Perfect Counterparts

Apr 17, 2016 by

What makes an audience root for two people to be together? The Save the Cat books have a name for the type of story where the primary external conflict is that two people who are “perfect counterparts” have something big in the way of “living happily ever after.” It’s called “Buddy Love.” And it includes...

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Web of Conflict

Apr 9, 2016 by

What’s the key thing to focus on when developing a TV series idea? The answer is simple: the characters. Specifically, a web of entertaining-to-watch characters who have conflicted relationships with each other. Ideally, you would also have a big, intriguing, problematic set of circumstances that affects everyone, and provides a marketable “hook” for the show (so...

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Script coverage services

Feb 20, 2016 by

What exactly is script coverage?  Is it a good thing to pay for, and how is it different from script consulting? I’m glad you asked. When someone “covers” a script, they analyze its perceived strengths and weaknesses, and write up a brief report about them.  The person writing the coverage is unknown to the...

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8 Characters of Comedy

Dec 31, 2015 by

When I work with anyone developing a half-hour pilot, I always recommend Scott Sedita’s book The Eight Characters of Comedy.  Written primarily for actors (Sedita is an acting coach in Los Angeles), it can also greatly help writers.  It presents eight archetypes found in virtually every comedy series (or comedy feature, for that matter). I...

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95% is Problem-Solving

Nov 21, 2015 by

Billy Ray, writer-director of the new SECRET IN THEIR EYES, and screenwriter of CAPTAIN PHILLIPS and THE HUNGER GAMES, was recently interviewed on the WGA’s podcast.  Among other words of wisdom he had about screenwriting was this quote: “If you are a mechanic, you wouldn’t go to Starbucks for two hours and wait for...

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The Idea is EVERYTHING

Oct 31, 2015 by

I’ve consistently found that most of the notes I have on any script I read — and certainly all of the most important ones — are notes I would have had on the basic idea behind the story, if it had been pitched to me before it was written. And so, the #1 piece...

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Two types of TV stories

Sep 19, 2015 by

Somehow an article I wrote for Script Magazine a while back never got added to my own website — and it’s about an important topic that I teach TV writers about all the time: the two different kinds of TV stories, and why it’s important to know which kind you’re writing, and which kind your...

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Finding a Manager

Sep 5, 2015 by

The first concrete step in any screenwriter’s career these days tends to be signing with a manager. It used to be signing with an agent, but most agents today aren’t looking at unrepresented writers.  One generally has to get a manager first, to land an agent. What’s the difference?  Managers have fewer clients, and...

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Why They Make Bad Movies

Aug 30, 2015 by

Beginning screenwriters often are shocked to hear how competitive the field is, and how difficult it is to break into.  If only the writers with the very best skill, craft, artistry and ideas are able to sell their material or get hired, how does that jibe with the fact that there’s so much “crap” that...

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Unmet Needs

Aug 1, 2015 by

I think the best television characters want something they can never have — and spend every episode pursuing it.  What makes them compelling is that they are under siege, in some way, by the world around them, and unable to secure that version of their life that they continually fantasize about. The Last Man on...

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Flaws and Character Arc

Jul 4, 2015 by

The best movies tend to have a growth arc for the main character.  In the end, they have often somehow become better versions of themselves, as well as having solved some big problem in their world.  This means they have to start the movie as the “not best version of themselves”.  And this is where...

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Internal Stakes

Jun 27, 2015 by

The main character in a movie generally has a big problem that it takes the whole movie to solve. And this is what a professional reader of a script is generally focused on understanding first.  What is that problem?  Why will it be so difficult to solve that it takes the whole movie to...

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