Archive | Tone

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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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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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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What is “High Concept”?

“High concept” is an expression within the entertainment industry that basically boils down to meaning ‘highly commercial.’ But what does it really mean? “High concept” indicates a few things: 1. A universal concept, whereupon every person hearing the idea will have a specific common point of reference. Successful universal concepts can be based on tropes, […]

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Political Thrillers & Sci-Fi: Track the World

It is a common mistake for political thrillers and sci-fi screenplays to dump too many characters in the openings. This gets very confusing quickly. As a reader, I always feel the strongest choice is to introduce the protagonist alone, so that he/she stands out and is clearly identified in the mind of the reader. Once […]

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