How To Write An Amazing Movie

Dear people,

Advice from established writers can be… tricky.

On the one hand, these are the wise who have gone before – I should lap up their shining words like so many drops of water from the fountain of youth.

On the other hand, do I really want more voices in my head telling me what I’m doing wrong and offering guidelines for being better?

When confronted this morning with yet another list of verbal gems from established Hollywood, I intended to bypass it and carry on with my writing. Blithely complying with the oft-repeated wisdom of the wise who have gone before, to simply write. “Writers write.” End of story.

I really needed some fresh enthusiasm though, so I clicked.

Just for a quick skim.

Within seconds I realized what I was reading was not simply the same wise words and inspirational quips that never fail to drive traffic and sell ads. These are stories from real people who struggle with real writing the way I am really struggling with it now. Little fizzes of awakening started zapping through my body, like instinct was meeting experience and being validated. In a way that I really need to be validated at this particular point in my career.

In a way that makes me want to write.

Stories like this one from the writer of Please Give and Enough Said.

Nicole Holofcener: I used to do [note cards], and it really just fucked me up. It would sort of kill the fun, and it would make me realize that I didn’t know how to structure a screenplay. Or I didn’t have the answers that you’re supposed to have when you outline a script, and I figured out somehow that I didn’t need to have the answers. And I would just start writing and see what happens, and usually, what happens is a mess, but a fixable one, and that’s kind of how I start.

Yes! Me too! I keep doing note cards because that is what we’re supposed to do, but maybe it is killing my fun. Maybe I need to come up with a way to do this that is fun for me.

It’s a relationship. Of the long-term variety.

Right? I mean honestly, does this not make sense?

I hope you will read and be encouraged by the rest of the article. Good stuff.

Let’s keep going.

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7 thoughts on “How To Write An Amazing Movie

  1. Love it! Especially Ms. Holofcener’s decision to chuck the notecards. There’s no one right way to write. Or rather, the only right way to write is the way that works for you! Why does it take us so long to figure this stuff out? Sometimes I feel insufferably dense.

  2. I happened across this same thing earlier today. Loved it, although I totally agree that it’s important to realize that everyone has a different process. A lot of learning how to write well is just trying out different things and figuring out what works.

  3. Whatever works for sure! But I find personally that a rough outline–like very rough, a sentence or two for each scene– helps immensely. For me the purpose isn’t to have an air-tight plot, which I do think only comes together after several drafts, but to have something to start from each day I sit down to write. Having complete freedom is paralyzing for me, there has to be some guidelines to follow.

    • Gah, God save us from complete freedom! I hear you, some structure is definitely a need where screenwriting is concerned. It’s just so unique to read comments from so many people who are doing it and still don’t really know how they’re doing it. Thank you, beautiful people.

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