Actors are trained to think in terms of scene goals, and you should too. If a character is speaking and acting at cross-purposes with their goal, it’s probably because they’re being influenced by some unspoken inner need.
Character must be demonstrated before we’ll believe it. If you tell us a character is a “smooth-talking lawyer”, we’ll accept the “lawyer” part. The “smooth-talking” part must be verified by watching what the character says and does.
When sending out a script, don’t try to hedge your bets by saying “it’s an old script” or “it’s a rough draft”. If it’s not good enough to show people, don’t show it. If it is good enough, back it 100%.
Writing a comedy? In the first draft, concentrate on making the characters feel real. Jokes are for the second draft.
Every once in a while, step back from film theory and plot structure to think about your story’s place in the overall culture. What do you want your story to say, and why do we need that message right now?
Avoid opening scenes that exist just to demonstrate to the reader how clever/daring/evocative you are. If the scene has no bearing on the protagonist, it shouldn’t be there.
What you write belongs to you. Every word is a decision, and every decision is a reflection of yourself. Never forget that.
Audiences don’t love set-pieces. They love characters who do amazing things during set-pieces.
Can’t figure out what happens in the climax of Act Three? Study your own theme. The answers are hiding in the thematic choices you’ve already made.
When it comes to accepting script notes, there is a time for grace and flexibility, and there is a time when you must draw a line in the sand and say “No further”.
Everyone knows the villain is supposed to act like she’s the hero of her own story. But so should the romantic interest, the henchmen, the mentor and the supporting characters.
The more you write, the more the reader will linger on that moment. To draw out an emotional beat, write longer action paragraphs and full sentences. To rush through a scene, write shorter paragraphs and clipped sentences.
Don’t cater to the slower members of the audience. Move fast and force them to keep up.
When prepping for meetings, don’t come up with ten different concepts. Pick your two best and learn them inside and out.
Take time out every now and then to recharge your batteries.