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

Subplot takeover: Mapping the plot beforehand helps

I am currently reading a book with a multiple plot format with many characters accomplishing different goals all headed toward the same objective. It doesn’t matter what book, or who the famous and well-respected author is; what matters is that two of the characters in a subplot are the most intriguing, charming and interesting. I … Continue reading

Dive right in: The first pages

Pick your four favorite films. Get a timer. Watch the first 15 minutes of each one. Stop at 15 minutes.  What do you know about the story right now? Well-written stories do a lot in the beginning. Introduce the main character and his personality Bring the reader/audience into the story world. Set the tone of … Continue reading

Research: Story first, then fill in the blanks

Research adds verisimilitude to your story. But first your story is a story.  Before you get lost in a great sea of research—reading, note taking, cross checking sources, etc.—write an outline, or even better a rough draft, of your story. Whenever you don’t know something mark it with zeros, x’s, a color.  Or, you can … Continue reading

Build a Core for your Main Characters

Your character is more than sex, age, and physical attributes.  The core of your character is what makes the audience get involved and care about what happens in the story.  Getting to the core of your characters inspires unique dialogue.  Knowing the basic character core confirms when your character is working—whether he is “right” or … Continue reading

How to Write Your Logline

When you create your logline you are aiming for succinct and emotional.  Choose active, colorful verbs.  The action of the story is what creates interest. The logline is about 35 words so every word must count to give impact to the story.  This is your quick pitch whether written or verbal.  Give it punch. You … Continue reading

Write Hot, Edit Cool: 5 Essentials for Your Scene

When you are writing your scene you are not particularly thinking about structure or theme, or action, or motivation as such.  You are writing the story. When the time comes to edit either the next day or after you have finished the entire story—writers do it either way—you need to look at the scene with … Continue reading

Background and Backstory: What’s the difference?

Many beginning writers confuse background information they create about a character with backstory in the narrative.  This is an area in creating story where discernment and tight story play a key role. Background is the detailed character history that you build for all the main characters in your story—where they were born, their parents, how … Continue reading

Keep the Audience Riveted: Create Internal Conflict With the Dirty Dozen

Dark underground caves, steep rocky cliff edges, charging packs of Dobermans or any number of arms all have their place in creating tension.  Before you introduce these or your better mouse trap exploding helicopter scene make the audience care about your characters. Give the audience a flaw, a sensitivity, a weakness in your character that … Continue reading

Coincidence and Surprise: What’s the difference?

Your audience, whether readers or viewers, likes surprises but not coincidence.  Sometimes they can’t put their finger on the dissatisfaction but they feel it.  How can you avoid writing a coincidence and putting in more surprises? In real life your sister’s boyfriend may know someone in the D.A.’s office who tells him how the legal … Continue reading

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