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.

Unmet Needs

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...

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How I got my big break

I was recently interviewed for Ashley Meyers' "sellingyourscreenplay.com" video podcast, about how I got my professional start as a screenwriter, and some of the key things I've learned along the way. It's a free one hour video: the interview starts about eight...

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Flaws and Character Arc

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...

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Internal Stakes

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...

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Audiences are sadists

If I could sum up the number one most common overall weakness in screenplays I read, it would be that the main character does not have a big enough overall problem, and a high enough level of difficulty and complications as they try to solve it. When you get the...

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The Problem with Flashbacks

Jumping around in time with flashbacks can be confusing in a script, and can make it hard for a reader to get oriented and settle into one particular story, in a specific time frame.  And this is what tends to really grab readers — a discrete challenge for a main...

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Gordy Hoffman interview

Gordy Hoffman, award-winning Writer-Director (and founder/judge of the BlueCat Screenwriting Competition -- which I believe is one of the top ten contests out there) recently interviewed me for BlueCat’s blog.  Then I interviewed him back!.  Here are his answers to my...

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Screenwriting contests

Screenwriting contests — are they a good idea? Agents and managers I’ve talked to have emphasized that there are handful of top competitions that can be a feather in a writer’s cap, if one place REALLY highly in them.  And these can be mentioned at the bottom of an...

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Screenwriting’s #1 rule

Show, don't tell.   These are probably some of the first words any of us ever heard in a screenwriting class. At first, it might seem obvious.  Film and television are visual media.  You always want to give the audience something to watch.  It's boring to hear...

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Unlikable Main Characters

With the rise of somewhat unlikable main characters in cable dramas like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and True Detective, anti-heroes are everywhere.  We don’t need to “sympathize” or even “root for” the main character(s) in a story anymore, it seems -- as long as they...

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