Knowing about something is not the same as knowing it.

In an ideal world, knowledge would be like a Pokemon: you could capture it once, and keep it forever, ready to serve at a moments notice. Sadly, knowledge isn’t so readily gained. You need to reinforce it ad naseum until it’s ingrained in your subconscious.

If there was any confusion...
If there was any confusion…


Here are some old school writing pointers that have been floating around for years.

1. Write every day.
2. Enter scenes late, leave early.
3. Scenes are about conflict. Characters must have a want that puts them in opposition to something.
4. Midpoint splits the second act into two tonally distinct halves.
5. Show, don’t tell.
6. Characters should have a distinct voice, you should be able to ID them just by their dialogue.
7. Dimensionalize characters by have them display different traits when they’re talking to other people.
8. Don’t write in variables. Communicate in concrete images that are easy to visual.
9. If a plot can take place in a shorter amount of time, it’s generally better.
10. Cut to the chase. It’s better to show characters doing something than have them talk about doing something.

People often are indignant to be reminded of these rules. Most of us have heard them dozens of times, it seems patronizing to hear them again. But they often bear repeating.


There are no advanced mistakes, only basic ones. If you’re having a problem with a story, the problem is going to be something that’s elemental and simple, not something that’s advanced and highbrow.


You have finite attention. Concentrating on multiple  things at once will derail you. Practice one thing at a time, let it screw up your equilibrium, keep working at it until you can do it unconsciously. Writing skills flow in piece by piece. Good writing tends to come from a trained, natural reaction. More experienced writers have better trained natural reactions.

Published by Matt Lazarus

WGA screenwriter offering in-depth writing instruction, notes, critique, and assistance.

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