The law of conservation of detail (and exceptions)

The first act sets up a script. It needs to be entertaining, efficient, and most of all focused. If a first act forces me to learn something, there’d better be a damn good reason for it. If there isn’t, the useless information crowds out the useful stuff. It punishes the audience for paying attention andContinue reading “The law of conservation of detail (and exceptions)”

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.”

“Outcomes are usually not deterministic. They’re probabilistic.” Elon Musk, with advice that applies to life, screenwriting, and especially screenwriting advice.

From Entrepreneur.com: Broaden the view by tracking probabilities. Thinking in probabilities (a business has, say, a 60 percent chance of success) rather than deterministically (if I do A and B, then C will happen) doesn’t just guard against oversimplification. This type of thought process protects an entrepreneur against the brain’s inherent laziness. Musk strives toContinue reading ““Outcomes are usually not deterministic. They’re probabilistic.” Elon Musk, with advice that applies to life, screenwriting, and especially screenwriting advice.”

Emotional grounding in world building via “the orienting effect”

The following is the work of Alex Berg, excerpted from this blog. He talks about using emotions to ground, frame and orient a reader in insane fictional worlds. I think every writer should read this one. “The example I’ve been using for years to demonstrate the benefits of emotional heightening is a fictional scene titledContinue reading “Emotional grounding in world building via “the orienting effect””

Common beginner problem: A fear of outlining, even at the rewrite stage.

My platonic ideal of developing a screenplay: This December, I taught an online class about outlining. I broke development into 6 phases. Express an idea as a logline. Expand logline as a one page precis that delineates act breaks. Break the one page in a series of 30-50 distinct beats, 7 words per beat. FleshContinue reading “Common beginner problem: A fear of outlining, even at the rewrite stage.”

Dealing with criticism, sensitivity, and how to grow a thick skin.

NOTE: I was stuck for a blog.  I really, didn’t want to write it.  I asked Reddit for a blog pitch and wrote up the highest rated question. QUESTION: [Please write a] blog about being sensitive to criticism.  Both positive and negative.  How to grow a thick skin?   SHORT ANSWER: Suck it up.  ByContinue reading “Dealing with criticism, sensitivity, and how to grow a thick skin.”

3 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

It happens to all of us.  We get stuck, and then we can’t move forward.  Here are some tricks you can use when you don’t want to write anything. 1.  Use a timer. Using a timer focuses the mind.  It’s better to have ten minutes of solid focus than a hazy weekend where you occasionallyContinue reading “3 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block”

Q: When is the most popular day to start a screenplay? A: Tomorrow?

INT. SIMPSON HOUSE — NIGHT Homer and Marge have been having marital troubles, a long dry spell.  Marge is unhappy about this for some reason. MARGE: Homer… We need to talk about the martial difficulties we’ve been having lately. HOMER: Marge, there’s just too much pressure, with my job, the kids, traffic, political strife at home andContinue reading “Q: When is the most popular day to start a screenplay? A: Tomorrow?”

Malcolm Gladwell explains why outlining, writing and rewriting is so hard.

“[It’s]a question I’m obsessed with: Why don’t people work hard when it’s in their best interest to do so? The (short) answer is that it’s really risky to work hard, because then if you fail you can no longer say that you failed because you didn’t work hard. It’s a form of self-protection… Most ofContinue reading “Malcolm Gladwell explains why outlining, writing and rewriting is so hard.”