Where Writers Go Wrong With Story by Mark W. Travis

Film Courage: How does knowing our own story make us a better storyteller?

Mark W. Travis, Director/Author/Writer/Instructor: That’s a big question. That’s a great question because that is at the core of everything. Let’s say Karen you have an autobiographical story, a story you want to tell and a couple of things are very clear. One thing I mentioned earlier is it’s already written. So the question is how to tell the story? Not what the story is, but how do I tell it?

Another thing that is very, very clear in terms of writing and getting in terms of how this process will influence your writing of anything is the protagonist. The protagonist in your story is YOU and let’s say it’s a story where you were 15-years-old and a date you had or something like that (whatever it is). I can see you trying to remember one…

Film Courage: Yes, which one? I was sitting home alone waiting by the phone, that’s what it was.

Mark: Okay, it’s a story of you sitting home alone. That’s fine. But now, you are the protagonist of the story, of any story. Now the question is when you think about when we talk to writers about stories that they’re creating and writing, how well do they know their protagonist? Now this is often a problem with a lot of people who teach screenwriting or storytelling. How well do you know the protagonist? How well do you even know your own characters?

But now we are back to autobiographical, the protagonist is YOU. You should know you pretty well. In fact you should know the people around you around you (family and friends and whoever else is in that story) pretty well. This is good, this is really good.

But your question is your protagonist, how well (let’s say at 15) do you know the…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).


Check out Mark’s book Directing Feature Films: The Creative Collaboration Between Director, Writers, and Actors

Check out Mark’s book The Director’s Journey

Check out Mark’s book The Film Director’s Bag of Tricks: 

How to Get What You Want from Actors and Writers

Watch the video interview on Youtube here



MARK W. TRAVIS is regarded by Hollywood and independent film professionals internationally as the world’s leading teacher and consultant on the art and craft of film directing. He is known as “the director’s director.”

Fueled by the desire to generate organic and authentic performances in an instant, Mark developed his revolutionary Travis Technique™ over a span of 40 years. Not limited to filmmakers, The Travis Technique™ has proven to be an essential set of tools for all storytellers, writers, directors and actors.

Mark Travis has taught at many internationally acclaimed film schools and institutions, including Pixar University, American Film Institute, UCLA Film School, FAS Screen Training Ireland, NISS – Nordisk Institutt for Scene og Studio (Norway), Odessa International Film Festival (Ukraine), CILECT – The International Association of Film and Television Schools, and the Asia Pacific Screen Lab (hosted by Griffith University Film School, Brisbane, Australia).

Productions directed by Mark W. Travis have garnered over 30 major awards, including: an Emmy, Drama-Logue, L.A. Weekly, Drama Critics’ Circle, A.D.A, and Ovation awards.

His film and television directing credits include: The Facts of Life, Family Ties, Capitol, Hillers, and the Emmy Award-winning PBS dramatic special, Blind Tom: The Thomas Bethune Story. Also the feature films Going Under (for Warner Bros. starring Bill Pullman and Ned Beatty), Earlet (documentary), The Baritones, and The 636.

On-stage, over the past 20 years, Mark has directed over 60 theatre productions in Los Angeles and New York, including: A Bronx Tale, Verdigris, The Lion in Winter, Mornings At Seven, Equus, Café 50s, And A Nightingale Sang, Wings, Linke vs. Redfield, The Coming of Stork and others.

Mark is the author of the Number-One Best Seller (L.A. Times), THE DIRECTOR’S JOURNEY: the Creative Collaboration between Directors, Writers and Actors. His second book on directing,

DIRECTING FEATURE FILMS (published in April of 2002) is currently used as required text in film schools worldwide. His third book, THE FILM DIRECTOR’S BAG OF TRICKS: Get What You Want from Writers and Actors was published in 2011. Mark’s popular DVD, HOLLYWOOD FILM DIRECTING, is available now.

MARK TRAVIS and ELSHA BOHNERT offer workshops and consultations on all aspects of storytelling for writers, directors and actors.

MARK TRAVIS and ELSHA BOHNERT offer workshops and consultations on all aspects of storytelling for writers, directors and actors. ELSHA BOHNERT is Chief of Staff of Boyden Road Productions and the director of The Travis Story Center in Los Angeles, California. She is the author of DON’T TRIP OVER THE GARDEN HOSE (Deuxmers 2013). Her stories and poems have been published in literary journals and she is an award-winning visual artist as well, with works in public and private collections throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. Elsha teaches workshops in “Art & Writing for Healing” and is the only teacher authorized by Mark W. Travis to teach the “Write Your Life” Travis Technique™. 


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