If a first act doesn’t set up the goal and the stakes, it’s not doing what a first act should do.

Most of my advice stems from the premise test: An <ADJECTIVE> <PROTAGONIST TYPE> must <GOAL> or else <STAKES>. They do this by <DOING> and learns <THEME>. Most movies break down into some form of this. It may follow a group, not a single protagonist (NASHVILLE), the stakes may be low, purely emotional, or metaphorical (BEFORE... Continue Reading →

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Act 1 is setup, 2 is exploration, 3 is resolution. Act two is the money part.

The three act structure tends to trip people up. People are either way too into it, or they're way too dismissive of it. While it's true that many professional writers don't set out to neatly color within the lines as they're writing their work, it's also true that the three act structure is a useful... Continue Reading →

Screenwriting is about two things: imagining and then communicating. The problem is that imagination doesn’t work like people think it does.

There's a romantic idea of imagination being like a holodeck, or a magical process. Imagination is actually incredibly limited, because movie making is incredibly limited. Take Star Trek TNG - an entire universe is implied, but most of it was contained in a few sets on a sound stage in Paramount. Imagination is like a... Continue Reading →

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