audience, writer -


A script is a blueprint for a movie, and a movie only has value insofar as it can play in front of an audience, and connect with them on some level. Thus, it’s very important for the writer to be thinking of the audience at all times. In a novel, the words are the end result. In a screenplay, the words that, via production and post-production, are converted into sound and images to create the true end result: The movie.

However, in thinking of the audience, we should never lose sight of the most important member of the audience of all: You, the writer.

You have to write stories that you find interesting, engaging, and entertaining. If you don’t care about the script, then it will show on the page – guaranteed. There is no reason to spend time writing a script about which you do not care. Even if you are getting paid, if you do not care, the product will be sub-par, and your name will be on a sub-par script. 

If you are writing a comedy, then the script should be making you laugh. If it doesn’t, write until you laugh. Perhaps not everyone in the world has your specific sense of humor, but somebody will, and if the script is making you laugh, it will make them laugh. A comedy is only good if it makes somebody laugh.

Apply this thinking to all genres. If you are working on a horror script, write to creep yourself out. If you are working on a thriller, write until you are thrilled. If you are working on action, write scenes that, if you saw them in a movie, would make you think THIS IS AWESOME.

You must do the same with the characters. You have to love them, hate them, engage with them, care for their fates, and write until they come to enough of their own life that they surprise you. If you aren’t writing characters that you care about, then you aren’t writing characters the director, actors, or audience can care about.

If you don’t care about the script – why should anyone else? A writer who writes something about which they do not care will more easily reach for stereotypes, cliches, tropes, and easy choices. Why push harder if you don’t care?

Sometimes writers shy away from this kind of approach because it smacks of the egotistical. Set this aside; it’s empty negativity. For example, I made a movie called Death Metal. I’ve watched this film hundreds of times during the post-production process. I still find it greatly amusing. If I’m not a fan of my own movie, why should anyone else be?

The same should be said of any script you write. Ever hear the term “Physician, heal thyself?” This also applies to art. “Writer, entertain thyself.” If you’re entertained, then you’re engaged, and doing your best work. It’s the Frankenstein lightning that brings the cold flesh to life on the page.

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