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” —...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Serialized Storytelling

Serialized Storytelling

Over the holidays, I finally checked out HBO’s THE WIRE, a decade after its five-year run began.  I found myself binge-watching through the first three seasons.  This show was never a clear hit with audiences, and didn’t win many major awards.  But WGA screenwriters...
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...
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...
Screenwriters World Conference 10/20

Screenwriters World Conference 10/20

On Saturday October 20, I’ll be participating in  two panels at the Screenwriters World Conference at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel, put on by the Writers Store — one on “The ABC’s of Television Script Structure” at 11 AM, and the other...
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...
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