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.

MODERN FAMILY: 4 stories in 3 acts

I found this week's MODERN FAMILY ("Strangers on a Treadmill") to be a good example of how bare bones a "story" can be, and still have a beginning, middle and end.   (Or, if you will, three dramatic acts of Setup, Complications, Resolution.) Spoiler alert if you read...

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ALICE IN WONDERLAND

To me, this is a great example of taking appealing source material that doesn't specifically meet the usual story structure guidelines that books like SAVE THE CAT talk about, and adapting it aggressively to create a story that does.  (Spoiler Alert if you read beyond...

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WGA guide to Television Writing

In my coaching and script consulting, I help a lot of writers with original series ideas: evaluating concepts, reading pilots, and sharing my knowledge from the work I've done developing, pitching and selling series ideas  - which has given me a lot of insight into...

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Passion. Openness. Persistence.

I guess I've become a fan of acronyms. First, it was "CURE": what I think we as writers should aim for with every concept, every story, ever scene -- that it be Compelling, Unique, Real, and Entertaining.  (I posted about this here.) Now it's "POP": the three...

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Blake Snyder’s “5-Step Finale”

For those of you who use the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet (which I highly recommend, and use in my script consulting), I recently came across an archived blog post from Blake himself, where he goes into greater detail on how he thinks the "Finale" section (that huge chunk...

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“The Blind Side”

I loved the book, as well as Michael Lewis' other book MONEYBALL, and was surprised and interested to see that a movie version had been made.  It's a good example of what is needed to turn a true story, no matter how compelling, into a "story story" that will...

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Main characters and DRAMATICA

One issue I commonly find in scripts I read is a lack of clarity on whose emotional point-of-view the story is being told through.  I think that we as writers don't instinctively realize just how important it is to choose a main character and STAY WITH THEM.  I know I...

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Loglines and SAVE THE CAT

Most story (and series) ideas fail at the level of concept.   Sad, but true.  I've learned this the hard way.  Of course, "fail" is a harsh word.  What I mean is simply that they fail to become something that millions of people would happily pay money to watch or...

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Creating TV series ideas on spec

Here's something that comes up a lot when I work with writers who have original series ideas, and spend time mapping out multiple episodes, character breakdowns and "show bibles"... If you're not yet established and not yet represented, your spec pilot is primarily a...

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What makes a great idea

To my mind, there are four things a concept has to have for it to really work. The first is, it has to be COMPELLING.  By that I mean that we have to CARE about the character(s) and situation -- to be emotionally involved, and to stay involved.  We want to see what's...

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