August 5, 2008 Jill

Julie Gray over at The Rouge Wave has a list of writerly traits she’s noticed over the course of reading scripts every single daily and working with hundreds of writers.  There are lots of them and many resonate.  Here’s a taste:

  • Bad dialogue is never accompanied by good characters
  • Structure is confusing for the first three scripts – then something clicks
  • Writers who can’t articulate a quick logline have sprawling, confusing scripts
  • Whether a writer is shy or charismatic has no bearing on the quality of writing
  • Most beginning writers have no second act
  • Most beginning writers think their idea is more original than it is
  • Many writers, regardless of age, have not seen the classics
  • Clumsy, over-written action lines are the most accurate predictor of a bad script

and my personal favourite:

  • Experienced female writers write well in any genre.

Comments (9)

  1. Angelle

    As I sit here, floundering in my second act, I am painfully aware of what a sharp woman Julie Gray is!

  2. zenrager

    Humm, I am not a writer and do not want to be. I have a show based on my experience. I want someone else who knows what they are doing to run, co-create what is needed for a one hour cable show. I love to write and I try to do it right, but I have no ability to delve into what it must take. So, I am keeping my fingers crossed that the idea and my consulting and experience will carry it. It is a show I and the people I have told about it, (as if it’s already on HBO, and have they seen it) really get excited about. That’s how I know it’s a great show and a hit. Pretty sneaky, but strangers are waiting for the next season on HBO already.

  3. Archie Valentine

    Is generalising about women writers still OK? Or is it only OK if the generalisations are positive? What happened to Feminism? And if we are generalising, where are all those cracking female-written horror scripts?

  4. admin

    Oh Archie, Archie, Archie, the answer is so obvious that only a male couldn’t see it. Generalizations about women are fine as long as they’re made by women. And no, we can say negative things about ourselves, but you can’t. And finally, we don’t have time to write horror scripts because we’re so busy making your life a living horror.

  5. Kazza

    Hey Archie-the-troll,

    Would you freak out if the note was “experienced male writers write well in any genre”?

    It’s so trite as to be laughable.

    A good writer writes well regardless of gender.

  6. Archie Valentine

    Ah ha! Thanks for the clarification 🙂

    Kazza: I may not have ‘freaked out’ if the generalisation had been about men, but only because the rest of the internet would have been doing it for me. “experienced male writers write well in any genre”, has a slightly more sinister ring to it, no?

    My mother would never forgive me if I didn’t remain vigilant on such issues. Now I’m off to police the rest of the internet.

  7. admin

    Please keep us on your beat, Archie. Your efforts to keep the ‘net safe are valliant and it’s always good to have a man around — at least for taking out the garbage and opening doors (yes, we do want you to — sometimes, but you’ll have to guess).
    But seriously, many experienced male writers write well in any genre — that goes without saying. For women writers, you actually have to say it.

  8. Archie Valentine

    Yes, fair point. I was involved in some research for the UK Film Council, which concluded:

    In particular:

    In brief, it was believed that the main audience for films is young men aged 16-24 and that women screenwriters may be disadvantaged because they are seen as less able to write the sort of films, for example action and horror, that sell to this demographic. These beliefs are at odds with our UK data which show, first, that women aged 35 plus make up the biggest single part of UK cinema audiences, at 18 per cent (see page 50); second, that comedy, not action, is the most financially successful film genre, consistently making up one quarter of releases and takings at the UK box office, and third that women, like men, can and do write a broad range of genres, including comedy. Nonetheless these myths or perceptions about women”™s writing and particularly audience preferences seemed to be pervasive among our sample of interviewees, male and female, and were held by individuals in a range of roles, including some screenwriters. They are therefore powerful, and may indeed obstruct women screenwriters in their ability to secure work.

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