Author Archives: Erik Bork

Erik Bork

About Erik Bork

Erik Bork is best known for his work as a writer-producer on the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon – for which he won two Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards. He has also worked on the writing staff of two primetime series, sold original pitches, and written pilots and screenplays for most of the major studios and networks. He teaches screenwriting for UCLA Extension and National University’s MFA Program, and was rated “Cream of the Crop” in Creative Screenwriting’s “The Best Script Analysts and Consultants.” You can check out his free “Ten Key Principles Successful Writers Understand,” and contact him through his website at Flyingwrestler.com.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

The Two Types of TV Stories

I used to lament the fact that so many network series focus on cops, lawyers, and/or doctors. I tried pitching and developing multiple series about other kinds of workplaces. I felt, like many aspiring television writers do, that there are many different kinds of job challenges that could make for compelling television. But in...

screenplay structure

How to Structure a Screenplay – In Defense of “Formula”

Writers often rebel against the idea that a screenplay should follow a specific dramatic structure – especially one with prescribed pages where certain story “beats” should occur. The most popular current “story template” is the “Beat Sheet” from Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat books. The author’s cheeky insistence that, for instance, the story “Catalyst”...

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Movie Loglines Don’t Tease. They Tell.

Loglines describe a movie (or series) idea in a quick sentence or two that provide enough of an idea of what it’s about to (hopefully) seem like a grabby, fresh and commercially viable concept.  They present a compelling situation for characters one can imagine audiences caring about.  And they lay out a central challenge...

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Award Season Movie Genres

I’m a big fan of the ten “genres” in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat books. I personally believe successful movies nearly always can be seen to fit clearly into one of these ten types of stories. (They have five subtypes each – see this chart with movie examples.) In my view, working within one...

drive the story

Drive the Story with One Big Problem

Most successful movies are about one big problem, which takes the whole movie to solve. Pretty simple, really. Coming up with an original story concept – or an approach to a true story – is largely about figuring out what that one big problem is. The problem should be an outer problem, affecting the...

genre types

Tips for Identifying the Right Genre

by Erik Bork Blake Snyder’s ten “genres” and fifty “subgenres” in his Save the Cat books are my single favorite tool for screenwriters.  I have long believed that studying this system of story types, and making sure each script you write clearly fits within one of them, is one of the most important and...

scripts sold

Scripts that Sold in 2012: What are the Common Elements?

We screenwriters want to sell our work, naturally. This, of course, is very rare. How rare? Well, in 2012, according to The Scoggins Report’s “Year-End Spec Market Scorecard”, there were 132 “spec sales” – or scripts that sold — in the entire year. And this matched a 15-year record HIGH from 2011. And this...

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ARGO’s Effective Use of Creative License

Having adapted a number of true stories for the screen, I found myself wondering, as I watched Argo, which moments might have been created for the movie. I guess I’m something of an apologist for Hollywood, in that I see a need to do more fictionalizing and authorial shaping of history than aspiring screenwriters...

first 10 pages

The First Ten Pages of a Screenplay

Yes, it’s true a writer might only get the opening pages of their script read — and it will likely be put down right away if those pages don’t immediately engage the busy industry professional who has given it a chance by opening it. Most screenwriters who have been at it for a while...

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Screenwriting Webinar with Writer & Producer of HBO’s Band of Brothers

I’ll be teaching a 90-minute webinar for The Writers Store on “Creating Original Series Ideas and Writing Spec Pilots.”  You can listen live on your computer. This class will encapsulate all the key things I’ve learned in my years developing both half-hour and one-hour series ideas to pitch to my agents, producers, and studio and network executives...