Buzz McLaughlin / Script Consulting
The opening paragraph of my book on playwriting:

"The word
playwright suggests that plays are wrought
rather than written, much as wheels were once made by wheelwrights.  It suggests that raw material must be shaped and formed into a working whole by following precise specifications.  All parts must serve as a function of the finished piece.  And like the wheel, the play must have a hub, a center, which distributes the load evenly.  It must spin freely.  It must have perfect balance.  If a wheel is made wrong, it will quickly fall apart once running on the roadway.  If a play is made wrong, it will quickly fall apart once running on the stage."
And the same can be said for the making of a screenplay. There are important and obvious differences, such as length of scenes, settings, rhythm and pace, dominance of the camera's eye over dialogue, and so on.  But the making of a good screenplay, like the making of a good play, demands applying the same structural basics and a careful, precise construction process if the finished draft is going to have a fighting chance of being transformed into an actual motion picture that works.

my approach

Writing a good script--whether a play or screenplay--is a complicated journey with many pitfalls.  It's all too easy to become confused by the tangled thickets of plot and character and lose sight of the forest for the trees.  That's when one might need a fresh eye and an experienced guide. 

And there are plenty of script consultants out there for that purpose.  A quick google search will find at least a dozen.

So why check me out?  Because my focus--for both plays and screenplays--is a bit different.


In most cases, script consultants offer their primary services to help you with a completed draft of your script.

And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you have a draft of a script that you suspect is not as good as it could be but are at a loss knowing how to make it better, then bringing a good script consultant on board is probably a good move.  And it can be very beneficial.  I start my work with clients on completed drafts all the time. 

However, for you the writer, be forewarned that working this way with a consultant is not always an easy thing to do.  Ask any builder of buildings how difficult it is to make major adjustments or fixes to the foundation of a structure after the entire building has already been constructed on top of it. 

For the writer, it often requires at least to some extent working the process in reverse by deconstructing and dismantling your script to repair its faulty engineering and then rebuilding it page by page, scene by scene.  And that can sometimes be an arduous and painful task, especially when it becomes clear that some of your favorite pages and scenes are inevitably best relegated to the circular file if your script is going to soar. 

As Horton Foote (two-time Academy Award winner for Best Screenplay) told me in all honesty, “There’s a point where…I just calm down and cool it and become as objective as I can…and sometimes it kills me; I’ve cut some of the best writing that I’ve ever done.”   


Nevertheless, this kind of work is done all the time and is by far the most common approach to working with a script consultant.     


My preferred approach and specialty, however—although I’ve worked with both screenwriters and playwrights on hundreds of completed drafts of scripts (and continue to do so)—is working with you on the process of building your script from the ground up whether the project is a play or screenplay:  starting with the bare bones of a story idea, carefully siting it on the land you want to build on, putting initial stakes in the ground, digging below the frost line and pouring your footings and then slowly adding elements step by step in the right order and from carefully selected hand-picked materials until at last you’ve built an actual living, breathing script on top of solid and tested underpinnings.


In my experience, this approach produces by far the most bang for the buck.


Of course, I’m also happy to begin my work with you on a completed draft of a script.  If that’s where you’re at, then that’s where we’ll start. 


In other words, I’m ready to meet you where you’re at with your project.  Just know that what you’re getting with me is an in-depth, process-oriented approach to constructing (or reconstructing) a script that really works.  

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