Ask the Coach: On Pacing & Structure with Screenwriter Jeff Howard – On Script Mag

In this month’s “Ask the Coach” article, I’m addressing two similar but separate questions from readers about building to a climax and keeping a story moving with help from guest expert Jeff Howard.

Question 1: How do I build tension toward a climax using structure and pacing?

Question 2: How do I combine actions with dialogue to keep the story moving?

Here are the recommendations Jeff discusses for building tension using structure and pacing, then about using dialogue to keep a story moving.

  • Tighten pacing with a shorter “second half.”
  • Design tension with your outline.
  • Earn your climax with your second act.
  • Use dialogue as “frosting” on the cake of your script.


…if you want to build to an exciting climax, you’ve got to mirror it with the first act and you’ve got to plan how to get there.
— Jeff Howard


Want the full scoop? Get all the details in the full article on Script Mag:
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.

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