How to Create a Compelling Protagonist

April 25th, 2016 by

In almost every movie, the most critical character is the Protagonist.

* Typically the story is told through their perspective.
* Their goal usually dictates the end point of the plot.
* All the other primary characters are somehow linked to the Protagonist.
* Normally they go through the most significant metamorphosis.
* And the Protagonist acts as the main conduit into the story for a script reader and moviegoer.

So guess what? You need to create a Protagonist that grabs a reader’s attention and keeps it for 100+ pages.

How to do that?

That’s what we will be exploring in my upcoming 1-week online class “Create a Compelling Protagonist”.

Go beyond writing a ‘sympathetic’ Protagonist. Dig deeper than giving your Protagonist a ‘flaw.’ That is surface level writing. In this class, you will learn an approach that will help you immerse yourself into this key character, and craft a Protagonist worth writing… and reading.

This class not only explores proven ways to help you create a compelling character, it also lays out an approach you can use as the groundwork for developing the rest of your story.

Seven lectures, 24/7 forum feedback, insider tips, 90-minute teleconference, and the opportunity to workshop your story’s Protagonist [or Protagonists].

Plus if you’re a fan of the movies Bridesmaids, The Social Network and Up, we’ll be using those as our study scripts. They offer a diverse set of Protagonists and yet the approach we will study next week shows how a writer can craft such compelling and different lead characters.

It all starts Monday, May 2. You can learn more and sign up here.

Here are some observations from writers who have taken the class with me:

“One week of Creating a Compelling Protagonist challenged me in ways I couldn’t challenge myself. If you want to develop your ideas, this is a rare opportunity at great value. Thank you, Scott!” – Brianna Garber

“I’ve taken a ton of classes, both inside and outside film school, and this was one of the best. The material provided a ton of inventive ways to approach the development of a solid, three-dimensional protagonist, and helped me dig deeper into the character’s internal world — forcing me to reject easy solutions, the first ideas that came to mind.” – Jason Young

“Scott generously offers up his knowledge, insight, time and resources, so that in just one week a fully formed character can begin to lead you into your story.” – Ellen Musikant

“A class that is perfect for anyone looking to learn the primary character archetypes, their psychology, and how they relate to the protagonist. The lectures provide thorough examples of these character archetypes in modern and classic movies, and the online forums were a hotspot to ask questions about the material or anything related to screenwriting. Scott’s style of teaching is highly accessible to anyone, as he creates an environment of easy, open discussion on the subject of character and welcomes any other questions you may have along the way.” – Kristen Vincent, sold spec script “Fetch” in 2013.

This 1-week Craft course is coupled with another class: Write A Worthy Nemesis. That begins Monday, May 2. For information on that session, go here.

This is the only time I will be offering these Craft classes in 2016, so take this opportunity and sign up now!

Reader Question: Is it advisable to ‘star-cast’ the script I’m writing?

April 21st, 2016 by

Karley, this is a practice commonly known as “star casting” and as with almost all aspects of the craft, there’s no right or wrong answer, except for one instance: It’s generally accepted to be a faux pas when a writer does something like this in a script:

A sassy, brassy blonde in her mid-30s (think Amy Schumer)…

Now in fact, I seem to recall reading a handful of scripts by industry professionals who have done this, but I don’t recommend it for one big reason: The chances of your script landing Amy Schumer to star are slim to none. Maybe worse, as soon as a reader reads the description, they can be immediately pulled out of your story, their minds (A) drifting to the most recent clip from Amy Schumer’s TV series, (B) wondering how much money Schumer gets for a movie, (C) hoping they can score tickets to Schumer’s upcoming comedy tour, etc.

But if you are simply imagining an actor playing a role you’re writing, I know lots of writers who do that. It often comes up in interviews I conduct when I ask this question: How do you go about hearing a character’s dialogue? I’ve had several writers mention they pick an actor to hear their voice to help them find the character’s voice.

I knew one writer who got head shots of a bunch of actors and tacked them up on his wall to use as inspiration for the characters he ‘cast’ them as.

So if imagining an actor as a character in your story helps you zero in on who they are and how they sound when they talk, what’s the downside? As long as you don’t drop in a line of scene description — “Think Chris Pratt” or “Think Jennifer Lawrence”.

That can distract a reader and make you come across as an amateur.

For kicks, check out this script page, created as a joke several years ago by screenwriter Jerry Rapp. Note all the star-casting, an example of really coming off as a non-pro.

Readers, have any thoughts on the matter? Click Reply and head to comments.

Tom Benedek (Guest Post): Create, No Expectations, Build Community!

April 18th, 2016 by

A guest post from screenwriter Tom Benedek (Cocoon) and co-founder of Screenwriting Master Class:

I heard about a proven formula” for happiness in a Yoga class… create, don’t have expectations, build community. The teacher said it was discovered through research done in the most contented, fulfilled community in the world.

It’s an alluring formula. For life. And for writing scripts.

Doing the creative work, forging the path of your vision on the page — you know what that is about.

Getting the outline, the script pages done, fully imagining your story in film form is an amazingly positive action.

Not having expectations doesn’t mean you can’t aspire or dream large. I suggest even writing down that dream result — how you want the movie or show you are writing to be shown. Lives changed. The festival reaction. The theaters it will play in. The career elevation. A dream is not an expectation.

Create because you must and those dreams may come true.

Taking it one step further, here’s my personal TO DO list:

• Aspire

• Seize my purpose

• Believe

• Create

• Don’t have expectations

• Build Community

• Do it again

And let the good things follow.

THE SITUATIONS MY CHARACTERS ARE IN…

Working on characters, we may recognize them in our heads and then not find the way immediately to frame them simply on the page so they resonate. Thinking of their angle of entry into the story can be a helpful tool. To ask — what is their situation right now? What are they dealing with in work, love, friendships, family. Life is complicated. So what are their complications, their contradictions. The big ones may be obvious. That’s the story. But it’s those little ones — the emotional itches they can’t scratch. The lifelong frustrations or concealed aspirations. Those things shape characters and help nuance story and plot. The personal details offer possibilities for subplot. I am starting a rewrite of an original I wrote last year. My next move is spend an hour a day sitting with my characters — envisioning them in detail, imagining the stuff they are struggling with on all fronts as the story unfolds. Right now, I know them well. But there are still too many things I don’t know about them. To understand them, I want to see a forced perspective of their minds — the big things drawn to scale from their brains — in the now of the opening pages.

