Posts tagged ‘script writing’

July 31, 2013

The Un-Rules of Screenwriting: Joe Gazzam’s List

E.B. White wrote that there are “no inflexible rules by which the young writer may steer his course. He will often find himself steering by stars that are disturbingly in motion.” With this in mind, we’ve asked working screenwriters to share a list of the “un-rules” that they find most helpful in their writing careers.

Our list of un-rules this week comes from Joe Gazzam (@JOE_GAZZAM), the talented screenwriter/novelist who graced our pages with an interview about what it’s really like to be a screenwriter.

Joe gave us a list of five random rules (more like soft guidelines, he said.) “Let me preface this,” he told us, “by saying that I’m a working writer pounding out mainstream studio films.  If you’re an indie type, if your dream is to write “My Left Foot,” you should probably ignore everything I’m about to say.”

With that in mind, here are Joe’s thoughts:

  1. If you can’t pitch your idea in a sentence, toss it in the garbage. There’s a very good chance the person who has the power to buy your script will never read it.  They will simply ask the exec underneath them (that did read it), “What’s it about?”

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July 18, 2013

Writing A Script with Good DNA

John August has a great article on his website about the idea of writing a script from theme. Some screenwriters like to start from a theme and then develop a story around it, but in a response to a reader question, John questions whether “theme” is actually an essential component of script writing at all:

“Theme” is a word screenwriters use without defining it clearly, so yes, it’s bound to be frustrating. But I’m not sure we should be using it at all.

In high school, we were taught that a theme is usually about opposing forces, e.g. “man vs. nature” or “the struggle for independence.” I don’t know that this kind of analysis is all that useful when you’re talking about a screenplay, however. It’s helpful for writing an essay about a movie, not for writing the movie itself.

I suspect what your pro-theme writer friends were talking about was some essence that permeates every moment of a good film. Something that’s in its DNA. You feel it when it’s there, and notice it when it’s missing — even when the script otherwise seems solid.

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July 16, 2013

The 3 Basic Components of Script Writing

Danny Rubin, writer of the Groundhog Day screenplay, is now teaching a screenwriting class at Harvard, and he shared some of his most fundamental lessons on how to write a script with Harvard Magazine:

WRITING A SCREENPLAY “isn’t that hard,” says Danny Rubin, Briggs-Copeland lecturer on English. “It’s only impossible.” In other words, turning out a 120-page script—the standard length for a two-hour feature film, computed at one page per screen minute—isn’t an especially difficult challenge, but writing “one that actually works, that reaches the audience, comes alive, engages us emotionally” certainly is. 

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