By Arun Fulara. Posted on September 16, 2015
We love screenwriter John August for not just his scripts but also the wonderful blog that he runs, which is an absolute goldmine for anyone interested in the craft of screenwriting. The screenwriter who's written film like Go, Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie and Chocolate Factory, and Frankenweenie, recently shared nuggets of wisdom from his screenwriting career with the Academy Originals (another site that you must check out).
While the article is definitely worth your while, in case you want a quick download of the advice he has for young screenwriters, we have it for you below.
“When you start off as a writer, you’re very protective of your characters because you’re sort of protecting yourself. As you get more experienced and comfortable with it you start to recognize that stories work really well when you make things awful for your characters. Being nice to your characters is rarely the right choice. That lovable little kid...it’s great that you love him, but now to tell his story you’re going to have to make his life very, very difficult.”
“When you’re writing your first script, there’s an instinct to cram everything you know about everything into it, because who knows if you’ll ever write another? Writing a screenplay is such a slog, you can’t imagine having to do it all over again. It’s not until you’ve written a few scripts that the format becomes second-nature.”
“The set-up is extraordinarily important, and you can’t get to the punchline until you’ve established all the points along the way. Both Here and Now and, ultimately, Big Fish were long jokes where the punchline was tears.”
“As long as the audience is engaged and as long as the audience is curious with you, they will follow you almost anywhere the story wants to go.”
“To some degree, it’s Method writing. I will deliberately scare myself silly when I’m writing a horror sequence, or get amped up for an action sequence,” he says. “It makes me feel what it feels like to be in that space. You pick different words and focus on different things based on your mental state.”
“I’m not writing for some imaginary director; I’m writing for a director whose taste I know and can somewhat anticipate. I’m looking for what will get him excited about shooting this scene. That’s a great perspective to be able to approach as a writer.”