Story Talk by Jeff Lyons

“Story Talk” is a regular Script Magazine column written by Jeff Lyons, a leading U.S. story consultant, script doctor and story development teacher. Along with opinion pieces; spotlight articles on hot, new entertainment-related books; and stories about the latest issues facing screenwriters, the movie industry and television, “Story Talk” focuses on the nuts-and-bolts of screenwriting craft and storytelling essentials, while informing readers about cutting-edge story development tools every writer needs to lift their game to the next level. “Story Talk” is therapy for your stories and an invaluable addition to any screenwriter’s toolbox.

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Story Talk: Should I Take a $1 Option On a Screenplay?

You get the phone call, and it goes something like this: Friend: Hey, are you sitting down? (smile in his voice) You: Yeah, what’s up? Friend: I have a producer who wants to option your script! You: (heart flutters) Oh my god … Friend: Yeah, he’s an indie producer I know—really talented, really connected....

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Story Talk: Plot=Character=Story—The Magick Formula™

Recently, I was teaching a workshop on premise line development. In that class I defined the terms “character,” “plot,” and “story” (as I use them; a bit differently than many). The resulting chaos this caused among the writer-students was startling.  Okay, I have developed my own interpretation of these classical terms d’art, and this...

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Story Talk: To Outline or Not to Outline—That Is the Question!

As you know, if you read this column with any regularity, I take a morbid pleasure in sharing with you cantankerous, mean-spirited, and humiliating conversations I have from time to time with fellow writers, publishers, film producers and other fellow travelers of the writing life.  The following repartee occurred some time ago, but it...

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Story Talk: Writer’s Block—Really? Part II

In “Story Talk: Writer’s Block—Really? Part 1” I introduced the myth and the reality of writer’s block and talked about the popular mythology about this overinflated annoyance.  As it happens, writer’s block is 99.99 percent smoke and .1 percent fact.  The .1-percent part is the only part you can work with. Here in “Story...

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Story Talk: Writer’s Block—Really? Part I

Writer’s block—we’ve all been there.  We’ve all suffered.  And we’ve all been duped.  What would you say if I told you writer’s block is a fiction?  What would you say if I said that writer’s block was a complete fabrication foisted upon writers for decades?  Would you feel duped?  Would you feel had?  Or...

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Story Talk: Pity the Poor Script Consultant

Ala Rodney Dangerfield, “I don’t get no respect.”  Actually, I do, I get lots of it, but at the moment of this writing I have been eviscerated and disemboweled by a fellow writer who hates story consultants and story gurus.  I enjoy sharing my little humiliating conversations with you, so here’s how it kind...

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Story Talk: High Concept—Yes—It Actually Means Something!

As screenwriters, we have all come up against the agent, publisher, studio hack or fellow writer who when asked to give feedback on our story retorts, “Yeah, good idea, but… it needs to pop more. There’s no high concept.” Sigh. “High concept”: what the heck does that mean—really? What is a writer supposed to...