Story and Plot

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.

Elephant and Columbine’s actual events

A question of fair use in the treatment of tragic events.


Theme defined. Its function explored.

Original films

Hollywood is making a lot of bad movies, but Hollywood has always made bad movies.

Choosing character names

Matching the right name to the character while keeping them distinct from one another.

Theory #2

Why do movies suck?

My idea’s been stolen

Paramount has just bought a project that sounds horribly similar to yours? Remember that there’s a vast chasm in scriptland between being bought and being made.

Similar plotlines

Be happy you also thought of a great, marketable idea and move on.

Story first, then characters

Taking the “character driven story” idea too literally can derail your story.