Write in increments: tackle parts of the whole

The outline is the key to writing your story. I am currently working on a script with a co-writer. Since we both know the outline we can plug in scenes no matter where in the story. We are building the story scene by scene but not necessarily written in sequence. Each increment we write adds … Continue reading

What makes a character strong?

When I say strong, I mean a character who grabs your attention during the story and is memorable afterwards.  He or she may or may not have a strong “character.” Think of your five favorite films. Take a look at the character who leads the story. What does he do? Why do you care? Examine … Continue reading

Plot templates and devices, Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

You’ve seen them— the books, lists, articles—that enumerate plots. The betrayed lover, coming of age, the quest, the hero’s journey, etc. There’s nothing wrong with them—as tools. Any reader can tell you they can spot a “plot template.” The story plods, the turns are predictable. The reader puts down the script and picks up the … Continue reading

Two Exercises to help with Dialogue

  If you read scripts by other writers, you will often find the same flaws that industry readers find. One of the shortcomings is flat dialogue. Boring dialogue is one of a script’s elements that will stop a reader. He’ll put down the script, possibly never to pick it up again. Two exercises of writing … Continue reading

Structure Reigns: Combining the elements of the story

Structure Rules: Combining the elements of the story A time comes when you have built your character background and done as much research as feasible. It’s time to start writing the story. All of a sudden it all seems like too much. Combined, the character backgrounds are well over 100 pages. You’ve discovered the cool … Continue reading

First Draft Revision : First Steps Toward Smoothing Bumps

A few days ago you finished the first draft of the latest screenplay. You put it away and now you are ready to look. The purpose of the rewrite is to clarify your vision, to solve problems and to elevate the quality of the script. Read the entire script aloud Mark bumpy places as you … Continue reading

Deep into character; be a character for a day

I have read scripts from beginning writers that start out with crackerjack characters. I get settled in to read the rest of the story and then…nothing. The characters turn flat and the story turns episodic. Most often after a brief introduction the characters sit (no action) around a kitchen table/in a café/in a park and … Continue reading

Watch your words: Visit a set and read your script aloud

Every scriptwriter should visit a set. You will learn that a great deal of work goes into bringing your story alive. You will experience long hours, actors with incredible durability, directors with patience, crew who do their jobs and some who don’t. Overall you will have a feeling of how very many people are involved … Continue reading

Capturing Silence

Your script reads better if you avoid directional cues. Forget “pause” and “beat.” I know, each is listed in The Screenwriter’s Bible but paint a verbal picture instead. Film is visual. Give clues to the director, actors and crew with visual writing. So instead of: LILA You have to know that Jack wasn’t there. SAM … Continue reading

Puppies and other time challenges

At some time, your devotion to writing will be tested…perhaps more than once:  a move, a wedding, a new child, a home disaster, the death of a loved one. Planned or unplanned these life intrusions may lure you away from your writing time. In my case, I have a new puppy and not only is … Continue reading

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