Screenwriting 101: Mike Sweeney

November 24th, 2015 by

“There seems to be a lot of ‘if only’ floating around the amateur screenwriting world. If only I can get a rep. If only I can get on a list. If only I can sell a spec. If only I can find a shortcut to breaking in. The only one you should worry about is ‘If only I can make this script as good as it can be.’ Then everything else will take care of itself.”

— Mike Sweeney

Screenwriting 101: Shane Black

November 17th, 2015 by

screenplay“I think about the audience in the sense that I serve as my own audience. I have to please myself that way, if I saw the movie in theatre, I would be pleased. Do I think about catering to an audience? No.”

— Shane Black

Screenwriting 101: David Mamet

November 10th, 2015 by


“A good film script should be able to do completely without dialogue.”

— David Mamet

Screenwriting 101: Aline Brosh McKenna

November 3rd, 2015 by

screenplay“Young writers seem to forget that people in the industry are desperate for good material. The business isn’t constructed to keep you out of it, but to bring you into it. More than ever now, there are so many contests and agents and producers. It’s a world that’s so desperate for good writers. So if you can build it, they’ll be there. If you write something great, and you know somebody who is even peripherally involved in the industry, like the assistant director’s brother-in-law’s niece, it’ll find its way to someone. It may not get green-lit and turned into a blockbuster immediately, but it’ll get read, and if it’s really good, it’ll start your career.”

— Aline Brosh McKenna

Screenwriting 101: Akiva Goldsman

October 27th, 2015 by

screenplay“Writing is both a pleasure and a struggle. There are times when it’s really aversive and unpleasant, and there are times when it’s wonderful and fun and magical, but that’s not the point. Writing is my job. I’m not a believer of waiting for the muse. You don’t put yourself in the mood to go to your nine-to-five job, you just go. I start in the morning and write all day. Successful writers don’t wait for the muse to fill themselves unless they’re geniuses. I’m not a genius. I’m smart, I have some talent, and I have a lot of stubbornness. I persevere. I was by no means the best writer in my class in college. I’m just the one still writing.”

— Akiva Goldsman

Screenwriting 101: Robin Swicord

October 20th, 2015 by

screenplay“You have to understand how the business works. Sometimes, I’m so mystified I can’t believe this is a business. You have to understand the tide comes in, and the tide goes out. There’s a constant shift of personalities. Some studios are more stable than others, and you have to note which ones are which. The problem with reading the trades is that a lot of information is planted by publicists, so it seems everyone but you is making a big deal somewhere, or they’re associated with some wonderful project that’s just been announced. You can’t help but get into a state of envy. It’s good to pick up the trades every now and then but not every day.”

— Robin Swicord

Screenwriting 101: Robert Mark Kamen

October 13th, 2015 by

screenplay“If you’ve got craft, you got game. If you got game, you can write your way in and out of anything. Writing is the best gig in the whole business, as far as I’m concerned. It’s the only job where you don’t have to wait for someone to tell you what to do. You just sit down and make shit up.”

— Robert Mark Kamen

Screenwriting 101: Paddy Chayefsky

October 6th, 2015 by

screenplay“Artists don’t talk about art. Artists talk about work. If I have anything to say to young writers, it’s stop thinking of writing as art. Think of it as work.”

— Paddy Chayefsky

Screenwriting 101: Neil Simon

September 29th, 2015 by

screenplay“I think the best ideas come together at the same time. In other words, the most interesting characters plus a very interesting conflict. If I just have one without the other, then I’m not sure where the thing is going. Those kinds of conflict always interest me. When people are confined in a physical space, or in a situation, and must deal with each other. It’s why marriage as a subject interests me, because you must deal with it.

I try not to write villains per se, because I think life is the villain. I think how we cope with life is the conflict. And so it just seems too easy to write about somebody who is an out and out villain, because the audience makes up their mind very quickly. You’ve made up their minds for them. But when the two people are equal in their conviction of what the particular problem is they’re dealing with, then it’s like a badminton game, the audience doesn’t know which side to be on.”

— Neil Simon from “Word Into Image”

Screenwriting 101: Christoper McQuarrie

September 22nd, 2015 by


“Screenwriting tip: A mystery is only as good as its conclusion, especially if that conclusion is a monologue explaining the mystery.”

— Christopher McQuarrie (via Twitter)