Posted by: michellemuldoon | February 8, 2012

Yin and Yang of Nominated Screenplays

Academy Award Winning Envelope

A great way to improve as a writer, is to read the work of those recognized as the best of the year. Most script experts suggest it, and I agree with them. But life is filled with the benefits of yin and yang, and that is something that also applies to reading screenplays. 

Too often we attempt to avoid failure. It’s become a dirty word. I believe this trend began with the Nike ads at the Atlanta Olympics. When Nike plastered billboards with the slogan,” you don’t win silver, you lose gold”, it was a benchmark in the denial that the road to success is paved by the potholes of failure.

I know I have some real dogs hidden away on my computer. I can’t imagine I’m the only one. The benefit of accepting that I wrote something badly, is that I get to analyze why it sucks, and learn how not to do it again. Did my protagonist need more substance? Were the obstacles set up insufficient? Did someone, anyone, arch, even a little bit? The reasons for failure are many, but if you don’t fail, you don’t know what to avoid the next time around.  The saving grace is, my dogs haven’t made it to the screen, and I wasn’t subjected to the public flogging that comes with an unsuccessful film.

So, why am I bringing this up? CBS NEWS has a post on the net that will lead you to this year’s best film screenplays. Download them. Read them. Try to understand why they’re so good. And then do something even more important. Search out the screenplays from the worst movies of the year, and read those, too.  (There’s a lot of sites where you can find those.)

Sometimes learning what makes something great, is dependent on learning why something else failed. It’s the yin and yang of screenwriting.  And it’s what will make you a better writer. I know it’s making me a better one.





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