flying wrestler

thoughts on screenwriting from writer-producer erik bork

I’m a screenwriter best known for my work on the HBO miniseries BAND OF BROTHERS and FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, for which I wrote multiple episodes, and won two Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards as part of the producing team. I’ve also sold series pitches (and written pilots) at NBC and FOX, worked on the writing staff for two primetime dramas, and written feature screenplays on assignment for companies like Universal, HBO, TNT, and Playtone. I teach screenwriting for UCLA Extension, National University and The Writers Store, and offer one-on-one consulting to writers.  Click here to email me.

Dude with a Problem

They’re trying to kill me! That’s what’s happening in the most misunderstood of the ten “genres” in Blake Snyder's Save the Cat books. "Dude with a Problem" is misunderstood because of its name, which really describes every story. Movies are always about someone with...

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Character Introductions

One of the most frequent notes I give on scripts is one I’ve given so often that I’ve created a macro for it on my computer. All I have to press is ";na", and the following pops up: "I would recommend not introducing characters by name, unless they’re about to do...

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Institutional-ized

When developing a screenplay (or series) idea, I’m always looking for what the main problem is. The one big problem that is really hard to solve, which becomes the main focus of the narrative. It should have huge stakes, which are not just internal, but...

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Golden Fleece

A “team” goes down a long “road” in search of an important “prize." These are the key elements of the movie genre that Blake Snyder's Save the Cat books call the “Golden Fleece.” Inspired by The Odyssey, such stories track progress over time and/or space toward a...

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Rite of Passage

My favorite thing about Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat screenwriting books is his theory that successful movies tend to each fall within one of ten specific types of stories. These ten “genres” can be a hugely helpful tool for screenwriters at the all-important concept...

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The 8 Story Problems

There are only so many types of situations a human being can be in, that are big and relatable enough to base a movie on. As I see it, successful scripts generally have one of 8 essential challenges or story problems for their main character, when you boil them down...

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Series = Ensemble

When coming up with an idea for a television series, and writing a pilot script, writers often make the mistake of approaching it like a feature. Meaning, they focus on a single main character, with a single problem and goal. That’s not how television works. I can...

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The 20 Script Must-Haves

The things that make screenwriting hard to succeed at are not mysterious. They're just not easy to achieve. Successful scripts differ from unsuccessful ones for some pretty concrete reasons. Below you'll find my list of the 20 most important attributes of screenplays...

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Degree of Difficulty

I often say that a good story idea focuses on one big problem that it takes the whole story to solve. What that means is that the problem has to emerge early in the story (traditionally at the “Catalyst” or “Inciting Incident,” about 10% in), and not be resolved until...

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What are the stakes?

It's a constant question producers, agents and executives will ask: What are the stakes? And it's maybe the most common thing that causes a script to "not work." If the stakes aren't big enough, the audience won't tend to care, or stay engaged....

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