Screenwriting Advice From The Past: The Kinds Of Stories That Sell [Part 5]

October 7th, 2012 by

If you are a screenwriter, you should know about Anita Loos. Loos was one of the most influential writers in the early stages of American cinema, associated with 136 film projects per IMDB.

Married to writer John Emerson, the pair wrote one of the first books on screenwriting in 1920: “How to Write Photoplays”. I have been running a weekly series based on the book. You can access those posts here. Today: The Kinds Of Stories That Sell [P. 75]:

The amateur must always remember that people go to the motion picture theater to forget their troubles and become young again in a world of heroes and heroines, where everything is as it should be in the end.

Check out this post in which I discussed the work of Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman and the five essential elements of well-being:

P(ositive) emotion
E(ngagement)
R(elationships)
M(eaning)
A(chievement)

Some stories can have enigmatic endings. Some stories can have uncertain endings. Some stories can have downer endings. But most mainstream commercial movies will have happy endings, “where everything is as it should be,” the same today as it was back in 1920.

Next week, more screenwriting advice from 90 years ago.

If you live in the U.S., you can read “How to Write Photoplays” via Google books online here.

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