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As screenwriters we qualify on the evolution ladder to be somewhere between coconuts obsessed chimps and cold blooded high tech engineers. More or less we all work using the best of each approach which makes us high tech chimps or coconuts obsessed engineers. In my wildest dreams, I envision what one may call, well, a step forward.
The craft of screenwriting seems to be an infinite subject for books, posts, seminars. Advices everywhere, gurus at the corner of each lost dog on a parking lot. And indeed, some sort of science is finally slowly emerging of all this. What I’d like to highlight here is the most significant aspect of movies : their dream quality.
Everyone insists on how important a pitch is. But as for myself, I think every writer needs four different and necessary pitches.
First is the install pitch, the initial appeal of a conflicting contrast, a fresh situation around someone in relation with three essential entities : us, his world, and a vital necessity.
In a movie, the revelation of the backstory can be mind blowing or a miserable burden in the telling : how much, when, what for, from whose point of view, at what progressing rythm (Chinatown) or unique intensity (Runaway Jury, Psycho) is the ultimate identity and vision of the writer.
To some extent, the mastery of backstory is the central crossroad of the craft, the right path to any story, and the most personal artistic signature of the writer.
Let’s be clear : while the message of stories and even our intention as writers are most of the time noble and sincere, the « craft » is mainly about trickery, cheat, duplicity.
And it’s fun !
The screenwriting litterature is abundant in saying all screnwriters should hone their craft by reading and writing.
And this of course, every single day of a somehow strange life. Write every day for sure. Read every day : fiction books, newspaper, scripts, good and bad, more books from classicals to contemporary, read all formats, train your reading muscles.
But the biggest skill of all, and this one I never see underlined in these books, is to read what you write.
It’s been a long time since I wanted to post a note about this. I wanted it to be perfect, full of meaning and precise. But as you know, perfection means never, in a writer’s language. As a great master once stated « There is …