Articles & Advice

ALL ARTICLES

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...
Read More»

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...
Read More»

5 Ways to Get Your Screenwriting Year Off to a Great Start

I am, by nature, a planner. Calendar, task lists, goal sheets, schedules, productivity journals and life planners are all my friends, so I love taking a little time come January, both privately and with my coaching clients, to look back and learn...
Read More»

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...
Read More»

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...
Read More»

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...
Read More»

Create Your Pitch Part II: Sell, Don’t Tell

Lee Nordling on why all writing is selling, the danger of detail, evoking an emotional response, and conceiving your story in broad strokes. Welcome to the second piece of the pitching pie-that’s-not-in-the-sky.“But I’m still...
Read More»

Reality Check

In working with screenwriters for nearly three decades, I’ve noticed three writing issues that arise over and over again. In each case, a reality check should prove empowering.1. Appearance is importantAfter a tweet that touted my...
Read More»

What You Need To Know To Graduate From Screenwriter To Film Producer

It is no longer enough for screenwriters to write screenplays. In the current film industry climate, screenwriters need to be more proactive in shaping our careers. In many instances, you may need to expand yourself and wear different hats. Creative...
Read More»

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...
Read More»

The 7 Elements of a Viable Story

In my experience as a professional screenwriter on projects like Band of Brothers -- and in the years I've been teaching and consulting -- one thing has become abundantly clear: projects live or die mostly based on their central idea. Yes,...
Read More»

Size Matters! What the Length of Your Screenplay Says About You

A few recent incidents made me realized that I have to talk about it. Shallow though it may seem, I have to talk about size. Or, more accurately, length.First, it was the 120-page 2-hour TV pilot from a first time, unrepresented writer.Then it was...
Read More»

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...
Read More»

LION (Garth Davis, 2016)

I’ve only now seen LION (Garth Davis) 2016). I have never been so affected by any film. This film states the obvious, which we all need to hear on a regular basis: that human emotions are universal. They transcend and are independent of...
Read More»

Gravity

I watched GRAVITY (Alfonso Cuarón 2013) again recently. Why? The film's astonishing visual impact. I think Gravity is one of if not the most phenomenal technical productions in film history. I am also fascinated with all things space. 2001 A...
Read More»