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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.

Keeping it Real

One of the most frequent and important types of notes I give on scripts is to question whether something seems REAL. Another way of saying it is this: “Does the situation and what people are doing and saying seem BELIEVABLE? Would this happen in the real world? Would...

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Chasing Success

We writers realize that the chances of any one thing we write being “successful” are slim. At least that’s true if we define “successful” as “reaching an audience,” “getting produced or published,” “bringing in income,” or even “advancing a career in some way, like...

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Perfect Counterparts

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...

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Web of Conflict

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,...

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Script coverage services

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...

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8 Characters of Comedy

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...

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95% is Problem-Solving

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...

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The Idea is EVERYTHING

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 of...

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Two types of TV stories

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...

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Why They Make Bad Movies

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...

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