I’m frequently asked to read and critique screenplays.
Most scripts by inexperienced writers are pretty terrible. This is to be expected. The craft of screenwriting is demanding and it usually takes several years and quite a few scripts to master the form.
There are two central problems I see over and over again. And it’s worth pointing them out to those who aspire to write scripts that have any hope of being produced.
In 1958, producer David O. Selznick had an idea for a Biblical epic.
He explained to screenwriter Edward Anhalt, “I want to combine Mary the sister of Lazarus, the adulteress Jesus saved from the stoning, the whore who washed His feet, and the Mary Magdalene who was the first to see Him resurrected, into one character and tell the gospel story through her. And I want to tell it as purely a Jewish story.”
Anhalt liked the idea and set to work writing the Mary Magdalene script. When Anhalt finished he handed the screenplay to Selznick and the two men sat down to to discuss it.
I get a fair amount of email from readers asking me about writing.
More specifically, how do I go about writing a movie?
Writing is ninety percent perspiration, ten percent inspiration. In other words do not wait to get struck with inspiration. That’s a load of romantic nonsense. In fact, that’s a sure way not to write. The biggest secret in Hollywood—at least for writers who actually work and make money—is how hard they work. Discipline is the name of the game. Organization is vital. An obsession with the minutae of a story is a requirement. G-d is in the details.