5. Make research your BFF, pt. 1



Task 1

Get organized

It’s time to get organized. We greatly prefer digital research tools rather than dusty paper, greasy pens, and index cards, but if that works for you, we hear ya. Here are our favorite online tools for organizing your research:



If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of Evernote, here’s a quick debrief. The app is an online organization tool in which you can share your great ideas, favorite articles, documents, images, videos . . . you name it! Everything can be categorized to your liking and you can create collaborative boards with your friends they can add to on the go.



Trello is the ultimate workflow organizer that works in the visual way we screenwriters think. Once you start with Trello, we warn you all other scheduling tools may look inferior. In fact, we just gave away a bunch of notebooks because Trello does that job so well.


This app allows you to organize your projects in workflow lists and drag cards through the various stages of your project. You can organize everything in your screenwriting process, from arranging interviews, to storing articles, to scheduling films and TV you need to watch.

Here’s an example of a board you can use to help organize your process. Feel free to copy this board and use it to plan your screenplay.


Are you just an old-fashioned guy/gal?

Like to keep things old school? Here are our tips for the traditional screenwriter.

  • Go to the stationery store and buy yourself a nice folder with paper, file dividers, hole punches, highlighters, and those plastic folder thingies.
  • Do web searches on every single thing you can find on your subject.
  • If it has even the slightest impact on your understanding on the subject, go to the library and print that sucker! Get it in the folder. (Bonus points if you actually still own a printer.)
  • Highlight the most important parts.
  • Hey! While you’re at the library, see what books you can find. Find anything pertinent in any of those books? Scan and print that MF.
  • Send at least 5 emails to people you think could be of use to your story, and ask to interview them. Tempt them with coffee, or if they’re busy, just make it a short phone call. (Make sure you specify it’s for a film you’re writing, or you’ll just be a stranger asking them out on a date.)
  • If it’s appropriate, ask if you can record the interview – you’re very interested in this person’s opinion and don’t want to forget anything.
  • Taking physical notes is also fine. If you take notes, make sure you store them in the folder!

Task 2

Lists are friends

  • Download the app List for Writers.
  • Make some organization lists pertaining to your project.
  • Use the app to add thoughts and ideas every time you get a new one. Eventually, you’ll have a goldmine of information to build your characters from.

Extra credit

Come back to your movie titles. Do you still like them? Take a poll of your three favorite choices with your family & friends.

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