I have 2 classes starting this week online at Screenwritingmasterclass.com

First Draft: Introduction to Screenwriting. It’s a 10 week idea to first draft workshop.

SPECIAL BONUSES THIS SESSION:

• You get the one week TV class free if you sign up for this First Draft workshop. Either next week or the Summer session.

• I am working on a video lecture version of the First Draft class and am looking for notes, suggestions on the current course. I will give a $100 discount to class members who give me thorough feedback. I will be adding some bonus study material to this workshop as well.

CRAFT TV: Writing the Original Pilot.

Tom is one of the most well-respected and long-standing members of the Hollywood screenwriting community. He knows what he’s talking about because he’s been there, having worked with some of the most important producers and directors in the business. And as good a writer as he is, he’s as equally as talented as a teacher.

So if you’re interested in writing movies or TV, here’s a great opportunity to work with Tom, and get a serious upgrade in your knowledge and understanding of the craft.

Full Scholarship to Spain Writers Retreat!

April 17th, 2016 by

Last December, I posted this:

I get hit up for all sorts of endorsements, almost all of which I turn down. But one came my way recently which resonated with me. Claire Elizabeth Terry reached out via email with an interesting pitch:

The reason I’m writing now is that I’m also organizing a writers’ retreat in a castle near to Barcelona, Spain, next year.  It’s essentially about ‘Making the impossible happen’ – for those writers who have written or are thinking about writing a novel, and would like to have it made into a film/turn it into a screenplay themselves.

Claire knows of what she speaks. She had her first novel “I Draw Roses” published in 2013, then adapted it into a screenplay which is set to go into production in 2016 produced by Delacheroy Films in London and Life & Pictures in Spain.

Having been a complete outsider to the movie business when I sold a spec script in 1987, I have always been sensitive to the unique concerns of writers with no connections to the film and TV industry. So I was interested in this particular writers retreat.

I heard from Claire about the inaugural event which evidently was a rousing success:

We had a fantastic group of people (mentees as well as mentors – by the end of the retreat, we were threatening to barricade ourselves in the castle, as no-one wanted to go) which contributed enormously to its success. As well, as of course, the castle, which is amazing!

Rocaberti lunch- Georgia's picture

Mentors and writers at the 1st Rocaberti Writers Retreat

The wonderful thing is, that in addition to the mentors giving 1,000 per cent of themselves during the retreat, they’ve all stayed in contact with their mentees afterwards and are continuing to nurture their projects. I am honesty amazed (and humbled) at how incredibly kind and generous some people are.

Here is a testimonial from Georgia Clarke who was the Go Into The Story scholarship recipient for the 1st retreat:

“I was honored to be awarded the scholarship for the inaugural Rocaberti Writers Retreat. My mentor Juliet Blake was simply fabulous: experienced, generous, warm, funny and insightful. We made great headway on helping turn my new adult fiction THE REGULARS into a feature film. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, and all in Spain!”

In follow-up communications, Claire wrote that a number of the writers who participated in the retreat are in discussions with producers negotiating options on their material. Based on the success of the first event, there will be another one. Here are some details:

When and where:

October 7th -12th, 2016
Rocaberti Castle, Figueres
(75 miles from Barcelona, Spain)

Rocaberti Castle 1+

Rocaberti Castle

Novelist, travel writer and screenwriter Claire Elizabeth Terry, whose original screenplay, 4 Roses, is being filmed this year, is your Rocaberti Retreat host and moderator.

The mentors are to be confirmed, but will either be the same as at the first retreat — you can check out who they were for the inaugural event here — or of a similar caliber. .

Note: This is primarily a mentoring and networking event, not a quiet, introspective writing retreat. In addition to social events, there are 3 hours of small-group mentoring sessions daily to allow time to focus on each of the individual writers’ projects.

Rocaberti Castle Salon

Salon, Rocaberti Castle

We’ve joined forces because we want to help show you how to bring your “literary twins”—your book and screenplay—to life! Not only how to finish writing them (an art in itself, as anyone who has an unfinished manuscript or screenplay lying around their home will tell you!) but also how to have them successfully published … and made into a movie!

You’ll be part of a small and exclusive group of a maximum of 16 writers at the retreat. Through focused, practical presentations in the mornings, afternoon mentoring sessions, evening social events—and with a presenter/writer ratio of approximately 1:4—you’ll learn how to tell your story on the page and on the screen, and be one step closer to seeing your dream come to life!

Rocaberti Castle Bedroom

Bedroom, Rocaberti Castle

Whether you’ve written a book, are working on a screenplay—or are just thinking about it!—wherever you are in the process, we’re here to help you move forward and show you that dreams can become reality!

This retreat is for you if…

  • You’re working on a book/screenplay combination or have an idea for one.
  • You have a book and want to turn it into a screenplay or vice-versa—or sell it directly to Hollywood.
  • You’re unsure how to get your book/screenplay in front of agents and producers.
  • You’re serious about completing your project and making your dream come true!

Just so you know, I don’t get anything out of this. But some lucky GITS reader does! From Claire:

The cost is high ($4,995; $4,445 with the ‘Early-Bird Discount’), because of high overheads and the small number of participants – although it does include the accommodation, all the tuition, small mentoring groups with the presenter of their choice, all meals and drinks and round-trip transfers between Barcelona airport and the castle – and so, knowing only too well(!) what it’s like to be broke and struggling to get your writing out there, I’d like to offer a full scholarship to one ‘Go Into the Story’ reader (it would include all the above; they would just need to cover the cost of their airfare)

Expensive, I know, but not unlike other high end destination writing retreats I’ve seen. And the full scholarship offer is something I simply couldn’t turn down for some fortunate writer out there. Also they will be offering partial scholarships to six runners-up. How to apply:

For those who would like to apply for the scholarship, it’s not a writing competition, but I would just ask that they write a one-page letter, please, via the contact form on the website (on the registration page) with the log-line and synopsis of their project, explaining how they think they would benefit from the retreat and why they believe they are deserving of the scholarship. (Especial consideration will be given towards single-parents!)

Again to be clear: I am in no way affiliated with this retreat. I have no financial or business connection to it. My thing is I’m always looking for new avenues for writers outside the system to break in. Since that is a focus of this retreat, it piques my interest. Of course, the scholarship offer for a Go Into The Story reader is an obvious plus. And there’s this: Spain!

Rocaberti Castle 2

For more information, go here. And if you do wish to apply for the scholarship, indicate on your letter you are a Go Into The Story follower and that’s how you found out about the retreat.

Scroll down the registration page to the “If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask below” box, post your letter, synopsis and log-line within the box, not as attachments.

