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May 10, 2011




"There's no doubt about it, show business lures the people who didn't get enough love, attention, or approval early in life and have grown up to become bottomless, gaping vessels of terrifying, abject need. Please laugh."

--Dennis Miller







Q -- I have some great stories written down and some in my mind. I would not call what I have scripts but what I have would make some great movies. How can I get someone in the industry to take a look at them or contact me so I could do something with my ideas?

A -- I'm really sorry to have to give you the bad news, but you basically can't. YOU have to do something with your ideas first. Most beginning writers do the hard slugging and write a screenplay. There aren't any shortcuts. 


Q -- I have a great idea for a screenplay based on a historical family, but the thought of organizing this material is daunting. How should I tackle this?

A -- Well, this is a long and involved issue, but I can give you some short strokes that will get you started. I've written an e-book called IT'S ALL ABOUT THE STORY, which deals with this issue.

In the book, one of the activating principles I deal with is the following: Every screenplay is about TWO CHARACTERS. Yes, just two. One of these is the Hero, the other is the Bonding Character. These two have the majority of the screen time in the movie.

Writers who have read the book tell me that this one concept freed them immensely and helped them to escape being "daunted" by the thought of organizing a lot of material and facing the prospect of writing a full length work.

Figure out who your two central characters are and tell their story. Organize your research around them and their lives, and you'll gain instant control over the welter of material.


Q -- I want to create original characters. How do you create a character in a screenplay?

A---In general, creating characters in a screenplay is the same as creating characters for other works such as novels and stage plays. You need to think about your characters and invent some biographical information for each of them. Ask the kinds of questions you might ask a fascinating person you've just met, then write down your answers. You can visit my website, go to "Pearson's Index" and read the articles about creating characters.


Q -- How do you write effective dialog?

A -- Remember that dialog is not "real speech." Real speech written down is circumlocutious and 99% boring. Ask anybody who monitors a wiretap.

Screen Dialog gives the ILLUSION of real speech. You need to listen to people and their colorful speech. You need to make notes about pieces of dialog you'd like to use.

You need to remember always that effective dialog is 80% ATTITUDE, not information. This the most important rule. Make a sign with this rule on it and paste it on your computer where you have to look at it.


Q -- How can you tell if your story is better suited for feature film or for television?

A -- If your story features an extreme or startling concept at its center, it could be suited more to Feature Film Treatment.

If the idea stresses a social issue more than extreme elements, it's more probably a TV MOW idea, particularly if it's based on a true story.

If your idea needs the broad sweep of the big screen, it may not be suited to television, unless it could be done as a miniseries (usually 4 hours in today's market).

Lastly, you should compare your idea to movies that have been in theaters over the last couple of years. Does yours have similar ingredients which are uniquely yours and not derivative of "what's out there?"

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