The best notes tend to be specific

Reading services, from the Blacklist to me, prefer to give overall notes in a general way. They’re easier to do, and harder to specifically challenge. Unfortunately, they’re not always the most helpful. Take these Blacklist notes posted by reddit user wolfduke : The narrative suffers from a premise that is ungrounded, as it introduces a sprawlingContinue reading “The best notes tend to be specific”

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”

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…   Here are some old school writing pointers thatContinue reading “Knowing about something is not the same as knowing it.”

The value of straight answers pt. 2

This is a common conversation for people who work in showbiz: “Hey man, I heard you lost your job.” “Yeah, between things right now. If you have any leads?” “Do you have the UTA job list? I’ll send it to you.” “Gee, thanks.” Offering up the job list is literally the least you can doContinue reading “The value of straight answers pt. 2”

Saturday Screenwriting Class

The class would meet Saturdays, time TBD. There would be four 90 minute sessions, and participants would leave the class with a well-structured, forty beat outline. The class costs $70 dollars. Ideally there’d be between 3-6 people. I’ve done this once[1] before. I learned a lot from my first class and am excited to offer it again.Continue reading “Saturday Screenwriting Class”

The map is not the territory – screenwriting rules are only guidelines.

When someone says something like a script should be between 100-120 pages, it will generally cause an argument. It’s useful to remember that these are simply guidelines, and that it’s often more useful to consider why the advice is correct (it forces a useful economy of words, and makes the script more readable to buyers)Continue reading “The map is not the territory – screenwriting rules are only guidelines.”

Notes from the test run of my screenwriting class.

So I’ve been teaching a screenwriting class via Google Hangout/video chat.  It’s a four person class, and it lasts for an hour.  It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this, and I’ve learned a lot about how to teach screenwriting and how people approach the writing. CLASS ONE – Intro to Story In theContinue reading “Notes from the test run of my screenwriting class.”

In Defense of Story Coaching

When it comes to developing their craft, aspiring screenwriters would do well to take a page from the world of improv comedy. In improv (at least in Los Angeles, at UCB and iO) neophytes start with the basic classes and journeymen aspire to make a performance team – to be one of the rare fewContinue reading “In Defense of Story Coaching”