Archive | Character

John Carter’s Massive Bomb and Screenwriting Beats – Part 3

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of this post. Let’s more carefully investigate exactly why John Carter didn’t work. What are the lessons learned from this? Analysis:  Flashback and Voice Over Not to overstate the obvious, but within the opening minutes of this $600mm trainwreck, there are two separate instances of voice […]

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John Carter’s Massive Bomb and Screenwriting Beats – Part 2

Click here to read Part 1 of this post.  Click here to read more about screenwriting beats.  What went so wrong with John Carter? Well, let’s look at the beats. Here’s a basic breakdown of the beats of Act 1.  1. Open on Mars with the space wars going on. Fast and furious voice over […]

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John Carter’s Massive Bomb and Screenwriting Beats – Part 1

If you are unsure what screenwriting beats are or need a quick refresher, please read my article on beats first. Now… The film John Carter was a very expensive, massive bomb in the spring of 2012, almost five years ago now. (Reading online that it was estimated this film would have needed to gross $600mm […]

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WESTWORLD, aka Real Doll’s Big Day Out

Westworld is the new HBO show based on Michael Crichton’s film from 1973. It’s set in a futuristic Western-themed Disneyland where robots are programmed to act out set storylines. The guests participate in these pre-defined scenarios. It’s a bit Groundhog Day (every day is the same), a bit The Searchers. Human visitors come and go […]

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Emotional Density

Many times screenplays are simply dry. They may be cleanly written, even well written to some degree. The plotting can make sense. The characters may even be charming. But they leave me feeling thirsty for more. The experience of the script feels like tissue paper – it just has no density. As a reader, I […]

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Okay, Fine… But What’s Your Story About, Really?

Anyone who knows me well can probably tell you that sometimes I can be wholly oblivious to the most obvious points but pick up on subtleties the average person wouldn’t even think to look for. This is an interesting character juxtaposition and probably what makes me a writer before anything else. Documenting and chronicling the […]

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Screenwriters Are Storytellers First

A professional screenwriter said to me recently, “If someone reads my script and says, ‘Man, I really loved the writing,’ I want to punch them in the face. What I want them to say is, ‘I really loved your story.’ There’s a big difference.” He explained that the difference is that we’re primarily storytellers – […]

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The Season of Weird, Chatty Dramedies

I can’t say I totally understand it but this year was definitely the reading season for the Weird, Chatty Dramedy. I’d estimate that approximately 20% of the scripts I read this year involved an ensemble of types sitting around, chatting about various personal issues that were of absolutely no interest to me. Many of these […]

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Dunne: The story is the journey for truth. The plot is the road it takes to get there.

I’ve just started reading Peter Dunne’s “Emotional Structure: Creating the Story Beneath the Plot” and it’s giving me a lot to think about. Dunne writes in Know Your Story, Know Your Plot, Know the Difference: When we think about great stories, about great movies, we remember first and foremost about whom the story is told. […]

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Biopic: A Character’s Journey

I’ve been reading a number of biopics based on very famous historical personages. They are flat and dry, like cardboard. The feeling I have reading them is that they take a marionette of a historical figure and dance them through the major events of their life. I start off with little or no understanding of […]

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Descriptors: Be Precise

Don’t forget when you’re writing to use precise descriptors that evoke something very clear in the mind of the reader. Even in screenwriting, the quality of prose to some degree either engages or repels the reader and thus the experience of your screenplay. Try to avoid descriptors that are ambiguous, contradictory or confusing, because the […]

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