screenplay

No Dilemma No Story

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?

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...
The Creative Process

The Creative Process

When my son, Ray, was first learning to speak, there were so many new words each day — the syntax often fascinating and occasionally perverse. He also had a sophisticated sense of humor. He called his...
Sell Your Novel to the Movies

Sell Your Novel to the Movies

When I did a book tour for my first novel, someone asked, “Have you sold the film rights?” And when I said yes, there was this gasp, like I’d been showered with pixie dust because Hollywood wanted my...
Weights & Measures

Weights & Measures

Proximity Do our characters have to be two thousand miles apart, or three miles apart? If we are trying to convey a sense of distance, remember that distance is relative. Let’s say that our...
Dilemma: The Source of Our Story

Dilemma: The Source of Your Story

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 it has been explored. By exploring your protagonist’s...
No Good Guys, No Bad Guys

No Good Guys, No Bad Guys

There are times, as storytellers, when we can be so bull-headed about what we want to express, that we end up pushing an agenda rather than telling a story.  We create “good guys and bad...
Writing the Forbidden

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...
Backstory

Backstory

“The past is prologue.” – William Shakespeare When we are stuck, it is inevitably because some part of our backstory is unclear. Backstory refers to what happened before our story...
Humor in Tragedy

Humor in Tragedy

(Image from Life is Beautiful, 1997) 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...
Conflating Characters

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...
Reframe the Protagonist's Goal

Reframing Your 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...
How to Become a First-Time Author

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...
Dealing with Fear

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...
The Internet: A Writer's Worst Distraction

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 only...
The Theme of the Story

The 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...
Overcoming Writer's Block

Overcoming Writer’s Block

It’s not just first-time writers that get stuck. Every writer, except Stephen King, experiences writer’s block. Writer’s block is often an absence of information. The information can be related to...
What is My Title?

What is My Title?

Those scant few words on the cover of our book or screenplay can be the most labor-intensive work of our entire manuscript. Coming up with a good title can be a bitch. We may have a working title, a...

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