Author Archives: Ray Morton

Ray Morton

About Ray Morton

Ray Morton is a writer and script consultant. His new book A Quick Guide to Screenwriting is now available on line and in bookstores. Morton analyzes screenplays for production companies, producers, and individual writers. He is available for private consultation and can be reached at

screenplay premises

Meet the Reader: Screenplay Premises – ‘It’s Complicated’

Screenplays are very good at being complex. Consider the scripts for such classic films as Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Godfather, Chinatown, and Dog Day Afternoon, as well as more recent works like Django Unchained and Her – all of these screenplays have many, many layers to them: they all contain engaging narratives; compelling themes;...


Meet the Reader: “Warning, Warning”

I’ve been reading scripts for a long time and at this point I am usually able to tell after reading just a few pages whether a script is going to be any good or not. “How is that possible?” I can hear all of you shocked and offended screenwriters out there saying, in horrified...


Meet the Reader: The Domino Effect

A few weeks back, I assessed a script for one of my consulting clients. The story was okay, but the protagonist was too cold and remote. I said that we needed to see a warmer side to the character and suggested that perhaps we could see him help an old lady across a street...


Meet the Reader: The Promise of ‘Gravity’

by Ray Morton For better and for worse (and there’s a lot of both), we are living in the era of the tentpole: giant, high-concept movies costing hundreds of millions of dollars, usually with a sci-fi, supernatural, or superheroic theme and filled with non-stop spectacle, action, and visual effects. This is the type of...

writer mistakes

Meet the Reader: A Few Things We’d Really Like You to Stop Doing

by Ray Morton I was talking with some fellow script analysts recently and the conversation, as it often does when readers assemble, turned to those things that spec script writers do in their screenplays that sometimes make us a little nuts. These bugaboos tend to come in waves – certain problems that haven’t necessarily...


Meet the Reader: Linear Equations – Non-Linear vs Linear Narrative

Over the course of the last decade or so, screenwriters both professional and aspiring have become increasingly fond of telling their stories in non-linear fashion: Using an excessive amount of flashbacks and asides. Employing mosaic construction (telling a story in fragments that jump around from one point in time to another rather than in...

screenplay length

Meet the Reader: Length Does Matter

by Ray Morton I’ve touched on this issue a number of times in the past, but because I have recently been receiving a large number of scripts to read and analyze that are seriously overlong, I thought it was worth revisiting. The issue is the long-standing industry “rule” that a spec script should never...


Meet the Reader: On Sluglines and Other Matters

When you read scripts for a living as I do, you notice an interesting phenomenon: certain common elements tend to recur in a majority of the scripts that you read in a specific period of time. These common elements can be premises and story concepts (e.g. after never having read a single script about...