DEADLINE FOR ENTRY: MIDNIGHT (PACIFIC / U.S.), SATURDAY, APRIL 30!

Good luck!

Twitter Rant: Geoff LaTulippe on Avoiding Red Flags in Screenplays

April 15th, 2016 by

The other day screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe (Going the Distance) did a lengthy Twitter ‘rant’ in which provided advice to writers on how to avoid red flags in screenplays. Reprinted here by permission:

And it’s not even a rant – it’s more advice and a way of thinking about how you present yourself as a writer. Sound good? Let’s go.

Seen a similar batch of questions popping up lately – “Do I need screenwriting software? I thought you only had to write a great script!”

Obviously, there are a ton of variants to this question that all ask the same thing – if story is all that matters, why worry about format?

Why worry about “rules” when there are no rules? Just write the best script you can and the rest will take care of itself, right?

I’m as guilty of glossing over the details here as anyone – most often because aspiring/novice writers read books and develop bad habits.

So I end up having to yell, “Stop worrying about the rules and just write the best story you can!” Which I totally mean, BTW.

But too often I forget that this needs clarification, as it’s both that simple and not that simple at all. So let’s dig into it for a bit.

First of all, when we talk about the “rules” that you shouldn’t feel beholden, we’re talking conceptually, thematically and structurally.

So let’s set those aside, since I’ve whinged on about those more than enough for twelve lifetimes.

The rules you want to follow are come before that – the ones that help determine, nine times out of ten, if you’re taken seriously.

Actors, directors, producers, agents, managers and readers alike read a TON of scripts. They have to. It’s in their best interests.

And when you read as many scripts as they do as your vocation, you get good at it. And very quickly, you notice patterns. Good and bad.

(Actually it’s closer to 99 times out of 100.)

And eight of those ten don’t even go past the first ten or so pages. Why? They know they don’t need to. Seen it all before.

And you may ask, “But why? Isn’t there a chance that it’s still a great script, even considering a bunch of common mistakes?”

Not really.

This is why I was talking about those patterns. These are busy people who don’t like wasting their time. Diagnosing patterns = saved time.

So if your script has three dumb errors in it – errors that can absolutely be avoided – by page ten, the other 90 pages don’t matter.

You might have written the best script since CHINATOWN, and now you’re in the bin with this palate of 99 other dreamers.

Next.

Because if you look like a novice and smell like a novice, you’re almost certainly a novice. And novice scripts are good about never.

So what can you do to make sure you don’t go in the bin BEFORE you get a chance to draw someone into your story?

SO GLAD YOU ASKED.

First and foremost, FORMAT YOUR SCREENPLAY PROPERLY. Always, all the time, without fail, do not pass Go. Don’t even bother starting.

Does that mean you have to plunk down serious cash for Final Draft? No. If you can, I think it’s worth it. But if you can’t? Ya got options.

And I know how unfair and petty that sounds, but this is the lay of the land. This is the game. Play it or get out of the gym altogether.

Because here’s what the industry professional thinks upon receiving your script: “(S)He doesn’t take this seriously. Why should I?”

It’s kind of like if you wanted to work on Wall Street and showed up to a meeting at a bank in your sweatpants. The fuck are you thinking?

So: format correctly. Use a program other industry people use daily (some friends are suggesting Celtx also; I can’t vouch personally).

Second: for God’s sake, BE CONSISTENT. If you have a screenwriting program, a lot of this will be taken care of for you. BUT:

Lots of writers get bogged down in pointless details. Bold slugs or no? Capitalize characters’ names always or just upon introduction?

And this brings us to point 2a: PROOFREAD. And every chance you get, HAVE SOMEONE ELSE PROOFREAD.

In every single script you write there will be ten typos/errors you didn’t catch. You can’t. You’re too close to it. Have someone help.

This is COMPLETELY separate from having someone critique your script, and it always should be. Not remotely the same thing.

Again, one typo? No big deal. Two? You’re testing their patience. Three? Bin. You don’t care enough to get this right. Waste of time.

OK, 3rd – the most subjective and difficult point, but just as important as the other two: you want to make it least APPEAR a pro wrote it.

What does that mean? A lot of things. First and foremost, it needs to engage the reader immediately. You HAVE TO rope them in.

Are there a billion ways to do this. YES. Pick one. Or invent a new one! Again, VAYA CON THE LORD. But it’s imperative.

Saying all of that is in service of this: it’s hard to engage a reader. But it’s agonizingly simple to turn them off.

Bad slugs. Internal character bios in the scene description. Scene description that’s too long. Needless scene description. No white space.

(Novice writers have a shittingly hard time with scene description. You can tell immediately if a script is going to suck. Trust me.)

So again, this is where you have to learn to straddle the line. You need to be fresh and inventive in your story OVERALL.

But as you get started, you just need to make sure you grab them and force them to turn the pages. This is a battle you can’t lose.

Does that mean “just emulate the first ten pages of a successful script”? No. God no. Not at all.

But it absolutely means “understand what makes so many scripts’ first ten pages great and apply the lessons learned to your own writing”.

It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take chances. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be inventive if you’ve got a great opening blast.

It means do not give them ANY reason whatsoever to put your script down – not bad formatting, not inconsistency, not bad writing.

You HAVE to convince them to open your script up. And you HAVE to keep them reading. There is no shortcut, no line jump. It’s elemental.

I hope this little verbal jaunt helped clear up the issue as opposed to clouding it further.

Just remember: when we talk about “no rules” in writing, we’re trying to get you to give yourself permission to write your very best story.

But that doesn’t mean the aren’t guidelines you shouldn’t follow in order to maximize the chances of someone reading it when it’s ready :)

Anyway, back to DOING actual screenwriting now instead of TALKING about it. But I do hope this helped!

Geoff is getting at a kind of nuanced point about rules and no rules.

In terms of the macro, the supposed rules about how a script needs to break into Act Two on Page 25… or you can’t write ‘unfilmables…’ there are no such rules. If you need a reminder on that point, you can go here for my 15 part series on the subject.

And yet, that doesn’t mean we can just be all willy-nilly with our writing in terms of how it’s presented on the page. You can totally turn off a script reader by not giving them a professional quality looking script. This is why it’s absolutely imperative you read tons of scripts, primarily ones written in the last 5-10 years so you’re in the pocket of contemporary styles.

You should follow Geoff on Twitter: @DrGMLaTulippe.

For my May 2014 interview with Geoff, go here.

