So you want to be a screenwriter? 
by Jessica Brown, Screenwriter and Board Member of Phoenix Screenwriters Association


What a great opening line. As writers and their audiences know, a great opening line is a  necessary component to a great story, whether it be a novel, stage play, or screenplay. This great opening was written by Bob Saenz, the author of: That’s Not The Way It Works: A No-nonsense Guide to the Craft and Business of Screenwriting.  

Bob’s name might sound familiar to you, and it should. He was recently a guest speaker at one of our PSA Speaker Events in 2020. But his name should also sound familiar because of his great body of work. Bob has a dozen plus produced credited films. He has optioned and sold multiple scripts and one TV pilot to production companies, producers, and studios. He is brilliant at rewrites, adaptations, and polishes. Thus, why he is a busy working screenwriter. 

You might have recognized Bob as an actor with his many roles in film, including Zodiac, Jack,  Woman on Top, Unleashed, Murder in the First, and his recurring character on the TV series  Nash Bridges, to name just a few.  

Bob has also been on the radio in San Francisco in the late ’90s and as a member of the ’60s ock band, The BSides.  

Bob’s extensive experience as a writer and script consultant goes from 2012 to 2020 and continues to expand. If you love the holiday season and Christmas movies, more than likely you have seen a few of his many films with his credit as writer.  

Whew! And while Bob’s writing skills and connections are impressive, his honesty, authenticity,  and down-to-earth advice is what I found to be the best part of his book and the best part of talking to him at the recent PSA event and through email. Bob uses this same manner in his book as he shares experiences, insights, and advice on how to craft and draft your story, to taking meetings, to marketing your script. But my absolute favorite part of his must-have resource is Chapter 8: Writing to Budget.  

Bob touched briefly on this topic at the PSA event. His book spells it all out and is critical for every writer to know and understand. Especially now, in the COVID era, when budgets are small and production companies being extra picky about the projects they invest in.  

Bob covers several things to know when writing to a budget, such as, how to have the meeting and asking what the budget is for a project, to understanding what the terms mean in dollars,  to what budget should a new writer write.  

The hidden gem in this chapter is Titled: Things To Think About Writing A Low Budget Film.  Fourteen pieces of gold that all writers should know when writing to a low budget film. This chapter alone is worth all the gold for every writer wanting to make their script the most attractive and worthwhile read now and in the future.  

This well-rounded book includes chapters on How to handle Rewriters/Ownership/Feedback,  What Will I Get Paid?, Sales and Options, Rejection and Development. A great resource to have from FADE IN to FADE OUT. Add this to your collection for 2020/2021 and you are set to write well for the rest of your writing life.  

That’s a Wrap! 

So that is our 2020 Must Have Books for the Writer’s Toolbox. I hope your bookshelf is looking good and ready for your 2021 projects to serve you well and help you write that great next low budget blockbuster!  

Thank you for hanging out with me in 2020. I hope you got a script, or two, or more written during this challenging year. I know I got two written and several developed. Cheers to you and your year end celebrations and time with family and friends, whether in person or on Zoom. Be safe out there. And come back next year so we can create new content together and make  2021 our best writing year ever. Check out PSA on MeetUp or EventBrite as Carlo has a  fantastic lineup of speakers and events.  

All the Very Best!  


PS: of course, it’s a year-end message, drop me a line or two on how your writing is going at And do forget to comment here on your favorite Must-Have resource for 2020. 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This