As promised, in follow up to yesterday’s online-exclusive interview with Hollywood script doctor John Truby, here are 10 Great Mistakes writers make with story:
Great Mistake 1: The story idea isn’t original.
Great Mistake 2: Writers often use the wrong genre to develop the idea, or they impose the pre-determined genre beats onto the idea instead of finding events that are original to the idea.
Great Mistake 3: They think a hit movie script is all about
finding the high concept premise. But they don’t know how to extend the premise, from the two or three scenes suggested by the high concept to a 110-page script.
Great Mistake 4: They don’t know how to hang the story on the seven major story structure steps, so the plot fails to come out of character and the main character does not change.
Great Mistake 5: They think of the hero as a separate individual with a
list of superficial character traits instead of as part of a web of characters, each character structurally different from the others.
Great Mistake 6: They try to create their plot using the three-act structure, which doesn’t work and causes a weak middle, instead of using the 22 building blocks of every great story that builds the plot steadily from beginning to end.
Great Mistake 7: They fail to give their hero a moral as well as an emotional weakness at the beginning of the story.
Great Mistake 8: They don’t know how to create the story world or how to connect it to the hero.
Great Mistake 9: They think the story is carried in the dialogue, or they force the dialogue to do the work that structure should do.
Great Mistake 10: They don’t know that rewriting is a set of skills, just like plot and character. So they rewrite in the wrong order, and their second draft is worse than their first.
Please see my previous post for the full interview. John’s book is The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller in bookstores now.
P.S. Here’s sending good vibes to all our screenwriter friends on the picket lines. We appreciate the work you’re doing to protect writer’s rights!