Sunday, January 17, 2016


Writing - like any creative process - involves a series of 'deaths'. You have to let go of some things - a sentence, a prejudice, an attitude or expectation. By jettisoning every preoccupation with what could've or should've been expressed, you give yourself a chance to create the conditions that will allow you to cultivate the confidence necessary for showing or expressing what it is that wants to speak or act through you. Without dividing yourself between the demands of others, and your own need to be successful, you open yourself to the possibility of forgiving yourself for your any perceived limitations, and by virtue of that forgiveness, to rise above them.

- Billy Marshall Stoneking

Friday, January 8, 2016


Most screenplays, at least in the early drafts, are built on cliches. The cliche is the broadest possible stroke of emotion, the familiar approximation that indicates some semblance of meaning. But it is stale, hackneyed and ultimately impotent. What the screenwriter must do is recognize the cliches and then have the guts and talent to transform them, which means disfiguring with it, damaging them, roughing them up, not for the sake of making a better cliche, but to prove to oneself that they have no power over you, and that you will not be a slave to them or allow their covert bullying. A damaged cliche can be very seductive, of course. It may even seem a useful option if you're writing bad melodrama or satire, but really, what you must strive for, and ultimately achieve, is your liberation from cliches altogether.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


One should treat the writing of a screenplay - whether a drama or a sitcom - in the way jazz musicians improvise with music. Writing actions and voices is much more like creating music that shooting photographs. Like the jazz musician, the writer is steeped in tribal circumstances - ideas, themes, talents, tastes and history, and, like the jazz player, contributes to a conversation. The musician converses with other musicians, the writer - at least at the scripting stage - converses with the other characters, the characters in the script and the audience, and the cultural and societal contexts out of which his/her passion for the story has been born. Neither the screenwriter nor the jazz musician knows exactly where the story/music is going - it is all about listening and improvising around whatever it is that you are hearing. It's a conversation, and it's always moving, always changing, so long as the music and drama are there.