Articles & Advice

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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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Moving Beyond Screenplay Structure

I have been studying, practicing, and teaching screenwriting for three decades, and the one thing I’ve learned is that young screenwriters (in experience, not age) struggle to learn the craft. What they don’t always...
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The Same Answer to 11 Questions

There is one answer I give to a great number of questions I receive from developing screenwriters. Here is that answer:The script (or scripts) you are referring to was developed in the studio system, or was written by an established writer, or was...
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Writing Effective Plot Twists

Creative Screenwriting Magazine contributor, James Napoli details the different types of plot twists screenwriters can use in their screenplays. There are several different types of plot twists you can use in your screenwriting. Let’s take a look...
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Subtext: That Passive/Aggressive Friend You Hate, But Can't Drop

On Facebook and a myriad of other places, people put forth various requisites or must haves, do’s and do nots, they claim are needed to write, if not a great screenplay, at least a perfectly serviceable one. One of the most popular ones...
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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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Test Your Story Concept

I recently taught a webinar for The Writers Store on Story Development. In it we talked about the importance of testing your story concept before you end up like Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation lost in a sea of notes and pages with no idea...
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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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What’s the In? What’s the Out?

In the movie biz, there’s a question that studios and development companies often put to any screenplay they’re evaluating:  What’s the in? What’s the out?  What they mean is, “What is this script’s opening image and closing...
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One Movie, Three Structures: The Avengers

Whether you are a self-taught writer, in school, or reading books on your own, the structure of a screenplay is critical in the analysis of your professionalism. But which structure is “right?” Which structure should you adhere to in...
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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 Mysterious Development of Your Villain

The Mysterious Development of Your Villain(an excerpt from Max Timm's online class, The Craft Course)In this week's lesson, we will be focusing on how the other characters in your story - namely the Secondary Character and The Villain/Rival - will...
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Navigating Your Story: Salva Rubio on Save the Cat Goes to the Indies

Since its inception over twenty years ago, the methodology of Blake Synder’s Save the Cat has been as synonymous with storytelling as Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and Syd Field’s Paradigm Worksheet.Many screenwriters can’t help but...
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