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

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

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

Your agreement: Hooking the audience for the whole story

Beginning writers often misinterpret the call for a beginning “hook.” The story device that pulls the audience immediately into the story. But the real draw is an agreement with the reader/audience that you are going to tell a certain kind of story and stick to that genre. It doesn’t matter if it is a traditional … Continue reading

Background work first: save yourself hours of time

The more you prepare the more you can stay true to your story and make it true for your reader/audience. For the past month I have been setting up the background for several scripts. Each has its own particular challenges. Script A- a fantasy comedy Script B-novel adaptation, police drama Script C-spec script, crime thriller … Continue reading

Research baseline: Look for authenticity

“No doubt you have the power here to talk about why…” “That’s not as bad as the Ramero brothers…” “Do you want to write an apology to her family?” “What I have here in my hand is the result of our investigation. It shows you had an active part in…”   Real words from a … Continue reading

The outline as a lifesaver

For the past two weeks, I have had a problem with my home which required hours of time, interactions with pompous and inefficient “service” personnel, canceled appointments, etc. I have been distracted. Performing a multitude of tasks left me little time for writing.   I called my co-writer to tell him I was way behind … Continue reading

Know Your Audience

A few days ago I had a brief low-level industry job: theatre checker. I spent the day in a theater counting the audience for a particular film that was opening that weekend. Every showing. Every screen. What struck me that day was that as people walked in the doors it was pretty easy to tell … Continue reading

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