The Words on the Page

Writing for film, television, and the stage is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult - and most rewarding - art forms. The language needs to be visual and evocative as each script must achieve two important tasks. First, it must be an easy read. On paper, it should tell a compelling story and flow as easily as a novel as, if it doesn't past the first test of being read and enjoyed, it will never amount to anything more than a pile of pages in a drawer. But being an easy read isn't enough. Scripts also have to serve as a blueprint for the finished product and need to tell the story in a manner that allows the reader to picture it in his or her mind's eye. The characters need to be memorable and leap off the page; the story must come to life.

 

In addition to writing scripts of their own, I believe all writers can learn and benefit from studying scripts that have launched successful movies, television shows, and plays. For the next year, on each Tuesday, I'll be posting my thoughts on a piece.

January 2, 2018

Elf is a movie about the magic of Christmas and, right from the beginning, Berenbaum infuses magic into his script. Bookended by, well, a book, Berenbaum specifies that this book magically opens and closes itself. In a sense, no one is telling this story - it is just h...

December 26, 2017

The pitch for Grey's Anatomy was released as part of Shonda Rhimes' Masterclass in television writing. She positioned it as her working notes, which she claims to have essentially read from word for word for her verbal pitch, but the document itself is well lai...

December 19, 2017

That's right. Lost, the poster show for serialized drama, was pitched as entirely episodic. The series format (or overview) that I looked it is what is more commonly referred to as the series document - an informal document written after the pilot episode has been...

December 12, 2017

Instead of a more traditional bible, the pitch document for New Girl looks more like working notes or a a script for a live pitch. I'm basing that assumption on its format as the document simply isn't laid out in a way that makes it easy to read. While the orde...

December 5, 2017

The flow of the story bible is easy to follow and, after a brief pitch, the Duffer brothers capture my attention by dedicating a page to the real-life history of The Montauk Project and the experiments that many claim happened on this Long Island base. By the time they...

December 1, 2017

This December, I've decided to analyze TV bibles. The bible, or show overview, is used as part of the pitch packet. It provides information about the show as a whole and proves that the idea has legs - or enough stories to last multiple seasons. Often included are deta...

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