I recently made a post and shared an article I found where Joss Whedon shared his top ten writing tips. The first five are here and the full list is on our blog! Great stuff!!!
Joss Whedon is most famous for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer, its spin-off Angel and the short-lived but much-loved Firefly series. But the writer and director has also worked unseen as a script doctor on movies ranging from Speed to Toy Story. Here, he shares his tips on the art of screenwriting.
1. FINISH IT
Actually finishing it is what Iím gonna put in as step one. You may laugh at this, but itís true. I have so many friends who have written two-thirds of a screenplay, and then re-written it for about three years. Finishing a screenplay is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if itís not perfect, even if you know youíre gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.
Structure means knowing where youíre going ; making sure you donít meander about. Some great films have been made by meandering people, like Terrence Malick and Robert Altman, but itís not as well done today and I donít recommend it. Iím a structure nut. I actually make charts. Where are the jokes ? The thrills ? The romance ? Who knows what, and when ? You need these things to happen at the right times, and thatís what you build your structure around : the way you want your audience to feel. Charts, graphs, coloured pens, anything that means you donít go in blind is useful.
3. HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY
This really should be number one. Even if youíre writing a Die Hard rip-off, have something to say about Die Hard rip-offs. The number of movies that are not about what they purport to be about is staggering. Itís rare, especially in genres, to find a movie with an idea and not just, ĎThisíll lead to many fine set-piecesí. The Island evolves into a car-chase movie, and the moments of joy are when they have clone moments and you say, ĎWhat does it feel like to be those guys ?í
4. EVERYBODY HAS A REASON TO LIVE
Everybody has a perspective. Everybody in your scene, including the thug flanking your bad guy, has a reason. They have their own voice, their own identity, their own history. If anyone speaks in such a way that theyíre just setting up the next personís lines, then you donít get dialogue : you get soundbites. Not everybody has to be funny ; not everybody has to be cute ; not everybody has to be delightful, and not everybody has to speak, but if you donít know who everybody is and why theyíre there, why theyíre feeling what theyíre feeling and why theyíre doing what theyíre doing, then youíre in trouble.
5. CUT WHAT YOU LOVE
Hereís one trick that I learned early on. If something isnít working, if you have a story that youíve built and itís blocked and you canít figure it out, take your favourite scene, or your very best idea or set-piece, and cut it. Itís brutal, but sometimes inevitable. That thing may find its way back in, but cutting it is usually an enormously freeing exercise.
Find the rest here.
Wilson W, Jr