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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Essential Screenwriting Tips – Part Three – What Kind of Writer Are You?

Welcome back Gartholomites!

Sorry for the harsh words in part two, I knew it could reduce my readership back to one, but it had to be done.

Right, the psychology is gone – your mind is hardened and resolved – you must be a writer, even with the accompanying consequences of a pot belly and blanched skin. Let’s get down to the practicalities.

Many people start writing something without actually questioning whether it’s what they should be writing, whether it plays to their strengths. Take my friend, for example.

He has been writing and re-writing a God-awful rom-com for over ten years now. Why? Because ten years and one day ago the woman of his dreams left him and he has been trying to rewrite history ever since.  He always gets stuck on act three. Why? Because he’s not a hopeless romantic - surely the profile of a successful rom-com writer – but a broken and bitter man with a self sabotage streak bigger than Brigitte Nielsen’s tits. He should be writing something more suited to his character profile – like low budget rip-offs,  ‘Inglorious Wankers’, or ‘Dave Must Die’, that sort of thing.

So, think about who you are, what you’re interested in, how you like to write – it may be that you should be writing novels and not screenplays.

Below I’ve written a scene – minus the ending. You have to select which of the five possible conclusions sounds most like you and post the accompanying letter, together with your  age, star sign, vital statistics and a few words about yourself, in the comments box below, and I will give you a personalised response on what kind of writing suits you. Sound good?

Ok, here we go: -


Keith, a middle aged man with messy hair enters the kitchen of a comfortably sized walk through kitchen diner, clutching his temples and groaning.

He pours a glass of water and gulps it down.

He opens the cutlery draw.

It’s empty.

He looks to the washing up – there’s shitloads.

He sighs and drags a large carving knife out of its wooden block.

He cuts off a piece of bread and begins to butter it with the huge knife.

A middle aged woman enters the room –
                What the hell do you think you’re doing?
                                                      CUT TO:

Ok, what’s next?

Keith carries on looking down at the bread.
               Getting myself some breakfast, babe.
               This is the only clean knife.

Keith picks up the buttery knife and licks the mighty weapon suggestively.
               What’s the matter? You got something
               better to eat?

Keith launches the huge knife at her, and it sticks in her mouth, killing her instantly.
               Don’t speak with your mouth full, bitch!

It hits him like a bombshell and he looks up, confused, his mouth dropped open.
               I… have… no… idea.


Her words crash like misplaced eggs off a sideboard. His eyes flicker for a moment as the perfect reply flashes into his mind, but he allows it to pass him by. A wistful smile plays upon his lips and he looks up and into her eyes.

But her image flashes and vanishes into the memory from whence it came. His head falls, sunken by regret and gravity, releasing a single tear down onto the buttered slice.
Of course it may be that none of those are what instantly sprang into your head, in which case feel free to add an F), G) or H) if its not taken, but be careful to justify your words.


  1. That friend wouldn't happen to be you, would it Garth?

    I'll go for b), provided I can change the butter for another bodily secretion.

  2. Wow Jimmy – you’ve just taken my slightly suggestive sketch and drawn a massive cock and balls over the whole thing! There’s no doubt in my mind you should be scriptwriting for a porn company – but get some counselling – the rate at which you probably attack yourself you’ll be lucky to get any writing done at all.

  3. Hmm, looks like we have an acute case of shy fever hitting the blog. I'll just elucidate for those of you itching to know what they all mean, but are perhaps worried that if you comment I will become emotionally attached to you. These are going to be generalisations, owing to the lack of specific details.

    If you answered a) then you are a natural soap writer. Forget the wham, bam of blockbusters, the toaster going off is enough to give you palpitations. Get prepping that Doctors spec script. Alternatively, your name might be Mike Leigh.

    Those who answered C) When you heard the synopsis for the Human Centipede 2 you were disgusted – it should’ve been the Human Millipede – why have a few people digesting each other’s shit when you can have thousands? No trick is too cheap for you and shock tactics are an ever present in your life. You probably own a pet tarantula, and he lives in the biscuit barrel, ready for a visit from a migrating granny. Get yourself a camcorder, a few mates and some mescaline and make your first movie, you can do it!

    If you thought d) summed you up then you are one of life’s questioners. Before replying to any inquiry you like to fully assimilate body language, context and previous experience - which is why most people think you are ignoring them and generally aloof and superior. Little do they realise you are the next Charlie Kaufman. Get yourself enlisted on a philosophy evening class and find yourself the next Christopher Nolan.

    If e) felt natural then oh dear. What are you doing here? Sorry to break this to you, but you’re way too in love with the written word to be a scriptwriter. Economy of words is as foreign to you as continental Europe. Embrace your true nature and getting writing your first novel!