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2 February 2018
 February 2, 2018
Category: Uncategorized

Here are ten of my “rules” (helpful hints?) for writing fiction, memoir and screenplays.

 

FICTION AND MEMOIR

 

  1. Drink coffee. Lots of it. Preferably black, with sugar
  2. Paint the picture for the reader. Show, don’t tell. Instead of writing “a street filled with busy shoppers,” write about “the tangle of shoppers rushing down the sidewalk, bags banging as they race past hot dog and pretzel vendors selling their fragrant wares.”
  3. Use all your five senses to describe setting.
  4. Write in scenes. Characters should have an objective, take action, hit obstacles and then either get what they want or not.
  5. Let yourself veer off course. Just because your outline says one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t go off roading. Sometimes it’s good to get lost in the wilderness– there’s gold in them there hills!
  6. Did I mention coffee?
  7. Mostly just use ‘said’ as your dialogue tag.
  8. Don’t overuse adverbs, “She said emphatically!”
  9. Make sure every scene moves the story/plot forward.

 

SCREENPLAYS

 

  1. Drink coffee. Lots of it. Preferably black, with sugar.
  2. Understand your hook. What’s the main conflict that will pull the viewer (and agent/producer/studio exec in?) Let this compelling concept guide your structure and the writing of the script.
  3. Write visually. Cinema is a visual medium and one powerful image is worth twenty pages of brilliant dialogue. Do you have a boring scene? Delete it. Try to write it again using only action.
  4. Know your genre. Embrace its conventions, but use them in a fresh way.
  5. Less is more.
  6. Know what your main character wants. Let us see him/her constantly take action to get it.
  7. Write only what you see and hear, and then occasionally break this rule. It’ll make your screenplay more fun to read.
  8. When you get stuck, watch a movie in your genre. Be inspired!
  9. Don’t allow your script to be over 115 pages. If you do, people will hate you and it before they even start to read.
  10. Did I mention coffee?

 

Some of these pointers are jokey, but most are not. They actually are pretty important, and you can see how many of the craft tips repeat between prose and screenplays.

 

Take Action! Are you following these rules? If not, are you breaking them in service of some higher artistic purpose?

 

Have fun writing your book or film script!

 

xo Pat

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