Three Old-School Ways to Write Better Dialogue
Non-writers often say to me: dialogue should be easy. We all talk, right? What’s so difficult about writing it down? Those of us who have actually tried to craft a scene know better. As noted novelist Thomas Mann once said: “A writer is someone for whom writing is more than it is for other people.” This is true for all parts of writing, ...
Want to Ramp Up the Emotional Tension in Your Story? Try This
One of the most important elements of any story is the emotional tension -- it’s the stuff that makes audiences cry, scream, gasp, and swoon. When you ask most people what their favorite movie is, they often give an emotional reason for loving it. For me, it’s the classic “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946). I watch it every year, and every ...
Why Doesn’t Everyone Love My Script?
You give your script to everyone in Hollywood, and they all scream out, as one, I LOVE THIS SCRIPT SO MUCH IT SHOULD BE PUBLISHED AS LITERATURE IMMEDIATELY ALL HAIL THIS MAGNIFICENT WRITER.
Most writers are rational human beings who realize this exact response is unlikely, but that doesn’t mean we don’t secretly desire ...
Does the World Really Need Your Art?
Human beings have always felt the need to express themselves, beginning with cave drawings of buffalo and spears. The same impulse moves through current poetry, drama, music, and dance. We need art -- it is a fundamental part of human existence.
That’s right: I’m calling screenwriters artists. I’m not saying every movie ever written ...
Three Ways to Avoid Tired Clichés in Your Script
Most of us have watched a movie scene that was horribly cliché.
Maybe you’ve seen a frustrated detective take a shower and put one hand on the wall. Maybe you’ve seen a fight scene that involves the hero literally standing up in order to symbolize standing up for himself. Maybe you seen one character get injured and the other one treats ...
How to Avoid Being Jealous of Other Writers
Most writers feel jealous at one point in their lives.
You might know a writer who is working on a television show you love, or they’re making more money than you are, or they’re getting the critical acclaim you crave. Maybe you’re jealous of the way they put together words, especially if you’re in a rut. Maybe every time you walk into ...
How to Survive Writing During a Pandemic
Every writer I know is struggling.
They’ve got a good reason, too. Writing is tough under the best circumstances, so it’s no surprise that writers are having a hard time getting words on paper during a global pandemic that threatens our collective economic future. We are all doing our best to stay safe and help others.
Want To Create Dynamic Drama? Try this
Everyone wants to add more dynamic drama to their screenplays. It doesn’t matter if it’s a comedy or a horror film, drama is the secret sauce that makes a story great. Without it, the story falls flat.
But how do we dial up the drama? What are some ways we drizzle that secret drama sauce all over our writing?
Let’s take a look.
How To Use Personal Experience As A Writing Tool
Advice on writing usually starts with a grand statement about digging deep into your soul and unearthing a secret golden story that will bewitch the masses. If you can do this, so be it.
But what if your soul is filled with…a lot of boring freeway commutes punctuated by frustrating phone calls with the insurance company over that one claim ...
Picking the Perfect Story To Tell
You’ve got an idea for a screenplay. In fact, you’ve got three – plus the one your taxi driver is pitching you right now about space whales enmeshed in a bitter divorce.
All the ideas are good, but you’ve only got a limited amount of time to spend writing. Maybe you’ve got a day job, or kids, or very needy cats that have trapped you ...
Why Do Character Arcs Matter, Anyway?
We open on a girl’s frightened face. She’s wearing a red riding cloak of some kind and she’s scrunched up in a very tight space. We hear her voiceover: “It was dark inside the wolf.” Then, she stays there and does nothing and nothing changes. The End.
Wouldn’t it be better to see the girl master her fear, wrench her ...