Ask the Coach: How Can I Expand My Script? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 

This month’s question is about fleshing out a story:

“My problem is, I grew up writing short stories, and now I am trying to write a screenplay. I ‘finished’ my script, and if it is true as they say that one page equals a minute of screen time, I have a movie that is roughly a little over 45 minutes. How do I expand my script without making it boring with just a lot of filler?”

Great question. Assuming you’re writing a feature, yes, 45 pages is short. In your shoes, I’d first focus on making sure I have a story with strong enough legs to last a full feature length, then, I’d dig into the specifics. Let’s discuss.  [more…]

 

The big idea here is to look for ways to deepen the experience you’re creating for your audience, taking them on a powerful journey through the eyes of your primary characters.

 
Read the article on Script Mag:
Ask the Coach: How Can I Expand My Script?
 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels
 

Ask the Coach: How Can I Find the Right Reader for My Script? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 

This month’s question is about finding the right reader for your script and genre:

“Hi, I’d like your advice on how to select a reader who will give you a fair evaluation. I’ve had my script ‘read’ several times by Pros who didn’t really enjoy the Fantasy genre. At least, that’s what seemed obvious to me from their comments. For example, one tried to talk me into writing a murder mystery using the bones of my story instead.

“Should I use a service like IMDB PRO for leads of studios who produce fantasy movies? My story falls into the Field of Dreams, Big, Groundhog Day type stories, each using a fantasy element. I feel that you have to like the genre first to give a fair evaluation. I know I wouldn’t be able to give the same respect to a war movie…”

I feel you on this one. As a sci-fi writer, I want someone who understands my genre expectations to give me feedback on my script, and someone who genuinely loves and appreciates the genre as well. I’m reading your question to mean you’re looking for a professional reader to hire for script notes, not for coverage, and not for a studio executive to query, however, given that you’re mentioning IMDB Pro, let’s look at that too. [more…]

 

“…while it is valuable to have a reader who understands the genre conventions and expectations, your script should still transcend genre and be transparent and legible enough to any reader to be able to understand its story, structure, character, and intent, and to appreciate your voice, tone, and writing…”

 

 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels
 

Ask the Coach: Who Owns the Sequel Rights to My Script? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 

This month’s question is about who owns sequel rights to your screenplay and why adding an entertainment lawyer to your team is beneficial when negotiating screenwriting contracts.

“I’m writing a script which has obvious sequel potential. If I am fortunate enough to sell the script, (assuming boilerplate contract) who will own the rights to the sequel, me or the studio? Asked in another way, when I sell the script, am I selling the brand as well? I have several script projects with sequel potential, so this is a big question for me.”

Such an intriguing question, and I’m sure one many writers share. Since this is ultimately a question for an entertainment lawyer, I reached out to Michael Saleman of www.movielaw.net for his expertise. To a degree, the answer about how these types of rights work can be dependent on a writer’s leverage.  [more…]

 

Whether you’re wondering about sequel rights or making sure you’re signing a good option agreement for a single script, having a lawyer on your writing team is an excellent move.

 

Read the article on Script Mag here:
Ask the Coach: Who Owns the Sequel Rights to My Script?
 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash
 

Ask the Coach: Help! Do I Abandon My Current Script for a New Idea? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the next installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 

This month’s question is about whether to abandon a current script in favor of a new idea, or not:

“I recently committed to working on a particular script idea, and almost instantly became fascinated by another story entirely. Should I move to the new idea? Or is this a distraction getting in my way?”

Great question. Ultimately, this is a choice no one else can make for you, but here are some possibilities about what’s going on, and some possible strategies to consider.  [more…]

 

When it comes to choosing what to focus on, and possibly letting go of a current idea, there’s a lot to reflect on. Brand, career, preference, genre, instinct, market, and more. And because there’s often a fine line between recognizing resistance versus intuition, pay attention to how and when new ideas come cropping up. The beauty of writing is how it begets new ideas. It’s your job as a creator to corral that surging herd into a manageable strategy that works for you.

 

 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

Ask the Coach: Do Experts Help or Hinder Writers From Reaching Their Goals? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the next installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 

This month’s question is about whether or not writing and marketing experts and gurus help writers or just get in the way:

“With so many claiming to have the secrets to either writing or marketing, is this just another layer keeping new writers from their goals?”

My short answer: It depends — not necessarily — but there are some things to look out for.

Here’s my longer answer.

When writers endlessly pursue study or looking for the “right” mentor with “right” secrets, we can absolutely keep ourselves away from the best and truest learning ground for writers — writing. Particularly if we’re seeking system after system to plot a novel or develop a script or learn to market our work without taking our writing projects all the way through to completion, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.

