This is the thing about flashbacks … Most flashbacks in the spec screenplay pile are DULL at best; DISJOINTED at worst. In fact, it’s incredibly unusual to find a non linear script in the pile that makes sense. Supersadface. Similarly, though time can obviously be more malleable in a novel, unpublished novelists can still end up tying themselves – and the reader! – up in knots over where we ‘are’ in the timeline. But why is this? Well, it’s actually very simple: Flashbacks are primarily a PLOT device. This means they should relate primarily to how the story works, from… Read More »NEWSFLASH: This Is Why Your Flashbacks Suck
Good Writers CAN and DO Screw Up, Too Good writers are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they do everything perfectly. B2W is known as a blog that recognises it’s probably easier to figure out what NOT to do as a writer … So it’s no accident my ‘Top 5 Mistakes’ series is so popular! From craft issues and loglines, through to female characters, research and more, I’ve been trying to outline the numerous ways we COULD trip up. Here’s the top 5 story mistakes even GOOD writers make … Recognise any of these?? GOGOGO: 1) Not planning or outlining beforehand Look,… Read More »Top 5 Story Mistakes Even Good Writers Make
One of the most searched-for terms on this blog is, ‘What is the difference between Horror and Thriller?’ (Or, ‘What is the difference between Thriller And Horror’)! This isn’t surprising, because as anyone who’s heard or read pitches knows, many spec screenwriters will specify ‘Horror/Thriller’ as their genre. But repeat after me, Bang2writers: THIS IS A VERY BAD IDEA. Here’s Why Of course mixed genre pieces exist, but they are the exceptions, NOT the rule. Put simply, if a writer says their screenplay is a ‘Horror/Thriller’, 9/10 they are mistaken. This means the literary agent, producer, filmmaker or script editor… Read More »What Is The Difference Between Horror And Thriller?
Scary Structure Structure freaks so many writers out … It can be enough to strike fear into the heart of ANY spec screenwriter or unpublished novelist. But I actually think getting to grips with this is THE KEY to not only being a ‘good’ writer, but a SUCCESSFUL one! Whilst some structure methods like Blake Snyder’s ‘Save The Cat’ may seem formulaic, it’s important to note structure is NOT a formula. (Also, don’t forget Snyder never meant ‘Save The Cat’ to become the checklist it has, especially in some Hollywood circles). Structure = Beginning – Middle – End Stories are… Read More »5 Visual Representations of Storytelling Structure
All About Act 3 So today we’re talking about Act 3, courtesy of Bang2writer Craig Howells, who left this question in the B2W Facebook group: I’m really interested in the anatomy of Act 3. What are the Dos & Don’ts? I know you need to pay off, and I’ve got my own ideas (which I’m still working on) but I’d love to know your take on it. I’m not a structure purist. As far as I’m concerned, all stories *just* need a beginning, middle and end (and not necessarily in that order, either!). On this basis then, The Three Acts makes… Read More »Structure Spotlight: 3 Things To Remember For Act 3
Thriller Vs. Horror Thriller and Horror … They’re practically the same genre, right? NOPE. Not by a long shot. Whilst they may share certain characteristics, Thriller and Horror are two definitive genres and this post will attempt to explain why in more detail. It’s A ‘Thriller / Horror’ Though I touch on this issue in my book, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, I think it’s worthwhile to go into more detail on this element. I see LOTS of spec screenplays that call themselves “Thriller / Horrors” and this is nearly always a mistake. Not only does it wind up the… Read More »What’s The Difference Between Thriller And Horror?
The other day, someone asked me what my favourite film is and I immediately replied, “The Princess Bride!” I work in a cinema so this isn’t an unusual question to be asked but it did get me thinking about why The Princess Bride is my favourite film, and what I, as a writer, can learn from it. 1. “As You Wish.” At heart, the plot is a simple love story between Buttercup and Westley. Their love is established within two scenes before Westley leaves, and the rest of the film shows the couple trying to overcome various obstacles so they… Read More »Inconceivable! 14 Reasons To Love THE PRINCESS BRIDE
Everywhere we look, screenwriters are advised to make their ten pages absolutely rock. And this is good advice, since if you write a “good” ten pages, chances are your draft will get a full read at that agent’s, prodco, initiative or contest. Knowing what “good” means in terms of the first ten pages is half the battle … So here are my thoughts on how to judge your own work from a script reader’s POV: 1. WHO are the characters? Whether TV script or feature, by page 10, we need to know who the main characters are – and by “main… Read More »10 Questions For Your First Ten Pages
That’s right: LEGALLY BLONDE Yes, the one with Reese Witherspoon in – and that itty bitty dog. And the legal stuff. Duh. Dispel your prejudices at the door Mofos, because I put it to you: whilst candy sweet and pink on the outside, LEGALLY BLONDE is like ROCK on the inside. So … kinda like seaside rock, whaddyaknow?? But as you DO know, the average spec screenplay comes nowhere near ROCK on the characterisation or storytelling stakes. Instead, more often than not, the most a reader like me can hope for is something well … more FLACCID: OH COME ON!!… Read More »3 Reasons Why LEGALLY BLONDE Is Like, The Best Characterisation Totally, Ever
Romantic Comedies Rock So, you want to write a romantic comedy … You’ve grabbed your pen or your laptop, and you’ve decided that it’s time to finally write. If only it were that simple! Not just anyone can sit down and spew out something funny, compelling and believable. At the very least, you need to keep some things in mind. Read on to find out more to find out what you need to make YOURS work … 1) Something Fresh One of the problems with romantic comedies these days is that they all seem to be exactly the same. Therefore,… Read More »5 Important Elements of Writing a Romantic Comedy
Had a couple of Bang2writers ask me this week about script length, with their query basically being: “Is it **REALLY** one page = one minute in spec scripts?” Yes. It is. Except… … I get this question LOADS and this is usually because of one of two things: 1) The scribe in question has seen a produced TV script online with its own format – ie. Hollyoaks is often in the region of 50-55 pages, whereas the episodes themselves are approximately 23 minutes long. or 2) The Bang2writer wants to write a dialogue-heavy “rapid fire” script, like The West Wing… Read More »More on Length (…dirty minds, the lot of you)
There are many reasons writers don’t get ahead. Sometimes it’s because their script or story is duff in some way (story clarity, character and/or structure are the favourites); other times it’s because they can’t actually write. Sometimes writers just can’t seem to catch a break (even when they deserve one); other writers refuse to network or do it badly and miss the boat. At the other final end of the scale, it’s even more simple: said writer is an arsehole and no one wants to work with him/her. That list seems pretty all-encompassing, right? As long as you try and… Read More »The Final Hundred Metres