Premise test – notes on stakes.

“The stakes are not ours. They are the characters.”*   Stakes are both easy and hard. It’s a category that’s easy to fill in with something, hard to fill in well. Stakes are consequences. They are what will happen if the hero fails to meet his goal. If our heroes are blue collar heroes whoContinue reading “Premise test – notes on stakes.”

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.”

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”

Everything in a dream is actually you. The same goes for your characters.

“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.” ― G.K. Chesterton, Heretics I read this quote when I was a teenager, and I never really got it.  I’m not advocating for characters that are obvious stand-ins for their authors, but it’s very difficultContinue reading “Everything in a dream is actually you. The same goes for your characters.”

Best practices for getting started, organized, and through your first draft.

1. Always have a pen and paper (or a voice recorder, or a smartphone with a good battery).  A pen and paper is best, as it’s living testament to your desire to capture ideas as opposed to just having a cell phone.  Productivity nerds call this ubiquitous capture.  The thinking is that your brain won’tContinue reading “Best practices for getting started, organized, and through your first draft.”