Articles & Advice

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How a Big Life Leads to Better Writing

The other night I read a script that could be simply and, without question, described as one thing and one thing only: Derivative.The first act was almost 100% a poor man’s INCEPTION, the second and third act had bothersome parallels with EDGE...
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7 Reasons Your Characters Hurt Your Script

Your characters compel you to be honest, and this creates a challenge. The actions of the characters make your story. Writers often focus on plot, structure, theme, dialogue, description, amongst many other elements, but the success of your script...
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“The Story Is Not True, But The Feelings Are” TV Writer Liz Feldman

Known for her TV writing work on 2 Broke Girls and One Big Happy, Liz Feldman was ready to create her own TV show. She started developing story ideas based on her life experiences and what mattered most. Although death is very much a part of...
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Unconventional Roles for Women Aren’t Just Empowering...

Unconventional Roles for Women Aren't Just Empowering, They're Game Changers  It’s a shame the wonderful coming-of-age comedy Booksmart has not done well at the box office. Expectations were high for the clever story about two...
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Screenwriting Craft: Creating a Proactive Protagonist

I sometimes joke that if someone were sitting next to me regularly during my client meetings at the Akasha Cafe in Culver City, they’d think I have one note in particular that I REALLY like to give. And that note, said in many different ways,...
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Good Will To All

The other day, a student challenged me with this statement and question: “Conventional wisdom suggests that there must be a clear goal and an antagonist, but I don't buy it.  I've seen many movies where there appears to be neither a...
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Don’t Ruin a Good Read! Screenwriting Mistakes to Avoid

While I don’t fashion myself a script or story consultant (because, let’s face it, there are already enough of those – including a few really great ones – out there), the simple reality is that at this point in my career, I...
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“Writing Is In The Rewrite” Says HBO Story Analyst Mark Chandley

Mark Chandley reads a lot of scripts – good ones – bad ones – and everything in between. As a story analyst for HBO and other organizations, as well as a writer’s assistant for A-list film and TV writer Roger Wolfson, Mark...
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Honoring the Little Moments: Lost in Translation

An interview with Sofia Coppola, and an examination of her Oscar-winning screenplay.When Sofia Coppola began writing Lost in Translation, her first original screenplay after her adaptation of The Virgin Suicides, she knew there were certain...
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On Writing Child Characters: “Children Don’t Think Like Little Adults”

One of the challenges of writing great characters is getting inside the heads of persons of much different background than yourself. It takes great effort and empathy to understand those of differing gender, age, ethnicity, or orientation in order...
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Coloring Scenes

It's all in the writing. After all the structuring is done, the scenes themselves have to shine. Most often, when I read a script, I think to myself, "It needs color." Color the characters; color the scenes; color the dialogue. It's all in the...
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Building a tapestry: Kenneth Lonergan on Manchester by the Sea

Kenneth Lonergan discusses making the story your own, the use of flashbacks, and rooting your script in realism. Playwright and screenwriter/director Kenneth Lonergan returns to the big screen after a 16-year absence with Manchester by the...
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Why Is Mrs. Maisel So Marvelous?

Why Is Mrs. Maisel So Marvelous? Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino Tell All! It is a rare surprise that a near perfect TV show is made. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, now in its second season on Amazon Prime Video, is one of those shows...
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What's at Stake?

In response to our survey asking about how our followers are using stories, and what challenges you’re encountering, screenwriter Taha Ali asked what it means when “the stakes are high” for a hero. I replied by first...
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BIG LITTLE LIES - The Wild Card

In HBO’s Big Little Lies (based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty), series adapter/showrunner David E. Kelley (The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal) and his stable of amazing performers examine the idea of "tribe...
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ATLANTA: The Existential Quest of Life

Recent Princeton dropout Earnest “Earn” Marks (Emmy-winning creator/showrunner/star Donald Glover) is on a journey of self-discovery. But he’s flat broke and his parents have not only cut him off, they also refuse to allow him into...
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To Every Character Their Moment

Art Holcomb discusses the importance of Moments for characters, and offers advice on how to use them in your own scripts.By Art Holcomb.Moments.They’re what the audience remembers about a great movie. They’re what actors (and script...
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Why The Crocodile Dundee Super Bowl Ad Made An Impact

Are They Really Remaking Crocodile Dundee? No, but the Super Bowl ad was pretty fun! For all of you out there who are Eagles fans, I send you a happy congratulations on your Super Bowl win. Being a fan of the Chicago Cubs, I know how difficult it...
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The Neurotic Superhero: From Comic Book to Catharsis

There’s a historical pattern around the popularity of the superhero—he or she is most needed during dark times in the real world. In Captain America: The First Avenger, when Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) visits the US troops...
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Dedication, Discipline & Cultivating Self-Worth in 2018 with The Story Farm

It's A New Year - So What?This is part of a weekly email series delivered to The Story Farm email list by the ISA's Max Timm. If you would like to join the email list and receive inspiring messages and upcoming offers from Max and The Story...
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