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Is “Good” Characterisation Really About Change?

Characters SHOULD change? At first glance, it would seem the answer to this question about character change is obvious. It’s oft said so-called “good” characterisation is about change by writing Gurus, script readers, editors and educators. It’s said that a character – usually the protagonist – must make a personal realisation or change something physical (or indeed, both), whilst DOING something else (usually the situation apparent). What’s more, the notion of  “arc” and “character development” is drummed  into writers of ALL descriptions, but especially screenwriters. Since the advent of transmedia and convergence of all the mediums then, it makes sense that novelists… Read More »Is “Good” Characterisation Really About Change?

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What’s The Difference Between Thriller And Horror?

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?

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Inconceivable! 14 Reasons To Love THE PRINCESS BRIDE

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

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4 Reasons Your Concept Counts Above All Else

Your Concept Counts NEWSFLASH: your concept counts above all else! Here’s why … I see a lot of spec screenplays and novels with concepts that “misfire”. There can be hundreds of reasons for these misfires, but generally speaking ends up one of these … Ready? Let’s go! i) There’s more than one story going on This is a particular problem for spec screenplays, especially features, but it can adversely affect TV pilots and novels too. You see, even if you DO have various different story strands going on, they should generally relate back to that single central concept *in some… Read More »4 Reasons Your Concept Counts Above All Else

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7 Reasons Why Studying Screenwriting Can Make You A Better Novelist

In this game, it’s a given the script development model is king. Start with a logline and a pitch then develop them into a short form outline with character biographies. Then, work up a longer scene-by-scene outline that you might want to call a treatment – or you might not depending on which screenwriting books you read – and then, hey presto, you “go to script” – and there it is, a first draft screenplay. It’s like growing a plant and once it’s grown, you water it with rewrites. Or maybe you prefer the architect’s plans metaphor? Regardless, the script… Read More »7 Reasons Why Studying Screenwriting Can Make You A Better Novelist

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5 Ways To Beat Exposition

Let’s look at five ways you can sucker punch static exposition by using your information more effectively. Or: 5 WAYS TO REARRANGE INFORMATION TO MAKE THINGS HARDER FOR YOUR CHARACTERS AND MORE INTERESTING FOR US. 1) CONSIDER FOR WHOM IT IS HARD? WHO IS IMPACTED THE MOST? If information is essential to a story, then it must impact someone. Figure out who that is and see if it can filter through that character. I always bring up the example of a crime scene where two cops are dispassionately discussing the murder. Snoresville, right?  But who is it hard for? What… Read More »5 Ways To Beat Exposition

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What’s The Difference Between A Prologue & A Teaser?

Prologues and Teasers play a very big part in the spec screenplay pile – but all too often, scribes aren’t too sure of the difference. Here are my thoughts: Very **Generally** speaking: i) Movies will have prologues: think the arrival of the (unseen) velociraptor at JURASSIC PARK; the crash in PITCH BLACK; the shooting in THE SIXTH SENSE or the Barracuda attack in FINDING NEMO. These moments act as a catalyst for the characters to become embroiled in the story, but also an introduction to the characters and/or story world for the audience. (This latter point is especially important for… Read More »What’s The Difference Between A Prologue & A Teaser?

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8 Ways To Jump Start Your Novel’s Description

All About Novel Description The quality of your novel’s description can make or break your book. Novel description is one of the most important elements to be judged when you send it to an agent or publisher (or direct with a reader if you’re self publishing). Yes, yes we all *know* this … Yet STILL all too often writers do not invest in their novel description adequately. As a result authors drop a multitude of description clangers. This serves only to dissuade agents, publishers or readers from engaging with the story in front of them. So what to do? Don’t… Read More »8 Ways To Jump Start Your Novel’s Description

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3 Reasons Why LEGALLY BLONDE Is Like, The Best Characterisation Totally, Ever

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

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Top 5 Ways Writers Screw Up Their Characters

Don’t Screw Up Your Characters Characters are the lifeblood of any great story, so we don’t want to screw up on this … BUT writers frequently do. There are multiple, multiple ways to screw up on characterisation, but here are the typical ways … Characters are ‘tropey’, ie. derivative of existing characters, so boring They are stereotypes or recycle toxic myths and ideas The characters feel inauthentic Readers feel they can’t invest in the character’s journey for a specific craft reason (as opposed to personal reason) So if we don’t want to screw up, we need to keep the above… Read More »Top 5 Ways Writers Screw Up Their Characters

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5 Important Elements of Writing a Romantic Comedy

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

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3 Reasons Why “Show, Don’t Tell It” Is Bad Writing Advice

“Show it, don’t tell it” is probably the most frequently quoted screenwriting advice (though you’ll hear it for novels and short stories too). And at its heart, yes it’s good stuff: OF COURSE we want to “show” our viewers and readers things; OF COURSE we don’t want to be “on the nose”, but use subtext instead; and OF COURSE we want to be thought of as “good” writers. Durr. But on surface level, “Show it, don’t tell it” is NOT good advice, especially for those writers struggling. Here’s 3 reasons why: 1. … The phrase has become redundant and/or unhelpful.  Anyone… Read More »3 Reasons Why “Show, Don’t Tell It” Is Bad Writing Advice

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