Posts tagged ‘advice’

November 26, 2013

Joe Eszterhas’s 10 Rules of Screenwriting

Joe Eszterhas was once the highest paid screenwriter in the business. Before turning to film, he was a senior editor at Rolling Stone. The rules below, which he recently shared with (a great site that you should absolutely check out), are… unique. Some of his rules you should take to heart. Some you should probably never follow.

As the saying goes when you take notes on your writing, find the note behind the note. In this case, find the advice behind the advice:

1. Don’t see too many new movies. Most movies in theaters today are awful. They will depress you. You will think to yourself: How can they have made this abominable script instead of buying and making mine? Spare yourself the anguish. Read a good book instead.

2. Don’t mince words. If the idea a studio executive gives you is a shitty one, don’t say “Well, that’s interesting, but…” Say “That’s a really shitty idea.” The people you’re dealing with aren’t stupid—they’re just vain. Deep in their hearts they know it’s a shitty idea.

3. Don’t let ’em convince you to change what you’ve written. A director isn’t a writer. Neither is a producer or a studio exec. You write for a living. You’re the pro. They’re amateurs. Dilettantes at best. Treat them that way. Make them feel that’s what they are.

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October 16, 2013

Quote of the Day: Carl Sandburg

Beware of advice—even this.

July 17, 2013

Quote of the Day: Charlie Kaufman

I think if I’ve worked anything through with screenwriting it’s that I’m not going to be able to work anything through.

March 15, 2013

Video: 5 Great Screenwriters Talk Craft

Christopher Boone of has put together five videos of award-winning screenwriters talking about their writing process. Boone writes:

Today I present to you five award-winning screenwriters discussing their approach to the craft of screenwriting. You may want to get a snack or even a small meal because some of these videos are long, but all of them offer unique insights into how each of these writers (or writing teams) approach a story, and then break the story down into screenplay format. Hopefully, these videos will educate and inspire you as you work on your own screenwriting craft.

Check out all of the videos at

October 31, 2012

Quote of the Day: Joseph Hansen

Put weather in.

August 17, 2012

Rewriting: Finding the Will to Take a Machete to Your Script

Jenna Avery of Script Magazine has written a helpful article about approaching rewriting with the right mindset — a mindset that is capable of cutting your favorite scenes, even restructuring your entire story, to make your script work.

She writes:

As I embarked recently on a major rewrite of a feature script, I bumped into a big wall of resistance. While I didn’t think my script was necessarily perfect, I was attached to my story in its then-current form. So even though I was getting feedback about the need for significant structural changes, I was struggling with the idea of letting go of much (okay, anything!) of the story.

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July 10, 2012

Fix Your Writing Mindset

Danny Manus of No BullScript Consulting recently shared this list of advice for getting in the right mindset about your writing and your career:

Two weeks ago, I attended a very special 4-day seminar given by Brendan Burchard, the NY Times #1 best-selling author, motivational speaker, and the expert’s expert. It wasn’t about screenwriting per se, but instead was about being a high performer – in life and in business. Whatever business you might be in.

Much of what I took from the seminar was about making sure you are in the right mindset for success and that you are looking at your daily routine and plans for the future in terms of productivity, energy, clarity and courage.

I realized how many things I was doing that were sabotaging me, and took away some great soundbytes that have helped me get back into the correct mindset. So  I thought I’d share them with you…

First… Delete these sayings from your vocabulary:

-I know how to do that already, I read a book about it.

– I know enough about how to structure a script and write a logline.

– I don’t need to know spelling or grammar, I’ll just have someone edit it.

– I don’t need professional feedback, I know it’s ready.

– The only reason I’m not an A-List screenwriter is because I don’t have an agent or manager.

– I can’t do that, because I don’t have ______.

– I know it’s just a first draft, but I can make it good enough by this weekend to enter it into this contest.

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April 10, 2012

The 11 Commandments of Writing

Henry Miller, author of the novel Tropic of Cancer composed this list of writing commandments for himself while working on said novel. Though Miller is a novelist, his commandments apply to any type of writing project:

(Thanks to Treasure LA for sharing this list with me.)


  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
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March 6, 2012

How Professional Screenwriters Work

John Buchanan of Script Magazine recently laid out the work habits that writers need to have to be successful in the film industry:

Screenwriting is unlike any other professional endeavor. To survive its unique pressures and peculiarities and have a career, you’ll have to master a few fundamental disciplines.

It’s one thing to sell a spec script or complete a first paid assignment for a studio. It’s another thing entirely to establish a reputation as a reliable professional and enjoy a long career as an in-demand Hollywood screenwriter. After the glow of initial success fades out, new writers learn—often painfully—that the requisite capabilities for a working scribe reach far beyond the ability to write crackling dialogue or craft a nifty plot twist. Too often, it’s assumed that talent trumps disciplined, hard work.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

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February 24, 2012

Writing Concise, Visual Action Descriptions

Paul Chitlik of Script Magazine recently fielded the question, “How can a screenwriter write descriptions we can “see” without overwriting them?” Paul offered some poignant advice:

 Here’s one of the basic contradictions a writer has to face. You know that a reader, probably not the producer, is going to be the first person at the production company or studio to read your script, so you have to impress this person. We know that motion pictures are all about what you see on screen, so you’d think that the descriptive passages of a script would be important. And they are. But readers often skip through them to get to the dialogue because they think, sometimes correctly, that the character is shaped by the dialogue. And dialogue is easier to read. But harder to write.

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