All writing is thinking. Regardless of the medium, the writer must inform himself completely. Inadequate thinking equates to bad writing. But asking lots and lots and lots of questions will lead to at least some very solid answers. Simply put, great thinking creates great writing.
But you must also trust in yourself. Often the most difficult thing, especially for the beginning screenwriter, is to trust and to discover that you have stories to tell - lots of them.
We can all imagine a triangle: three lines, three points, three angles. And the image of a triangle is a great way to think about the writing process. There are always three parts: the writer, the material, and the audience.
All good screenwriting incorporates the Three C’s whenever possible: CLEAR, CONCISE, and CREATIVE. And it is important to apply the Three C's to all aspects of the screenplay, action, and dialogue.
There comes a time in the creation of your script when you're going to have to cut out some of your favorite ideas. It's a tough job, but one fo the most vital in the process.
A few years ago, Richard Stayton, the editor in chief of Written By magazine, and I had a screening of A History of Violence for our students at Glendale College, and the screenwriter, Josh Olson, came in for a Q&A after the film. The questions were the standard “Who inspires you?”, “How do you research?”, “Do you write for specific actors?”, and of course the always expected, “How do I get an agent?” Olson’s answers were for the most part standard and forgettable. To be honest, I couldn’t even begin to tell any details of what was discussed, expect for one thing, and maybe the most important lesson learned.
“As I grow to understand life less and less, I learn to love it more and more.”– Jules Renard
Imagine drawing a simple square on a chalkboard. That square represents the sum of what you know and what you hope to know – your Box of Knowledge. Each question you have, answered or unanswered, occupies a space in that box. Questions you're seeking answers to occupy negative space, and answered questions occupy solid space. Obviously, some people know more, some less, and therefore, each individual's box is a different size. The real key, however, is not in its size, but in its state: "Is it expanding, shrinking, nearly empty, or completely full?"
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