Main Character’s Problem/Goal

Main Character’s Problem/Goal

The main character of a story has a problem they want to solve. The main character of a story has a goal they want to achieve. Which is it? It’s either, and it’s both. The main character has a problem and/or a goal. Sometimes people refer to it as the...
Rite of Passage

Rite of Passage

My favorite thing about Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat screenwriting books is his theory that successful movies tend to each fall within one of ten specific types of stories. These ten “genres” can be a hugely helpful tool for screenwriters at the all-important concept...
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...
What are the stakes?

What are the stakes?

It’s a constant question producers, agents and executives will ask: What are the stakes? And it’s maybe the most common thing that causes a script to “not work.” If the stakes aren’t big enough, the audience won’t tend to care, or...
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...
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...
Great Stories/Great Games

Great Stories/Great Games

I’m a Los Angeles Lakers fan. As I’ve followed the team over the past few years, I’ve noticed certain elements need to be present, in a game, for it to be the most engaging and entertaining — the kind that keep me glued to the TV screen. Specifically, there are...