Screenwriting : What's the best piece of screenwriting advice you've ever received? by Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

Phillip 'Le Docteur de Script' Hardy

What's the best piece of screenwriting advice you've ever received?

In the screenwriting game, opinions are free flowing and many writers think they can do "the craft" better than the next person. What I want to know is what you forum dwellers consider the best piece of advice that you received from another writer or industry type?

Pamela Bolinder

A fellow writer advised: (paraphrasing here) After finishing your screenplay, step away from it for three weeks. Return and rewrite. Repeat until it's bulletproof.

Bill Costantini

"Write something great that I haven't read before."

I think that's like the mantra of everybody looking for a story. That line is definitely on the top of my wall board, and guides every sentence that I write.

Best fortunes to you, Phillip!

Tony S.

Harlan Ellison, “Don’t be afraid to go there,” and Michael Hague, “Where are you in the script?”

Pamela Bolinder

Phillip "The Man Who Can'" Hardy: What is YOUR best piece of advice that you received from another writer or industry type?

Eric Christopherson

The best screenwriting advice came from a novelist who told me: "Fiction is compelling only to the degree it raises questions and delays answers."

Dan Guardino

The best advise I got came from my Agent who told me to try and attach Directors to some of my screenplays.

Anthony Moore

"Give up". Someone once looked me in my eyes and said that to me. I looked them right back and said "No.", Those two words awoke the fire of defiance within me. Daring myself to fail so that they can say I told you so.

Years later I've won several contests and will be meeting with producers later this year. Next year I plan to have my first sale and representation. I will make it happen.

Craig D Griffiths

From Craig Mazin (writer of "Identity Thief", "Hang Over 3" and many other films) you can do whatever you want, it is your film until someone buys it. Following formula and copying the ways of others is a recipe for failure because we already have those people. We don't need to come to you to get a copy.

Kathaleen M. Brewer

That a screenwriter's job is to write something that will SELL - not only to the public but to those who must invest in the product. That's the really hard part - because you feel you're having to give in to the "market" instead of writing what inspires you personally. I end up writing for myself first, then rewriting for the market, knowing that way I'm preserving the truth underneath it all.

Bill Albert

Never be afraid to hurt your characters.

Owen Mowatt

The definition of a bad story is, a lie that not even you believe.

Willem Lodewijk Elzenga

kill your darlings

Phil Parker

In his book, 'Story' McKee's discussion about arcing every scene and ending every scene with a hook - that combo is how you write page-turners.

Cherie Grant

Phil Parker I have been trying to master that.

Eric Christopherson

Phil, I've never read McKee. By "arcing every scene" do you mean something like: problem > conflict > escalating conflict > crisis > resolution/hook? Or something else?

Aray Brown

Everything is subjective

Dan Guardino

Quit. I should have listened to him.

Constance York

"You don't get good at it, until you've written at least ten."

Constance York

Less is more, show don't tell. Start the scene as late as possible and end as early as possible.

Owen Mowatt

"You don't get good at it, until you've written at least ten.

The best advice, Constance, not the worst! :)

Constance York

Owen Mowatt- that is good advice. If you write one and then spend ten years trying to sell the first one, you won't evolve and grow much as a writer. The more you do it the better you get at it- and that means more- not just writing the same one for ten years.

Phil Parker

Eric Christopherson - I highly recommend getting the audio version of McKee's book and taking long walks, or long road trips through the desert (nothing to look at lol). It is excellent in so many ways. It's not a nuts-and-bolts book like many screenwriting tomes. It's a mix of theory, philosophy, and storytelling. Besides, McKee reads it himself (audio version) and his voice captivates you. As for 'arcing' - he can best describe it, but in short, it's about having the energy of the scene change from positive to negative, or v-v, from beginning to end in order to give a sense of development and forward movement. He walks you through a film or two to show how it works. Brilliant stuff.

Pamela Bolinder

Thank you, Phil Parker! I'm getting the audio version!

Pamela Bolinder

Owen just shared a powerful example of how to shift perspective. Love that!

Owen Mowatt

Well, I think I understand what, Constance is trying to say, even though the explanation doesn't match up with the advice.

