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…

Here is why the film gives me hope about humanity

Jacques Cousteau wearing his Aqua-Lung, with his team mate helping him
Le Monde Du Silence (1956) Image: Rank Organisation

My ex-boyfriend and I had a thing about Palme d'Or winning films. One time he brought Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle's Le Silence Du Monde (1956). I didn't know about the film then, but I discovered that it had also won an Oscar. I loved Cousteau and his ship Calypso from my childhood but still found it strange. Why would the Cannes Jury give the Palme d'Or to an underwater documentary?

A pioneer in cinematography

I don't know how the Cannes jury decides which films to award. My boyfriend used to say that the Palme d'Or was given to films that bring fresh perspectives…

Again, it boils down to character

Better Call Saul (Image: Sony Pictures Television)

I wrote TV shows with my screenwriting group for fifteen years. We also planned and plotted a few movie scripts over the years but never actually wrote them. For two reasons: First of all, we almost always had a highly demanding TV project that paid the bills. Writing a TV show was financially more rewarding since it meant regular income (as long as the show didn’t get canceled).

Secondly, writing a movie script always felt like a much more significant undertaking. Yes, a movie involves much less writing compared to season-long TV series, especially in Turkey, where TV episodes are…

Your job is to guide the cooking step by step

Photo by Klaus Nielsen from Pexels

“How do you think the director will shoot this?” my friends from my screenwriting group would ask me.

I was a novice screenwriter. I had tons of creative ideas, a passion for telling stories, but my words on the page were “unshootable.”

Not all words, obviously. But I got frequent little shocks when they said something was unshootable. For example, one time, I had used the word “mischievously” in action. My friends looked at me in a funny way (try to visualize that!) and asked me what the actor would be doing at that point of the scene.

No. Unless…


Storytelling is not narrating some guy’s adventures; it is designing a user experience

Memento (2000), Newmarket Films LLC

(*) “Gimmick or really dull movie? You decide.”

Blake Snyder, about Memento, in Save the Cat!

This story contains spoilers about Christopher Nolan’s movie Memento (2000). I will tell you the ending — no wait, I mean the beginning! If you haven’t seen Memento, I recommend you watch it first. Otherwise, what you’ll read here won’t make too much sense, anyway.

I remember the time I watched Memento in a movie theater when it was first released. When the film was over, I walked out into the middle of Istiklal Street in Istanbul and joined the flood of people in…

Until I didn’t

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

“Don’t put your hands between your legs at night,” my mother used to say to me, “otherwise they will chop up your hands.” I would visualize a plate of chopped-up meat but for some reason, I didn’t freak out. When you are five years old, you don’t realize what is ordinary and what is fucked up.

“Why?” I would ask. She would say “They just will.” “Who are they?” “Just them.”

I didn’t even know what she actually meant when she talked about “putting my hands between my legs.” Much later, she told me about the hymen.

Hymen: The most important jewel of a Turkish girl

You couldn’t dismiss…

Have we been doing it all wrong?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

My son hated school from day one. Taking him to school was one of the most challenging things I did. Every morning I begged, preached, bribed, took away privileges, manipulated, and tried all the cold war methods to persuade him to go to school. He was bored to death sitting in the classroom.

Homework was a struggle too. When I tried to help my son with homework, I was often astounded: He had no idea about the topic! During the lecture at school, he would maybe catch the first few sentences and then zone out. …

You might save thousands of dollars (and the environment) by using this well-known trick

Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash

“Why would I want to wash shitty nappies? Are you insane?!”

I couldn’t believe my ears when my Kiwi partner first suggested using cloth nappies for our soon-to-be-born baby. It was the 21st century, dammit!

I am from the third world. When I was growing, disposable nappies either weren’t around, or they weren’t affordable. But it was 2012 now! No one washed nappies anymore!

Yes, I cared about the environment! But who in their right mind would bear the burden of washing shitty diapers ten times a day when we could roll them and throw them out? …

It all boils down to your character

Photo by Andrey Zvyagintsev on Unsplash

I know this by heart. But for some reason, it slides down to the back of my mind and I overlook the most important thing. Does it happen to you too?

I start writing a story. I have an exciting premise. I write an introduction, or a first act, and when the real story begins, the writing stops flowing. I don’t know which way to go, even though I have spent hours plotting it before. The events I have envisaged don’t seem to work. …

How I instantly became “popular”

Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash

“Can we please stop the bus? I can’t find my wallet, so we will have to get off and go back to Ankara!”

Mel and I were two university students in a bus full of amateur photographers, driving full speed away from the city. It was after 2 am and pitch black outside. We had driven for more than two hours, so we had a vague idea about our location: The Middle of Nowhere. When I said we should get off, Mel almost had a heart attack. How were we supposed to go back? With no money? But we didn’t…

Nihan Kucukural

Turkish screenwriter and storyteller. I analyze Story Bones on The Writing Cooperative.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store