32 Indispensable Screenwriting Tips

1) Follow accepted industry story structure.  If you don’t know it, write and I’ll send you my Structure Chart. 2) Write about somebody who needs something desperately.  What is needed is deep not trivial.  He needs to survive. She needs self-esteem.  He needs family.  She needs health. 3) When you know what your protagonist needs then you show […]

How much do you listen?

Smart Writer’s Guide to Notes! Writers get notes: suggestions about how to rewrite a particular piece of work. Notes may be as informal as your boyfriend’s comments on that last chapter or as rigorous as a sit-down with an influential producer. When do you listen? When do you not? Choose just a few people you […]

15 Resolutions that Writers Need to Make

Whether you’re a newcomer to writing or an established pro, I know you’ll find value in my list of crucial do’s. 1. Do the prep work.  Writing is a series of decisions; some are made prior to the actual composition.  These include calculating the time-frame of your story (chronology), deciding on cast of characters, establishing […]

How to Write an Outline

Do write an outline, first.  It isn’t as much fun as free-flow writing, but it saves you a lot of time. Whether you’re writing a screenplay, play, TV pilot or fiction, the same principles apply. To begin, understand this.  Something has to happen in your story.  Something has to happen. I call things-that-happen events.  However, […]

What is a Story?

Story=Change!   In the course of a story, someone changes.  She goes from one place to another or as Mark Twain put it, “…a tale shall arrive somewhere.” Dorothy changes.  She learns to accept her home. Michael Corleone changes.  He commits to a life of violence. Katniss Everdeen changes.  She becomes a warrior. Look at any well-told story and […]

How to Get an Agent

I’m not going to lie to you: It is very difficult to get an agent.  The Dramatists Guild Directory, an invaluable resource, includes contact info for 20 agents.   And there are 6000 members of the Dramatists Guild. Then, there are all the playwrights who are not members of the union: around 29,000 writing in English […]

How to Build a Protagonist

The main character in your story What do you need? This, my friends, is the basis of every protagonist: need. Need or what I call Deep Driving Desire is the first thing you must know when you’re writing a story be it play, screenplay, fiction or memoir.  What is your protagonist’s DDD?  Think of the story […]

Why Actors Struggle to Make It

Let me begin with a true story. My first play, Fast Girls, was produced in 1990 at the American Stage Company in Teaneck, New Jersey.  At the first table read, I stood nearby, swooning with love for the five talented actors who would create my characters onstage.  Standing with me was one of the producers. “Don’t […]

Notes from The Structuralist: How Structure Helps Your Work

If you were building a house, would you put up the brilliant blue shutters before you laid the foundation?  Such a house would not stand.  Similarly, when you pour your voice – however brilliant – upon the page unframed, you create something that cannot hold together. When playwrights first work with me, they are often opposed to […]

Twelve Tidy Tips for Writers
To Help Market Your Work

Learn some easy ways to make your writing more marketable, and to make the market more receptive to your work.