How to Finish Act One

How to Finish Act One

I’ve written before about the first ten pages of a screenplay, and touched on the nature of the Catalyst (which the Save the Cat “beat sheet” insists should happen on exactly page 12). But I haven’t yet focused on its “Debate Section” —...
Fun & Games Section

Fun & Games Section

Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat books called the first half of a screenplays second act the “Fun & Games section.” This is where the action shifts to an “upside down world” of some kind, where the main character will try to confront their overall story problem/goal....
8 Characters of Comedy

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...
Audiences are sadists

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...
UCLA class taking students

UCLA class taking students

My UCLA Extension class on “Finding the Story in True Stories” is now taking students for Summer Quarter starting July 1. It’s an all online class that can be taken from anywhere.  The 15 slots have historically filled up very quickly, so if...
In defense of formula

In defense of formula

Script Magazine has just published my new article where I discuss the issue of “formulaic” writing, and the use of story structure paradigms to help guide the process of crafting a screenplay. It begins thusly: Writers often rebel against the idea that a...
Finding the right genre

Finding the right genre

Blake Snyder’s ten “genres” and fifty “subgenres” in his Save the Cat books are my single favorite tool for screenwriters.  I have long believed that studying this system of story types, and making sure each script you write clearly fits...
Inciting Incident types

Inciting Incident types

  Lately I’ve been brainstorming what to write for my next feature script.  And I’ve been looking for questions to ask myself which might lead to good ideas. The goal is to stimulate the flow of possibilities through the use of some sort of  prompt, and...
True Stories webinar available online

True Stories webinar available online

The webinar I taught for The Writers Store on “Finding the ‘Story’ in True Stories” is now available from their online store, for $79.  It’s a ninety-minute powerpoint/audio program where I discuss all the key lessons I’ve learned...
BRIDESMAIDS: The Beat Sheet

BRIDESMAIDS: The Beat Sheet

I created a “beat sheet” for Bridesmaids for the folks at Save the Cat — it’s now up on their website. Which of Blake Snyder’s genres and subgenres do you think this hugely successful comedy fits?  Take a look to find...