Don’t let a desperation to sell distract you from writing.

I recently wrote up a series of notes for a client script. I got this in response: “My only question for you is whether you think there is something salvageable here(1). Obviously as a writer there’s always value in finishing a project in order to improve. But I really don’t wanna put my time intoContinue reading “Don’t let a desperation to sell distract you from writing.”

Most people picture language visually. Knowing this makes writing easier.

A screenplay is a de facto movie and anything presented will eventually have to be literally photographed (or said.) Understanding why this works lends insight into human beings, your target audience. I learned this when I was taking an acting class. The teacher was stressing a point on how we should invest words with meaning.Continue reading “Most people picture language visually. Knowing this makes writing easier.”

How to Write a one liner (or God’s Approval Hits Record Low )

If you ever listen to Simpsons DVD commentaries, you’ll hear the recurring complaint that one liners, sign gags, and the like take the longest to write, even with a full team of really funny comedy writers. I agree with this. Most comedy is character based, characters are set up with traits, and we see themContinue reading “How to Write a one liner (or God’s Approval Hits Record Low )”

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)”

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.”