dilemma

The Nature of the “Want”

“To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.” – Isaac Newton While exploring the nature of the “want” in your story, it’s important to understand that you ...

How Do You Identify the Dilemma in Your Story?

At the heart of every story lies a dilemma from which all tensions and conflicts arise. How do you identify the dilemma in your story? There are two ingredients: A powerful desire A false belief ...

Why Writers Should Embrace Doubt

Doubt exists in each of us much of the time. We are unsure about our futures, our relationships, our new tile in the bathroom, our car insurance, etc. Doubt is the cradle of conflict, both internal ...

Make it Dramatic

“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” – Alfred Hitchcock Story moves as the result of complications that arise, not out of plot, but out of character and theme. As our protagonist attempts ...

Everything You Need to Know is Within

“If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.” – Billy Wilder The purpose of story is to reveal a transformation. This shift in perception means a ...

Shedding the Idea for Truth in Writing

It’s not just first-time novelists or screenwriters that struggle with getting their story from the imagination to the page. Every writer struggles with this. Here’s the thing: Our idea of our story ...

“What do I do when I get stuck in my story?”

When writers come to a dead stop there can be a tendency to panic. It’s important to remember that our idea of our story is never the whole story. When we try to figure it out, we tend to dig a deeper ...

The Lens Through Which You See Your Story

“I find that when I am working I become like an antenna, and suddenly everything relates to my screenplay: a mentioned recipe, a joke somebody tells, a billboard that I see. It all becomes grist for ...

Exploring the Dilemma

At the heart of every story lies a dilemma. It is not a question of whether or not your protagonist has a dilemma, but rather, how effectively you’ve explored it. By exploring your protagonist’s ...

Character Transformation

A fundamental understanding of transformation is crucial to having anything more than an intellectual relationship to structure. We have all read the books on three-act-structure. By the way, what ...

No Dilemma, No Story

One thing that has been coming up a lot in my classes is the tendency for writers to “figure out” their plot. This is due, at least in part, to story structure being taught by story analysts as a ...

What is My Screenplay About?

When we think of our favorite movies, there is invariably an element that is so novel, so surprising, that it ignites our imagination. Think of the character Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. ...

Setting Up the Argument

Story is an argument. The theme (or dramatic question) is the thesis statement, and the story is the argument played out. Any argument requires opposing forces. These forces manifest as our ...

Dilemma: The Source of Our Story

At the heart of every story lies a dilemma. It is not a question of whether or not our protagonist has a dilemma, but rather, how effectively it has been explored. By exploring our protagonist’s ...

Writing the Forbidden

“Freedom of speech and freedom of expression are so ingrained in our society we rarely stop to think about it. I can write anything I want – dark fiendish plots without fear. I can criticize the FBI, ...

Opposing Argument

“The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it.” –  George Bernard Shaw Every story is essentially an argument ...

Staying Connected to the Source

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination.” – Albert Einstein The rewrite uses the left and right brain ...

Third Acts are a Bitch: Reframing the Protagonist’s Goal

“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by ...

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