Skip to main content

The Screenwriters Toolkit

Lesson 19 of 21

How to Deal with Uncertainty


The Screenwriters Toolkit

Lesson 19 of 21

How to Deal with Uncertainty


Lesson Info

How to Deal with Uncertainty

Uncertainty, uncertainty what is uncertainty? Well first why do we want to be writers? Why do you want to be a right? I just have a lot of stories that I want to tell stories just happened so I used to just write short stories at first and I really like movies I got into movies I went to school for acting and directing but it just felt like a natural transition to learn how to write a screenplay why do you like tell story? Um the story's just kind of happened and I like causing reactions and other people so I like sharing them like causing suspense and other people and I like making people laugh I like um having to meet people have emotions based on what I'm communicating to them great and why do you like to tell stories? I like the subject matter got to be a history and um grew up reading james clavell think shotgun and stuff like that and the movie sucked but the book is great and just just that I love stories and I just like the subject matter I think that, um for example like djs i...

sn't really a subject that a lot of movies were really taken advantage over audio video attacks or, you know, just are different things that I'm doing you know, like oh that's kind of interesting and funny and they'd just be fun tio bring that into pop culture is kind of how I see it so yeah it's just a fun experience and sometimes it's like stephen king nightmare you know I have to just write it down and just kind of get it out so I gotta go back now you know there's nothing worse than trying to sleep but try to remember something and over years and years I've learned I'll never remember it so if I just sit down and write it down, I can relax yeah just like this one great what do you like to tell stories? Um like writing it's just fun to me, it's creative and but, you know, screenwriting specifically has its because of the format has seven little challenges to it, so it's kind of a puzzle as well. It's not just pure fun it's still kind of challenging and I guess telling a story like when you write a story kind of like built this machine that, like when people go through it, elicit certain reactions and if you could get him to I have directions that you wanted, then it's like you accomplish something. Yeah, great pressure you I just don't I'm the kind of person that's always just buzzing with thoughts and feelings and ideas, but I don't very much like to talk about myself and so I feel that telling stories and writing has always given me kind of a vehicle to talk about just my concerns or my complaints from ideas without drawing attention to myself. One of the reasons I I think I was always attracted to riding with them, that I could control people, these characters are people hike in control because I couldn't control people in realize, um, that's not the only reason, but I bring it up because writers face a life with a lot of uncertainty, and one of the one of the things that is attractive about writing is certainly we talked about being surprised and everything's happening, you know, we're gonna happen, but ultimately, once you hold it down and you're done with your script, you've got a piece of life that you, you know, how begins and how it ends, you've done that to it in a way you can't do with other people in your own life. Um, uncertainty is about the whole global idea of being a writer and how you feel about what you're writing and how you feel about yourself, right? As a writer? Um, you're right when you know you're right, that were your writing is good, right? How do you know? How do you know you're right when you know you're right, but how do you know you're right? If something is produced by raw passionate might be so in shaped that it doesn't come across as being that good if something is produced by strict and a little coal objectivity that might lack passion and that way not come off is good you have to have both these things going as was I was talking about before the left brain and the right brain there has to be a free, intuitive creative right brain element but there has to be the subjective you know, looking at your scene and uh no, that doesn't work you have to be the creator and critic at the same time so it's a very delicate line to balance and it's one that you will be having to face and you'll get better and better at it but it's it's always there there isn't an answer because there aren't any facts there's just opinions about whether something is good or you've gotta have it an informed, objectively solid but intuitively free opinion about your own writing like that's good I think uh it can't be overly analytical it can't be overly into it, it has to just fit in there and I'm not bringing this up because I can tell you something that just gives it to you I'm saying it's process over time but I just wanted to talk about it because we I do have to create and we have to judge what we created always even as we're going through the script and it's not easy but I'm saying that because I'm letting you know it's not easy for me and it still isn't easy for me it's this is just part of what makes it hard writing is harder for writers that it is for other people as I said in the very beginning um so I know this may be a really difficult question but what makes you feel um I'm going to start middle ear that what what makes you feel like what your writing is good I mean aside from other people opinion just when you feel it I'd say that uh it gets me excited when I'm reading about it um even though I've been working on it for years uh like with the deejay show I've been doing it for like fifteen years or something like that it still has the exact same excitement it's still invigorates people when I talk about it it's kind of a separate but just that you know if it's still exciting to me after all these years then there's either I'm you know, ridiculously stupid or you know I'm on to something and and I think that having a finger on the pulse you know kind of know what other people are doing gives me like a certain level of judgment that I can't judge my stuff it's like okay, you know they're doing this stuff it's very similar the formula's kind of similar you not a man it's not too far out of left field so it should be you know accepted sounding the finger on the pulse I think is important all right, matt feel like what you're doing is good don't seem along the same lines if I'm reading it and I still think it's like funny or interesting even though I know what happens I've gone over it twenty times that I think that hopefully that means that it must be good right? Right. All right. All right. Well, what about what about say right after you write a scene um I guess at that point I'm looking more like technically, like was it good in terms of I got the point across the conflict was clear they hero accomplishes goal or whatever is it type her whatever then at least yeah it's functioning then I think well, I know it's good. Okay. Yeah. Good. Uh huh. When I when I feel like I've written something good, I think I started having strong emotional experiences about my characters. I know what they're going through like I start feeling really bad for one of my characters when I'm writing something horrible that's happening to him sometimes after, like stepping williams it was really intense, you know, or I start feeling angry about certain characters teo like as I'm writing the terrible things that they're doing, you know, going on she's still socks, so I start kind of experiencing the emotions that my characters have mainly with my lead character feeling what he feels sort of the other characters in the room yeah, but this is a very good example, a strong indicator of your intuitive side reacting the way it should so I would then turn into question and say, how do you what what makes you feel like you're right something good when you go analytically and look at so I think that before I even start writing the body of my scenes, I try to do all the math first per se, so I have my first scene and my plot points my act separations, and even after one after I'm done with that, I'll just go all my slug lines and write a brief description to make sure, uh, that I don't have like seven scenes in a row of people sitting at a table and talking like at a dining room teo diner you know, at the movies and just try to, like, kind of get an experienced line by line by line tio with the scene where you get your road and you had a passionate reaction too what's going on the character after you wrote it, what was your analytical reason why it was good uh, now you're passionate reaction, but you're well, that is a good c I know it analytically. Yeah, I think I like analytically I could just take the actions and see if it, um escalates see of it escalates, and if it surprises me at the end of it like a thing, yeah, I like imagining what another person would expect to happen and then seeing how much of that expectation I fulfilled and yeah, ok, good, good. And what makes you feel like he's really something good? I find that what really helps me after I've written a scene is just kind of read the whole thing out loud because when I'm ready was seen initially, I have an idea in my head of what it looks like, but what I'm actually reading it, I can only see my head, what I'm reading and a lot of times, um, kind of catch things that maybe aren't so good as I'm going through a missed something important or the audience isn't going to know what I'm talking about right here and other times I'll do it and it just all comes together in my head, and I even kind of laugh at my own work, and I know that I've kind of hit something or the right rhythm.

Class Description

Screenwriting classes often either lean too heavily on theory or simply study the technical approach to writing without a greater context for its use, as if the act of screenwriting exists in a vacuum – it does not. In The Screenwriters Toolkit with Jim Uhls, you’ll learn both the nuts and bolts of the craft, as well as its relationship to getting your work read and ultimately produced.

Jim’s sceenwriting credits include the modern classic “Fight Club” the feature-film "Jumper" the NBC television film "Semper Fi" and the SyFy miniseries "Spin" In this class, he’ll share lessons from his extensive experience writing for Hollywood and the small screen. He’ll teach you how to develop better scripts, get traction for your projects, and navigate the complex professional landscape of script development.

You’ll learn about screenwriting form and content, including:

  • Vocabulary and formats
  • Dialogue vs silence
  • Adapting existing works for the screen
  • Genre-writing

Jim will also share essential insights on developing a career in screenwriting. 

You’ll learn:

  • The differences between writing for television and features
  • Who to work with: agents vs managers vs lawyers
  • How to obtain and manage projects of various sizes and contexts

The Screenwriters Toolkit is a comprehensive examination of screenwriting form, content, craft, and traffic. You’ll learn how to adapt your content to the size, genre, and desired professional result of the script while also learning about the best on-ramps for aspiring writers.


Karla KL Brady

I would definitely recommend this class for first-time screenwriters and writers in general. I'm a novelist that would like to turn a couple of my stories into screen plays. I was mostly interested in the "dos and don'ts" which he supplied in a generous number. He gave a lot of great examples. I enjoyed the format with the students and he pretty much walks you through the entire process, including and especially the three-act structure which can be applicable to novel writing, too. He gave a lot of great examples. I would have liked a more extensive discussion on loglines and writing the action, but this certainly is enough to get you started. For the price, you can't beat it.


I came to this site by accident and then found some well known internet marketers here, who had already been sending me helpful emails and offers for some time, which I have used. What I like about the video contents is, that it is good old-fashioned skills and crafts development, rather than just formulaic, churn it out in big numbers advice. Whether screen writing, script writing, creative writing, news writing, etc. there is a structure and guideline for contents, order, grammar, etc., but the appeal is towards the development of one's creative side. I am normally involved in non-fiction writing, so this is a nice, creative side-kick, which no doubt will help my other work. As prolific author Isaac Asimow said, "If you want to learn to write, then you must write".


I would certainly recommend it to others, as there are some really great tips throughout the courses, across various aspects of film script writing.. That said, I would like to recommend however: - to have one version that is focused solely on film writing; eliminating the parts about teleplays and series, as those one or two did not relate to the rest of the course. - in its place, I would have loved to observe the coaching and critique on the writers film ideas, loglines, titles and such. I was very interested in knowing the do's and don'ts, what works and doesn't work, and what the proper approach is. Although he made mention of some of them in his overall content, relating them back to the writer's specific work would have been very beneficial.