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Archive for December 17th, 2009

11 Laws of Great Storytelling Dec 17

Jeffrey Hirschberg has written a great article discussing the 11 laws he believes are critical to your script’s success.

While it is impossible to have a foolproof formula, I have learned certain principles dramatically increase the probability of your story achieving a modicum of greatness.

  1. Assume everyone has A.D.D.
  2. Spend most of your time on the first ten pages of your script
  3. Write roles to attract movie stars
  4. Write economically
  5. Make sure every character has a unique voice
  6. Understand your audience
  7. Know your three-act structure
  8. Be aware of theme, and keep it consistent throughout the script
  9. Watch and re-watch successful movies similar to your story
  10. Know what your hero wants (the goal), what happens if he doesn’t get what he wants (the stakes), and who/what is preventing him from getting what he wants (the villain)
  11. Leave them wanting more

Will your script echo in eternity?

For a thorough discussion of each of these laws, complete with movie examples, I highly recommend reading the full article at

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Pop Quiz: Using Numbers in Your Dialogue Dec 17

Pop QuizTime for a pop quiz about using numbers in your dialogue.

Part 1 – Regular Numbers

Is the following usage correct?


I can live for 2 months on a good compliment.

It’s actually incorrect. Numbers should always be spelled out, as follows:


I can live for two months on a good compliment.

Part 2 – Times

How about this example? Is it correct?


You are going to bring me my coffee at precisely 8:45 A.M.  Is that clear?

Nope, that’s wrong too. All times need to be spelled out in dialogue. A correct version would be written as follows:


You are going to bring me my coffee at precisely eight forty-five A.M.  Is that clear?

Hey don’t get mad at me, I didn’t make up the rules. Actors don’t like to read numbers inside of dialogue. They can disrupt the visual flow of words and make the dialogue harder to memorize… or something like that.

The Exception – Years

In The Screenwriter’s Bible, Trottier says you can use numbers for years. So the following would be correct:


No, my brother is nineteen, not twenty. And my grandpa was born in 1920.

How’d you do on the quiz?

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Category: Dialogue, Formatting  | 3 Comments