Latest post: How to avoid the crime fiction trap

Crime is the post popular genre in fiction and on screen today, but many writers fall into the crime fiction trap…


The most important thing to do when you pitch

Click here to see video…


Charles at Raindance

Monday December 7 – 9.30am – Belfast – Free Pitching Seminar

Wednesday December 9 – 7 for 7.30pm – London – Euroscript Free Networking

On this site

Writing screenplays for cinema and TV is probably the hardest kind of writing there is, but very rewarding when it goes right. Full Metal Jacket - making screenplay dialogue sizzleThis site has many practical ways to help you, whatever level you’re at.

I’m getting very busy on  my new novel (due out Spring 2016) and also another fun venture which I hope to be able to announce soon – so live appearances are getting more limited for the next few months.

On this site, you’ll find a host of articles, tricks of the tradebooks and other resources on writing, reading and crime fiction.

And I’m regularly adding more.

Free Resources

You’ll find masses of useful resources on writing and related issues here. Check out the blog – free screenplay format guides and templates to download with information on screenwriting software – and an FAQ on how to use the Internet for Research.

Books to Read

There are now thousands of books on screenwriting for beginner writers and advanced, but some are more useful than others. I’ve lists of the books I’ve found useful, a shorter list of my all-time favourites, and of course my own books – Police Slang, short stories in anthologies, and A Complete Screenwriting Course – out in October and already recommended reading on an increasing number of MA courses. New review here…

Practical help for screenwriters

Film lightEvents, Courses and Questions

If you want to catch me in person, I can be found running events and courses, through Euroscript and festivals here and abroad. Some are free and some are charged for. I am available, when time permits, to give feedback by email or in personal meetings.

You can also ask me questions, especially if you have topics you’d like me to answer in the blog.

Join my mailing list for information on all of the above and extra free tips and bonus articles.


  1. Tim Symonds said:

    June 19, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Charles, after 50 years as a freelance journalist I turned my hand to publishing two Sherlock Holmes’ pastiches, the latest being Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Bulgarian Codex. Recently I embarked on an ‘Argo 2’ movie script and have pretty well sketched out the action. At this stage, should I simply turn out a treatment (and if so, how long should a treatment be – 10 pages, 70 pages?) and does a treatment form the principal task of selling the script to an agent or producer? Your advice much welcomed!


    • Charles Harris said:

      July 4, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      Hi Tim, your ideas sound interesting. That’s important. If you don’t already have a track record in cinema, you’ll need to have a polished completed script to send. That’s the first essential. Then you’ll need a good one-line pitch to use either face-to-face or in the body of a query letter.

      Many (though not all) agents and producers will ask to see a treatment first – I recommend that this should be as short and readable as you can make it – 1-2 pages max. Your journalistic experience should be invaluable in keeping it brief. (Longer treatments may also be required – if someone asks you for a treatment, simply ask them how long they’d like!) And ensure the treatments include the ending. No cheating here.

      I have some articles on treatment writing, if you want more info.

      Best, Charles

      • Fouza said:

        May 16, 2015 at 1:54 pm

        Charles hi,
        Do you write film treatment? I have a true story and I am looking for a writer.

        Please let me know.

        Many thanks
        Dr Naimi

        • Charles Harris said:

          June 11, 2015 at 6:11 pm

          Hi Dr Naimi

          Thank you for your enquiry. I’ve been out of the country and just received this on my return.

          I rarely write treatments for projects other than my own. The work that goes into a treatment is as demanding as the script itself, and as crucial to its success. Decisions made here will have a critical impact on what follows, so I always recommend that the treatment should be written where possible either by the producer/director or by whoever will write the final screenplay.

          In any case, it should be someone who has a strong sympathy for the story.

          I wish you the best of luck in finding someone you can work with.

          Best wishes
          Charles Harris

  2. Tim Symonds said:

    January 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Charles, I’ve followed up ‘the Bulgarian Codex’ with a new Sherlock Holmes novel. All advice on bringing it to a movie-maker’s attention very welcome!