For all of the Screenwriting Twitter Rants, go here.

Character Archetypes: “Up”

April 15th, 2016 by

Over the years, I’ve analyzed dozens of movies through the lens of five primary character archetypes: Protagonist, Nemesis, Attractor, Mentor, Trickster. This is my theory, that most movies have these five narrative dynamics at work in them:

A character or characters with a conscious goal toward which they are moving forward: Protagonist.

A character or characters who provide an oppositional force: Nemesis.

An ally who is most connected to the Protagonist’s emotional development: Attractor.

An ally who is most connected to the Protagonist’s intellectual development: Mentor.

A character who switches from ally to enemy, enemy to ally, and tests the will of the Protagonist: Trickster.

We see this set of narrative dynamics in movie after movie after movie, enough to suggest there is a pattern at work here. So this week, a series on these five character archetypes in movies.

Today: The 2009 Pixar movie Up, screenplay by Bob Peterson & Peter Docter, story by Pete Docter & Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy, nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

IMDb plot summary: A young Carl Fredrickson meets a young adventure-spirited girl named Ellie. They both dream of going to a lost land in South America. 70 years later, Ellie has died. Carl remembers the promise he made to her. Then, when he inadvertently hits a construction worker, he is forced to go to a retirement home. But before they can take him, he and his house fly away. However, he has a stowaway aboard: an 8-year-old boy named Russell, who’s trying to get an Assisting the Elderly badge. Together, they embark on an adventure, where they encounter talking dogs, an evil villain and a rare bird named Kevin.

Protagonist: Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner)

It’s Carl Frederickson as he hits on all the major P factors:

* The story is told from his perspective. The movie begins with young Carl where we learn about his love of adventure. The story follows Carl as he meets young Ellie, an adventurous soulmate. A montage takes us through their courtship, marriage, and the tragedy of Ellie’s death, all of which impacts Carl deeply. And for the rest of the story, no matter what characters are introduced, the dynamic is almost always based upon each of them in relation to Carl.

* It’s Carl’s goal — to fulfill his promise to Ellie and go to Paradise Valley in South America — that sets the plot into motion and creates the end-point of the movie.

* It’s Carl’s character who goes through the most significant transformation, realizing his goal of bringing Ellie — in the form of his memories of her, her Book of Adventure, and the house itself — to the exact spot atop Paradise Valley by the waterfall — then moving into a new adventure with Russell, Dug, Kevin and the rest. In addition, Carl evolves from disliking Russell to becoming Russell’s surrogate father figure. And Carl’s disposition changes as well — from cantankerous old man, just stringing out the days until he dies, to an upbeat, vital, and ‘alive’ version of himself.

Nemesis: Carl Muntz (Christopher Plummer)

The principal Nemesis figure is Charles Muntz. What’s interesting about Muntz’s character in relation to Carl is that Muntz serves as an inspiration to Carl when he’s a young boy, in some ways the very vision of who Carl imagines himself being and becoming. But Muntz ‘devolves’ into a Nemesis when he becomes obsessed with salvaging his legacy by finding a rare bird in the jungles of Paradise Valley, his fixation moving Muntz away from the initial innocence of exploration for discovery’s sake to the ‘dark side’ of exploration in service to one’s ego. In classic Nemesis fashion, Muntz not only provides opposition to the Protagonist reaching his goal — his efforts to kidnap Kevin, the rare bird who ends up as Russell’s pet and a member of Carl’s troupe, disrupting Carl’s plans — but also demonstrates how Carl could, if he chose, go down his own dark side path: If he insists on achieving the goal not so much to satisfy Ellie’s dream, but rather his own ego-needs to fulfill the promise he made to her.

By the end of the story, it becomes a classic Bad Guy vs. Good Guy battle with death on the line.

It’s interesting to note that after the movie’s opening newsreel sequence which features Muntz, this Nemesis character doesn’t reappear until very far into Act Two. The script does a good job of interweaving other characters who provide an oppositional dynamic to Carl — Russell, a thunderstorm, Kevin, and the ever-present hassle of having to move Carl’s house — until Muntz re-enters the plot.

Finally, Muntz’s dogs, most especially Beta (Delroy Lindo), are part of Muntz’s team and provide a nemesis function.

Attractors: Ellie (Elie Docter) and Russell (Jordan Nagai)

The two characters who are tied most directly to Carl’s emotional self are Ellie (Elie Docter) and Russell (Jordan Nagai). In young Ellie, Carl finds the love of his life and they get married. Indeed, it is the inability of Ellie to have a child and her death that drives home the necessity Carl feels to make her goal — going to Paradise Valley — his goal.

Even though Ellie is dead, she remains very much ‘alive’ to Carl throughout the story in part through a number of talismans which take on her ‘spirit’ — the house itself, the Book of Adventure, her photo, the grape soda pin. And when he finally manages to set the house on the exact spot atop Paradise Valley, as envisioned by Ellie, she magically ‘reappears’ to him through a series of touching photos in the Book of Adventure, ending with her handwritten note, thanking him for fulfilling the promise he made to her (“cross your heart”), then setting Carl ‘free’ with the admonition: “Now go have a new adventure.”

And in deft fashion, the script sets up another Attractor character with which Carl can have that new adventure: Russell. The Carl-Russell relationship has the feel of a classic rom-com dynamic — at first, Carl can’t stand the kid — but by the end of the movie, Russell’s dogged determination and basic goodness causes Carl to warm up to the boy. But symbolically, Carl’s biggest point of connection with Russell is that he is the embodiment of Ellie’s adventurous spirit. That’s what Carl gets from Russell. What Russell gets from Carl is a ‘father,’ someone who does show up for his merit badge ceremony, who does sit on the curb outside his favorite ice cream parlor counting red and blue cars, just like his absentee father used to do.

So the Attractor function is passed like a baton — starting with Ellie and her dream of going to Paradise Valley, and once that dream is realized, to Russell, as Carl’s goal shifts to embrace Russell’s goal: Save Kevin and reunite the bird with her babies.

One final thought re the Attractor: The house itself is an extension of the Ellie-Carl dynamic, so it’s interesting to note that after Ellie relieves Carl of the obligation to realize their shared dream, Carl becomes ‘free’ of the house as well. Of course, it’s a beautiful and fitting touch that the house ends up atop Paradise Valley, back on the spot where Ellie dreamed for all those years.

