February 6, 2012

Screenwriting teacher Richard Walter on Scriptchat

Do you go to UCLA? I didn't think so. But wouldn't it be nice to hear the thoughts and advice of a seasoned UCLA screenwriting teacher? One who is a screenwriter himself, and has also written books on the subject such as Screenwriting: The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Television Writing and Essentials of Screenwriting: The Art, Craft, and Business of Film and Television Writing?
Well then you're in for a treat! Meet Richard Walter.

SCRIPTCHAT Sunday 22nd Jan, 2012
Guest: Richard Walter
* The two biggest mistakes writers make: 1) We write too much. Too many scenes, too much dialogue, movies that are too, too long. 2) We show our scripts before they’re ready.
* Prematurely shown scripts get stale in a hurry.
* Every word of dialogue, and every other sight and sough in a script must MOVE THE STORY FORWARD.
* Trim, trim, trim. When in doubt (about any word of dialogue or anything else), throw it out.
* Ask yourself: If a particular bit was missing, would it be missed? Would the scaffolding of the plot/story fall down? If so, it was needed. If not, not.
* It’s okay to overwrite on early drafts, so long as you don’t show others until the script is pared and pruned.
* Have a writers group – pals you can show early drafts to. Notes are helpful!!
* Common mistakes: being too on-the-nose, too textual, and insufficiently subtextual. The idea is to imply rather than express.
* Raise the stakes as high as you can raise them.
* Don’t tell the reader/audience to feel – MAKE them feel! Make it come out of sight, sound, action, and dialogue, not the writer whispering clues and cues to the reader.
* People who get depressed are people who feel their feelings passionately, and that’s a good sign for writers.
* Make the audience laugh, cry, whatever – as long as you don’t make the audience BORED.
* The score shouldn’t stand out – it should support the story, not be the story.
* Don’t START with the theme when you’re writing. You’ll end up preaching. It should come after story and surprise you.
* Including coverage with your script can make your script look old.
* Film school is now the #1 way to break into the industry.
* If you want to get staffed on a TV show, move to LA. Write features? It’s actually an advantage to be from somewhere other than LA or New York.
* The three big rules of writing at UCLA: Don’t. Be. Boring.
* It’s important to outline, but once you start writing the script, throw away that outline. Stay open to surprise.
* If you’re not married to writing blockbusters, there’s never been a better time for writers. Production costs for indies are crashing, and there’s worldwide distribution at every internet port.

You can follow Richard on Twitter by clicking richardwalteruc.

Next time I invade your knowledge banks with the recent TVWriterChat about fellowships. Until then, don't go changing, but feel free to edit at will.

Screenwriters Anonymous - the first rule of Write Club is you talk to anyone who'll listen about Write Club.

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