The 8 Story Problems

The 8 Story Problems

There are only so many types of situations a human being can be in, that are big and relatable enough to base a movie on. As I see it, successful scripts generally have one of 8 essential challenges or story problems for their main character, when you boil them down...
Keeping it Real

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...
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...
Sellable Screenplay Concepts

Sellable Screenplay Concepts

My March 12 webinar on “Creating a Sellable Screenplay Concept” is now available from The Writers Store. In it, I analyzed the loglines of some spec scripts that sold in 2013 — and discussed the common elements. It’s a 90-minute...
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...
Spec Scout

Spec Scout

A very cool new website called “Spec Scout” tracks the status of currently unproduced screenplays in the Hollywood marketplace, in a variety of categories.  It also offers aspiring writers a chance to get their work professionally evaluated and ranked...
The Key to Industry Access

The Key to Industry Access

When I work with writers giving feedback and guidance on their material and career paths, I often end up giving advice about how to gain access to agents, managers, and producers – which seems to most writers to be the biggest challenge of this business. The common...

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...