The Screenwriting Formula

It’s a common misconception that formula films are bad. Bad films aren’t formulaic—and that’s the problem. In this guide, beginning scriptwriters will learn how to structure their screenplay by using seven critical elements (The Formula) so that every other element falls into place perfectly, creating a salable, high-concept movie.
Publish date:

Buy book | Amazon |

Image placeholder title

The Screenwriting Formula
by Rob Tobin
Writer's Digest Books, 2007
ISBN 978-158297-462-0
$14.99 paperback, 208 pages

Make the Hollywood Formula Work for You!

As a screenwriter, you have a difficult task even after the script is complete. You have to break into Hollywood. Rob Tobin, who has read thousands of screenplays in his job as a script reader and development executive, has developed the formula to get a script from page to production, and he shares it in this book.

The Screenwriting Formula is not just about how to write a killer screenplay—it also explains the structure that movie executives are looking for, as well as how to transform an idea into a fully loaded script, packed with action and ready to go. You'll learn how to:

  • Use the seven basic story elements to instantly grab an audience's attention and, more importantly, keep it
  • Develop character and plot in new ways through creating a backstory and telling both the objective and subjective story
  • Structure your script so that it gets noticed by movie makers
  • Craft a winning logline that will ensure a good pitch

Plus, to help illustrate the formula, Tobin develops a story from beginning to end, showing you step-by-step how to make the most of this trade secret.


The 2020 Writer's Digest Poetry Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 WD Poetry Awards!


Your Story #113

Write a short story of 650 words or fewer based on the photo prompt. You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

E.J. Levy: When Your First Draft is Your Best Draft

E.J. Levy: When Your First Draft is Your Best Draft

Author E.J. Levy discusses her journey with drafting and redrafting her historical fiction novel, The Cape Doctor, and why her first draft was her best draft.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 569

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write an "In the Name of Blank" poem.

Writer's Digest July/August 2021 Cover

Writer's Digest July/August 2021 Cover Reveal

The July/August 2021 issue of Writer's Digest features a collection of articles about writing for change plus an interview with Jasmine Guillory about her newest romance, While We Were Dating.

Lacie Waldon: On Writing What You Know ... But Keeping it Interesting

Lacie Waldon: On Writing What You Know ... But Keeping it Interesting

Debut novelist Lacie Waldon discusses how her agent encouraged her to write what she knew, but then her editor made her realize that what she thought was boring might not be the case.

Pedal vs. Peddle (Grammar Rules)

Pedal vs. Peddle (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use pedal and peddle with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Marissa Levien: On Pinning Down Your Novel's Middle

Marissa Levien: On Pinning Down Your Novel's Middle

Debut author Marissa Levien discusses how she always knew what the beginning and the end of her science fiction novel The World Gives Way would be, but that the middle remained elusive.