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Writing a Great Screenplay

Many writers begin by discovering who and what their characters are all about. Frank Pierson tries to find something in his characters that he can relate to his own personality.
Just do it
Overcoming exhaustion is but one of many obstacles a writer faces. Once a structural story line is complete and the characters are speaking, it's time to get down to the business of getting it on the page. All writers have their own approach. "You make it happen by getting your ass in the chair and beginning," Bill Kelley boldly states in Linda Seger's book From Script to Screen. Sticking to a set schedule seems to work for many writers. 

"I'm not a machine. I had to learn to accept my own rhythms,"Kasdan explains about his personal writing style. How do great scripts differ from those that are merely well written? Every classic script is about ideas. It has something to say about life, about the human condition. "Whether it's a great script or not is secondary," states Marty Shapiro. "The first evaluation is the writing. How good is the person? It's really a subjective thing. I can say they're not good and they can go across the street and someone else can say they're brilliant."

A perfect example of this is the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The script was written by William Goldman and was initially turned down by virtually every studio that read it. Eventually, 20th Century Fox picked up the script. The film was made staring Robert Redford and Paul Newman and today is considered one of the American Film Institute's 100 best movies of all time.

Most writers find that they explore the same themes over and over, even though their stories may be about very diverse subjects. An example of this can be seen in most all Woody Allen films. Allen is the writer, director and lead actor in most of his pictures. Although his films differ in plot, setting, etc., they all seem to be focused towards struggling, middle aged men. A lot of the time his films also involve the misunderstanding of women.

It all basically comes down to what the writer is good at, finding their particular niche and sticking to what works for them
Other writer's such as Ganz and Mandel admit that most of their films also seem to involve struggling men their age in some type of situational comedy. Kasdan's films have a common theme of struggling between ideal and desire. Bill Kelley is drawn again and again to themes of facing moral imperatives. It all basically comes down to what the writer is good at, finding their particular niche and sticking to what works for them.
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