socks on then your shoes.

Acta non verba (actions not words)

This is a participation book. Let’s talk.  Let’s write.  Let’s do more than read.  Let’s use colour and sound and vision and feeling.  Let’s create a great movie.  Want to?

What we do with the Inner Movie Method is we don’t mess with the rational, sensible part of you that knows you can’t, you shouldn’t, you better not. We go to the part that has to, that must, that is aching to jump right in on behalf of itself.  That way we’ve got the best parts of you working automatically, easily – even when you’re sleeping.

The bicameral significance of the use of lucky socks

This is the place where I was going to give the once and for all scientific explanation of the Inner Movie Method. But here’s what: When you go to a movie the writer doesn’t appear and tell you about it before you see it.  And since we believe in “show, not tell,” let’s just wham right into it!  Because then, in three weeks, when you’re at a hot shot Hollywood party accompanied by your finished script and someone asks you, “What is The Inner Movie Method?” you can show them.

So are you ready? All you need is

  • a wish to write a movie
  • the idea you don’t quite have yet,
  • and this book.

Let’s go!


©Andrea Nicola Dodgson, 1971.


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