We continue our review of the best Screenwriting Tips of the past few months. Today, some advice on THE CRAFT of writing.
872: Become a collector. Collect ideas, bits of dialogue, kinds of people, things that move you, social trends. You never know when you might need them.
871: If you’ve got a zealous, all-encompassing worldview to sell, your screenplay is not the place for it. Readers/audiences can smell preaching from a mile away.
862: At some point in the planning phase, backstory goes from ‘useful information which will inform the script’ to ‘useless distraction from real work’. That’s when you stop planning and start writing.
851: The only way to understand story is to think about story all the time. You should be mentally dismantling the structure of the movies and shows you watch; your time of being a passive audience member is over.
849: When someone sends you negative script notes, read them once, twice, three times… then again the next day. You’ll react with progressively less emotion, and the notes will seem more and more reasonable.
812: When deciding what to cut in the rewrite, your job isn’t to look for what’s bad. The most beautiful dialogue in the world could be a total pacing killer. Your job is to cut the bits that slow down the story, whether they’re brilliantly written or not.
762: Chances are, you’ve been in a relationship with another human being. So write about what being in a relationship feels like for you, not what you think a movie relationship should be.
741: Change your working environment once in a while. New surroundings can give you a new perspective on plot problems.
740: A good pitch gives a sense of the genre and tone. If people have to ask, “So is it funny, or…?” at the end of your pitch, you haven’t done your job.
738: Which films do you wish you’d written? No, scratch that — which films are you actively, obsessively jealous of? That’s your brand. Write in that genre and style and you’ll always be passionate about your work.
735: Meet and work with interesting people who you suspect are much smarter than you. It’s one of the quickest ways to improve your work.
731: Ask yourself “logic questions” — after all, they’re one of the first things pitchees and potential buyers ask. Logic questions are about internal consistency and world cohesion, e.g. “Why is the monster attacking this specific town?”, or “Why does she agree to marry him when she’s shown to be terrified of commitment?”, etc.
730: Writers are vultures. And there’s no shame in that. In fact, taking several old ideas and combining them into one new idea is something to be proud of.
729: It’s hard to spontaneously generate witty phrases and neologisms; great lines arise from the clash of conversation. So when you hear someone say something clever or interesting, write it down. You might get to use it in a script some day.
Hope you liked those!