The Problem with Flashbacks

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...
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...
People We Care About

People We Care About

This Sunday Downton Abbey goes up against Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Mad Men and House of Cards to try to win its first Emmy as Outstanding Drama Series.  It’s probably not going to happen, I’m guessing – thought it is now the most-nominated non-U.S....
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...
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...
The Campaign

The Campaign

On a plane ride a few days ago, I settled in to watch two of the funniest human beings on the planet (Will Farrell and Zach Galafianakis) in a movie directed by the awesomely talented Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, HBO’s Game Change).  All I knew about...
Literary Fiction/Screenwriting

Literary Fiction/Screenwriting

Ben Fountain’s new novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was recently named a (top five) finalist for the National Book Award for fiction, and boy, can I see why.  I found it a great example of what “literary fiction” can do so well, that...
The first 10 pages of a script

The first 10 pages of a script

Yes, it’s true that a writer might only get the opening pages of their script read — and that it will likely be put down right away if those pages don’t immediately engage the busy industry professional who has given it a chance by opening it. Most screenwriters...
Don’t withhold; reveal, and complicate.

Don’t withhold; reveal, and complicate.

A writer I work with as a script consultant recently shared a phrase with me that came from her friend Craig Hammill (thanks, Craig!), which perfectly encapsulates a point that I often make with writers: “Don’t withhold; reveal, and complicate.” What...
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