    • Charles Harris said:

      January 4, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      Hi Tim

      Well done on the new book. To get the attention of a movie-maker, I advise you first a write short (one sentence) pitch and synopsis specifically for the screen, showing how your novel could work as a movie. You should then research producers, directors and development executives to find who would be best to approach.

      Organisations such as the one I work with, Euroscript, would be a good starting point. We run workshops on exactly what you need.

  3. Mark Cremona said:

    October 17, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Good Day Mr Harris
    I dropped by to thank you for your book, which dropped on my door mat this morning, ‘Complete Screenwriting Course’ I have had it in my hands a mere two hours but have already devoured half of it!
    I feel like Im ready to tear Michael Bay a new one ( as they say in Hollywood)
    thank you for an amazing piece of inspirational work, If I knew as much about screenwriting as you do I wouldn’t share it with my Mother let alone the world. You are an amazing individual and I promise to give you a deal in on my first commissioned Scrips :-)

    • Charles Harris said:

      October 17, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      Mark, thank you very much. A great review to receive on publication day!

      If you want to help spread the word, please feel free to leave a review on Amazon, as that does help others decide whether the book’s right for them. And I look forward to that commission!

  4. Ben Mcconley said:

    May 13, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Get your head in the game.New writers will typically take a crash course in screenwriting, tear through a book by Chris Vogler or Syd Field and bang out their first feature as fast as humanly possible. There is absolutely nothing improper about that – it’s a great way to start – so long as the writer is prepared for another five years of it.Start small and get feedbacks.Give only your best.


    • Charles Harris said:

      May 13, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Ben

      I totally agree. And not just new writers! We all keep forgetting how much sheer hard work is involved. Truffaut put it best when he compared film-making to taking a stage-coach ride in the Wild West: you start off hoping you have a good journey and end up just hoping you get there alive! Applies just as much to writing too.

      And your last remarks are on the button too: get feedback and give your best. Nicely put.

  5. Jackie said:

    August 21, 2015 at 7:40 pm


    I have just bought your screenwriting book, mainly because of the excellent reviews. I am looking forward to using it, but can I say that I am really disappointed with the first few pages.
    In a book encouraging readers to be creative and flexible, why do you advocate the same tired old advice you get in ALL writing books e.g. “write something every day”, practise speed writing, or “never edit your first draft” etc. These are prescriptive clichés as they assume everyone works in the same way. They don’t.
    Having published a number of books myself, I never found any of this advice useful – and I think it is time all “teach yourself” writing authors stopped including them.

    I would be interested in your comments.

    • Charles Harris said:

      August 21, 2015 at 7:59 pm

      Hi Jackie

      Thank you for buying my book, and thank you for your comments.

      You make a very valid point. When you read on in my book, you’ll find that I do talk about how writers work in different ways. I describe four main ways (although there are variations even within these). I hope that I don’t ever say that everyone is the same – or has the same needs.

      Having said that, the advice you quote above is from personal experience. Most writers will gain from writing frequently and from practising speed writing. And most writers will create problems for themselves if they edit their first draft. (This last applies less to novelists than it does to screenwriters). The reason that it’s in every “teach yourself” book is that it works. Read the biographies and autobiographies of the great writers in all media and you’ll find certain ways of working are common to almost all.

      But, you’re right, not all. And the three methods you quote are by no means going to guarantee success on their own, either. There are many other essential skills – not least reading widely. If you are one of those writers who don’t need to write every day, for whom speedwriting doesn’t work and who can safely edit as you go along, then by all means go ahead. The important thing is that it works for you.

      However, if you find it doesn’t work for you then maybe trying new methods can help. Personally, I’ve tried many approaches. Sometimes, at different times, or for different projects, I’ve adopted very different ways of working. True flexibility and creativity means being open to all possibilities.

      Tell me how it goes.

      Best wishes

      • Jackie said:

        August 22, 2015 at 10:13 am

        I really appreciate your prompt response – many thanks. I will certainly take your comments on board.

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