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Villains And Their Functions In Stories

“…But when the tragic incident occurs between those who are near or dear to one another—if, for example, a brother kills, or intends to kill, a brother… or any other deed of this kind is done—these are the...
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Up Close And Personal With Guillermo Del Toro

Señor Del Toro is a very special filmmaker. The self-described traveling Mexican lives out of a suitcase from film set to film set, from life experience to life experience. He is simultaneously a Hollywood studio system misfit and Hollywood...
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Warner Bros. Chiefs On The Present And Future Of Film & TV

Each year, the Producers Guild Of America (PGA) hold the Produced By Conference to discuss the state of the industry with film and TV powerhouses. Good times. Bad times. Things are certainly changing fast. Screenwriters and producers...
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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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Comedy Screenwriting Craft: Using Metaphors

One of my favorite plays (and films and TV shows, for that matter) was Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, in which a pair of mismatched friends, one divorced and one soon-to-be, decide to room together. On the surface, Oscar Madison and Felix Unger...
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First Impressions: The Length and Look of Your Pilot or Screenplay

It was a long day. I had just finished 9 client meetings back-to-back. I had a bunch of emails that I still needed to answer, and, just as importantly, a screenplay I needed to read that night for a meeting the next day. All, for the record, great...
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Where Does The Legal Battle Between the ATA and the WGA Leave Producers?

With the ATA (Association of Talent Agents) and the WGA (Writers Guild of America) deep in a legal battle for the foreseeable future, where does that leave producers? Here are some practical tools to help producers connect with writers and navigate...
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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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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...
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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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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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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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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...
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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...
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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...
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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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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,...
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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...
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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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