dilemma

What Do I Do When I Get Stuck In My Story

“Why Do I Get Stuck?”

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

Story is an Argument

(Image from “Big” 1988) 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...
What is My Screenplay About?

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...
Exploring Your Protagonist's Dilemma

Exploring Your Protagonist’s Dilemma

(Image from The Hunger Games, 2012) “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...
The Necessity of an Outline

The Necessity of an Outline

“The outline is 95% of the book. Then I sit down to write, and that’s the easy part.” – Jefferey Deaver Many writers resist story structure because they fear it will limit their creativity and...
How to Master Storytelling

How to Master Storytelling: Ask the Right Questions

“It is a parable of art that, to be universal, you must be specific. Otherwise, you are just talking about an abstraction. So you have to talk about a particular person and a particular place...
Asking Why

Asking “Why?”

Always keep your ideal reader close by in your mind asking “Why?” Our subconscious is perfectly designed for this process. It already knows the story. Our only job is to remain curious and...
Why Writers Get Stuck

Why Writers Get Stuck

Einstein says, “You cannot solve a problem at the same level of consciousness that created the problem.” Writers often get stuck because they believe it’s their job to figure out a solution to their...
Outlining The Dramatic Question

Outlining: The Dramatic Question

Your characters are a function of the plot, archetypes that constellate around the dramatic question. Story is essentially an argument with the dramatic question being the thesis statement we are...
The Nature of the Want

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?

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

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

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

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

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...
Exploring the Dilemma

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...
The Lens Through Which You See Your Story

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...
Character Transformation

Character Transformation

A fundamental understanding of transformation is crucial to having anything more than an intellectual relationship to structure. You’ve probably read books on three-act-structure. But it is...

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