B2W FAQs – Writing Craft Edition

Questions on Writing Craft

How do I write a good character?

This is a real ‘how long is a piece of string’ question, since everyone has VERY different ideas on what ‘makes’ a good character! Consider instead two things – your character’s role function and motivation. Here’s Top 10 Links To Help You With Characterisation.

I want to write more diverse characters, but I am scared of getting it wrong. Any advice?

You just need to do your due diligence. This means doing proper research, across a wide cross-section of people who live lives *like* the character you want to write. You also need to listen to people’s lived experiences and reflect on them, not just those people’s who tally with your own. Also, research the history of various toxic writing tropes and characters – START HERE.

Where can I get structure and plotting advice?

Here’s the B2W Ultimate Guide To Structure. If you want to learn more about plotting, B2W recommends visual representations to help with this. Download the free B2W Plotting worksheet from the resources page.

I want to use flashbacks, but apparently they’re ‘lazy’. Is this true?

No, it’s absolutely UNTRUE. Flashbacks can be an amazing storytelling device when done well. The problem is, most spec screenplays do NOT use them well. CLICK HERE to find out why most flashbacks in the spec suck and how to avoid this.

I want to use voiceover, montage, intercut or dream sequence. Should I?

If the story calls for it … YES!!! To consider whether these plot devices are justified in your story, you need to think about these questions:

  • What is the PURPOSE of the device – HOW does it advance the story / reveal character?
  • What stories **like mine** have used these devices? How did they do it?

DO NOT just stick them in because you think they might look cool! CLICK HERE for a case study of these devices, using classic movie examples.

I want to use non linearity in my novel or screenplay. Any advice?

Yes, loads! All my novels (so far) have been non linear. The key is ensuring your story benefits from being non linear and avoiding the common errors. CLICK HERE for 10 quick tips to consider.

CLICK HERE for some classic errors screenplays make in using non linearity.

I always ‘start too early’ in my plotting … Any tips?

Yes! Start at the end and plot BACKWARDS. I call this ‘The Punchline Method’ because I learned it from a comedian. This simple tip means you will ‘find’ the beginning at the ‘right’ place. It also means your ending will be much stronger and dramatically satisfying. MORE HERE.

How do I plot a television pilot episode?

Television pilots traditionally have a ‘story of the week’ and a ‘serial element’. This seems to be changing now Netflix and Amazon has created the ‘binge-watching’ culture, but this can still be a valuable place to start in terms of thinking about plotting. CHECK THIS POST OUT for more on this.

By the way … B2W believes you can plot ANY story ‘the same’ … it’s just some mediums need more ‘story strands’ to them. I go into detail about this works and what we can learn from produced TV episodes, HERE. You may also like the B2W free online mini course which covers structure – ENROLL HERE.

How do I plot a sitcom episode?

This depends. If you want to write a traditional sitcom like The Simpsons, you probably have two ‘story strands’ or A & B story. I break down two episodes of The Simpsons and how this works in THIS POST.

However, modern sitcoms usually have three ‘story strands’ – an A, B, C story. Friends popularised this method of plotting and we see it very frequently now. For a breakdown of the Friends pilot to show how this works, CLICK HERE. You can also see a breakdown of an episode of another sitcom Brooklyn 99, HERE.

How do I write visually?

As a screenwriter, writing visually is about investing in your scene description and understanding it’s about scene action. CLICK HERE to find out why.

Screenwriters also need to understand scripts and scenes need to open well too. CLICK HERE for a case study, with pictures, on how to do that. CLICK HERE for cheesy openers to avoid.

Novelists too can benefit from learning these screenwriting tricks writing visually, ie. ‘show, don’t tell’. For handy infographics explaining ALL of these writing adages, check them out HERE.

Got any tips on how to write great dialogue?

Yup, loads. Start HERE.

I am writing a biopic or true story. Any advice?

Yes. First off, EMOTIONAL TRUTH is more important than literal truth. You will have to sacrifice facts for drama.
Here’s 5 top mistakes writers make with true stories. Avoid these issues and you should be fine!

Also, here’s 5 Times it’s okay to sacrifice facts for drama. Good luck!

How do I use feedback effectively?

Weigh up, don’t knee-jerk. If multiple people say the same, then you probably have an issue. Always remember it is YOUR story, no one else’s. Never take it personally, even when the person giving the feedback is a dick. It’s their problem, not yours. Here’s 6 Things To Remember When Dealing With Writing Feedback.

For more writing help, VISIT THE B2W FAQS PAGE

Grab Your Free Online Course

I am offering Bang2writers a free mini course called The Foundations of Writing Craft. Using video, worksheets and PDF guides, I walk you through what I call ‘The B2W Holy Trinity’ … Concept, Characters and Structure.

So, if you want proven methodologies for working on your writing craft (including developing your structural toolbox), this course will provide the know-how and the resources you need. To grab your free mini course from B2W then, CLICK HERE.

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