As a working screenwriter and director, I am often surprised at one question I get all the time – and that is, “what software do you use?”  And my response is generally simple: who cares?  Software is not going to do the heavy lifting.  Software makes formatting the final screenplay easier.  But no one – and I mean no one – buys a movie or tv show because of the format.  They buy because of story.  It’s all about story.  Stories move mountains.  Another question I get asked a lot is “where do you get your ideas?”  Sometimes I tease people and say I have a tree out back of the house that grows ideas and I just go pluck one when I need one.  If only.


Stories are not born of a single moment or event – though they can be inspired by those things.  Stories are the total of our experiences, our education, our personal creativity and having the discipline to pull those things together to create something that is entertaining and engaging. That discipline is super important.  Maybe most important.  Because what good is the greatest idea in the world if we don’t do what it takes to write it down and then rewrite and polish it (and, yes, format it properly) – without all of that work the story goes nowhere.


I can’t tell you how to write good stories.  But I can push you in the direction of good stories by encouraging some good habits.  First of all – read.  Read really good novels and short stories.  Do not simply get inspiration from movies and tv shows.  Doing that simply reduces your characters to clichés and your plots to recycled, familiar, shallow work.  Novels and short stories expose us to good writing – to characters and dialogue that engage us and inspire us.  Let’s learn from the best. Even good comic books can be a great source of inspiration and education.  Make sure and come back for part two on my thoughts on story so we can explore other ways to help you be the best writer you can be.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Writer/director Robert Tinnell is a veteran creative whose successes span multiple media – from his critically-acclaimed feature film work to cutting-edge MTV-Award-winning music videos to Eisner Award-nominated graphic novels.  Burt Reynolds, Joe Mantegna, Malcolm McDowell and Ben Gazzara are among the legendary actors he has directed and Ryan Gosling, Elisha Cuthbert, Andrew Schulz and Jessica Darrow are among the talents he has put to work early in their careers.