The Idea is EVERYTHING

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...
Internal Stakes

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...
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...
Unlikable Main Characters

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...
Award Season Genres

Award Season Genres

SCRIPT MAGAZINE has published my online article where I break down the SAVE THE CAT “genres”, as I see them, of most of the big movies vying for Awards this season.  Check it...
Live Genre Webinar 8/7

Live Genre Webinar 8/7

On Wednesday August 7 at 1 PM PDT, I’ll be teaching my fifth webinar for The Writers Store — on one of my favorite topics: Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat “genres.”  Blake believed pretty much every great and successful movie falls into one...
Specs that sold in 2012

Specs that sold in 2012

SCRIPT Magazine has published my article analyzing the common elements of screenplays that sold in 2012.  One of the key things that I noticed was the pretty obvious SAVE THE CAT genres of each.  Here’s how the article begins:   We screenwriters want to sell our...
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...
Loglines don’t tease

Loglines don’t tease

Loglines describe a movie (or series) idea in a quick sentence or two that provide enough of an idea of what it’s about to (hopefully) seem like a grabby, fresh and commercially viable concept.  They present a compelling situation for characters one can imagine...
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