Mentor: Dug (Bob Peterson)

In my view, the Mentor is Dug, voiced by the movie’s screenwriter Bob Peterson. This may cause some head-scratching, but consider this. First, Dug is the character who has the most insight and understanding of the jungle, Muntz, and Muntz’s other dogs — and with this ‘wisdom’ fulfills at least one function of the Mentor character. Also Dug plays a pivotal role in assisting Carl in the Final Struggle, another role often played by the Mentor. But I think the most important mentoring Dug does is by providing a symbolic conduit for Carl to see Russell with ‘new’ eyes. For just as Dug is loyal, trustworthy, and dogged in his pursuit of that which is good, so is Russell. Indeed, the identification — as far as Carl is concerned — between Dug and Russell is such that they share an exact same beat: The house rises into the air, Carl settles into a chair, then a knock at the door. First time, it’s Russell; later, it’s Dug.

With Dug, Carl can envision what a companion can be — after all, that’s one of the primary descriptors of a dog in relation to its owner. Carl’s experience of Dug teaches Carl that Russell can be a good companion, too, opening up a possibility Carl had left for dead after Ellie was gone.

Trickster: Kevin

From scene to scene, this dynamic shifts from one character to another as at times Russell, Dug, and even the house present obstacles and roadblocks to Carl, but the primary Trickster character is Kevin.

First off, Kevin is actually a girl, not a boy — a trick played on Russell and the others. Second, Kevin constantly messes with Carl: Kevin eats Carl’s walker; Kevin eats some of the house’s balloons; Kevin follows the group when she’s not supposed to, then disappears when they need her around. But most importantly, Kevin is the cause of the biggest test Carl has: Getting Kevin back from Muntz so Carl can (A) get the house to Ellie’s spot atop Paradise Valley and (B) save Russell’s life. In other words, it’s Kevin who brings the Nemesis back into the plot; without Kevin, there is no Final Struggle — no Big Test — at least as it’s played out in the movie.

This is just one of many movies which reflect these five primary character archetypes. That said, I am not suggesting this is the only way to approach writing a screenplay. There is no right way to write. Every writer is different. Every story is different. All I am suggesting is there is something going on here about this specific set of narrative dynamics as exhibited in the form of character types. And they can be a huge help for writers as we engage our characters, their interrelationships informing our story-crafting and plotting process.

What are your thoughts? Head to comments and let me know what you think.

Tomorrow: Another movie analyzed through the lens of character archetypes.

Prep: From Concept to Outline: “It works!”

April 14th, 2016 by

The next session of my Prep: From Concept to Outline workshop begins Monday, April 18. I love teaching it because I find it exciting to dig into a new batch of stories and because the process we use can have a transformational effect on writers, which is a wonderful thing to behold. For example, here is an email sent to me from Dawn LeFever who worked with me in the Prep workshop in October-November 2014:

Hey Scott –

Hope you and your family are well. I know you are about to begin another prep course and I thought I’d give you a little insight you might want to share with your new students.

Since taking the course last year at this time, I not only wrote the script I prepped in class, but have written three more since then, having just completed the first draft of the third one yesterday. I LOVE this process and it feels really organic to me.

Every time I begin a new project, I pull out my notebook with the reading assignments and work through the process just as we did in class. I sort of begin the brainstorming list from day one and just add to it whenever anything comes to me while working through the process. I also use note cards before going to outline because it helps me with pacing.

Then, when I’m writing, I have both my script and my outline on my screen and just write away, checking back at the outline to stay on track. More than a few times, as I’m writing, I think about a line of dialog or an action and then look back at my outline and realize what I have in the outline is much better than what was occurring to me in the moment.

At other times, while writing, I will find ways to weave moments in the script that foreshadow what happens later, because I know what’s coming thanks to the thorough prep process.

In other words, as you say, I do truly break the story in prep, which makes the writing so much easier and (hopefully) deeper and richer. I easily knock out 10 pages a day with this process.

I know there are as many different ways to approach writing as there are writers, but, for me, your process makes everything click and, even more, allows me to get really excited to finally sit down and write.

In the past year, I have had some encouraging responses – I was in the top 15% of the Nicholl Fellowship screenplays and was in the top 50 for the ISA Fast Track Fellowship. I made the quarter finals for the Screencrafting Comedy Competition with two scripts (One of them a rewritten version of Smoker’s Choice).

So… forging ahead and having a blast!

Thanks again for everything and tell the folks IT WORKS!!!

All the best,
Dawn

When Tom Benedek and I launched Screenwriting Master Class over 5 years ago, the very first course I created was Prep: From Concept to Outline. Why? Because no one else was teaching story prep for screenwriting. That struck me as crazy because most professional screenwriters I know and all TV writers break their story in prep.

Since 2010, I have led over 20 online sessions of Prep and worked privately with dozens of writers. The response has been almost universally like the sentiments expressed by Dawn above.

I literally tell writers at the beginning of every Prep workshop: “If you do the work… it works.”

In fact, Christian Contreras whose script “LAbyrinth” made the 2015 Black List is a Screenwriting Master Class alumnus, having taken this same Prep class with me back in 2014. And recently, I heard from Verity Colquhoun, an Australian writer who did a private one-on-one version of my Prep class in 2011, letting me know the script she wrote (“Wonderful Unknown”) just landed a director and is slated to go into production this fall.

It’s not magic. It’s just a proven, professional approach to develop your story, stage by stage, from concept all the way to outline, beat sheet, or treatment, whichever you prefer.

Writing Scrabble

Consider joining my next session of Prep. But whether you take a class with me or not, it’s imperative you learn some sort of approach to story prep.

Can you imagine routinely writing 10 pages per day? Can you imagine being able to write 3 full-length screenplays in a year? Can you imagine actually enjoying the page-writing process?

As Dawn suggests, all of that can happen if you wrangle your story before you type FADE IN.

To check out the Prep: From Concept to Outline workshop which begins Monday, go here.

Character Archetypes: “Juno”

April 14th, 2016 by

Over the years, I’ve analyzed dozens of movies through the lens of five primary character archetypes: Protagonist, Nemesis, Attractor, Mentor, Trickster. This is my theory, that most movies have these five narrative dynamics at work in them:

A character or characters with a conscious goal toward which they are moving forward: Protagonist.

A character or characters who provide an oppositional force: Nemesis.

An ally who is most connected to the Protagonist’s emotional development: Attractor.

An ally who is most connected to the Protagonist’s intellectual development: Mentor.

A character who switches from ally to enemy, enemy to ally, and tests the will of the Protagonist: Trickster.

We see this set of narrative dynamics in movie after movie after movie, enough to suggest there is a pattern at work here. So this week, a series on these five character archetypes in movies.

