Archives

Story and Plot

Writing from theme

“Theme” is a word screenwriters use without defining it clearly, but here’s a good way to think about it.

Screenwriting and the problem of evil

One of the joys of screenwriting is putting childhood terrors into words. But nihilism is not a crowd-pleaser.

How to logline a dual-plot story

If both plotlines are key to your story, you need to make that clear in the logline. Otherwise, you risk future readers feeling like you bait-and-switched them.

Can I base a character on a real asshole?

You’re naturally going to be drawn towards real-life people who are fascinating. That’s a good thing. Observe behavior. Figure out motivations and pathology. Then forget the real person.

10 hints for index cards

Index cards are a great tool for outlining. Use them wisely.

Burn it down

As the writer, you need to burn down houses. You need to push characters out of their safe places into the big scary world — and make sure they can never get back.

Every villain is a hero

A helpful thing to remember when plotting out stories with a clear antagonist: he probably doesn’t know he’s the bad guy.

Groundhog Day and Unexplained Magic

An observation made halfway through a five-hour meeting in Beijing: in the movie Groundhog Day, it is never explained why Bill Murray’s character is stuck in a time loop.

Kurtzman and Orci on Trek and writing together

Story lessons from Star Trek, from the mouths and minds of the writers.

Take away the questions

You shouldn’t just answer questions. Get rid of them before they’re asked.

Inner struggle is not plot

Many great movies feature characters struggling against their demons, or attempting to find themselves. But that’s not plot.

Tony Gilroy in The New Yorker

The New Yorker has a terrific piece about screenwriter-director Tony Gilroy.

Things We Think About Games

On storytelling in games.

The purpose of drama, and its relationship to Cameron Diaz’s ass

David Mamet argues that even high-minded goals like social commentary ultimately become Cameron Diaz’s swirling ass — attractive distractions that ultimately lessen a movie. And he’s got a point.

Characters for an epic tale

A useful visual reference for that adventure tale you can’t work out.

Question sprint

Killing backstories, writing out lyrics and why you will always want to be writing something else (amongst other topics), explored.

Does a working writer keep improving?

Dedicate one day a week to disassembling good movies.

Scripting a short film

A short film, like a short story, can’t waste any time. Here’s what to include, and what to leave out.

Linear writing for non-linear films

How to outline and structure a non-linear story.

What if my movie is too much like another?

In all likelihood, it’s not — you just think it is.

Can Dracula’s son get a book deal?

The vast majority of memoirs are written by vain, delusional nutjobs, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be entitled to your six-figure advance.

Cut-scenes do not a videogame make

Videogame-makers need to stop trying to ape Hollywood blockbusters, and instead focus on creating playable stories. A link to an article detailing the differences between the storytelling needs and styles.

What’s the difference between Hero, Main Character and Protagonist?

Mostly the main character is all three. But the terms apply to separate functions in the story.

Theory #1

Predictability in structure does not necessarily doom the story to boredom or sameness.

The difference between homage and rip-off

An “idea” is essentially unprotectable. What is protectable is the execution: the plot, the characters and all of the details.