Justify: When you get a logic note, ask it in the screenplay and explain it away.

A big part of writing is justification: anticipating common sense logic notes, asking them yourself in the script, and creating a plausible explanation This maintains willing suspension of disbelief, and creates specifics of character that ends up paying off later. When people don’t get things, they’re not flawed or bad, they’re “calling out” a logical issueContinue reading “Justify: When you get a logic note, ask it in the screenplay and explain it away.”

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”

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?”

Five fun pro tips for writerduet

WriterDuet isn’t just a great screenwriting/collaboration tool, it’s got a host of additional features that can supercharge your productivity and creativity. Turn PDFs into Final Draft files. Anyone can print to PDF these days, but writerduet is an easy way to do it if you don’t know any other way to do it. What’s coolContinue reading “Five fun pro tips for writerduet”

The varying degrees of “unfilmable” information

I once worked with a writer “Dante” who hated unfilmables beyond reason. He proudly told me the story of a time he was working with a partner who wanted to describe a character as angry. Dante changed the line to “his brow furrows” because a furrowing brow is literally filmable, and he didn’t think angryContinue reading “The varying degrees of “unfilmable” information”

Five common mistakes that can sour a reader on the first page.

People tend to give performers the benefit of the doubt. When a new speaker takes to the lectern, when a singer approaches the mic on America’s Got Talent, when a dancer begins their first steps, the natural human reaction is to shut up for a moment and see what they’ve got. The same holds inContinue reading “Five common mistakes that can sour a reader on the first page.”

Goals, Stakes, Rooting Interest (part one)

Scripts need a rooting interest. You create this by setting up character, stakes, and a goal by the end of the first act. Picture this: a vengeful god comes down from heaven and tells you that you have 24 hours to kill an evil man, or you’ll die. You’re allowed to ask one question. IfContinue reading “Goals, Stakes, Rooting Interest (part one)”

You can avoid the most common second act problem by writing a short synopsis before you write a draft.

I like to assign this exercise: tell your story in 200 words, 50 words per act (Act 1, Act 2a, Act 2b, 3). I call this “the handle” because it affords you a handle on your story. There are a number of reasons to do this, it provides a convenient overview of a story, itContinue reading “You can avoid the most common second act problem by writing a short synopsis before you write a draft.”

Cognitive reflection (or we tend to ignore the simple)

When I was learning improv, I over complicated it. And then I realized that it was a lot like writing, which simplified it (for me, personally, your person competencies will vary). But then I plateaued, and it took an embarrassingly long time to see the simple truth – “If improv is like writing, my deficienciesContinue reading “Cognitive reflection (or we tend to ignore the simple)”