The Writer as God

December 17, 2010

“In Chapters 15 and 16 of Bringing Back The Old Hollywood,  I write at length about the importance of good screenwriting as we return to the Old Hollywood days when the people who were responsible for the written word were valued and even revered in the film industry.

If you’re just starting out as a screenwriter, imagine the thrill of inventing a story that moves us, or that encourages us to think for ourselves.  Imagine being responsible for writing a movie script that inspires a young person to stay honest, or that reminds a middle-aged man or woman to get back in touch with his or her parents after a long estrangement.  What if your script gave someone the courage to love again?

When the written word emanates from a place of sensitivity, talent, passion, it indeed possesses that much power. As a writer, you have that power only if you choose to follow your heart, and write what moves you on a soul level.  Or you can do what they do now in the New Hollywood: write a script that meets studio demands, and pleases the focus groups. But, really, haven’t we seen that movie already?”

Enjoy this article from Writers Store

Take life into your own hands with this great article on how to play God!  Feeling like your life needs a pick-me-up, why not create and write a story about it? It’s pilot season and now is the time to let the creative energy flow!
By Ellen Sandler

Sick of being controlled by other people’s plans? Frustrated by rules nobody asked you about? How would you like to play God and create a world according to you? Well, you can – write a pilot! Because that’s what a pilot for an original series is: A whole new world. And you get to create it – in your own image.

God being God, it took Him/Her a week (depends how you choose to interpret your Bible, of course) to create the world, but you being you – with many more needs than God, like getting another cup of coffee, buying your brother a wedding gift, indulging in the miracle of on demand TV, and most irritating of all, showing up at work – it will probably take longer. On the other hand, unlike the scientists, who tell us it took a couple of billion years to create the world, you’re a creative artist and don’t have to prove your facts, so it won’t take you nearly that long.

Let’s go back to the Bible for a minute. You know that line – “In the beginning was the Word and the word was…” In your case, the word was – WRITTEN DOWN. So if you want to create a whole new world, aka a pilot, you begin by writing something down. But what? Where do you start?
Anywhere! Start with whatever you know, no matter how little or unformed it is. Write down one simple thing you know about your pilot idea. Anything, but it must be in simple words on paper (okay, the computer screen). What if you know way too much about your idea and are overwhelmed and confused about how to focus? Do the same thing. Choose one simple thing you know and write it down.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For example, do you have a character? Excellent! Write down the character’s first and last name.
Don’t have the name yet? Make one up right now and write it down. Don’t worry about making it the “right” name – you can change it later as many times as you want (thank you, Find and Replace tool). Write down a placeholder name; any name except your own – especially if the character is based on you. A pilot is fiction, even if it’s highly autobiographical. It’s a fictionalized version of your life, not your memoir. You need some distance, so use your initials if you are having separation anxiety, but change the name.

Okay, you’ve got a name written down. Write one thing—one specific thing—you know about this character. Oh, but wait a minute – not something from the backstory. Make it something you know about who your character is right now. Present tense – that’s key! He’s 15. She’s an office temp. He’s divorced. Something you know about this character that’s simple, concrete and NOW. Only one thing. You can add more later, but for now, only one. For those of you who are struggling with too much information, identifying your character only in present tense is likely to eliminate a lot of stuff that is keeping you from seeing your character clearly. It doesn’t mean the backstory stuff isn’t true or valuable, it means it isn’t relevant right now.

You can read the rest of the Article from Writers Store, HERE.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Mills December 23, 2010 at 3:38 pm

This is a brilliant article and gives many good tips to start pumping the ideas in your head and get them down. All movies start with the written word and will take many drafts before being ready to submit to an agent or producer. It may take years before your screenplay reaches the screen and you may not recognize it when it does but the writer’s mantra, as in most things in life if you really want them to happen, is never give up. So keep writing.


Vincent December 29, 2010 at 7:43 am

Writing was one of the keys to the success of classic Hollywood. Just think of those who worked in the industry during its golden age — Ben Hecht, Anita Loos, Robert Riskin, Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, Norman Krasna and so many others. These writers understood the human condition and how to translate it from words to screen, with vivid characterization, intelligence and wit. Whether comedy or drama, they illuminated life. These legends continue to serve as inspiration.


Stephen Simon December 29, 2010 at 10:22 am

Ben Hecht was a superstar, as were many of those you mentioned, including Wilder who was my stepfather’s best friend. They had lunch together once a week for almost 30 years. To say Billy was acerbic is one of the great understatements of the century–what a wonderful, witty curmudgeon he was….think Larry David on steroids!….and, Vincent, as you mentioned, writers were revered in those days for their ability to “understand the human condition and put it on screen”–that’s a great phrase…today, there are so few screenwriters with that kind of “portfolio”….this year, I would point mostly to David Seidler for his brilliant screenplay for The King’s Speech and Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network.


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