Screenwriting : Today's Wish and Creative Tip by Laurie Ashbourne

Laurie Ashbourne

Today's Wish and Creative Tip

Remember when? Writers are often referred to by 'their voice' yet with the gazillions of writing books, gurus and schemes out there, none that I know of tell you how to find and hone that voice. If you struggle with this, here's a simple exercise: Write a story that you enjoy telling. I don't mean find a concept and write a script on 'what you know.' I mean sit down with a pad of paper and write a story that you enjoy telling at get togethers with your family or friends. This isn't a script, it's a simple story. The time Grandma Lulu disappeared from the New Year's party for hours, and when she came back she was frazzled and sweaty (in the midst of a Maine winter). Turns out she went poking around in the neighbor's new Cadillac and locked herself in and couldn't figure out how to get out. Or Crazy Uncle Joe's funeral that fell on seventh day of record rains and as mourners huddled under the buckling tarp, drunk Aunt Sally's heels got stuck in the mud and she toppled the urn with his ashes. So half of Joe's remains rushed down the stream into the sewer... You get the point, a story that always comes up and you've told so many times, that you now have a flair for the timing and delivery of key points. If you want, record it on your phone then go back and transcribe it. What you will find is your cadence, your choice of words and your pace -- those things that define a story in a way that only you can tell it. Now, all you have to do is apply that style to your work. This may seem trivial and elementary but voice is something many writers overlook as they adhere to their outlines and the rules of the craft and by the time they are one the 7th rewrite, the script is too ingrained to add any flavor and this is why the script ends up like all the thousands out there... In the meh pile. Which is where the 10,000 hours or 10th screenplay mantra comes in when measuring how long it takes to find the voice that leads to your success. So why not try it before going through all of that? It won't cost much, just your voice. We are our stories, may yours be a happy one.

David Levy

I know I have a unique voice. It's a mix of English, Bulgarian, and Klingon! No wonder I don't understand anything I write. Little humor for the morning. Great tip as usual Laurie! Keep them coming.

Jack Middleton

Very nice. Great exercise - I need to do that today.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Great exercise, Laurie! Please keep these coming. I really love and learn from all your craft tips. :)

Linda Perkins

Not only great but encouraging as well. Thanks Laurie.

Jorge J Prieto

Thanks, Laurie, great exercise. My grandma was a riot telling stories, I've used two of her philosophy in two of my screenplays. So, yeah it works and the more I write, now I see my voice as well and the fact that I started writing at age fourteen.

Delete Account

Fantastic advice Laurie and I thank you. I've used to record myself with cell phone. During those moments thought was silly and not getting me to flow with my work. Silly girl. haha Because of your post I'm excited to write again. Thank you.

Laurie Ashbourne


Mark W. McIntire

I recently viewed Bridge of Spies and found myself transfixed by Mark Rylance's delivery of his dialogue. I'd love to see the script because I struggle writing such concise yet emotive voice to my writing. How have you honed your craft in this area?

Laurie Ashbourne

I love listening to dialogue and slinging my own subtext, Mark. It's one of my stronger abilities. It helps that every conversation I have with my son (and friends) is like being in an Aaron Sorkin movie -- especially after he's had a mocha frappacino from Starbucks.

Cherie Grant

Yes I didn't find my voice until I let go and put MYSELF on the paper. Attitude and all. And it worked!

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