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Archive for the Category "General"

I’m Back! Jun 28

Karate Kid WannabeDid you miss me? Not even realize I was gone?

Well either way, after a two week blogcation, I’m back baby!

Here are some things to look forward to in the next week or so:

  • I’ve decided to start a new feature where I take a look at the craft of modern scripts (post 2005) and see what lessons they provide.
  • I’ll rave about Avatar — no not that AvatarAvatar: The Last Airbender — the brilliant TV series on which the upcoming movie is based.
  • Michele Wallerstein, our authority on the industry from an Agent’s perspective, has a July post about Writing Contests.
  • I watched the easily forgettable Invictus last week and when I saw that it had earned a higher score on IMDB than some of the best comedy movies of all time, it inspired a rant I call: “The Madness of Comedy Movie Ratings”
  • There may be one or two posts about lightsabers… just because.

I noticed my subscriber numbers have continued to increase in my absence, so thanks for sticking with me, and a hearty welcome to the newcomers!

If you have any questions, ideas for posts, just want to say hi, or share a crop circle story, I’d love to hear from you.

Trevor

Category: General  | 4 Comments
What’s Your Blind Spot? Apr 08

The Blind Spot

There’s an exceptional writer in one of my screenwriting groups. We’ll probably all be enjoying her movies in a few years, but in the meantime, she has what I call a “blind spot.”

A blind spot is a fundamental problem with a script that, for whatever reason, the writer can’t see.

Her blind spot is that her protagonist does something in the first few pages that makes him utterly unlikable. I’m not talking about grumpy in the morning kind of unlikable, I’m talking about brutal rape kind of unlikable.1

Afterward, when opposing forces threaten to reveal his crime, there’s no tension because we (the audience) want him to get caught.

Other Blind Spots

There are many other blind spots of course:

  • Micro Description (“I think describing in detail what the people in the family photos are wearing adds flair to the script.”)
  • Dialogue Similarity (“Well I can tell my characters’ voices apart.”)
  • Structure Shmucture (“Structure is too confining. My story opens with a 35 minute car chase to set the tone… then we meet the protagonist.”)
  • Putting the cart before the horse (“I’ve written one script. Now I need to spend all my time networking and finding an agent.”)
  • Character Multiplication (“All 26 of my main characters serve an important function, thank you very much.”)
  • Bio Doom (“I think it’s interesting. This stuff actually happened to me.”)
  • Refusing To Let Go (“I don’t care if the scene is irrelevant to the rest of the movie. I just love it.”)
  • Plot Overload (“… and then the cobra bites the zombie, causing him to drop the ring of mystery on the dog’s tail, which ignites the Trelenus Sphere, which sends the warlords of Gartha out to sea, where the shark-riding ninjas…”)

… and many more.

How Do You Find Your Blind Spot?

Sometimes we truly can’t see the forest for the trees. We need to get some distance from our script, then come back to it with fresh eyes.

Most times though, we really need to send it to a few readers that we trust. Then when you see a consistent pattern emerging from the comments you receive, you may be forced to acknowledge your blind spot.

If you dismiss all the feedback that points in one direction, you may have a particularly stubborn blind spot. In an early workshop that I took with the late screenwriting guru Blake Snyder, I remember someone was refusing to accept a fundamental truth of screenwriting.

Blake, in his buoyant but studious tone, said, “Yeah, you can do it that way. Everyone needs to write that script where they learn the lesson.”

Sometimes that’s what it takes!

My blind spot used to be the Passive Protagonist. What blind spots have you overcome?


Want me to personally read your script and let you know if it’s ready to go out? Please take a look at my professional script services.

  1. There are ways, of course, to create characters that do heinous things, and yet are still embraced (see my previous article about Jerks That Work). But absent those methods, no one wants to follow a protagonist they don’t enjoy watching.
Category: General, Writing  | 2 Comments
Oscar Themed Links Mar 07

Hurt Locker (Tavis Coburn)In anticipation of the 82nd Academy Awards celebration tonight, I’ve collected a few cool Oscar themed links:

* Tavis Coburn, of The Dutch Uncle Agency, created vintage style movie posters for all the British Academy Film Awards nominees (which are also up for Oscars).

