flying wrestler

thoughts on screenwriting from writer-producer erik bork

I’m a screenwriter best known for my work on the HBO miniseries BAND OF BROTHERS and FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON, for which I wrote multiple episodes, and won two Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards as part of the producing team. I’ve also sold series pitches (and written pilots) at NBC and FOX, worked on the writing staff for two primetime dramas, and written feature screenplays on assignment for companies like Universal, HBO, TNT, and Playtone. I teach screenwriting for UCLA Extension, National University and The Writers Store, and offer one-on-one consulting to writers.  Click here to email me.

Screenwriting outside L.A.

I moved to Los Angeles to become a screenwriter. But that was before the internet made the world a lot smaller. So what’s the value of living in L.A. now? Is it necessary? Of course you can write anywhere, and you can learn about writing (and even take courses and get...

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Writing miniseries on spec

Post updated January 20, 2018: A lot has changed in the television landscape in the seven plus years since I wrote the article below. "Miniseries" a/k/a "Limited Series" have been on the rise. This phenomenon -- and what the different networks...

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Not About the Work

I, Tonya strikes me as a great example of a point I often find myself making to writers who bring me film or TV ideas about someone trying to accomplish something in a particular workplace or field of endeavor. And that point is this: "It's not about the work." What I...

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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" -- which was recently brought to...

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Fun & Games Section

Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat books called the first half of a screenplays second act the “Fun & Games section.” This is where the action shifts to an “upside down world” of some kind, where the main character will try to confront their overall story problem/goal. It’s...

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One Problem Affecting Everyone

At the heart of a good original TV series idea is one big problematic situation. It somehow affects all the series regulars. And it leads to endless new stories. It's not unique to particular characters, but is the over-arching reason for the series' existence. It's...

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Who is My Antagonist?

Many writers believe their story needs a villain -- a single character who is the main source of opposition in the story, or the primary “bad guy.” Since arguably all stories have a “protagonist,” don’t they all need an “antagonist”? I don't believe they do. Not every...

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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 “problem/goal."...

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Out of the Bottle

I see a lot of scripts these days where the writer initially depicts the main character as kind of a selfish jerk. This is on purpose, because they want to “arc” them to a better, nicer person in the end. I get this desire, as many of the best movies feature powerful...

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Changing the Game

In any story, the problem gets worse in the middle for the main character. Or at least it gets more complicated, more difficult, more dangerous, etc. They are generally not “winning.” They're overmatched by whatever they’re involved in. The difficulties of writing the...

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