There IS a lot to learn

Many if not most of the folks out there teaching writing and the marketing of writing are doing it from a sincere desire to help writers (as well as making a living) and much of it can be valuable. There’s insight to be gleaned from various systems and experts, and as you study, you’ll develop your own methodology (and in an ironic twist, perhaps, might even someday end up with a process you want to share with other writers yourself). Sometimes one expert will nail one piece of the writing puzzle that fits just perfectly for you, and another expert will arrive with another one. The process of trying and testing other people’s methods gives you the chance to explore what works for you and what doesn’t, and assemble your own approach bit by bit.  [more…]

 

One important rule to keep in mind: There really is no one right way to write, and anyone who tells you they know the only or the best way is either egotistical or selling you something or both. At best, you can learn their method and take from it what you like. Be mindful of being swept into the orbit of gurus who never teach you how to do the work yourself but hold themselves out as the only one with all the answers.

 

 

 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels

Ask the Coach: How Can I Find an Idea Person for My Story? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the next installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 
This month’s question is about getting past feeling stumped and how to find an “idea person” to help make that happen:
 
“My writing style is that I get an idea and start writing to see where the story goes. I don’t do outlines. I’ve gotten ideas for stories from thinking up a name, or a killer last line comes to me, or from a writing prompt. I’ve written complete novels from those particular starts. A few of those I set aside for months (or years) before the idea for where to take the story comes to me. On one I’m working on now, I’m about 10,000 words in and stumped. I need an idea person. My question is: are there idea people who can take your progress and give you thoughts for where the story should go? I write really well if I have a direction to go. I don’t need someone to write the story for me, I just would love a shove in the right direction.”
 
I love the many rich layers in this question. Let’s dive in.
 
To start, there absolutely are “idea people” out there. From writing coaches to story experts to script mentors, you can find someone to help you tackle story problems and figure out what comes next. Sometimes it’s incredibly helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off of and get input from to help us move past the places we get stumped.
 
And I want to plant the seed that this may be a place to grow your structure and development skillset as well. Even if you’re not a writer who likes to outline, you may still benefit from sorting out the big moves in your story so you can write toward them as you pants your way through your actual writing. [more…]
 

 

 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.

 

Image by Pixabay from Pexels

Ask the Coach: When Should I Give Up On a Script? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the next installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 
This month’s question is specifically about finishing, and when — or if — to give up on a project:
 
“How can I deal with the indecision that comes with looking at what I’m writing and reaching a point at which I say, “I never should have started this in the first place — no one will care about this, this is unoriginal, this has no chance of selling, what was I thinking?” I don’t see a point at continuing and then go on to the next potentially shiny object. Very frustrating and totally within my control. What do you recommend?”
 
Great question! In order to help you answer it, I have some questions for you.

 

“The first thing to consider is whether or not this inner voice speaking up is the voice of resistance, or the voice of intuition.”

 
For my four questions to consider and my full answer,
read the article on Script Mag here:
Ask the Coach: When Should I Give Up On a Script?
 

 

If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Ask the Coach: Not Three-Act Enough? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the first installment of my new “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 
This month’s question is specifically about the three-act structure in screenwriting:
 
“What I’m running into is the common criticism that my stories are not strongly three-act. They have a beginning setup, mounting problem, and ending resolution — good stories, I’m told — but tension doesn’t build in common cinematic form. Yet, I watch produced movies even less three-act structured. What am I missing?”
 
As your coach-of-the-moment, here’s how I’ll approach this question with you. Let’s look at the core components inherent in the question: how films get made (to address your comment about the produced movies), the source of the feedback, the value and strength of the three-act structure overall, and the impact of your own work.
 
“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”
— Neil Gaiman
For my full answer on three-act structure, how to look for a note beneath a note, and digging deeper into improving your next draft
read the article on Script Mag here:
Ask the Coach: Not Three-Act Enough?
 
 
Image by Lukas Bieri from Pixabay 

 

 

 

Ask the Coach: Your Writing Questions, Answered – On Script Mag

My new “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag launched this week!

As a writing coach, I answer a lot of questions for writers about how to make the work of writing actually happen. As you may already know, I specialize in helping writers get out of their own way and back on track with what they were put here to do.

In this monthly column, I’ll be answering your questions, anonymously, about navigating the ups and downs of writing, being a writer, and living a writer’s life, specific to your unique circumstances.

This is a judgment-free, guilt-free zone. It doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t done, so far.

What matters is what comes next. Ask me your most pressing questions, and my goal will be to help find a solution that works for you.

For a sampling of topics writers often ask about and to submit your own question
read the article on Script Mag here: 
Ask the Coach: Your Writing Questions, Answered

 

 Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels