Are You Sure it’s on the Page?

Here’s a great article by Craig Kellerman about making your ideas actually get on to the page in a way that a reader can pick up on:

The mind is a funny thing. Sometimes what we perceive to be true is not true. This happens often with screenwriting when writers think that there’s something on the page that isn’t on the page. This malady is not reserved for wannabes. It happens with pros–a lot.

Recently, I was working with a writer who was adapting a classic novel into a screenplay. The project was being supported by the art division of a major studio. One of the characters, a key one in fact, (in the novel) had always been a bitch. Not just an ordinary bitch, but a real bitch–we’re talking Joan Crawford, Leona Helmsley.

After the first notes meeting, the studio (typically) wanted the writer to “soften” this character. Dutifully, the writer acquiesced–too much. Studio pressure can be formidable.

I knew nothing about this while reading the script, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that without this saltiness, this character would not be dynamic and the whole script could be adversely affected. I mean, when you’re writing a character flick and your characters are not percolating and, because of this, true dynamics are not occurring, there’s going to be a lot of aimless talking and you’re going to be in trouble.

So I gave the note to the writer–”the character needs to be more brittle and deliciously obnoxious.” She was not at all defensive, and she tweaked the material.

Read more here.

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