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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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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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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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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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Magical Realism in Game of Thrones (Some Spoilers Present)

There’s a hint of the magical from the very teaser of the pilot of Game of Thrones. This is a fantastical world, where showrunners/writers/adapters David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wisely make sure not to introduce too much too soon for the...
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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...
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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...
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