To start on the road to authorship you have to understand a key
element in the making of a successful writer and this may be a
novelist, a screenwriter or a playwright. There is no such thing
as writing badly and whatever you may write, you have to write it
with pride. The second motto you should condition yourself to
live by is "it’s not as difficult to apply the pen to the paper,
as it is to apply your behind to the chair." Indeed, what has
made great writers out of Cinderella Story’s Akiva Goldsman or
King Kong’s Peter Jackson is many years of perseverance to become
the best at what they do. They were not born brilliant artists
and even today, they admit to still having a lot to learn.
Shervin Youssefian who wrote this year’s acclaimed
Machiavelli Hangman was told repeatedly that he should stick
to directing and that he could never become a decent writer.
After sticking to his passion, eventually, he overcame the traps
that often cripple beginners: too much exposition, senseless
talk, no subtext, all characters talk and look alike.
Steven Spielberg who recently finished War of the Worlds said
that what distinguishes David Koepp from other action-adventure
writers is that he finds a link to humanity and manages to tell
the big budget extravaganza through the eyes of an ordinary
person. This must have been exactly what attracted Tom Cruise to
the project in the first place. While there may have been a lot
of explosions and a ton of special effects, the audience was
still connected to the story because of the characters’
relationship to one another.
Every writer knows that the best material comes with inspiration
but inspiration is only a trigger to release material that has
been building up inside the writer’s head. You get your material
through observation, lots of it. And what good is it if you
observe and you forget… which is why it’s always good to keep
with you the clichéd writer’s notepad or audio recorder – guess
what, they do work! You have to sit back and listen instead of
talking so much and absorb… and every time that something catches
your attention, let it be a trigger that it would probably
interest others too.
The third motto to live by is that we are all alike. As human
beings, we all experience the same emotions and most often than
not go through the same life events. For this reason, when you
write something that has happened to you and means a lot as far
as your personal experiences go, you can be certain that a lot of
other people will relate to the material.
So as a recap, you have to sit down and make yourself a writing
schedule because it’s always better to write badly than to write
nothing at all. Second, you have to start observing. Third, you
need to tell your own stories using the screenwriter’s structure
which we will review next week.
Until then, do your homework and keep writing.