Today: The 2007 movie Juno, written by Diablo Cody who won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

IMDb plot summary: A tale told over four seasons, starting in autumn when Juno, a 16-year-old high-school junior in Minnesota, discovers she’s pregnant via her best friend, Paulie Bleeker. She decides to give birth and to place the child with an adoptive couple. The chosen parents, Vanessa and Mark, upscale yuppies (one of whom is cool and laid back, the other meticulous and uptight), meet Juno, sign papers, and the year unfolds. Will Juno’s plan work, can she improvise, and what about Bleeker?

Protagonist: Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page)

Okay, so who is the Protagonist? That’s pretty easy, right? Name of the movie.

It’s Juno’s story. The story is told through her point of view. All of the characters circle around her and service her journey. She is the character who goes through the most significant transformation. And it’s her dilemma – being pregnant – which serves as the centerpiece and backbone of the story’s structure.

“It started with a chair.” The movie begins with Juno having spontaneous, unprotected sex with Paulie Bleeker. In this very chair:

53. Juno Juno Chair

Why would she do that? We could chalk it up to her being a typical teenager who doesn’t think through the consequences of their actions. But is there such a thing as a ‘typical’ adolescent? And Juno in many ways defies generalization.

She is a teen of her generation, yet pulled toward punk music of the late 70s and early 80s, of horror movies by Dario Argento.

With her distinctive lingo and language style, it’s like she is trying to be an adult, and the way she thinks she can do that is by being cool.

In fact, if you go through the script, the word “cool” is used over 20 times, most of them by Juno:

I was thinking a graphic designer, mid-thirties, and his cool Asian wife who dresses awesome and plays bass. But I’m trying to not be too particular.

The guy is super cool! His name is Mark and he’s into old horror movies and he plays guitar. I actually hung out with him today.

No, for real. I think you are the coolest person I’ve ever met. And you don’t even have to try.

Why does she think she has to be so adult, so cool? The first clue is this seemingly throwaway line about the break-up of her parents marriage when she was a child.

My dad used to be in the Army, but
now he’s just your average HVAC
specialist. He and my mom got
divorced when I was five.

She lives on a Havasu reservation
in Arizona…

… with her new husband and three
replacement kids. Oh, and she
inexplicably mails me a cactus
every Valentine’s Day.

And I’m like, “Thanks a heap,
Coyote Ugly. This cactus-gram
stings even worse than your
abandonment.”

It’s not much, almost a throwaway set of sides, but apart from the exposition of the divorce, the dialogue convey at least two more things:

(1) The break-up happened when Juno was 5, a particularly vulnerable age when a child is deep into learning about trust.

(2) Juno still hurts from her mother’s “abandonment,” the pain still stings.

We see this theme touched on later in the movie, a couple of moments of honesty by Juno.

I just need to know it’s possible that two people can stay happy together forever.

That’s the more positive spin on what Juno needs. Here’s the more fearful version.

I want things to be perfect. I don’t them to be shitty and broken like everyone else’s family.

Or in subtext, she means her family. She means her brokenness.

Put these together and that helps us understand why Juno has to act cooler than cool, hipper than hip. She thinks she has moved into adulthood, at least part of her believes that. As an adult, you can do what you want to do, act the way you want to act, you don’t need to trust anybody else. Juno has in effect bypassed her adolescence and jumped straight into adulthood [again what she believes about herself].

We can even see this in Juno’s voice. Because her wise ass beyond her year’s dialogue fits her psychological state, trying to be an adult, trying to sound like an adult. She uses hip and cool lingo, beliefs, and cultural likes / dislikes to distance herself from being a teenager. It makes sense logically for her character and, thus, I would argue is an authentic expression of her struggle to find out who she is.

If we look at Juno’s metamorphosis from a meta view, the reason this journey has to happen, the reason why she gets pregnant and goes through everything she endures, her narrative imperative, is to break down that adult defensive mode she has created, get in touch with the pain associated with abandonment, and reclaim her adolescence.

And in their own way, each character in the story services that transformation process. Let’s explore these archetypes starting with Mentors.

Mentor: Bren MacGuff (Allison Janney)

She guides Juno through the pregnancy process up to and including the delivery scene.

“Well, honey, doctors are sadists
who like to play God and watch lesser people scream…
Shit!
Hey, can we get my kid the damn spinal tap already?”

Mentor: Mac MacGuff (J.K. Simmons)

Her father Mac who after the initial shock of discovering his daughter is pregnant stands alongside Juno during the adoption process. And he provides a pivotal piece of wisdom late in the story:

In my opinion, the best thing you can do is to find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person will still think that the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.

This is precisely the message Juno needs to hear at a crucial juncture in the story. Her step-mother and father fulfill the Mentor function in the story.

What about Attractor? My take: We have two, a False Attractor and a True Attractor.

Attractor (False): Mark Loring (Jason Bateman)

The potential adoptive father. He represents a cool guy, writes songs and jingles for a living, plays guitar, shares Juno’s interest in punk music and horror movies. Seemingly the perfect guy and, indeed, Juno finds herself spending more and more time with Mark.

60. Juno Juno Mark Guitar

It’s a kind of awkward courtship which comes crashing down when Mark reveals he’s going to leave his wife Vanessa and that he’s not ready to be a father. Here instead of a perfect guy, part of a perfect family, Juno is confronted with the issue of abandonment again. Moreover by someone she considered to be “cool”.

In contrast, there is Paulie.

Attractor (True): Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera)

At first, he doesn’t seem all that cool. He’s a goofy, ‘typical’ teenager. And he and Juno go through an emotional journey of their own.

At first, when Juno tells him she’s pregnant, both try to act adult about it, particularly Juno who attempts to slough it off. But much later when Juno is quite pregnant, they have this interaction:

Eventually she discovers the truth: That Mark, her False Attractor, is a fraud. And that her genuine feelings, those she’s had all along, but tried to ignore while wearing her adult mask, she actually loves Paulie.

65. Juno Juno Paulie Kiss Finger

“I think it’s because my heart starts pounding when I see you.”

And here’s a side of dialogue which was shot but edited out because it’s there in subtext, but speaks to the big lesson Juno has learned about imperfect love.

Basically, I’m completely smitten with you, and I don’t care if I’m making an ass out of myself right now, because you’ve seen me make an ass out of myself a million times, and you still want to be my friend.
Echoing the advice given to her by her father.

