Screenwriters in the know are well acquainted with the masters of film and television storytelling such as Syd Field, Robert McKee, Blake Snyder, Billy Mernit, and Michael Hauge. These men have contributed much to the contemporary development of the art and craft of writing in the industry (and yes, there are a few women…a few) and continue to influence generations of writers.
Michael Hauge is one of the very best teachers in Hollywoodland. He sees what lies beneath the page and communicates in plain language so writers might learn and improve, not just memorize theory. Michael publishes a periodic newsletter that will be beneficial to new writers who want to pick up some solid understanding of the craft and to seasoned writers who want to keep their pencils sharpened.
Subscribe to Michael Hauge’s Story Mastery Newsletter at StoryMastery.com (formerly ScreenplayMastery.com).
In Just What Is It About Mad Men?, I asked what draws viewers to the hit show season after season. I still don’t have that answer. What I do have is another question that perhaps the writers collected will discuss.
What are the stakes for Don Draper? In other words, what does he have to lose and how high are those stakes for him? For us? The discussion is relevant to the the writing of single stories such as novels and feature films as well as to the writing of stories told in series. Read on …
This week, I did a bit of informal research into the widespread appeal of “Mad Men”, 5-season hit drama from AMC. As one of the biggest successes in recent television history, I wanted to know what draws the people I know into this world of selfishness, callousness, ignorance, and much-discussed misogyny. Those who responded were fairly diverse within a somewhat narrow slice of contemporary society but as far as ratings are concerned, they also represent the choicest slice.
You’d think that with all the hype and chatter that the discussion would revolve around a core set of points: Walter White on “Breaking Bad” is heartbreaking and amazing; Tony Soprano of “The Sopranos” is terrifying but a sweetheart; “Arrested Development” is all about the writing. That sort of thing. But for “Mad Men”, the responses were surprisingly vague. Read on …
Self-explanatory title, no? Here are some choice bits. Check out johnaugust.com for the full meal deal.
I had a president of production ask for a free rewrite before he gave it to his chairman. Not a polish. He had notes. True multi-week notes. That doesn’t strike me as a producer’s polish. That strikes me as flat-out abusive.
…that seems to be what people want. If I can’t magically say, “Yes, here is my crystal ball, it outperforms THE HUNGER GAMES, don’t worry about it,” they just shut me down.
I know a lot of young writers in my general boat, and to be honest I think all of us are trying to get out of features and into TV.
Scott Myers of “Go Into the Story” — a regular feature here in our “From The Literati” feed and contributor to “The Screenwriting Blog of the Black List” — gives us yet another treat. His Great Characters list revisits some of the most memorable and well-drawn fictional characters in cinema history. It’s a fun and instructive quickie refresher in what separates good from great.
Fred McMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity"
This week’s Great Character? Phyllis Dietrichson (played by Barbara Stanwyck) of Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler’s 1944 gem “Double Indemnity”. Myers’ looks at the femme fatale in all her glory and highlights dialogue from the film that will make the subtext lover in you weep with shame.