Why people hate three act structure (and why I like it)

Here’s a quirk of human nature: we form opinions early, and then we cherry pick facts that support the notion we formed. Go visit /r/politics or any mac vs pc argument, and you’ll see this principle illustrated vividly. I learned 3 act structure early (Syd Field’s screenplay). It helped me, so I like it, soContinue reading “Why people hate three act structure (and why I like it)”

Conceptual specificity (or Santa Claus vs The Zombies)

Conceptual specificity:  The fun of the second act should come from the elements set up by the first act. The fun of the second act needs to come from the hook, otherwise the draft isn’t exercising the idea it purports to embody. I know that’s a long and boring mouthful, so to drive this homeContinue reading “Conceptual specificity (or Santa Claus vs The Zombies)”

Vetting a Logline – The Fright Chamber

Here’s a logline that was submitted by /u/nasteeninja for consideration on my live screenwriting show (www.youtube.com/c/storycoaching, now every Saturday at 5 PM). I’ll get to the script at a later date, probably on video. A sadistic doctor, hellbent on immortality, abducts a troubled nurse and forces her through a series of constructed nightmares designed toContinue reading “Vetting a Logline – The Fright Chamber”

Finding an angle on material

When working with a client, I like to develop their sense of what is interesting about idea, what can be done with it. To do this, we go to the front page of /r/todayilearned, and I ask them which story jumps out to them. Today client picked this one: TIL the Morton salt company raisedContinue reading “Finding an angle on material”

Case study – fixing a script that’s all romance and nothing else.

Tomasino (not his real name) first hired me in 2014. He had me read three of his scripts, which all had what I call the “hopeless romantic problem.” It’s one of the seven types of beginner scripts I run into a lot. Scripts like this tend to prioritize pathos and urgency of the romance overContinue reading “Case study – fixing a script that’s all romance and nothing else.”

Glossary of some terms I use

  Alt: An alternative joke or moment for a script. Example: TED: Great idea… not! (alt) That’s like the opposite of a good idea! Bottom of the scene: Refers to stuff that happens near the beginning of a scene. Call out: Moments where dialogue or action underlines unusual behavior. Could be a mention, or evenContinue reading “Glossary of some terms I use”

The difference between world building and story: Character

A world-building script is a script that is heavily reliant on its setting. These are commonly genre scripts, but not always. A script that’s got an esoteric historical setting or relies on a densely woven political backstory has the same strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. There’s nothing wrong with world building scripts, indeed many great storiesContinue reading “The difference between world building and story: Character”

It’s great to have a vivid world, but your story shouldn’t feel like an excuse to show off your world.

A world-building script is a script that is heavily reliant on its setting. These are commonly genre scripts, but not always. A script that’s got an esoteric historical setting or relies on a densely woven political backstory has the same strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. MINORITY REPORT is a sci-fi world building story. Much of theContinue reading “It’s great to have a vivid world, but your story shouldn’t feel like an excuse to show off your world.”

Before you write a feature ask yourself – does this really need to be a feature?

I read for a living. I’ve noticed that most beginner scripts fall into one of 7 subgenres that make them a non-starter. Of these, the worst is what I call “the glorified short.” These are scripts that have core ideas that would be better served by being written as a short film, a pilot, orContinue reading “Before you write a feature ask yourself – does this really need to be a feature?”