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ScreenwriterBones

Stories from a seasoned screenwriter. Take heart! Your creative source is infinite and un-ending. Sometimes Hollywood just rips up the roadmap back to it. The bottom line is that Hollywood is not at all as bad as it sounds. Additionally, it's worse than you can imagine. Remember to pack a sense of humor.

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I am a screenwriter living in Southern California. I've written screenplays for most of the Hollywood studios over the past 20 years. One of the uncredited writers of FANTASTIC FOUR, I wrote FIRE DOWN BELOW starring Steven Seagal, and the TV Movie 12:01 PM starring Martin Landau and MANEATER with Gary Busey. I have directed short films. I have written on numerous Hollywood studio assignments, some for big shot actors, some for small shot nobodies.

Monday, May 16, 2005

What Delights? What Thrills?

What delights you and what thrills you in writing? You never hear people talk about this. You hear about the 21 steps to a screenplay, and the four boxes or character, and the seven steps of walking the plank to perfect writing. Structure is important, but if it's devoid of life, it's still dead. So what thrills you? Character. Squeezing it, pressing it, crushing it, expanding it - I hope. I mean, sure - there is thrill in the unique plot, the brilliant device, the unexpected reversal, but without someone you love in the middle of it being mind-screwed, then what's the point?

My Rule of Character is simple. In any story, for whomever you create, make things impossible, then make them worse. We only reveal our true nature in times of hardship. The harder the hardship, the more that is revealed. If you lose your wealth, are losing your life, fighting for your love, watching your last moment at happiness slip into eternity, whatever you construct - it is these moments will make a character collapse, fight, expand, crumble, whatever - delights you in your story telling. So, who is your character, what are their strengths and their flaws, and what will delight and thrill you as you take them on the ride of their lives?

By the way, it has to be the ride of their lives. I hate when someone only brings four tenths of a crisis to a story. You've got to bring ten tenths. Don't misconstrue this to mean that every story has to destroy Manhattan with a tidal wave. But in your character's life, what is the tidal wave, on their inner or outer landscape, that will destroy them? Bring ten tenths of a crisis to that character's life, one that will reveal their true nature (as opposite as it may be from where you started) and that's a story.

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