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Trust me, I didn’t come up with this question myself. And neither is it from a grudgeful friend or acquaintance. It’s Syd Field asking me this. In The Screenwriter’s Workbook. Chapter 2. It’s not a mean question. He simply asks what you think your strengths are as a screenwriter, which I am not yet, and your weaknesses and what you want to improve on and if you haven’t written a screenplay yet ‘why you think you can write a screenplay’. And ‘put down your thoughts and feelings about your abilities as a screenwriter’. And that after writing it down, to put it away and forget about it. The workbook ‘is experimental and the more you put in it, the more you get out of it’.
Pretty confronting question though. I can say that screenwriting is one of the topics of my DIY film school and therefore ‘mandatory’. But I have also decided to go full in and write a screenplay, to see if I can. After all, I have written plays, be it shorts and for theatre. I’ve also read Robert McKee’s book Story and done his Story Seminar. And read Syd Field’s book Screenplay and Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey and part of Joseph Campbell’s A Hero With A Thousand Faces. And have watched movies all my life. But that still doesn’t have to mean a thing. If you ain’t got any storytelling talent, it’s difficult to become good at it. Even when you know all ‘the principles’ how to do it well. I do believe I have storytelling talent by the way. And it has already shown in some of the things I’ve done and were received well.
What I am discovering now is the coming up with a good idea for a story and having good complex characters with conflicts on all levels of who they are, their internal life, their personal life (relationships) and their professional life (interactions with the world), knowing their motivation for their actions and knowing what the outcome of your story should be and why and how, is the most important and difficult thing, I think.
I have never described a picture before, I think. Or an action. Well, in the play a little bit of action and how they looked or reacted, the emotional responses. So, hopefully that will help.
I decided to follow Syd’s workbook as a guide with this, along with everything I already know from Robert McKee’s book and seminar and Syd’s other book Screenplay and the others. See how it will go. It’s certainly a very hands on book, with clear exercises. But I don’t know if I can write like that, in such a strict manner. We’ll see.