Get Inspired: The Writers Guild Foundation Shares Pages from the 101 Greatest Screenplays

Writers Guild Foundation 101 Greatest ScreenplaysOver the past several months, we've shared links to several of the award-contending screenplays (only six months to go until awards season begins!). Reading an entire screenplay can certainly help when you're studying story, structure and tone. Sometimes, though, we only need a little inspiration, just a few pages of a great script to motivate us to stop procrastinating and get back to writing. Throughout 2014, the Writers Guild Foundation is giving us just that -- select pages from the WGA's list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays.

Each Tuesday and Thursday this year, the Writers Guild Foundation is pulling one of the WGA's 101 Greatest Screenplays off its library shelves and posting a few pages. Now, if you live in Los Angeles or you happen to be in LA with a few hours to spare, you can visit the Writers Guild Foundation library and read these screenplays for yourself. For the rest of us, we'll have to make do with the few pages posted to the Writers Guild Foundation blog twice a week.

The Foundation started with #101 (Notorious) and is counting down to number one (Casablanca). In a recent post, the Foundation highlighted two pages from the screenplay for The Verdict (screenplay by David Mamet, based on the novel by Barry Reed). What I find so valuable in this excerpt is how quickly Mamet establishes his characters and their situations with a rich scene in only two pages. Two pages!

Now, are you ready to get back to your writing? Do these pages inspire your own screenwriting? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Link: Screenplay 101 -- The Writers Guild Foundation

[via Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting]

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Your Comment


Thank you for sharing and all that you do-seriously. Way cool!

March 4, 2014 at 4:12PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


This is a nice thought, WGF, but a bit daft. It's like taking ten seconds out of song. Sure, there are small, technical things you can learn from them, but it's the thing in its entirety wherein lies the art, surely.

March 6, 2014 at 11:26AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Chris posted a piece a couple of years ago about the pro script readers where the prevailing attitude was that they could spot a bad script from the opening page or two.

March 6, 2014 at 11:36AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Good post, and thanks for the heads up on the WGF resource. I don't think this idea is "daft" at all. In fact, it's just the right amount of 2 minute inspiration, a nice representative snippet.

A movie is composed of scenes. One after another. If the scenes are compelling, taut, well thought out, with good characterization, it's then a matter of stringing them together, one after another, into a cohesive whole. The art lies in both the structure of the individual scenes and in their concatenation.

But you have to start with sharp characters and a dramatic scene, and it's revealing to see how Mamet does this here.

Although reading the entire screenplay would be valuable, one has to budget one's time. I don't think you have to read Einstein's paper "DOES THE INERTIA OF A BODY DEPEND UPON ITS ENERGY-CONTENT?" to appreciate the beauty of "E=mc2."

March 7, 2014 at 7:44AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM