The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting

The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting

by Jill Chamberlain

Paperback(New Edition)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Veteran script consultant Jill Chamberlain discovered in her work that an astounding 99 percent of first-time screenwriters don't know how to tell a story. These writers may know how to format a script, write snappy dialogue, and set a scene. They may have interesting characters and perhaps some clever plot devices. But, invariably, while they may have the kernel of a good idea for a screenplay, they fail to tell a story. What the 99 percent do instead is present a situation. In order to explain the difference, Chamberlain created the Nutshell Technique, a method whereby writers identify eight dynamic, interconnected elements that are required to successfully tell a story.

Now, for the first time, Chamberlain presents her unique method in book form with The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting. Using easy-to-follow diagrams ("nutshells"), she thoroughly explains how the Nutshell Technique can make or break a film script. Chamberlain takes readers step-by-step through thirty classic and contemporary movies, showing how such dissimilar screenplays as Casablanca, Chinatown, Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Silver Linings Playbook, and Argo all have the same system working behind the scenes, and she teaches readers exactly how to apply these principles to their own screenwriting. Learn the Nutshell Technique, and you'll discover how to turn a mere situation into a truly compelling screenplay story.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781477303733
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 173,699
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jill Chamberlain is a sought-after script doctor, story consultant, and screenwriting coach who founded The Screenplay Workshop ( She has taught the Nutshell Technique to more than a thousand screenwriters around the globe, and many of her students have achieved success in Hollywood, having their screenplays optioned, sold, and made into award-winning feature films.

Table of Contents

  • A Note on the Text
  • Foreword by Patrick Wright
  • Acknowledgments
  • Part 1. The Problem with 99% of Screenplays
    • Chapter 1. The Problem
    • Chapter 2. The Solution
  • Part 2. The Nutshell Technique Process
    • Chapter 3. How to Use This Book
    • Chapter 4. Protagonist
    • Chapter 5. Set-Up Want: Part 1
    • Chapter 6. Point of No Return
    • Chapter 7. Set-Up Want: Part 2
    • Chapter 8. Catch
    • Chapter 9. Flaw
    • Chapter 10. Crisis
    • Chapter 11. Triumph
    • Chapter 12. Climactic Choice
    • Chapter 13. Final Step
    • Chapter 14. Strength
  • Part 3. Advanced Application of the Nutshell Technique
    • Chapter 15. Nonlinear Screenplays
    • Chapter 16. Using a "Secret Protagonist" to Structure a Nonconventional Story
  • Part 4: Film Nutshells
    • Annie Hall
    • Argo
    • August: Osage County
    • Being John Malkovich
    • The Big Lebowski
    • The Bourne Identity
    • Braveheart
    • Casablanca
    • Chinatown
    • Collateral
    • Crimes and Misdemeanors
    • Dallas Buyers Club
    • Frozen
    • The Godfather
    • Groundhog Day
    • Juno
    • Little Miss Sunshine
    • The Matrix
    • Memento
    • North Country
    • Pulp Fiction
    • Silver Linings Playbook
    • The Sixth Sense
    • The Social Network
    • Sunset Blvd.
    • Titanic
    • Tootsie
    • Up in the Air
    • The Usual Suspects
    • Witness
  • Notes
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Patrick Borelli

"The best screenwriting book I've ever read, by far. Now I'm obsessed with the Nutshell Technique and can't stop applying it to every movie I see."

Glenn Gers

"The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting is a book you can begin working from immediately. It delivers on its promise: a detailed, focused, ferociously practical method for structuring a screenplay. It doesn't let you get distracted, it doesn't let you off the hook: it helps you get the work done. Constructing a solid movie story is all about defining choices and then sticking to them, and author Jill Chamberlain shows you exactly how to do that."

Han Jin-won

"Jill Chamberlain sets a new standard for plotting stories. Use the Nutshell Technique to crack your story."

Callum Greene

"Very impressive! Jill Chamberlain's Nutshell Technique is like the Rosetta Stone: it cracks the code behind why we love the movies that we love. It goes way beyond tired old beat sheet 'formulas' and instead guides you to organically write the story you want to tell."

Patrick Wright

"Just over a century after the invention of the moving picture, Jill Chamberlain may be the one to have finally cracked cinema's genetic code. The Nutshell Technique is a truly great method for understanding the dramatic mechanisms needed for an excellent film. As screenwriters, we need better tools to help us develop more resonant stories. As educators, we need tools that help our students understand the mechanisms at work in great storytelling. In these pages, Chamberlain has put together a fantastic tool set."

Customer Reviews