Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Screenwriting Mistake #10: Scripts about struggling screenwriters

This is not what people mean when they say, “Write what you know.” If you’re ever tempted to write a screenplay about a screenwriter’s heroic efforts to make it big in Hollywood, just step away from the keyboard and go outside for a nice long walk. There are only a handful of scripts on this topic that are any good (including one of my favorite movies of all time, “Adaptation” by Charlie Kaufman) and those were only successful in spite of the subject matter.
If you look at Kaufman’s script, it’s clear that he was trying to figure out a way to break every single rule in screenwriting and still end up with a good story, which he does. (BTW, am I the only person who thinks the "Happy Together" death scene is hilarious? It cracks me up every time!) Charlie Kaufman is ten times smarter than all of the screenwriters on this planet combined, so he is the only person who can actually pull this off. We mortals must choose subjects that everyone can relate to, which doesn’t include the problems of struggling screenwriters.


  1. I need some clarification on this note, though I understood the hook but still didn't get the last line 'subjects that doesn’t include the problems of struggling screenwriters.'..? can anyone specify please. Thanks.

  2. All I was trying to say is that too many struggling screenwriters write scripts about struggling screenwriters, which is not a universal enough theme for everyone else on the planet to relate to. If you want other people to enjoy your story, then write about something that everyone will relate to and understand. Thanks for reading!

  3. Thanks Philip. Got your point. I am now a frequent reader of your notes, I can see the improvement in my writing, though still a long way to go but I really appreciate your efforts. :)