"That movie sucked! I could write something better than that!"
How many times have you walked out of a film saying those very words? Well, why don't you put your money where your mouth is, Buster Brown? If you can write something better, then by all means -- write! Writing is one of the few professions you can just do. You don't need lots of fancy equipment, you don't need lots of money, you just need a computer (heck, pen and paper will do) and an imagination. It's fun, it's free, and if you're really good at it, you could make a ton of money and get to sit in your underwear while you work. And really, isn't that the American dream?
"But Patrick," you're probably asking. "Where do I start? How do I know what to write about? How will I know if my stuff is good? And who the hell are you, anyway?"
Friends, I'm here to answer all of those questions and much, much more. "The Write Stuff" is a brand new column here at Cinematical devoted to the art of screenwriting. Every other Wednesday, I'll be giving writing advice and tips, answering your questions -- talking shop. On alternate Wednesdays, I'll be interviewing major Hollywood screenwriters about their craft (next Wednesday the interview series kicks off with Adam F. Goldberg, co-writer of the highly anticipated Fanboys, and the upcoming film adaptation of classic cartoon The Jetsons). Ideally, this dual approach will give you two valid perspectives -- one from the writer trying to make it, and one from the writer who's already made it.
Since I'll be your guide through the world of writing, I feel I should let you know a bit about myself. I am 26 years old. I live in Los Angeles, California. I write online both for Cinematical and on my own personal site: patrickwalsh.blog-city.com. I have worked behind the scenes at television shows like Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Saturday Night Live. I have two agents and a manager, each of them a genius and ruggedly handsome in his own special way. My writing partner and I have written for various television and film projects, which are in stages of development ranging from "definitely happening" to "huge waste of time and energy." I haven't made it Big Time yet, but I am doing well enough to live off of writing work, and that has always been my dream. In other words, I'm not William Goldman*, but you could take writing advice from far worse people. Cool? Good.
*Don't know who William Goldman is? We've got a lot of work to do.
So now that you know me, I'd like to know more about you. I was asked to spearhead this column, and I'm super psyched, but a little scared. I need your assistance. I want to know what you want to know. I want this column to help with every aspect of writing. I want to help the guy who has never written a complete sentence before, and I want to help the gal with twelve brilliant scripts sitting in her drawer, but no idea what to do with them.
To quote a truly excellent screenplay from a truly excellent screenwriter: "Help me help you."
Before we begin, a couple of ground rules. There are only two things I can't do for you, so please take it easy on me and don't ask. They are as follows:
1) I can't put you in touch with my agents and/or manager. They are exceedingly busy men, and until the day comes when I'm swimming naked through a room of gold coins, Scrooge McDuck-style, with Jessicas Alba and Biel, I'd rather they put all their time and effort into getting me work!
2) I can't read your script. The reasons for this are threefold.
a) I simply don't have time.
b) If a movie with a similar plot gets made, I don't want to be sued for stealing your idea.
c) If you send me a screenplay about a grizzled private detective who partners up with a wisecracking parrot to solve crimes, I won't have the heart to tell you what I really think!
Everything, and I mean everything else is open for discussion! So please, share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. If you're shy and it's not a question you want to share with everybody here, feel free to hit me up one-on-one on my personal site. What do you want to see here going forward? Let me know! Are there screenwriters you'd love to see interviewed? Let me know! Have you been stuck on page one for years, and you don't know how to move onward to page 2? Let me know! There are a select few excellent resources for screenwriters online. I'd love for this to be one of them.
Oh, and that detective/talking parrot idea? Take it. It's yours. Call it Winged Justice.