The new writer's bible



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  • The new writer's bible

    There are a lot of really great people on this board. Always willing to help. Always constructive. But looking at Vig's log line about the 'board bully' reminded me how easy it is to crush a completely new writer by a smart ass comment. So....I was thinking, what would be your top three pieces of advice to new writers[ more if you want?] - not in respect of format, but something to bolster the courage and keep them at it. Can I start the ball rolling with......

    1. All criticism is subjective.

    2. It takes time and experience to learn what is good advice and what isn't.

    3. When you stop enjoying it. Stop doing it. But if you really are a writer you'll never stop enjoying it.

    I may have to edit this when better ideas are posted because frankly I'm not inspiring myself. But you get the idea?

  • #2
    Re: The new writer's bible

    1. Writing is not writing, it's rewriting

    2. If something doesn't make sense to one person it's not a problem. If it doesn't make sense to at least five or more people then it's a problem.

    3. Don't defend. Take it in. Process. Make it better.


    • #3
      Re: The new writer's bible

      1. Remember you're trying to entertain, not bore to death.

      2. Take all criticism with a pinch of salt, it's just opinion.

      3. For the love of God, learn to write English and spellcheck.

      Derek's Web Page - stories, screenplays, novels, insanity.

      Nobody knows nothing, and I'm nobody.


      • #4
        Re: The new writer's bible

        Make the journey of your hero more difficult.
        Drink lots of fluids when you write.
        Don't lose track of time/day as you write... like forgetting to send a Father's Day card.


        • #5
          Re: The new writer's bible

          Perseverance supersedes even talent. But you have to have some talent. And it has to be a mix of writing style, and great ideas.

          I remember when Joss Whedon came on the scene after doing an uncredited rewrite on SPEED. He was the hottest thing around. I was going on a series of meetings with prodcos and studios on one of my projects. His name came up a now and then. More than a few of the execs said he was just an OKAY writer, but came up with great ideas. That's what did it for him.

          Sorry for the digression English Dave.



          • #6
            Re: The new writer's bible

            Not a digression Landis. A very well known TV writer over here has been described to me as a so-so writer but a great ideas man. So.......

            A well written bad idea will not be as well received as an okay written great idea.

            I agree. But people, let's not start a whole new debate on that? It is not a licence to produce shoddy work.


            • #7
              Re: The new writer's bible

              As a newbie on the boards, I want to thank you for the encouragement and advise!


              • #8
                Re: The new writer's bible

                Nicked from another post,
                Michael Hauge's Theory In "Writing Screenplays That Sell"
                This is a great 101 book but I take exception to something that he wrote and I'm not sure if I believe it.

                First he talks about different kinds of characters like Hero, Reflection, and Love Interest.

                Then on page 63, he says, "A character cannot fall into more than one category."

                Then on page 64 when talking about dual-hero stories, he says, "...each of the heroes may serve as nemesis, reflection, or romance for any of the other heroes."

                So in his view, a hero can serve also as a love interest or reflection to another hero in the story but only the hero can venture over into the other categories.

                What do you think about what he writes and can you find examples which prove otherwise?

                So.....Don't believe everything you read. [nipping back to answer your post pencey.]


                • #9
                  Re: The new writer's bible

                  Three Easy Pieces

                  1) Read as many different scripts, from as many different genres and time periods as you can.

                  2) Screenwriting manuals can be very useful, not as cookbooks to give you the recipe for the next blockbuster, but as tools for understanding why the scripts that you read work the way that they do.

                  3) Sit down and write already.
                  If you really like it you can have the rights
                  It could make a million for you overnight


                  • #10
                    Re: The new writer's bible

                    1. You are not going to sell your first screenplay for $1 million.

                    2. If virtually everybody you talk to says your concept sucks, it probably does.

                    3. It's not our job to "get it." It's your job to convey it.

                    4. Screenwriting is basically a business proposition.

                    5. If you can't write a simple sentence without a spelling error or grammar mistake, you need to go back and study spelling and grammar. "I was in a hurry and I haven't had time to go back and clean it up" is not a good excuse.

                    6. If this is something you really want to do, by all means do it. You're the only one who can decide it's time to quit. Nobody can decide that for you (except the Grim Reaper).
                    "Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.-
                    ― Ray Bradbury


                    • #11
                      Re: The new writer's bible

                      I sent my first ever script to Hauge to be critiqued, way back when. He gave me some good notes, and said I could do a follow-up phone call. So I did, and we had a good conversation. He said he thought my concept has been done before, it didn't seem unique enough(that IDEA thing again). But he added that he thought I was well on my way as a screenwriter. I said thanks a little bit dismissively, and he said "no really. You really have it. Be happy about that. Not everyone does." That gave me a lot of encouragement. My life has been a living hell ever since...


                      But there is nothing more encouraging then when someone gives you a check for your screenwriting, and it clears the bank!



                      • #12
                        Re: The new writer's bible

                        Don't ever forget to enjoy each story you tell, and each character you create.

                        Learning to look at your own work objectively will be one of the hardest things you learn in this life, but you've got to learn it and learn it well.

                        Read, read, read.


                        • #13
                          Re: The new writer's bible

                          Great advice so far and much better than the godamned awful ''guru'' crap I poatched from another thread.


                          • #14
                            Re: The new writer's bible

                            I have completed my first script and started my second. I'm not altogether new, but I'm not an old, grisled vet either. These realizations helped me.

                            1. It's hard to "write your way into Hollywood". Realizing that from the beginning will help you put into context the negativity you'll run across on this board about breaking in. It is possible to get read, to get representation, and to sell. Your success rate will depend on your talent as a writer. If you write steaming piles, you probably won't find much success. If you can write masterpieces, your chance of success will be higher. Of course a little luck and some contacts won't hurt.

                            2. I read somewhere (might have been on this board) that you should pay more attention to those that give you constructive criticism. I believe it's true. It is harder for someone you know to tell you the things they didn't like about your story than it is to tell you that they loved it. I appreciate those that choose to do that for me. Then again, it's good to receive validation too.

                            3. Until you are fortunate enough to sell it, it's your story. Do whatever you want. Write about whatever you want. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean that someone will buy it. A 150 page epic about an 8 ft. tall green vampire that eats women's underwear and $hits spools of cotton better be written very, very, well.

                            I'm by no means an authority on writing. I haven't sold anything, and I don't have representation yet. There are many people on this board that have alot more experience and insight into screenwriting than I do. Just wanted to contribute my two cents.

                            Last edited by late4ttime; 06-18-2005, 06:48 PM.


                            • #15
                              Re: The new writer's bible

                              1. Revision are a re-vision and not just proof reading.

                              2. Don't abandon the project you're working on for the "better" idea that always seems to come when you hit the second act. Jot down the idea and keep going. There are a lot of people with a lot of started scripts, but few finished ones because they always pursue the "better" idea instead of sticking with a story when it got tough.

                              3. (okay, this is how I think about writing) There's nothing fun about writing. It's hard work and it can be pure torture. The fun part, or the most satisfying part, is writing "The End" after going through the hell of getting on paper.

                              4. Asking someone to read something you didn't proof read is like serving coffee in a lipstick stained cup. First draft or not, read your work over before asking someone else to read it.