Screenwriting 101: John Sayles

December 4th, 2012 by

“It’s usually not a matter of lots of ideas, it’s a whole subject matter that I’m interested in. What I need to do is really think and condense it. Really think about what do I want to learn about this subject. So it’s not so much getting rid of ideas as kind of condensing them. When I’m writing a script for myself, my rule of thumb is it’s my story, I focus on what interests me the most, what I want to explore. I think a lot of what fiction is for people, whether a book, movie or play, is a way to organize or focus what goes on around us. When you run into somebody on the street and they tell you a story about a friend that’s funny or shocking, they’re doing the same thing when they’re telling the story—they’re choosing details, omitting some things and highlighting other things that make the story better. So it’s really not omitting things, but focusing them, to get a sharper picture of what it is I want to say or talk about.”

— John Sayles from “Creative Screenwriting,” Spring, 1996

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