Sunday, January 27, 2013
12 THINGS EVERY SCREENWRITER SHOULD KNOW BUT USUALLY AVOIDS
1. A good screenplay is the embodiment of a collaboration between your many selves and voices. The more in touch you are with those selves, the deeper you will be able to go.
2. Write out of a passionate need to show your audience something that is deeply felt and true to yourself.
3. Go where the risk is greatest - the compelling dramatic journey will always take you by way of the path leads right through the middle of your greatest fears - lay yourself constantly on the line. Be prepared to sacrifice everything.
4. Love the WALL (the block) that stops you in your tracks. Understand its source. It’s there because somewhere in what you’ve written you’ve lied or carelessly assumed more than you were entitled to, and the story - which has its own, invisible life - refuses to let you go any further. You can’t THINK your way around it. Don’t take refuge in formula - search out the “lie”. It’s there in the writing somewhere, waiting to be discovered.
5. Rhythm is everything - it ain’t got a thing if it ain’t got that swing. Hear the music, make the music. Be the music. Sounds mean as much as words, some times more.
6. Make sure there is something truly personal in each of your characters, even if it reveals you at your most vulnerable. You don’t have to admit to anything. Imagination will always be your defense.
7. Find your tribe. Initiate your collaborators. The script is a sacred tjuringa that opens a Dreamtime and inspires vision. Stick to your people, be faithful to them. Seek aesthetic and emotional compatibility with all your collaborators. Understand your director’s world view because it will colour his/her approach.
8. Push emotional extremes. Be daring. Don’t be a puritan. Lives are in the balance.
9. Don’t leave out suspense or mystery. Make sure there are times when the characters know more than the audience (mystery), and other times when - in the midst of a dangerous, life-threatening situation - the characters don’t know as much as the audience (suspense).
10. Make sure you include at least one impossible thing in your screenplay, and don’t let your director talk you out of it.
11. Character is the embodiment of obsession. Dramatic characters are driven - they are constantly fighting for something. There can be no rest until they’ve satisfied their needs. Leave out tea-drinking as much as possible.
12. Remember: screenwriting is a time art - it is more like music or poetry than the novel.