Screenwriting 101: Stanley Kubrick

July 28th, 2015 by

“I think the best plot is no apparent plot. I like a slow start, the start gets under the audience’s skin and involves them so that they can appreciate grace notes and soft tones and don’t have to be pounded over the head with plot points and suspense hooks.”

— Stanley Kubrick

Screenwriting 101: Dorothy Parker

July 21st, 2015 by

screenplay“When I dwelt in the East…I had my opinion of writing for the screen. I regarded it–all right, sue me–with a sort of benevolent contempt, as one looks at the raggedy printing of a backward six-year-old. I thought it had just that much relationship to literature. I thought, ‘Why, I could do that with one hand tied behind me and the other on Irving Thalberg’s pulse.’

Well, I found out, and I found out hard, I found out forever. Through the sweat and the tears I shed over my first script, I saw a great truth–one of those eternal, universal truths that serve to make you feel much worse than you did when you started. And that is that no writer, whether he writes from love or from money, can condescend to what he writes. What makes it harder in screenwriting…is the money he gets.

You see, it brings out that uncomfortable little thing called conscience. You aren’t writing for the love of it or the art of it or whatever; you are doing a chore assigned to you by your employer and whether or not he might fire you if you did it slackly makes no matter. You’ve got yourself to face, and you have to live with yourself. You don’t–or at least, only in highly exceptional circumstances–have to live with your producer.”

— Dorothy Parker

Screenwriting 101: Larry McMurtry

July 14th, 2015 by

screenplay“It might be, indeed, that literary genius is a kind of encumbrance in Hollywood, but then even literary geniuses don’t need to wear their genius every minute of their lives. Bringing genius to Hollywood is like wearing the new blue suit to the beach — a bathing suits works better. What’s needed in screenwork is imagination, an agile mind, and a facility for on-the-spot invention; also tolerance, a sense of humor, and a willingness to compromise, the qualities of which are also useful in marriage. Genius, if one happens to have it, can be left at home; surprisingly enough, it will keep, and money needn’t necessarily taint it.”

— Larry McMurtry

Screenwriting 101: Joss Whedon

July 7th, 2015 by


“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”

— Joss Whedon

Screenwriting 101: Tim McCanlies

June 30th, 2015 by

“That second act, for me, is the most fun, because the first and third act have such clearly defined functions. The first act you have to set up the problem or problems, introduce all your characters–there are so many things that you’ve got to do, there just isn’t room for the fun stuff. And the third act is almost an extended scene in a way–the chase, the fight, etc. But in the second act, you really get to cut loose, find out who this character is, see his or her changes.”

— Tim McCanlies

Screenwriting 101: Ernest Lehman

June 23rd, 2015 by

screenplay“One of the most important feats in screenwriting is to convey exposition not only without it appearing to be exposition, but also without wearing the audience out, and there’s a limit to how much you can do in one long, sitting-down scene. One of the tricks is to have the exposition conveyed in a scene of conflict, so that a character is forced to say things you want the audience to know–as, for example, if he is defending himself against somebody’s attack, his words of defense seem justified even though his words are actually expository words. Something appears to be happening, so the audience believes it is witnessing a scene (which it is), not listening to expository speeches.”

— Ernest Lehman (“The Craft of the Screenwriter”)

Screenwriting 101: Norman Krasna

June 16th, 2015 by

screenplay“When you are committed to the skeleton of a beginning, a middle and an end, the cleverness is in concealing the skeleton. This is a cliche, but you have to surprise them with what they expect. It has to be an odd way of telling it, but they want to know which way it is going. You have to anticipate what they want, and the trick is in how you lead them to it.”

— Norman Krasna

Screenwriting 101: Roy Huggins

June 9th, 2015 by

“A screenplay is a series of interesting scenes. Too often scenes are boring in order to head to an unusual ending. This defeats the purpose of what the writer is trying to to — keep the audience’s attention. The writer should work the story through, scene by scene, never jumping ahead until the scene he’s been working on works and is interesting.”

— Roy Huggins

Screenwriting 101: William Goldman

June 2nd, 2015 by

“The most exciting day of your life is your first day on a movie set, and the dullest day of your life is the second day.”

— William Goldman

Screenwriting 101: Colin Higgins

May 26th, 2015 by

screenplay“The job of the screenwriter is to run the film in the reader’s imagination. And nothing should get in the way of that. Good prose is the only way to have a reader envision an exciting film. For example, I can’t believe it when I find a sentence without a verb. Verbs are some of the best tools for creating pictures in the imagination of the reader.”

— Colin Higgins (Harold and Maude, Silver Streak, Nine to Five)