But how about a Trickster? Here’s who I think provides that narrative function:

Trickster: Vanessa (Jennifer Garner)

At first, Juno thinks Vanessa is an uptight Yuppie, every hair in place, keeps her house immaculately clean. Complete opposite of Juno.

And as Juno’s feelings for Mark, Vanessa’s husband, grow, Vanessa falls into the category of an enemy in the weird courtship which goes on between adoptive father to be and prospective surrogate mother.

But then there’s this moment:

A random meeting at a shopping mall. The look on Vanessa’s face. And the look on Juno’s face. Now she knows how deeply personal this is for Vanessa. And later on, after Juno is crushed by Mark’s decision to get a divorce and abandon Juno’s baby, Juno returns to Vanessa and leaves her a note.

68. Juno The Note

Which leads to this:

69. Juno Vanessa With Baby

Vanessa ends up a mother after all. And she turns out to be an ally to Juno, providing the type of home for the baby Juno had wanted from the very beginning.

Trickster – gone from enemy to ally.

That leaves us with one other archetype: Nemesis. No real bad guys or gals in this story, but there is an oppositional dynamic at work, something which creates a nine month long struggle for Juno. So I would argue that this is the Nemesis.

Nemesis: Juno’s Pregnancy

Remember the definition of a character archetype: A character archetype is an ideal example of a character which has a specific narrative function.

An archetype can be physiological state such as pregnancy.

And her pregnancy causes her one set of challenges after another leading to again – a classic Final Struggle: The delivery.

71. Juno Delivery

Part of her metamorphosis, capped off by rejecting the cool, hip adult Mark for the geeky, unhip teenager Paulie. So in the Denouement when instead of driving a car, she rides her bike to Paulie’s house.

And they sing “Anyone Else But You” together, there is this moment in the script:

She and Bleeker exchange glances as they play. They smile ambiguously. Juno leans over and kisses Bleeker on the cheek.

Pull out to reveal the surrounding green suburb buzzing with life and summer activity.

That little kiss on the cheek is a bookend to the script’s second scene:

FLASHBACK – Juno approaches a boy hidden by shadow. He’s sitting in an overstuffed chair. She slowly, clumsily lowers herself onto his lap.

Now Juno can be a teenager. Now she learn to trust through her relationship with Paulie. Indeed her experiences have helped to ground her in her family, the here and now, so she can settle into who she is and not try to run away into adulthood early.

But to get Juno to this point, she needed to intersect with every character in the story: Mentors, Attractors, Trickster, and Nemesis. Each plays a role in her metamorphosis and it’s that interconnection of characters and their respective narrative functions which suggests a kind of possible paradigm.

This is just one of many movies which reflect these five primary character archetypes. That said, I am not suggesting this is the only way to approach writing a screenplay. There is no right way to write. Every writer is different. Every story is different. All I am suggesting is there is something going on here about this specific set of narrative dynamics as exhibited in the form of character types. And they can be a huge help for writers as we engage our characters, their interrelationships informing our story-crafting and plotting process.

What are your thoughts? Head to comments and let me know what you think.

Tomorrow: Another movie analyzed through the lens of character archetypes.

Character Archetypes: “The Apartment”

April 13th, 2016 by

Over the years, I’ve analyzed dozens of movies through the lens of five primary character archetypes: Protagonist, Nemesis, Attractor, Mentor, Trickster. This is my theory, that most movies have these five narrative dynamics at work in them:

A character or characters with a conscious goal toward which they are moving forward: Protagonist.

A character or characters who provide an oppositional force: Nemesis.

An ally who is most connected to the Protagonist’s emotional development: Attractor.

An ally who is most connected to the Protagonist’s intellectual development: Mentor.

A character who switches from ally to enemy, enemy to ally, and tests the will of the Protagonist: Trickster.

We see this set of narrative dynamics in movie after movie after movie, enough to suggest there is a pattern at work here. So this week, a series on these five character archetypes in movies.

Today: The Apartment (1960), written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. “Izzy” Diamond.

IMDb plot summary: C.C. Baxter, insurance clerk and only a face in a crowd of 30,000 employees, has a little problem: He can’t use his own apartment. Since he once lent out his key to one of his superiors and his mistress, this custom has spread ever since. Now, different superiors from different departments take his place for their tête-à-têtes. Being promised not to be forgotten when it comes to shifts in personnel, C.C. Baxter swallows his anger – until he finds out that the mistress of Mr. Sheldrake, the company’s boss, and his recent flame, Fran Kubelik, are the same person. And they are using his apartment! Although Baxter has not been forgotten personnel-wise, the attempted suicide of Fran in his very own bed makes him think.

Protagonist: C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon)

Baxter is a lonely worker bee in a huge skyscraper office filled with other worker bees. In order to climb the corporate ladder, he has agreed to allow a quartet of company managers to use his apartment for their extramarital trysts. He is found out by corporate President Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) who instead of firing Baxter, requests the use of the apartment for his own affair.

Because of his compliance with Sheldrake’s ‘offer,’ Baxter gets his cherished promotion. However the sheen is taken off the new gig when he discovers Sheldrake’s paramour is none other than Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the object of Baxter’s hidden ardor.

Disunity: (1) Baxter rents an apartment which due to an escalating set of circumstances is one he shares with five other men and their lovers. (2) He is a decent fellow living in an indecent situation. (3) The neighbors think Baxter is the guy partying down with all those women who pass through his apartment. (4) He is attracted to Kubelik, but has never worked up the nerve to approach her about his feelings.

The existential core of his Disunity is this:

What does he want: To rise up the corporate ladder to success.
What does he need: The self-respect to reject corporate values and live on his own terms.

Nemesis: Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray)

Since Baxter’s want (Conscious Goal) is to climb the corporate ladder, Sheldrake as the President of the company for which Baxter works represents the pinnacle of success. As such, he is a reflection of Baxter’s shadow, his dark impulse that puts the desire for achievement above his own conscience – why else would he allow himself to be used by four company managers, then Sheldrake to have access to Baxter’s apartment for their affairs in exchange for a job promotion?

Once Baxter discovers Fran Kubelik, the woman for whom he has romantic feelings, is Sheldrake’s mistress, the story’s dynamic crystallizes: Will Baxter squash his desire to connect with Kubelik in order to feed his goal of being a success at work? Initially he does. Once Kubelik attempts suicide and stays at Baxter’s apartment to recuperate, giving him time to get to know and fall in love with her, his perspective shifts. He may fantasize about being with Kubelik, but as long as she is with Sheldrake, romance is not going to happen — so in that respect Sheldrake provides opposition to Baxter.

