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Author Topic: Good article  (Read 5328 times)
Ed
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« on: July 12, 2009, 02:54:46 PM »

Good article on screenwriting, but still relevant to writing in general. What makes a story great and memorable, etc.

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Were the characters each unique and fully realized, or more like interchangeable mannequins used as props for visual stunts? Are you still puzzling over the movie at breakfast the next morning, or have you forgotten the whole thing by the time you leave the theater?


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But to call a movie well written is far more than a question of dialogue -- in fact, most filmmakers agree that dialogue is the least of it. Instead, good movie writing comes down to what defines good writing in general: a command of structure, voice and momentum, all in the service of a story that grabs spectators by their throats, then leads them along a path they simply must follow or they won't be able to eat, sleep or lead a happy life.

Even the tiniest visual details in a film -- choices viewers might assume a director or editor made -- were written in the screenplay. The pink underwear Scarlett Johansson wore in the opening shot of "Lost in Translation"? Specified in the script. The hamburger phone in Juno's retro-tastic bedroom? Written into the script. The cut from a lit match to a sunrise in "Lawrence of Arabia"? Credited to editor Anne Coates, but originally written by screenwriter Robert Bolt.

In short, it's the screenplay that, when it's well written, makes a world come to life with plenty of vivid detail and, in creating characters with just as much singularity, makes the audience care. And it's precisely that emotional investment that, by way of enlightened direction and superb performances, creates an indelible cinematic experience.

Interesting article.

More here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/09/AR2009070902567.html?wpisrc=newsletter
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2009, 03:12:37 PM »

Yep, pretty much what William Goldman said on The South Bank Show a few weeks back. It's all down to the screenwriters!
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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2009, 06:27:26 PM »

Spot on. Especially those little aside details yet which point to some relevance aspect. Trick is not to have so many they become a distraction. Same with characters that need to be  OTT to be fascinating but not so much to lack credibility.

Well spotted, Ed.

Geoff
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2009, 06:41:30 PM »

.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 08:28:46 PM by Woody » Logged

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Ed
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2009, 02:53:44 AM »

I don't know much about script writing, but that sounds right - they usually have a screenwriter on location as well, don't they? Quite a skill to get into a script somebody else has written, enough to pull out the theme and accentuate it. I can imagine the best films have the same scriptwriter right through from concept to finished article, unless the vision in some cases lies with the director who gets the scriptwriters to simply write it down.

The point of the article, or me posting the article, was less about the practicalities of scriptwriting than it was about the similarities between good screenwriting and good fiction writing, in general. The character development, pacing, story, plot, etc., that goes into a well written story is also present in the scripts of  the best films we watch, which was something I hadn't thought about before.
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2009, 03:05:25 AM »

I think it's interesting that one of the movies being discussed is a Michael Bay movie (Transformers). Bay also directed Armaggedon which I thought was just about the worst film I'd ever seen in my life (possibly with the exception of Teenwolf). This is an opinion shared by a lot of people yet when you look at the film discussion sites there are other folks who absolutely loved it, and defend it with vigour. I struggle to understand why, but also do understand that one person's vision is very different to another's, and that the things that are important to me (like at least a nod to a credible and consistent plot) aren't necessarily vital to someone else's enjoyment. Sometimes I wonder how we can break out of such silos and learn how to widen the appeal of our work beyond that which just appeals to ourselves - if that makes sense?

Derek
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Ed
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2009, 03:24:25 PM »

I know what you mean, though I wish I could move up in the world and learn to appreciate literary fiction (it bores me to tears), rather than widen my horizons to include appreciation of Armaggedon, which I thought was cheesy as hell. smiley
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2009, 06:52:06 PM »

Sort of off topic...

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Bay also directed Armaggedon which I thought was just about the worst film I'd ever seen in my life (possibly with the exception of Teenwolf).

Hmmm. I remember loving Teenwolf, but I was only six when it came out. Come to think of it, 1985/86 was also about the time Stand By Me and Goonies came out. I've got both of those on DVD, but Teenwolf never made into my collection. Maybe I didn't love it as much as I thought. I do remember it being fun though. Didn't care much for Transformers or Armageddon. Guess I'm a bit pickier in my old age.
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Jerry Enni lives in a small house in the center of the San Joaquin Valley with his beautiful family. By day he makes signs and by night he writes stories. To learn more about him, check out Clear Perspective, Blurry Lens
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