screenplay

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...
Writing Act Three

Writing Act Three: Our Hero Accepts the Reality of Their Situation

It can be frightening and exhilarating to realize that our story is bigger than we are, that in fact, it does not “belong” to us, that we are simply a channel. In Act Three of our story, our...
Writing Despite Fear of Criticism

Writing Despite Fear of Criticism

In 2017, Gustavo Dudamel became the youngest conductor of a major orchestra of his time. I remember an L.A. Times journalist urged us not to get too excited about our newest conductor, counseling us...
Finding Your Writing Voice

Finding Your Writing Voice

I work with many first-time novelists, screenwriters, and memoirists, and the question of voice always comes up. “Do you think I have a voice?” asks the first-time writer. “Should it be in a different...
The Real Meaning of Write What You Know

The Real Meaning of “Write What You Know”

Write what you know. We’ve heard this so often. But what does it mean? Does it mean that if I am a mechanic then I should only write about mechanics? Or if I am a woman, I can only write about women?...
Writing Prose

Writing Prose

“Prose is architecture, not interior design.” – Ernest Hemingway Our words are in service to our story. When we get too flashy with our adjectives, we may distract and even confuse our reader in ways...
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...
Story Structure as an Experiential Model

Story Structure as an Experiential Model

There is a structure to the universe. From the smallest atom to the forces that move the planets, there is a universal law. We live in a state of surrendered acceptance to it (whether consciously or...
Show, Don't Tell

Show, Don’t Tell

Show, don’t tell—the mantra of every screenwriting teacher. Film is a visual medium in which behavior reveals character. Novelists and memoirists have the luxury of exploring the internal lives of our...
Story Structure

Story Structure

Story structure is often taught by story analysts as plot, but it is really the DNA of our protagonist’s internal journey to transformation. Without a sense of a beginning, middle and ending, you are...
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...
The Courage to be Specific in Writing

The Courage to be Specific in Writing

Humans are full of paradoxes. We only love to the extent that we hate. We are constantly changing our minds, constantly renegotiating with ourselves and others. To be specific is to be curious about...
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...
The Desire to Write

The Desire to Write

Whether it is conscious or not, the desire to write is connected to the desire to evolve, to untangle the lie that we have been carrying around about ourselves for a million years. The lie is that we...
Building a Body of Work

Building a Body of Work

I remember one day over twenty years ago when I was bellyaching to a friend of mine about how nobody was buying my work. He looked me dead in the eye. “What’s your job?” he asked. “To sell my work.”...
Ten Suggestions for Writing

Ten Suggestions for Writing

Below are ten writing suggestions for anyone who is setting out to craft a novel, memoir, or screenplay. Some are obvious, while others are perhaps less so. 1) Write everyday. No matter what. The...
The Protagonist's Experience

The Protagonist’s Experience

Regardless of the medium, your reader is not interested in what your character is feeling. Seriously. In fact, if you tell your reader that Bill felt sad, dejected, elated, euphoric, or glum, your...
Stay Curious

Stay Curious

“The curious are always in some danger. If you are curious, you might never come home.” – Jeanette Winterson When my son was three years old, he was Captain Hook for Halloween. It was...

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