Being a Great Mechanic won't make you a Better Driver!
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
There's a whole secondary industry out there for would-be screenwriters. An industry that talks variously about screenwriting paradigms and methodologies. There's the 3 act structure, the 7 point structure, the 9 act structure, the 22 step story structure, there are story theories like Dramatica whose acolytes believe that it is the absolute and universal truth when it comes to structuring narrative. There are diagrams like The Story Diamond (middle left). The evangelists for these different paradigms use a proprietary language that you can't even understand unless you are one of the initiated, but my my... it does sound impressive. It's vertigo inducing, dizzying, confusing... how can anybody write a screenplay until they've assimilated all this technical information?
I don't believe any of this is created to empower you to write your next screenplay. On the contrary, I believe its been created to do the opposite. All this technical... stuff is there to amplify your insecurities, to constipate your creativity, it's an act of arch obfuscation.
Perhaps you should order that new book on screenwriting before you begin your new screenplay? Or perhaps you should attend yet another screenwriting workshop run by the latest screenwriting guru promising that he can unlock the secrets to writing a great Hollywood script... except by the time you leave the workshop you realise you understood far less than you thought, and your insecurities about your ability to write are more acute than ever, perhaps you need to take the follow on course that was mentioned?
Allow me to burst the bubble, there is no silver bullet, no holy grail. No single screenwriting guru or book on screenwriting has a monopoly on how to write the great screenplay. What they do have is the power to make you believe that you're not good enough, and that you need their life support system to be able to write. They get richer, and you still haven't written a word.
I've met many an aspiring writer who knows much more about the technicality of screenwriting than I. Mechanically proficient they can break a script into its component parts, they know where the turning point for the first act should be and exactly how many pages the first act should be, they know where the rising action should begin and end, they are disciples of Robert McKee's Story or read everything ever written by Syd Field. Of course they're yet to write their great opus, but when they do I'm sure it will be life changing. In the meantime I've written several feature screenplays and gained some traction in the industry.
So what's the difference between them and myself. I guess it's a difference of perspective. I guess their perspective would have us believe that it's an esoteric craft and one must pay our respects to the gods of screenwriting before we are worthy of writing. I say phooey! Above all I believe that you, I and everybody out there know more about story than they realise, it's ingrained in us, it's primal, we are the narrative animal. I just have to reveal to you that you already understand most of this stuff, and by doing so, and with a few simple principles at your disposal you can begin.
Through the practice of writing you become empowered to write more and the more you write the more you trust the process, and the more you trust the process the better you write. At Scriptology Brighton you will learn through doing and the more you do the more you will understand, experience is a far better teacher than I could ever be. You will make mistakes, but in doing so the lessons learned from those mistakes will be personal, poignant and memorable. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the those who espouse a technical approach to screenwriting have nothing to offer, I'm just saying don't get caught up in the mechanics of it, it won't necessarily make you a better driver.
Scriptology Brighton is dedicated to helping you learn the craft of screenwriting rather than teaching you lots of technical screenwriting theory.
Thanks for reading,
Your friendly neighbourhood scriptologist.