Screenwriting tips

Inception Leonardo DiCaprio

Christopher Nolan’s Inception is extraordinarily imaginative, brilliantly executed and not even remotely emotionally engaging on any of its 3 levels. Here’s why it leaves me cold.

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Brokeback Mountain Heath Ledger Jake Gyllenhall Fight

If all you do at the midpoint is raise the stakes your script has little chance of packing much emotional punch at the climax. Here are the 2 things you should be focussed on delivering around the middle of Act 2.

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Post image for 10 screenwriting insights I wish I’d had 25 years ago

Over the last 25 years, I’ve stumbled and lurched my way to some understanding of the screenwriter’s craft. Here I share the 10 screenwriting insights I wish I’d had when I started out.

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I love you too Megan Gale Brendan Cowell Peter Dinklage Peter Helliar Yvonne Strahovski

Peter Helliar’s debut writing feature is disappointing but buried deep in the film is a high concept that might have made for a huge hit.

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Number 4

There are 4 questions every screenplay should be able to answer. Yet 9 out of 10 scripts don’t. What are the 4 basic questions for dramatic storytelling?

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Tom Hanks in Big movie poster

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had about dramatic writing came from Gary Ross. It involves dominoes.

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Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley grapple with the challenge of summarising the plot of Schindler's List in just 27 words.

Before you write a single scene of your 120-page screenplay, try to express your film’s logline in 27 words or less. This simple early test can help focus your narrative and save years of wasted effort.

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Jeremy Renner as Blaster One in the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air and No Country for Old Men are all good films spoiled by the finales. Have screenwriters forgotten how to satisfy audiences or are they perversely choosing to frustrate us?

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Todd (Ethan Hawke) in Dead Poets Society

One of my students just asked me how his hero could gain courage. This question goes to heart of character arcs so I thought I’d share my response.

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Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrman's Australia

There are some fairly obvious story flaws in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia. But the reason it didn’t work was far more fundamental.

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