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.”

Analyzing the WGA award nominees for the last five years.

Every year, the WGA selects five nominees for “Best Original Screenplay.” These are the nominees from the last five years. Title Authors Writer/ Director? Written by Outsider? Notes American Hustle Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell Yes No* Singer was a BU dropout who worked as a night janitor, then sold the International in 2009.Continue reading “Analyzing the WGA award nominees for the last five years.”

Basic guidelines for a good sample script.

A common misconception in writing is that you are writing a spec so you can sell it. This is not the case. A sale, while nice, is unlikely in the current climate. My advice is to write a sample that communicates your ability to work in a given genre. My advice for beginning writers canContinue reading “Basic guidelines for a good sample script.”

Didn’t Matter, Had Franchise (the Hobbit 2 from a screenwriting perspective)

The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug does not have a great screenplay. It takes ten minutes for anything to happen in the story. Most of what’s cool about it is visual spectacle that wouldn’t show on the page. It’s 3 hours long There are many sequences that you could cut out and the movie would stillContinue reading “Didn’t Matter, Had Franchise (the Hobbit 2 from a screenwriting perspective)”

Getting an agent is the first step, not the last step.

A frightening percentage of writers seem to think of an agent as the magic conduit that will sell their screenplay, make them a fortune, and negate the need to ever work again. Nothing could be further from the truth.   Getting an agent is the first step in a long journey, not the last one.Continue reading “Getting an agent is the first step, not the last step.”

A clarification on the relationship between executives and the box office.

My last headline was “When Executives Want to see how good a movie was, they check boxofficemojo.” This got me some interesting feedback, both in terms of factual information and angry response. Redditor david-saint-hubbins said.  It’s not about checking to see “how good a movie was,” it’s checking to see “if a movie was commerciallyContinue reading “A clarification on the relationship between executives and the box office.”

When executives want to see how good a movie was, they check boxofficemojo.

* Note – this is both an oversimplification and a joke.  Still, I’ll probably rewrite this to be more focused on the x meets y pitch. Most writers know how to write an  X meets Y pitch (it’s AVATAR by way of FROM DUST TILL DAWN!), but they rarely do it right.  Someone pitched meContinue reading “When executives want to see how good a movie was, they check boxofficemojo.”

Reader question: Why is all your advice so commercially oriented?

A while back, I wrote a blog on character arcs (precis: arcs = change = good). My friend Nate asks: What’s your thoughts on movies like KIDS and Young Adult, where the protag doesn’t change or have an arc. Both movies I felt were very good. The arc I feel is the audience, where a freshContinue reading “Reader question: Why is all your advice so commercially oriented?”