Mar 21

Where to start?

Category: Linux,Screenwriting   — Published by tengo on March 21, 2008 at 9:12 am

I have written a few complete scripts in the past and have even more incomplete ones on the shelf. Actually at the moment I plan to start a new project soon. Regarding this "next one", I'd like to publish little tidbits of what I've learned in the process of writing it here on the blog. The first thing I'd like to share with every writer - aspiring or seasoned - is where to start.

It may sound snobbish, but: be sure to know the basics of writing! I tend to forget about that myself and so it's always an inspiring experience when I get back to the basics and look at what you should think of before you type the first words. Here are my top 3 of things you should've read in the beginning:

  1. Aristotle (learn from the masters). His work Poetics is over 2,300 years old and the priciples are the same today!
  2. Freytag. The German dramatist and novelist wrote one of the classic books about the art of writing and analysis thereof. The basic priciples he carved out, including "Freytag's Pyramid" are so common today that we forget to link them back to him. So, go and read Gustav Freytag's Die Technik des Dramas (1863). Click the link to go to the free scanned version of it online!
  3. Last but now least: Lajos Egri. The master of modern structure and writing advice in general. Actually right now, I am once again reading his book The Art Of Creative Writing. But the benchmark work by Egri, the one you might have heard of, is his Art Of Dramatic Writing. Originally meant as lecture for playwrights in the 1940s, this book hit the market when the theater started to change thus becoming a bit dated for this domain. But the other artform, the film actually started to really get big right then and so many screenwriters happily adopted what Egri had to say. And after reading it, I think you will agree that Egri is not just a master of technique (and breaking a few Aristotlean rules on the way) but also a captivating writer. Be sure to check it out!

Of course, this list can never be complete. You might argue that one should also read Howard & Mabley, Flinn, McKee, everything about high concept and the latest in film analysis but I think a writer should have some time to actually get to write as well.

So be creative, be passionate and fight for your work.

And get it done...