Man standing in fog, ominously lit with red light

People Watch For The Monster

People watch for the monster. The other night I was reading a friend's short horror comic script and it got me thinking about those words. I've tweeted this advice for a while - I think…

Where to Start

I'm a member of the Facebook group Science Fiction Writing Fanatics. It's a fun group with a decent amount of activity - not so much it's overwhelming but enough to keep me thinking. If you're…

Delivering on Story Promises

When you write something creative - anything creative - you have a contract with your audience. In the crucial first pages you're setting the stage for everything to come. You need to deliver on the…

Against the Best

Everyone feels insecure when up against the best. - Kurt Belcher, zombies, props and backgrounds, THE TRIP - THE ANIMATED MOTION PICTURE. We just recorded a session for my first feature, THE TRIP - THE…

The Power of Music

Back when I was in college, we'd occasionally have a professor come in and play classical music while we were studying. They would tell us this helped us concentrate. These little interludes never lasted long,…

Throwing the Patterns Away

I've mentioned story patterns before - back in On Patterns and Story we dove deep into the topic. Today I'd like to take another look at the subject and talk about when and why you…

The Secret Adaptation Formula

Every so often I meet other writers who hear I write novels, comics and screenplays. They're interested in taking their work from one format and adapting it to another. This is a great exercise and…

How Much Description?

I don't see people talk often about how much you need to describe your characters, to this time around let's talk about it. The rules are different across screenplays and prose - if you don't…

The Hard Road

A friend of mine is working on a horror story. In it he has a female protagonist and he questioned whether the trials he was putting her through were too tough...so let's explore what we…

Chappie: Robot Scifi Done Well

I was a huge fan of DISTRICT 9, and when I saw Neill Blomkamp was directing another scifi feature I hoped it would deliver on the high quality of his previous film. I was not…

Man in front of sign that reads "Sorry"

Story Anti-Patterns – And How to Fix Them

In programming we have a concept called an anti-pattern. This is a flawed approach at fixing a problem that causes more problems than the original issue it attempted to fix. Because of their ubiquitous nature,…

My Writing Bookshelf

I've been writing most of my life, and seeing as I've been around a while I've managed to read lots of writing books. Some are good, but a few have really left a mark on…

In Their Own Eyes

I'm a big fan of Linda Seger's books. If you're a writer, Creating Unforgettable Characters must be on your bookshelf. If it's not you're really missing out. One of the bits Seger shares in Creating…

Hugging couple

The Hot Scene

When I first started writing, I worked primarily on action stories. These featured lots of exploding objects at the expense of character development (I'd sheepishly admit most of my early characters were probably cardboard by…

Embrace the Absurdity

2015 saw me work on my first animated film, In the Dark (Full video at end of post). It was my first animation and (as of the time I'm writing this) it's been the most…

The Night Will End

It's the thick of the holiday season where I live. In the northern hemisphere it's winter, and the sun has retreated leaving us with shorter days and really long nights. It got me thinking about…

The Value of Play

About a year ago, I bought a few odds and ends for my filmmaking hobby. (Yeah, I'd love to call it a business but right now my accountant tells me I have a fun hobby.…

The Multitasking Fallacy

Writing is a process. We spend hours, months, days or sometimes years working on our art. It takes effort, it takes energy, and above all, it takes time. It's not easy, it's work. Many find…

Empty theater seats

Creating Scenes

We as writers have a very important job as we work - we create scenes. Think about that for a minute. Whether you read a book or you watch a movie, someone had to write…

The Strong and Immediate Bond

I'm getting old. I've read a lot of scripts and I've seen a lot of movies, and after watching a couple I need to bring up a topic that I don't see people write about…

I Hate Outlines

I've said before that I really don't like outlining. I think part of my trauma comes from grade school where we were first being taught how to do it. The teacher at the time had…

Sometimes All You Need is a Gag

Most of my posts center on how to set up a story. In this one I'd like to take a little bit of a different spin on filmmaking, screenwriting and writing and talk about another…

The Token

Many of us writers and filmmakers dream of eventually making enough from our art to support ourselves. It's an ambitious goal and it's a good thing to aspire to. The journey to that point can…