Academic Research about the Screenwriting Industry

This is a forum to share scholarly research on the book/screenplay to film industry. My primary scholarly/peer reviewed source is The Journal of Screenwriting . If you are in college, let me know if you can find this on your online library’s database. Currently, my findings support that writers desire more originality and executives prioritize narrative norms to meet the budget. Can we have more creativity in transitional scenes than what we currently do?

I developed a survey about filler scenes in film for my communications research class that you can take here . I hypothesize that writers will be more critical about content quality than average viewers, so I will let you know on here if my results support that. How is Hollywood doing? Are you satisfied, disappointed, or a little bit of both? I want to create more surveys for my portfolio, but also to learn about viewer dissatisfaction and what we can do to have effective transitions WITH originality.

Sections of measurements I am interested in creating surveys for are:

  • The viewer’s notice of the change over time

  • The perception of censorship’s effectiveness on cable

  • Perceived respect between viewers (consumers) and executives

  • Effect of commercial break lengths on the viewers’ comprehension of the story and marketing content (prescription medication) on their enjoyment of the show

  • The psychological and communicative aspects of human interest in television; expectations of reality, behavior, and psychological effects

As writers, we are always looking to remove unnecessary content from our work as we critically edit it, but in film, certain controversial transitions have become universal add-ins in mature entertainment.

Other research topics can be strengths and weaknesses in

  • Sitcoms

  • Cartoons

  • Comedy

  • Action/Adventure

  • Drama

  • Process of filmmaking/relationship between writers and executives/screenplay as a group process

Did I miss anything? Let me know what other research options interest you!



I took your survey. :smiley: The focus seems to be mainly on sex, violence, gore, and medical scenes, and their overuse in film/TV and books?

There is a movement in fiction called “clean fiction,” which avoids gratuitous sex, violence, and swearing. Lots of popular books (such as the Wheel of Time series) technically could be considered clean fiction.

I enjoy both clean and explicit fiction and film/TV. To me, story is the most important thing. I can handle violence, sex, gore, etc. if it is important to the story. If it’s gratuitous? Then that’s a hard pass.

And I think it all depends on the tone and the target audience. If you’re going for a lighthearted, silly story, then hardcore violence is very inappropriate. If your story is meant to highlight or explore a heavy topic, then there’s no way to avoid it, and it is necessary to the story.

Personally, I write clean fiction. I’ve enjoyed books by George RR Martin and Stephen King, and I used to try to emulate their graphic styles of writing. But I have my own style now. My stories do go into heavy topics, and there is sex and violence–but I don’t dwell on it or go into graphic detail, because that’s not what my books are about.

I prefer to explore sociology, interpersonal power dynamics, and other psychological topics through the lens of SFF. My books do cover slavery, torture, sex, etc., but if I make those scenes very graphic, I would then be drawing attention away from the themes and points where I want the focus. Gratuitous crap would also drive away a segment of potential readers, and I can’t justify doing that.


Thank you so much for responding!

I totally agree with you. Knowing the term clean fiction movement will help me a lot. I think one solution could be a skip option for these scenes, like how Netflix puts that tiny box in the bottom corner of the screen that says Skip Intro for the theme songs. It sounds like you are more concerned about the detail of those scenes than the fact that they are included. I agree that It would make me less uncomfortable if it was more brief. We have a very similar take on our writing styles.


1 Like

It’s an interesting topic! And there are so many layers to it.

I think another complicating factor is that sex and violence are hard to write well. It’s all physicality, and often, it’s tied up or overlaid with intense emotion. I think a lot of newer writers get caught up in trying to describe the mechanics of it, and they gloss over the physicality or the emotion. Or they get caught up in making their character-puppets dance to their tune, and they fail to consider how it moves the story forward, or builds on the characters’ relationships.

I respect how Robert Jordan handled sexy scenes: with teasing dialogue or sweet moments. He would do a “fade to black” that implied there was sex, but it was never on the page. The sex itself was never the point. The relationships were. To me, that’s an elegant and classy way to handle romance subplots.

1 Like

I’m glad you think so! My next class is Public Relations. I hope more writers will be interested in research. I find it really fun and informative about what I need to expect.

I am the same way- I like the fade to black, the elegant and classy way to handle those aspects of the subplots, which are really hard to find these days. Thank you for that keyword clean fiction- I want to know more about it!


My next case study is on the website Reedsy, which contains a variety of resources and educational materials for writers. Although Reedsy fills a large variety of writer needs, there is no user guide to the array of materials. Without a directory, users can get lost in too many options. I propose more user interaction with a favorites section and more efficient navigation with a detailed website directory. What are your thoughts on this idea?

1 Like

I haven’t used Reedsy, but I think it fills a much needed niche in the industry. I agree that it could use improvements (or a competitor).

I’m an academic screenwriter too currently working on my doctorate on transmedia and adaptations, great to see someone else activity using this forums for the same purpose.
Bang2Write on facebook, ran by Lucy V Hay is a great resource for screenwriters. As a writing coach, I am currently in the process of building up a library of information that covers multi media writing.