Buzz McLaughlin / Script Consulting
Academy Award Best Actor nominee David Strathairn with me and writer/director Aaron J.  Wiederspahn at the wrap party for my company's film The Sensation of Sight


If we begin working together, I will join you on this adventure as a guide and will enter this process thoroughly with you.  I will offer you my insights, ideas, and suggestions along the way in an effort to have your story land where you want it to land and to have you reach your ultimate destination of creating an exciting, excellent, and stage-worthy play or screen-worthy screenplay.  Finally, I will always be conscious of the fact that this is your 
script--that you are the writer and I am the consultant and that my job is to guide and give feedback and your job is to write the damn thing.

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From Chapter One of my book ("Formulating Your Dramatic Idea"):

"...I've read hundreds of plays and screenplays, many by extremely gifted writers, that do not work.  In almost every case it's clear  that the writer did not conduct some sort of preliminary analysis of the central idea.  It's as if the entire script had been written blindly, without regard to basic dramatic principles--perhaps in the hope that, in some mysterious way, everything would simply fall into place.

The sad truth is that this rarely, if ever, happens.  People spend hundreds of hours, often slaving a year or more over a script which, having little chance of coming to life on the stage or screen, is doomed to sit on a shelf.  Like the carpenter who builds a house on sand, many writers build their scripts with little or no regard for the essential dramatic underpinnings that plays and screenplays need in order to work."

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If you've gotten this far in checking me out, it's become abundantly clear that what I offer is not the Hollywood-style script consultancy where the emphasis is often on "coverage" and polish and getting your script in the best possible "edgy" shape to sell in the oversaturated commercial screenplay meatmarket.  And I'll be the first to tell you after seeing where you are with your project,  that this may be exactly what you need.  However, as you can see, my focus is on your unique story, getting inside of it with you in a committed way, and hopefully helping you shape it into a compelling and exciting script that will stand on its own merits and strengths and in the process open any doors that need to be opened.  So thanks for visting my site, and regardless of where you land, I wish you the best in your scriptwriting adventures.
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A popular theory used in the teaching of creative writing insists that the writer should never consciously consider theme or "message" during the writing process.  I've had people get upset and even walk out of my workshops when I suggest  it's important to give some thought up front as to what will be the primary communication of a play or screenplay.  I try to calmly explain to them that their open-ended approach may work for poetry or fiction (although I have my doubts), but when developing an idea for a play or film, it's almost impossible to proceed successfully without giving at least some thought to what you're trying to say.  

The simple fact is that in gathering the basic materials necessary to construct the framework for a script you have to think about where you want your story to land, and by so doing you're automatically dealing with the primary communication to your audience.  To avoid thinking about theme or message, therefore, is to avoid thinking about how you're going to put your story together structurally.  And to do that is to beg for frustration.

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If you’re interested in pursuing the possibility of working with me, first send me a short initial email (see the contact page on this site) saying as much and I will get back to you pronto.  This way we’ll be able to establish a private (and spam free) email connection. 

Then we can set up a short initial phone call to briefly discuss your project and answer any procedural questions you may have. I'll then most likely ask you to send me via email attachments or snail mail (whichever you prefer) a simple one-page description or outline of the story idea you want to develop (or have developed) as either as a film or a play, a paragraph or two about yourself and your experience as a writer, and a ten-page scriptwriting sample (either play or screenplay, not necessarily from the project you're seeking help with). 


For no charge, I will read this material, determine if I think we’re a good fit, and get back to you within a few days. I don’t want to waste your time and money if I don’t think I can be of good service to you and your project.  My other consideration is that, as much as I enjoy doing this, I have a finite amount of time to devote to consulting work and as a result can take on only a limited number of clients at any one time.  In other words, it’s impossible for me to take on every project that I’m presented with—I take this game very seriously and make a major and personal commitment to clients—and therefore I’m admittedly a bit selective.    


If I think I can be of help to you and your project and, after these initial exchanges, you decide you want to proceed, then we can begin the process of working together.




How we proceed with the consultancy will obviously depend on what stage you’re at with the project and what you want help with.  As every project is different and at a different stage of development with its own set of issues, we’ll take it step by step, with the option always open after each step for you to call it quits.   


Because each project has its own unique issues and set of challenges—this work is not a mass-produced, assembly line type of operation (and I would be leery of anyone who suggests a set-in-stone price for various services)—it’s impossible upfront to say precisely how much you may be shelling out as we work together on a project.  However, here are some ballpark numbers laying out roughly what you might expect to pay if you were to work with me through a typical step-by-step approach:

If we start working together with initial story idea development, then via email and/or on the phone I'll take you through a series of exercises and discuss with you ways that will help you define and test your premise and design your story's structural underpinnings.  Call it basic story structural engineering. (c.$200)

 Then, building on this work, we can move into character work and backstory, where I will guide you through the development of a rich and intricate story world populated by living, breathing characters. (c.$200)

 Next, analysis and further invention of the main story structural elements, including drawing up an initial blueprint of how the story can be shaped into a three-act script with the creation of a preliminary plot outline, a road map as to how it might unfold scene by scene. (c.$300)

 And then, when you feel ready, you'll go off and write your first draft.  As is often the case, this may be the phase where we first start working together. If you've already brought me in pre-first draft, then I may or may not be involved in this part of the process--giving feedback and support as you work through writing the draft (you do the writing!)--or you may want to keep me out of it until you turn in the finished draft.  We'll figure that out as we proceed.  Regardless, when you turn in the draft, I'll give you extensive script notes and analysis and as much consulting time on the phone as is warranted and/or that you can afford or want. (c.400-600+)

 Finally, it's on to the rewriting process until you think it's ready to show to the world.  I'll weigh in on this phase as much as you want. (Cost will vary depending on how much you involve me)

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It's important to stress that I'm open to begin working with you at any phase, depending on where you're at with a project and the kind of help you're looking for.  Also, that this kind of consultancy must remain necessarily flexible in terms of our time together on the various phases and explorations undertaken.  The process of writing a script always has to be open to new discoveries as you proceed.  What you think now is the best road map for a script might change considerably as you dig deeper into the process and new layers of your story are revealed.








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