* All of the Oscar nominated Animated Shorts are online. In my opinion, Logorama gets top marks for a highly original, hilarious, and sometimes shocking, tale. This movie may result in a lifetime of trademark infringement lawsuits for the creator, but that’s a small price to pay for an Academy Award nomination right?

Listed according to my ranking:

1) “Logorama” Nicolas Schmerkin (Part 2 here)
2) “A Matter of Loaf and Death” Nick Park
3) “Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
4) “French Roast” Fabrice O. Joubert
5) “The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)” Javier Recio Gracia

* Sandra Bullock (nominated for a Best Actress Oscar) brings humor and perspective to the Razzies by showing up to accept her award for Worst Actress.

* There were two trilogies in which all three films were nominated for Best Picture. Can you name them? Here are 10 of the “Best Facts about the Best Pictures.”

Top Four! Jan 26

Writing feature screenplays is hard work. Every now and again I find a great excus — er… exercise, that allows me to focus on something else for a while.1

So when Julie Gray, of the popular web site JustEffing.com, held a one page scene competition, it seemed liked the perfect distractio — er… device to sharpen my skills.

Her competition was simple. Write an entertaining one page scene in any genre that incorporated the words: pear, slay and thickening. She’s posted my scene, along with the three other finalists’ scenes, right here, to be voted on.

Normally this would be the part where I shamelessly plug my scene and ask you to vote for it, but in this case, I just can’t do that. You see, after reading all four of the scenes, there’s one I actually liked better than mine.

So please head over to Julie’s site, read the quick one page scenes, and vote for whichever one you like the best (by leaving a comment).


Speaking of Julie Gray, she has some great workshops for screenwriters coming up. Here’s more information:

Julie Gray is packing her bags and setting off on a whirlwind, world-wide tour to teach you how to get your Ideas to the Page to the Screen. She’s off to NYC February 27-28 for an intensive two-day weekend workshop, then jetting across the Atlantic for UK workshops in London (March 6-7) Oxford  (March 13-14). After, that she’s taking some much needed time off in Tel Aviv before heading back to the states to teach workshops in Chicago in April and San Francisco in May. All workshops are $329 with deep discounts given to early-birds including 10% off at the Writer’s Store and $50 off attendance at the Great American Pitch Fest this June, 2010.

Sign up before February 12 to receive a free bundle of three podcasts from Julie’s teleclass series Just Effing Do It!

Oh, and for you local folk, Julie is also teaching The Saturday Series in Los Angeles on Saturdays January 30, February 6, and February 13 at The Lot on Formosa – $50 a class or $125 for all three. Each class runs 9am to 1pm – get in early, get out early, get on with your day! Go to www.justeffing.com to learn more!

Julie Gray is packing her bags and setting off on a whirlwind, world-wide tour to teach you how to get your Ideas to the Page to the Screen. She’s off to NYC February 27-28 for an intensive two-day weekend workshop, then jetting across the Atlantic for UK workshops in London (March 6-7) Oxford  (March 13-14). After, that she’s taking some much needed time off in Tel Aviv before heading back to the states to teach workshops in Chicago in April and San Francisco in May. All workshops are $329 with deep discounts given to early-birds including 10% off at the Writer’s Store and $50 off attendance at the Great American Pitch Fest this June, 2010.

Sign up before February 12 to receive a free bundle of three podcasts from Julie’s teleclass series Just Effing Do It!

Oh, and for you local folk, Julie is also teaching The Saturday Series in Los Angeles onSaturdays January 30, February 6, and February 13 at The Lot on Formosa – $50 a class or $125 for all three. Each class runs 9am to 1pm – get in early, get out early, get on with your day! Go to www.justeffing.com to learn more!


  1. My last distraction got me to the quarterfinals of the Creative Screenwriting Cyberspace Open competition
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Cracked Movie Articles Jan 24

The good folks at Cracked.com have some hilarious and surprisingly insightful articles about movies.

Here are some of my faves:


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