The Rules – a screenwriting ‘guru’ perspective:
“I always tell writers to expect the worst of life and in Hollywood. This way you can guarantee that your surprises will be exclusively of the pleasant variety.
What I think really pays off is stumbling around, blindly and stupidly, and grabbing on to that which you really like. That’s true in your life narrative, and it’s also useful in your screen narrative. You have a clear goal, where the story is going to go, and then the story runs away from you. I never knew a writer who wasn’t surprised by dialogue that a character spoke by circumstance. That’s where the real fun is. That’s where the spontaneity and the naturalism are. That’s what audiences respond to, and the biggest mistake you can make is to try to hold to some preordained plan…
So many come between you and the ultimate work. It’s true they may mess it up, but there’s every chanced they’ll make it even better than you imagined it could be.
The important thing is to stay open to everything, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, because there may be something useful lost in there… If all you do is glean a small percentage of useful stuff, then it was worthwhile.
It’s a privilege to be permitted to suffer in this business.
Screenwriting is not about the sale… It really is about getting into the process, and not becoming goal-oriented. Writers get paid for doing what other people get scolded for: daydreaming.
What could be better than just spinning your tales, telling lies, making up stories, and having people actually pay you money for it?”
Excerpted with quotes from Richard Walter
Tales from the Script (2010)