(This one’s for Mr Power – we just ran out of time after that screening.)
Disclosure: I still haven’t read Robert McKee‘s Story (which I’ve requested from the local library). But I can heartily recommend William Goldman‘s Which Lie Did I Tell?, Alex Epstein‘s Crafty Screenwriting and Stephen King‘s On Writing.
Mr Epstein gets it in one: just tell a good story that keeps people interested.
Okay. So all the good stories have been told already and there’s no pressure to be, like, truly creative. Therefore it’s not necessarily the story I’ll be worrying about – it’ll be how I’m going to make it interesting. My mission will be to grab the reader’s – and eventually, the audience’s – attention, take ’em for a ride and then afterwards, drop ’em back in their seat, exhilarated, excited and begging for more.
How do I do it then? I write the story how I’d like to see it done.
This springs partly from all the films I’ve watched and thought, I could’ve done better’n that! Fighting words – and extraordinarily naive ones, in hindsight. (Ah, those were the days – watching bucketloads of films and videos and television, taking it all in and un/sub-consciously figuring out what worked for me and what didn’t, and why.)
I believe I’ve seen enough films, videos and television, and read enough books, comics and stories, to know what stories worked. I survived film school and have had people pay me to write to trust my own sense of story telling and sturcture. I may have foolishly uttered in a script meeting, “I don’t necessarily think and write in terms of protagonist and antagonist,” but I certainly made up for it by referencing enough films to show that I knew what I was talking about.
For me – and at this stage in my career – I still see the script as a story: ninety-plus pages to be read by someone. That script had better transport the reader into my world for each and all of those pages. And all the while, hidden in the text is a subliminal message: Wouldn’t this just make a freakin’ great movie?