The First Act

What are acts for, and how can you best utilize them to tell your story?

It can be argued (as many have done) that all stories have three acts: a Beginning, a Middle, and an End. Yet what does that tell you, the potential screenwriter, about the structure of storytellingMore

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Unlocking Act Two

For beginning screenwriters, the second act can be an intimidating challenge to face
down. If the prospect of filling 60 pages with tightly paced, well-plotted action causes
you to sweat, you aren’t alone.

It’s easy enough to think of a beginning, and even to imagine an exciting climax.
But what … More

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The Third Act Crunch

Third Act CrunchThe second act is finished.

Your hero is plummeting toward an uncertain confrontation with forces they don’t quite understand, and under circumstances that are not completely under their control.

What now?

Third acts tend to be short, because if a story has been carefully constructed, and character motivations are clear, … More

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CharacterCharacters are modeled on people. A writer, being a person who knows other persons, should theoretically have an innate understanding of the mechanics of personality and social interaction; which they do, yet if this were all it took, sociologists should be great screenwriters. The process of creating character is not … More

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The Character Questionnaire

Often if you read interviews with famous actors, you will hear them talk about the extensive character biographies that they write in order to get inside of the head of the people they portray. In order to get an idea of exactly how unique your characters are, and in which … More

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Script Study: “The Matrix” – Part I

Part 1: The “Hero’s Journey” Never Dies

The Wachowski Brothers, Larry and Andy, screenwriter-directors of The Matrix, have taken what could have been a routine exercise in cinematic recycling and turned it into a hyperactive postmodern pastiche of every action, sci-fi, and kung fu film ever made. The result, … More

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Writing Effective Dialogue

Well, see, right now I have this
one key, and I really like that.
Everything I own is in my car.  
If I get an apartment, that's two
keys. If I get a job, maybe I 
have to open and close once in 
awhile, that's more keys. Or I
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Theme: The Soul of Story

There exists no other element of a story that so embodies its reason for existence than theme. Theme is why a story, a good story, is told in the first place.

A story without theme, as evinced in so many films made these days, is not really a story at … More

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Breaking Free of Genre

Genre is a much discussed, often little understood, idea.

What genre essentially means to you, the writer, is a set of conventions and tropes that define a particular kind of story and storytelling format.

For screenwriters, genre can either be a blessing or a torturous curse. I continually advise new … More

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