6 Tips From Popular Screenwriters

By November 26, 2013Blog, Featured

“Screenwriters famously get no respect.”

In his article published yesterday in The New York Times Magazine, writer Adam Sternbergh called 2013 an “excellent year for the written word as spoken on-screen,” and that “we want to celebrate the part of a film that starts on the page and ends up, in the best cases, inscribed onto our memories. In other words, the words.”

Sternbergh spoke with 14 screenwriters about their work, the writing process and advice they have for aspiring screenwriters. We’ve picked seven of great tips:

  1. “Let your characters talk to each other and do things. Spend time with them — they’ll tell you who they are and what they’re up to.” – Greta Gerwig
  2. “I always try to make the opening image of the film reflect the theme or the story in its entirety. I don’t always succeed, but that is my goal when I write the opening.” – Danny Strong
  3. “When working out a story, I try to stay away from traditional outlines … My answer is to use note cards that I spread out on the floor. Ideas for scenes go on a card and initially aren’t required to work in concert with other scenes. This process ends up creating connections and story lines that might not have been discovered otherwise. You never know where a card might land on your floor.” – Jeff Nichols
  4. “Have a beginning and an end. If it doesn’t need to start at a certain place and end at a certain place, then it might not be a movie. Go make it into a TV show instead, and you’ll get paid much better.” – Andrew Bujalski
  5. “My motivation [for being a storyteller] came out of observing others (home, street, etc.), not films.” – Julie Delpy
  6. “There is no trick to writing a believable love story, a heartbreaking scene or real-sounding dialogue. All you need is to tell the truth. It’s always heartbreaking.” – Ethan Hawke

 

For more screenwriting advice, check out:  “BAFTA’s Six Super Screenwriting Tips.”

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