Having said that, there is still no Nirvana or Yoda level with scriptwriting. Even the most skilled/successful will tell you that they are still learning. It is also possible that you can write 20+ scripts and still suck at it. Or be award nominated for your first.

Jody Ellis

Seek out producers over managers or agents- they are usually much more willing to read your work. And if you’re working with a producer, your answer is always “sure no problem” no matter how much you don’t want to revise your script. Don’t treat your work as precious, because it’s not.

Patricia Zell

From a reader (script coverage) when I asked how I could make my script producible: walk away from it for a while (I did); eliminate most of the characters in the beginning (I was trying to introduce everyone at once), and make the break-up real (add real conflict). Then from Save the Cat, the beat sheet.

Patricia Zell

Actually, the beat sheet has worked great with my stories. I was having problems with conflict--I was focused too much on showing background and things like shopping trips which did not in any way advance my story. Once I understood the beats, I was able to craft a well-paced story. Put together with the advice of the reader, the beat sheet gave me a structure (like the framing of a house) to tightly construct the conflict in the script. And, yes, I stick fairly closely to the page numbers that Snyder recommended, and the stories have substance.

As far as formulas go, anything that is constructed has formulas--houses, skyscrapers, cars, planes--whether people articulate those formulas or not. Even artists use "formulas" in their work.

My stories are completely original--I've been living with the characters since the early 1990s, and they were well-developed. The beat sheet helped me tell the stories these characters deserved.

Peter Roach

All your characters talk like you. DON'T DO THAT.

Patricia Zell

No, the reader didn't comment on the beats at all. I happened across Save the Cat at Barnes and Noble, and since I had heard about it, I bought it. Between the reader and the book, I was able to change my mindset in order to learn how to write a producible script and a producible franchise.

Constance York

Owen Mowatt, while very true that someone could write 20 and still not be good- I'm interested who was "award nominated" with their first? And are we talking big awards? "First" is relative. First produced and first written are sometimes two very different things.

Kathaleen M. Brewer

Comparison of screenplay paradigms - beat outlines. http://dramatica.com/resources/assets/Dramatica_paradigms-0707.pdf

Owen Mowatt

Hi, Constance

If you accept that writing 20 script would not make you a good writer, then this alone disproves your point of needing ten to be good.

Also, I didnt say that anyone HAD won an award for thier first script (although I'm pretty sure someone has), I said it was possile, which it is.

Clayton Dudzic

The best advice I heard was about ageism and to keep writing those scripts no matter what your age is.

Constance York

Owen , it doesn't disprove anything. You misunderstood my point. Here I'll rephrase it - try and pay attention this time- the more you do it the better you get at it. Now do you understand the point? I'm sorry if the person who gave the advice didn't make it clear enough for you to understand.

Trevor Prime

Why not?

Owen Mowatt

I'm losing count how many times you try and redifine that initial saying, Constance. But dont sweat it, it still isn't correct either way.

You dont have to write ten scripts to get good. However, I do agree that the more you do something the better you can become, but this is hardly sage advice, it's quite obvious..

Pamela Bolinder

Oh Erik, sometimes you are so funny!

Patricia Zell

Here's another perspective: when the first screenplay in my franchise gets produced, it will the first story I wrote as a script. However, that script has been rewritten so many times that I have lost track of the number. So, in one sense, it is the first script I wrote, but in another sense, it's the umpteenth script I wrote. Anyone who aspires towards being a published/produced writer should understand that, unless one is a natural-born writer (few and far between), success comes only with writing and writing or with rewriting and rewriting.

Way back when, as I started developing my writing skills in general, I was told it takes writing a million words before a writer becomes good at it. I found that to be true.

Pamela Bolinder

Sorry, you can't take it back - it's already out there. Wink.

Constance York

Erik Jacobsen- LOL

Constance York

Thanks Patricia! I'm glad you agree! (and get it) Yeesh.

Bill Albert

Recently had a friend, well, maybe not, tell me that since I was 56 no one would ever want to invest in my scripts. I was over the hill and should give it up. Just don't have the urge to talk to him anymore. Who needs enemies?

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