Crafting Short Screenplays that Connect

09.06.2013 17:12

Book Review - Crafting Short Screenplays that Connect by Claudia Hunter Johnson


Review by Mark Shapiro

November 13, 2009

Ms Johnson's approach to screenplay writing is very different in two aspects - first she is targeting the short screenplay - 30 minutes or so, instead of the typical full length 110 minute Hollywood product. Secondly, instead of emphasizing the essentials of plot rhythm, rising action, inciting points, conflict, etc., she makes the point that good drama and storytelling is not about conflict but instead is all about making and breaking personal and society's connections.


Most movies start with a character without connections who creates them or a character has connections and then loses them, to re-connect at the end. It is an interesting observation and viewpoint and a very valid alternate way to approach the screenwriting task.

Every writer is different, every screenplay has its own life, so for some aspiring writers her way of approaching screenwriting maybe very effective - especially where the stereotypical plot and action formats just are not working.

This is a good writing book to add to your library. It may inspire you, it may make you wonder where the heck this writing professor is coming from. Either way, it will open up your eyes (and maybe your heart) to an alternative way for developing a screenplay.


Crafting Short Screenplays that Connect introduces the essential element of 'human connection' - the ability to 'touch' the reader or observer - to the screenwriting and story creation process for short films. Claudia Hunter Johnson teaches the craft of short screenplay writing by guiding you through carefully focused writing exercises of increasing length and complexity. You will learn how to think more deeply about the screenwriter's purposes, craft an effective pattern of human change, and hone your vision and process for your short screenplays.
 * Groundbreaking book that stresses human connection as the basis of a good screenplay-not conflict
 * Includes a website with short films of the screenplays which are analyzed in the book & ample exercises for practice and inspiration
 * Recommended by the American Film Institute!


"In this beautifully written and inspiring book, Claudia Johnson leads the reader through the process of writing the short film, along the way illuminating something much bigger--how to write great drama in any form. A very accessible book, well-researched and full of original thinking, Crafting Short Screenplays That Connect adds an important part to the literature of screenwriting and filmmaking, and will undoubtedly lead to some great short films."

- Linda Seger, author, Making a Good Script Great