Monthly Archives: April 2011

Well worth the money and time…


This workshop was so good that I took it twice.

Lance Thompson’s Screenplay Story Structure Workshop
May 14 and 15 (Saturday & Sunday) 2011.  
9:00 a. m. to 4:30 p. m.  Boise, Idaho
Nothing is more fundamental to a successful screenplay than sound story structure, yet nothing is more misunderstood. The three-act structure is
as old as Aristotle, but the simple rules have been needlessly twisted, misused and confused over the years by those who make their living as

Lance Thompson demystifies and explains story structure in this enjoyable, instructive, interactive two-day workshop that is guaranteed to improve your ability to write and tell a good story. Students will learn the importance of story, basics of story structure, and how the principles contribute to a memorable screenplay.
Students will also participate in class exercises to create stories using what they’ve learned.

Lance Thompson has been a script doctor for movies (The Two Jakes, The Honeymooners), written for television (Mr. Belvedere), and conducted screen writing classes for the Scriptwriters Network in Los Angeles and for the Idaho Film Office. His writing and photography have appeared in two dozen magazines and newspapers, including Air & Space Smithsonian and Cowboys & Indians, as well as the recent book X Plane Crashes.


“It was interesting to me to spend the weekend with so many people so fluent in using words and language.”  Ben Shedd, Academy Award-winning
filmmaker, Boise

“Thanks again for another great workshop! I came out of there with lots of ways to improve the scripts I have written and lots of ideas for new scripts.”
–Patricia Santos, 1st place 2008 Reel Women of the West script contest, Twin Falls

“I knew I would enjoy your class, but it’s even better than I thought it would be–most excellent, stirring up my creative juices and inspiring me
with new ideas…Just what I needed–thank you!”
-Sherry Cann, President Idaho Screenwriters Association, Boise

“Thanks to Lance for an amazing workshop. You led me to a huge arsenal of tools I have never known before.” –Kevin Stokes, Partner, Minuteman
Entertainment, Boise

“It gave me a wonderful insight into writing, writers, and clearer understanding of dialogue on the page. It was truly a very well structured workshop, with a beginning, middle and end. The information was invaluable.” –Sam Munoz, actor, Los Angeles

Cost of workshop is $95 per person ($85 for veterans).  Limited to a maximum of 16 students.   Workshop will be held May 14th and 15th, from 9:00 am
to 4:30 pm.  Lunch is not included, but we will break for lunch.

Workshop to be held at:
Her Spirit in Pioneer Square
5181 Overland Road
Boise ID 83705

For more information, or to reserve a seat, contact:
Lance Thompson  208-898-1451

To reserve a seat, send a check payable to Bagpipe Luau
to 1752 West Cedar Grove Street, Meridian, ID 83646

Watching Water for Elephants – between book and movie


Our weekend movie was Water for Elephants based on the book by Sara Gruen and starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Hal Holbrook and the wonderful Christoph Waltz.

My husband, usually a very tough critic, liked the movie. Our friends had a split decision. She didn’t like it much, but her husband did.

As the credits rolled and people were leaving, our friend talked about how she had read the book and the differences in the stories in print and on the screen. Only she had read the book, while the rest of us who didn’t read the book thought the on-screen story entertaining-though certainly not enough to stick with you after you left the theater.

We know the same story in written word verses on film can be vastly different because of the media in which they are presented. But last night’s discussion made me think more about story expectation.

Those of us who had not read the book did not know what to expect, and took the story on its face value — that being a simple story about a young man’s journey as he joined the circus.

Our friend expected more, something richer that the book conveyed.  For example, the symbolism of water in the book was missing in the movie. If if had been there, the movie might have been the better for it.

So as writers what does this mean for us?

To me, it is remembering our readers. Are we giving them something just on face value or something richer they will carry with them? It doesn’t matter if we are writing movies  or books. It is the story that counts. The emotion we convey.

Why I love my critique partners


For more than 10 years, I have been in the same critique group and I love my critique partners. Here are some of the reasons why.

They see what I do not. They help me talk out my writing problems. They are tough, but supportive.

They have strengths where I have weaknesses. They are great listeners.

We need people who will read our writing to spot the gaps in plot that we have missed, when our characters are acting uncharacteristic, and just to read our writing from a different view. These are all the things we overlook because we are so close to our project. My critique partners have prevented me from making bonehead mistakes that would make me appear to be a total dope to an editor. Sometimes when a plot or writing problem is rolling around in my head, they will also act as a listening board to help me talk through the problem and come up with a solution.

My critique partners can be tough in their reviews, but also point out the good stuff that I have written. I belonged to one critique group that was totally negative and I wanted to cut my throat at the end of each session. Not a good thing. As writers, we beat ourselves up enough. We need the right amount of negative and positive, so finding the right partners is essential. I am strong on plotting. My critique partners are great at motivation and structure. They are more literary where I am not. They help me improve the weaknesses in my work. I credit them with helping me make one of my books the best it could be. That one was published by FSG in New York. I paid for their dinner (and dessert), but owe them so much more.

They are there to listen to me whine and reassure that yes, I am a writer. I have learned so much from them and I hope they can say the same for me. If I never publish another book, I am still so grateful to them for helping me become a better writer.

God bless my critique partners.

Another Monday…


Yes, it is another Monday and time to sit down in front of my computer.
My cat, Miz Kitty is snoozing on my big desk and sometimes, I feel like joining her, though not on my desk.
When I first started writing, I would sometimes wait for inspiration to hit me like a lightning bolt, but as I got older I knew that I had to create my own lightning bolt. That is by being interested in everything. Looking for stories in life. Asking what if?
With such tools, Mondays are not something to be dreaded. They are a new beginning.
May all your Mondays be happy.