Buzz McLaughlin / Script Consulting

what folks have to say...

about my consulting work:


“Over ten years ago, with absolutely no education, training, or experience, I embarked upon becoming a playwright/screenwriter.  After being taken advantage of by every "script consultant" out there, abused by directors, and driven to hysteria by actors, I dragged myself to the Drama Book Store and found a book called The Playwright's Process by Buzz Mclaughlin.  After reading the first paragraph I realized I had met the answer to my dream.  I called Buzz and began a long-term professional relationship.  Unlike many consultants, Buzz helps you to write the story you want to tell, not the story he wants to tell.  Always supportive, sometimes painfully honest, he doesn't pull punches and will push you to the best of your ability.  His expertise transcends the page with his years of experience in dealing with directors, actors and other members of the creative team who may impose their ideas on the naive, inexperienced writer who can fall victim to changes that will ultimately hurt the process and the play.  I would recommend Buzz to any writer, at any level, who desires to create a perfect draft and move the words from the page into an actor's mouth and ultimately to a full production. 
         --John Anastasi, Midlife Crisis Productions, New York City

"I had been working on a screenplay for a character-driven drama for a couple of years before I asked Buzz for his input on the work.  I sensed the basic arc of the story was in pretty good shape, but there were some weak points that required some attention, and the ending needed to complement the main theme more tightly.  Buzz is an incisive but sensitive critic.  When he gave me his feedback I was struck by how much he honored both the characters and the story.  He didn't try to steamroller me into another direction--instead he pushed me to find good solutions to the problems that he pinpointed.  I felt his experience gave him a deep understanding of my characters and their motivations--and I've no doubt his subtle but crucial insights enhanced the dramatic energy of my material.  I found working with Buzz the best kind of collaborative process--when we were done, I felt sure that the screenplay had been transformed into something far stronger than I could have managed without his help."
             --Simon Harling, Kozmic Gas Productions, New Castle, NH


“So many things I would like to say that all mean the same thing:  Thank you.  This journey has been so incredible, educational, and…well, fun!  I look back to the first draft of my script that I sent for your feedback and I am amazed at the changes in shape and cadence that have resulted from your ‘touch.’  All of the passion, hurt, isolation and growth that I experienced living the story now bleeds off of every page, really telling the story and allowing for the reader/audience to be me for a bit.  I am humbled and amazed and so very thankful for your guidance and friendship.  I feel pretty darn fortunate…it’s sort of like I hit the lottery!"

                          --Cate Buchanan, screenwriter, Los Angeles



“We found Buzz McLaughlin to be a storehouse of wisdom and inspiration in consulting.  We learned so much about word placement and the importance of flow in writing.  His attention to detail and patience were invaluable to our continuing growth as writers.”

          --Pat and Gary Denson, Roughest Crew Pictures, Los Angeles


about my book (that lays out my process-oriented approach):


A Necessity 

An invaluable book that testifies to Buzz McLaughlin’s excellence as a teacher.  It is a manual, really, a how-to book.  Every playwright and would-be playwright needs a copy.  It belongs between the dictionary and the thesaurus.  It is a necessity.”

 --N. Richard Nash, playwright and screenwriter,author of The Rainmaker


A must for would-be writers

“I wish I would have read this book six years ago. McLaughlin's book follows the playwright's process from conception to completion -- offering practical exercises and also advice from leading contemporary playwrights. The true brilliance of this book, other than its stunningly lucid practicality, is supporting quotes from working playwrights, who expound in keen detail on the playwriting process. The title of this book is misleading. This book is just as pertinent to screenwriters and fiction writers. It offers practical advice for problems every writer encounters. In particular, the "Playwright's Process" presents helpful exercises on nursing an initial idea into a functional, three-dimensional story. Rather than impress readers with his knowledge of theatre vocabulary, McLaughlin charts a clear course for readers by focusing on the elements of playwriting most newcomers struggle with -- particularly structure (character development, plotting, etc.). What makes this book so pragmatic is that McLaughlin, an experienced teacher and playwright, asks relevant questions concerning the mechanics of playwriting. The playwrights' quotes aren't presented in a round table fashion, but rather in response to insightful questions. This book covers all angles. It addresses the nuts and bolts of story writing, and also touches on issues like writer's block, and more importantly, how to deal with it. I was depressed after reading this book because I felt I had wasted six years, aimlessly throwing ideas and characters onto the page. If you are an aspiring screenwriter and have read Syd Field's "Screenplay," place it on your reference shelf. The Playwright's Process should be your writing Bible.

                           --Nicholas R. Hartman, Apple Valley, CA 


A great coursebook for the amateur

“This book reads as well as it works. Buzz McLaughlin has taken the effort to show you how to take your time as you work from a first idea to a first draft and beyond. His own seemingly undeniable suggestions are reinforced (and occasionally juxtaposed) with the words of many of our finest and, more importantly, oft produced playwrights. With an emphasis on the craft of playwriting, he reminds us that inspiration only takes us so far and that without some structure and nurture, our ideas will never get beyond incoherent ramblings of dialogue. He has provided everyone who has a theatrical idea with exercises and worksheets that will bring a play into the active, three-dimensional world of real characters with real needs. Wouldn't have finished anything more than one so-so play without it.”

                              --anonymous reviewer

Step by step guide through the creative process

"I'm more interested in writing screenplays than playwriting, but Buzz's book still helped me and inspired me to get the basics down so the creative process would be that much easier.  He doesn't deceive the writer into thinking this is going to be some get-rich-quick, write-a-play-in-two-weeks gimmick.  He shows how famous writers have built a structure on which to pour their creativity, without letting that structure get in the way.  Very inspirational.  If you have any spark of creativity, any germ of an idea, Buzz's book will help you make it blossom."   

                               --David Caprita, from

The poster from my production company's recent feature film:

And the poster from our upcoming feature film:


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I've spent three decades field-testing the principles outlined in my book in the university classroom, in numerous professional and workshop settings, and through conducting in-depth, process-oriented interviews with many of the major scriptwriters of our day.

As reviewers/users of my book and consulting services have pointed out (see examples on this page), my basic approach to helping writers develop projects can be applied to both plays and screenplays.  Although both are distinct and unique art forms in many ways, dramatic storytelling in both theatre and film adheres to  most of the same basic principles when it comes to character development and dramatic structure.

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When I asked Arthur Miller to describe what it's like for him to write his first drafts, he thought for a moment and said:  "It's a bit like trying to cross a crevasse, and you have an anchor you throw across the empty space and hope it'll catch onto something on the other side.  And then you can build a bridge across on that rope."

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