Attractor: Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacClaine)

Fran Kubelik evolves in Baxter’s experience, moving from a romantic fantasy he can only imagine from afar to a flesh and blood human he gets to know intimately while caring for her after her suicide attempt. The effect of falling in love with her reorients his world view, eventually empowering him to quit his job. Once Kubelik realizes how much she means to Baxter, she finds her own strength to end her affair with Sheldrake and be with a man who loves her for who she is.

Mentor: Dr. David Dreyfus (Jack Kruschen)

Dr. Dreyfus not only serves as a Mentor in saving Kubelik’s life, he provides a key piece of wisdom to his next door neighbor: “Why don’t you grow up, Baxter. Be a mensch… a human being.” This advice becomes the cornerstone of Baxter’s decision to quit his job when he tells Sheldrake, “Just following doctor’s orders. I’ve decided to become a mensch. You know what that means? A human being.” In other words, Dreyfus provides Baxter the intellectual wherewithal to respond to his inner need.

Trickster: Dobisch, Eichelberger, Vanderoff, Kirkeby

This quartet of creeps manipulate Baxter to use his apartment for their trysts while tantalizing him with offers to put in a good word for him “promotion-wise.” Once Baxter helps Sheldrake with his affair and gets bumped up to middle management, the four lotharios turn against Baxter, eventually providing information to Fran Kubelik’s brother-in-law, who accosts Baxter over what he perceives to be Baxter’s improprieties with Kubelik – a penultimate test of character before the Final Struggle.

After finding Kubelik in his apartment, passed out from a suicide attempt over her inability to break off the relationship with her married lover Sheldrake, Baxter watches over the young woman for a few days as she recuperates. In their time together, Baxter secretly communicates by phone with Sheldrake, continuing to do his boss’s bidding, but finds himself falling in love with Kubelik. Things come to a head when Sheldrake, who has been kicked out by his wife, intends to resume his affair with Kubelik.

Final Struggle: Will Baxter give in to Sheldrake in order to keep his job? No. Baxter quits, thereby turning his back on his want (corporate success) and embracing his need (self-respect). His metamorphosis has taken him from worker bee to independent spirit finally in touch with the decency that lies at the heart of his Core Of Being. His choice is rewarded by the surprise appearance of Kubelik, their romance initiated, and his move toward Unity blessed by the story gods.

“Shut up and deal.”

This is just one many movies which reflect these five primary character archetypes. That said, I am not suggesting this is the only way to approach writing a screenplay. There is no right way to write. Every writer is different. Every story is different. All I am suggesting is there is something going on here about this specific set of narrative dynamics as exhibited in the form of character types. And they can be a huge help for writers as we engage our characters, their interrelationships informing our story-crafting and plotting process.

What are your thoughts? Head to comments and let me know what you think.

Tomorrow: Another movie analyzed through the lens of character archetypes.

Announcing: 2016 Black List Screenwriters Lab

April 12th, 2016 by

When: October 16-22, 2016

Where: Los Angeles

Cost: All expenses paid

I have participated in all eight Black List screenwriting labs and each has been a tremendous experience. You can read testimonials from participating writers below:

Athena Film Festival

Chicago

Las Vegas

Los Angeles

New York

San Francisco

Toronto

I am scheduled to be a mentor once again in the October session in Los Angeles. A few observations about what it’s been like for writers to work with me in these sessions:

“A very special thank you to Scott Myers, the ultimate screenwriting guru. You are amazing!” — Jennifer Noonan (Athena Film Festival)

“We were able to dive into the scripts in our first workshop with Scott, who challenged and guided us in discovering the core elements of our own stories. He had this zen master ability to get us to look at our script from different angles, which led to us being honest with ourselves on what we felt were the strengths and weaknesses in the scripts, as well as ‘why?’ we were writing these stories.” — Mark Fleming (Chicago)

“We ended the lab with a group workshop led by Scott. Together we sifted through the feedback we had been given and then added feedback for each other. Scott took us through some writing techniques, strategies, and theories. I found his notes illuminating and helpful in clarifying questions I had about all the feedback I was given over the course of two days.” — Chloe Hung (Los Angeles)

“Then, in our wrap-up session with Scott Myers, we discussed the mentor advice and our comments on each other’s scripts. Scott pulled together all the information, focused our attention, and brought home the obligation we have to develop a character’s needs and the journey to achieve them. Teacher, mentor, philosophical guru—he gently and gradually brought us from a place of disorientation to a place of clarity. The experience was like being cocooned inside a supportive and nurturing environment. Nothing existed outside the lab—only the story and only the writing mattered.” — Yvonne Paulin (New York)

“We also were given the opportunity to workshop each other’s scripts with the awesome Scott Myers as our moderator.  Scott’s approach was both systematic and personal. Scott asked a series of thought-provoking questions, which later aided us in discussing our personal ties to the scripts at present and to the stories we ultimately wanted to tell with them.” — Elizabeth Oyebode (San Francisco)

“A quick word about Scott. I’ve long-appreciated the work he does on GoIntoTheStory, especially his 1, 2, 7, 14 technique and his Definitive Spec Script Deals List. And that passion that fuels the blog is so totally evident when you meet him in person. Being around Scott reminds you that telling stories is one of the most wondrous and life-enhancing things human beings do. It’s an infectious enthusiasm that set the perfect tone for our in-depth workshop sessions. And he didn’t just focus on our current scripts but the next idea, the next story, the next step on your journey towards an actual writing career. Had his passport mysteriously disappeared on the final evening, thereby prolonging his stay in Canada for a few more days years, I can think of four writers who would have been very, very happy.” — Stephen Davis

The work I do at Go Into The Story and Screenwriting Master Class is the same as my involvement as a mentor at Black List screenwriting labs. I am full-tilt and on-board to help writers realize their highest creative ambitions. That’s one big reason why I’m excited about this upcoming event in October.

If you have questions about the 2016 Black List Screenwriters Lab, here are some helpful links:

Toronto BL3 SM

Quick reminder. I don’t get paid for anything I do with the Black List, so in promoting these labs, I do it because I am passionate about working with writers, helping them dig into their stories as well as explore the creative aspects of who they are. It is incredibly gratifying to see Black List lab writers I have worked with go on to success like Simon Nagle, Savion Einstein, and many others. Hopefully these stories will translate into something we see in movie theaters because now more than ever, we need new, fresh, and diverse voices in Hollywood.

If you are so inclined, check out the October session of the Black List Screenwriters Lab. I hope to have the opportunity to work with you.

Onward!