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Screenwriters Slogans For The Wall

November 8, 2011

From screenwriter and instructor Alexander MacKendrick – a great set of 42 aphorisms he had on his walls as he wrote and taught screenwriting. Good writing is not about learning everyone’s rules and ‘can’t miss’ methods. But learning from those who have gone before is part of task.

Read the complete list at: Screenwriters Slogans For The Wall… by Alexander MacKendrick.

A few of my favorites that I haven’t read in every screenwriting book:

Self pity in a character does not evoke sympathy.

Coincidence may mean exposition is in the wrong place, i.e. if you establish the too-convenient circumstances before they become dramatically necessary, then we feel no sense of coincidence. Use coincidence to get characters into trouble, not out of trouble.

Ambiguity does not mean lack of clarity. Ambiguity may be intriguing when it consists of alternative meanings, each of them clear.

The role of the ANTAGONIST may have more to do with the structure of the plot than the character of the PROTAGONIST. When you are stuck for a third act, think through your situations from the point of view of whichever characters OPPOSE the protagonist’s will.

If you’ve got a Beginning, but you don’t yet have an end, then you’re mistaken. You don’t have the right Beginning.


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