Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Worst writing advice I ever got
This “teacher” actually made his money playing poker. Eventually he split town (or was chased out of town -- one of the two). Last I heard he was living in Hawaii as a registered sex offender for exposing himself. This was our writing professor.
The horrible advice he gave was this: He said take the amount you were being paid for a script and divide it by the number of pages in the script. Let’s say for round numbers $500 a page. Then he said after we had written each page we were to ask ourselves, “Is this page really worth $500?”
All that accomplishes is putting extra needless pressure on youself. The worst thing you can do is make sure every single line is perfect before going on to the next line. The end result will be a safe stilted script and you’ll have an ulcer.
It’s the absolute opposite of what you should be doing. You should be freeing yourself, allowing your imagination to run free. Follow an outline, but give yourself permission to try things. If they don’t work, delete them. Sometimes a direction won’t work but there will be some jokes along the way that do. Or the wrong direction leads you to the right direction that you never would have found if you were just painstakingly crafting every word of every line.
Think of the big picture. Does the story work? Are there fun moments and scenes? Sometimes it takes a page or two to set up a big laugh or payoff. So is one page worth $100 and the other worth $900? It’s craziness.
Similar idiotic advice is there must be a certain number of jokes per page. If you have instructors who tell you this, run. His future in the industry might be living in a cave in Kona with a police record.
Don’t think of money when you’re writing. Think of having fun and being creative when you’re writing. The money will come.