Sunday 4 November 2012

Tricks of the Trade, by Scott Rosenberg

Scott Rosenberg is a screenwriter who wrote ten spec scripts before he sold one. It was his fourteenth spec script, Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, that put him on the map. Since then he's written Beautiful Girls, Con Air, Disturbing Behavior, High Fidelity, Gone in Sixty Seconds, among others.

In this interview he talks about how he got started and how he goes about writing a screenplay.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

This is another excellent interview, thanks, Henry. Scott says you can't learn writing, it has to be something in you, but he says you can learn about structure and techniques like planting and pay-offs.

He starts with an idea, figures out what characters would fit, where the story will go. He lives and breathes the story, lets it 'marinate' for a long time. A wonderful moment is when he comes up with an opening scene for the story. He says anyone can write the first 25 pages of a screenplay, and probably the last 20, but that is not enough.
Eventually after having invented enough of the story, he writes an outline, a list of scenes described by a single line, and where each act ends. He works from this list to create his screenplay. He will end up with a draft 175 pages lone and works it down to below 130 pages for his readers. These are 5 very different people who provide notes on it.

Having gained distance by taking a break while his screenplay is being read, Scott is then able to make significant cuts and changes when he gets back to it and he finds it very satisfying to be able to do this.

This whole interview resonated with me - the initial germ of an idea, the creation of characters, mulling it over for a long time before committing to an outline, revising and revising, then getting feedback and revising again. Anyone who is reading this and thinking, 'I can get away without revising so much' will hopefully learn from the interview.