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.”

Exercise: If you’re stuck on a plot, write from character POV

Goldman once wrote that screenwriting is structure. A lot of people take that to mean that screenwriting is plot, which is it isn’t. Screenwriting is about story, and story is about the immediate moments. Take James Bond. All the classic plots are pretty much the same (action scene, M tells Bond to kill a guy,Continue reading “Exercise: If you’re stuck on a plot, write from character POV”

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.”

The main value of structure is that it allows writers to see how incidents radically change their story depending on where they are placed.

Three act structure. Just by using that term, I have guaranteed that a sizable percentage of the people who read this will have stopped listening. Those people are busy composing angry replies about how stupid and/or malevolent I am. I look forward to reading those. I get that people hate three act structure, but theContinue reading “The main value of structure is that it allows writers to see how incidents radically change their story depending on where they are placed.”

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”

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.”

Improv for screenwriters – Beyond Yes/And

“You have to keep the differences between improv and dramatic writing in mind. Improv is about agreeing and moving forward as a team. “Yes, and…” or at the most, “yes, but…” Drama is about conflict. In drama, you need to hear “no” more than “yes”.” Quote from a WGA writer that sums up the mostContinue reading “Improv for screenwriters – Beyond Yes/And”

Improv for Screenwriters – Miles Stroth’s 4 scene types.

Improv is the art of making up scenes on the fly by collaborating with one or more people. For a number of reasons, this is harder than it sounds. While pretty much anyone can improvise, not everyone can improvise in interesting ways. This mirrors screenwriting, in than anyone can write: FADE IN: INT. DINER —Continue reading “Improv for Screenwriters – Miles Stroth’s 4 scene types.”

How to beat writer’s block

AUTHOR’S NOTE ADDED 9/5/13 – This is one of the first blogs I wrote.  I didn’t really know what I was doing, and it embarrasses me.  I rewrote the article here, but I thought I would leave the old draft up for posterity. I don’t want to write this blog.  I actually never feel likeContinue reading “How to beat writer’s block”