Is there a unspecified limit as to how much face time a main character gets on screen?
Figuring out what the audience needs to know — and when they need to know it — is one of the trickiest aspects of screenwriting.
Ostracism is a handy motivation for both heroes and villains.
If you’re making a movie on a limited budget, it may put real constraints on your locations, schedule and cast size. But that frugality doesn’t need to limit your story. Story is free.
The protagonist is the character that suffers the most.
The Bechdel test points out how rarely women characters in movies talk about anything other than men.
“Theme” is a word screenwriters use without defining it clearly, but here’s a good way to think about it.
One of the joys of screenwriting is putting childhood terrors into words. But nihilism is not a crowd-pleaser.
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.
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.
Index cards are a great tool for outlining. Use them wisely.
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.
A helpful thing to remember when plotting out stories with a clear antagonist: he probably doesn’t know he’s the bad guy.
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.
Story lessons from Star Trek, from the mouths and minds of the writers.
You shouldn’t just answer questions. Get rid of them before they’re asked.
Many great movies feature characters struggling against their demons, or attempting to find themselves. But that’s not plot.
The New Yorker has a terrific piece about screenwriter-director Tony Gilroy.
On storytelling in games.
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.
A useful visual reference for that adventure tale you can’t work out.
Killing backstories, writing out lyrics and why you will always want to be writing something else (amongst other topics), explored.
Dedicate one day a week to disassembling good movies.
A short film, like a short story, can’t waste any time. Here’s what to include, and what to leave out.
How to outline and structure a non-linear story.