Guinevere Turner is a writer, director and actor who has been working in film and TV since her 1994 debut film Go Fish. She went on to act in several films, including The Watermelon Woman, Chasing Amy, and Treasure Island. Eventually she teamed up with Mary Harron to write American Psycho and then The Notorious […]
Because I’ve written a few books about screenwriting I sometimes get questions from people just starting out on their careers. One query that has started coming up more often recently is whether it’s better to chase the Hollywood dream or get involved with indie films, including ones made for the web…
A few years back I had the first draft of my first screenplay ever. Like a lot of folks who dream of Hollywood success, I was eager to share my work with the world. Problem was, I had no idea what I was doing. Through a friend of a friend, I was put in contact with an “entertainment attorney.”
To avoid having any one element of foreshadowing be too obvious, often the writer will throw in some red herrings–some things that could be foreshadowing but in fact don’t pay off or pay off in a different way than we expect. The person who has the gun in the drawer may become an immediate suspect in our minds, but later maybe we see him use it to light his cigarette and we realize it’s not a real gun (of course he may have a real one somewhere else….). That kind of misdirection keeps the audience guessing.
If you’re writing a script to be read by someone who is possibly going to buy it, you want to make it as easy and entertaining as possible. Yes, it’s easy to overdo the parentheticals, ideally your dialogue itself suggests how it will be delivered. But when it helps, go ahead. A sarcastic remark from an actress is not too high a price to pay.
If you’re an ambitious writer, I’m going to tell you a secret. There is no better feeling in the world than the day you stop sending query letters and instead, you start producing your own work. For years and years, you have dreamed about seeing your work on the big screen. You know you’re good. So why ask for permission?
I think one of the biggest challenges writers face is an unrealistic standard of perfection. And as a result, it’s easier to talk about writing without actually writing. So let me offer you a strategy – don’t be afraid to write a crappy first draft. And second to that, don’t be afraid to suck.