screenplay

Make it Cinematic

A picture paints a thousand words. Since a movie is a story told in pictures, a screenplay is the blueprint from which the director takes his cues. It is not the screenwriter’s job to provide camera ...

Dialogue

“If you have a good ear for dialogue, you just can’t help thinking about the way people talk. You’re drawn to it. And the obsessive interest in it forces you to develop it. You almost can’t help ...

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 ...

The True Nature of Our Characters

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin Good writing is a synthesis of ideas and instincts working in concert. ...

Humor in Tragedy

If you’re going to write a tragedy, infuse your story with humor. Humor pulls us towards the characters and makes us care. It also ensures that your ending will resonate. Tragedy is not about a ...

Conflating Characters

Sometimes we’ve written characters that don’t belong in our story because their function is redundant. Conflict might arise that don’t add anything new to the story. In fact, the conflict might ...

One Thing Readers Hate

One thing readers hate are coincidences. Sure, coincidences occur in our lives every day, but in a story, they are generally a problem. Readers lose interest when coincidence leans in the’ ...

Take Risks

Writing your first novel is sort of like, well . . . there’s a first time for everything. It’s scary and exciting, and you’re not quite sure if you’re doing it right. Here’s something to remember in ...

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 ...

How to Become a First-Time Author

The journey to becoming a first-time author is different for everyone. For me, it involved letting go of the idea that I’d ever get published. I know this sounds counter-intuitive. The temptation to ...

The Dilemma at the Heart of Your Story

“Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.”-James Baldwin OK. We want to write something. We have ...

Character Suggests Plot

“The beginning of a plot is the prompting of desire.”- Christopher Lehmann-Haupt Our idea of our screenplay, novel, or memoir is never the whole story. As we inquire into the world we often discover ...

First-Time Novelists: Dealing with Fear

Many first-time writers share a similar fear: “What will people think?” It looks slightly different for each writer. What will my parents think when they find out I have these thoughts? What will my ...

Humor Is Not About Writing Funny

Humor connects us. It makes us care. I don’t mean one-liners. Humor is not about jokes, it is about human behavior. It’s a vital aspect of any story, adding depth, richness and humanity. Drama ...

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. ...

The Internet: A Writer’s Worst Distraction

Sometimes the deeper we get into our story, the more we seek distraction. The internet will suck the life out of any writer. It will turn the most disciplined among us into bug-eyed addicts. Not ...

The Dramatic Question, or Theme of the Story

Shakespearean plays begin with the chorus telling us what we are about to see. They don’t tell us the whole plot but rather provide a context for the events that are about to follow. That is the ...

Plot vs. Theme

Any writer can experience that moment where you suddenly realize that your “idea” of the story isn’t going to get you to the end. This moment is initially devastating and then, hopefully, liberating ...