An overlooked piece of information for developing the right character for your plot

Image by hansiline from Pixabay

Years ago, my screenwriting group and I wrote a comedy show for Turkish TV. It had a rich premise with amazing potential. We felt confident that it was going to be a big success.

We were interviewing one of the most talented comedians in the country. Or rather, he was interviewing us. He would be cast as the brother of the main character. We thought we would have to persuade him that his character was just as important as the main guy.

He asked us one question: “What is my flaw?”

We had already given him a detailed chart, pages…


The secret is in the story’s structure

The Matrix (Image Source: Warner Bros)

In 1999, I watched The Matrix for the first time at a Danish movie theatre — with Danish subtitles. I didn’t know a word of Danish.

A few weeks before that, I had watched Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels by Guy Ritchie at the same theatre. The movie was in English but extremely hard to follow for non-natives. I was used to watching movies with Turkish or English subtitles, but there were only Danish ones. I sat there trying to make sense of the story and not cry as the Danish audience laughed the whole way. …


Good stories have strong structures

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures

“He should have been brought straight to me! I can mend bones in a heartbeat, but growing them back?… You’re in for a rough night, Potter. Regrowing bones is nasty business.”

Madam Pomfrey, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

A story without structure is like wobbly flesh without a skeleton. It can’t stand on its legs, let alone move and entertain the audience!

It doesn’t matter if the writer is a plotter or a pantser; every story needs bones. You either start with a skeleton and cover it with soft tissue and skin, or, you start with hair and…

Don’t get overwhelmed structuring your second act

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Starting to write a new story is fun, like stepping on untouched snow. You marvel at the endless potential, get excited and curious about where it can go. Writing the first act is the easiest because you have all the motivation you need.

You most likely have some great ideas about the ending too. You more or less know how things will get resolved. You can’t wait to get to the end, typing your amazing big reveal.

Well, guess what, once you have your beginning and ending, half of your story is finished! Yet, you still have the other half…

They don’t take the journey blindly, and neither should we

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We all want to be the protagonists of our life stories. We want to challenge ourselves like the heroes in epic sagas, learn, grow, and accomplish big things.

Berenike Schriewer, Ph.D. wrote this article about looking at life’s challenges from the Hero’s Journey perspective. Visualizing ourselves at a threshold when we get a call to adventure can be a powerful motivator to act.

What’s Hero’s Journey?

The famous mythologist Joseph Campbell analyzed thousands of years old stories and myths as well as modern ones to develop his concept of Hero’s Journey. His work influenced many contemporary storytellers and theorists. …

A practical tip for creating a page-turner plot

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Sometimes you hear about a novel or see the trailer of a movie with a unique premise. It’s a brilliant idea. You are curious about the execution, intrigued by the story's possibilities. You can’t wait to read or watch it.

Finally, that day comes. You open the book or sit at your seat at the movie theatre. You get hooked by the story as you expected. It goes great for a while, then… you yawn. What? You lose interest and force yourself to read or watch, trying not to fall asleep.

Something is missing in the story. It is no…

It’s not lying; it’s creating a self-fulfilling prophecy

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One positive reference changed a person’s life before my eyes.

In the 1990s, I was a junior copywriter at one of Turkey's top international advertising agencies. There were five or six juniors like me, and life was hard for us. The job was exciting but also difficult. We were supposed to come up with clever ideas every minute of the day under pressure. We constantly worked overtime without pay. We had a really cool supervisor but also an extremely demanding creative director who would humiliate us and break our hearts when he didn’t like the work we submitted. …

Fun and Games

It all started with Gramma Lee

Photo by Repent of Your Sins & Seek Lord Jesus on Unsplash

Last year in June, in the middle of the pandemic, my partner of 12 years, told me he was moving to South America indefinitely. No, he wasn’t inviting me. At first, I thought he just wanted a break, but no. He was talking about splitting custody of our son and taking him away for a few months every year. He also didn’t want me to rely on him financially anymore.

Needless to say, I wasn’t in the mood for fun and games at all. I was in a panic. I had left my copywriting and screenwriting back in Turkey, and…

It’s about evidence vs inference

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On Mondays at lunch break, a few of my classmates would surround me. “Tell us what happened on Friday night!” they would ask, “Did they kiss?”

They were curious about David and Maddie of “Moonlighting”, of course. Everyone had a crush on Bruce Willis — who had hair then — and his half-smile.

It was the 1980’s in Turkey. The internet and streaming weren’t invented. You had to stay up late on Friday nights if you wanted to watch Moonlighting. And we were a bunch of 13-year-olds who still had bedtimes. …

Hook them as early as possible

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Our TV show was aired Monday nights at prime time. Every Tuesday morning, I would sit on the deck of the 8.20 boat from Kadikoy to Karakoy (Asia to Europe) with a pit in my stomach, refreshing my phone screen every five minutes to see the last night’s ratings.

By the time I got to the office in Galata, everyone in my screenwriting group would know our ranking. If we were the 1st on the rating list, we would feel relieved and have a productive meeting for the upcoming episode. If we were the 36th — terrible news — it…

Nihan Kucukural

I wrote a dozen TV shows in Turkey. Now in New Zealand, I write about storytelling, parenting and whatever touches me.

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