a character has a desire, the story ‘walks’ on two ‘legs’: acting and learning.
A character pursuing a desire takes actions to get what he wants, and he learns
new information about better ways to get it. Whenever he learns new
information, he makes a decision, and changes his course of action.”
good premise is crucial to your success
you choose to write about is far more important than any decision you make
about how to write it.
plot, theme, symbol—it all comes out of this story idea. If you fail at the
premise, nothing else will help. Nine out of ten writers fail at the premise.”
Star Wars: When a princess falls into mortal danger, a young man uses his
skills as a fighter to save her and defeat the evil forces of a galactic
1: Write something that may change your life
2: Look for what’s possible
3: Identify the story challenges and problems
4: Find the designing principle (what organizes the story as a whole)
5: Determine your best character in the idea
6: Get a sense of the central conflict
7: Get a sense of the single cause-and-effect pathway
8: Determine your hero’s possible character change.
9: Figure out the hero’s possible moral choice.
10: Gauge the audience appeal.”
of the hero and other characters as connected individuals
begin by focusing on all your characters together as a part of an
interconnected web. Next we’ll individualize each character based on theme and
opposition. Then we’ll concentrate on the hero, building him step-by-step. We’ll
create the opponent in detail, and we’ll end by working through the character
techniques for building conflict over the course of the story.”
creative ads are more predictable than uncreative ones. It’s like Tolstoy’s
quote: ‘All happy families resemble each other, but each unhappy family is
unhappy in its own way.’ All creative ads resemble one another, but each loser
is uncreative in its own way.”
if creative ads consistently make use of the same basic set of templates,
perhaps ‘creativity’ can be taught. Perhaps even novices—with no creative
experience—could produce better ideas if they understood the templates.”
rescues people from the quicksand of decision angst, and that’s why finding the
core is so valuable. The people who listen to us will be constantly making
decisions in an environtment of uncertainty. They will suffer anxiety from the
need to choose –even when the choice is between two good options.
messages help people avoid bad choices by reminding them of what’s important.”
The ‘Gap Theory’ of curiosity
1994, George Loewenstein, a behavioral economist at CarnegieMellonUniversity, provided the
most comprehensive account of situational interest. It is surprisingly simple.
Curiosity, he says, happens when we feel a gap in our knowledge.
argues that gaps cause pain. When we want to know something but don’t, it’s
like having an itch that we need to scratch. To take away the pain, we need to
fill the knowledge gap. We sit patiently through bad movies, even though they
may be painful to watch, because it’s too painful not to know how they end.
‘gap theory’ of interest seems to explain why some domains create fanatical
interest: They naturally create knowledge gaps.”
makes targets transparent. Even experts need transparency.
a software start-up whose goal is to build ‘the next great search engine.’
Within the start-up are two programmers with nearly identical knowledge,
working in neighboring cubes. To one ‘the next great search engine’ means
completeness, ensuring that the search engine returns everything on the Web that
might be relevant, no matter how obscure. To the other it means speed, ensuring
pretty good results very fast. Their efforts will not be fully aligned until
the goal is made concrete.”
Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Needoffers insights to write screenplays
but also novels. Blake Snyder founds basic to put the ‘Save the Cat’ scene into
movies. It’s the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something—like
saving a cat—that defines who he is and makes us, the audience, like him.
about a guy who…
perfect hero is the one who offers the most conflict in the situation, has the
longest emotional journey, and has a primal goal we can all root for. Survival,
hunger, sex, protection of loved ones, and fear of death grab us.
committing these discoveries to your logline, you must have an adjective to
describe the hero, an adjective to describe the bad guy, and a definite and
primal goal or setting.”
first 10 pages
first 10 pages of the script, or first dozen pages at most, is called ‘the
set-up.’ If you are like me, and like most readers in Hollywood, this is the make-or-break section
where you have to grab me or risk losing my interest.
set-up is also the place where , if you’re me, the writer, I make sure I’ve
introduced or hinted at introducing every character in the A story.
first 10 pages is also where we start to plant every character tic, exhibit
every behavior that needs to be addressed later on, and show how and why the
hero will need to change in order to win.”
immutable laws of screenplay physics: Risking the reader’s attention with so
‘Along came Polly,’ we find the same problem.
In order to get to risk-averse divorcee Ben Stiller falling in love with
crazy girl Jennifer Anniston, the writer has also a lot of pipe to lay. We have
to see Ben marry his first wife, follow them on their honeymoon, and watch a
Ben catches her in the arms of the scuba instructor.
it’s funny. And we’ll put up with a lot when it comes to any movie than Ben is
in. We love Mr. S! But the screenwriter and director (same guy—the funny and
talented John Hamburg) risks our attention by laying a ton of story points to
get to the reason we came to see this movie: Ben Stiller dating Jennifer
how are you? I’m fine
Cheda showed me this simple Bad Dialogue Test: Take a page of your script and
cover up the names of the people speaking. Now read the repartee as it goes
back and forth between two or more characters. Can you tell who is speaking
without seeing the name above the dialogue?
a good script, every character must speak differently. Every character must
have a unique way of saying even the most mundane ‘Hi, how are you? I’m fine’
kind of chat.”