Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Art of Writing

Last night I was in correspondance with a beautiful Greek woman, as is my want, and she mentioned that for the last hour she'd been struggling with a business invitation, written in English, to introduce herself as the new manager of a department, remind people what her department did and to invite clients to a drinks party. Pretty much 3 acts really.

Now although not a native English speaker, this girl has lived in London for 12 years and makes good dough on the side translating HW movies into Greek. She counts Dreamworks and Universal amongst her clients and her use and knowledge of English is excellent. Good enough to encapsulate that she felt the invitation was ''lumpy and disjointed''

In a previous incarnation, having spent 10 years writing bullshit financial reports, my bullshit writing skills are honed to perfection. I took a look and she was absolutely right. So in about ten minutes, I deleted a few things, added a few things and changed a few things, and the invitation looked much better. It flowed and it captured what it was supposed to be.

And that is exactly what a script has to do. The action, dialogue, story, pace and structure all have to be in the right places with the right emphasis. Otherwise it reads and plays ''lumpy and disjointed''

Now, my beautiful friend can take a piece of already written work and translate it into Greek at the drop of a hat. But she realised that writing something original in another language was something she was not so good at.

And to some extent screenwriting is another language. A language that is easy to make lumpy and disjointed if you are not familiar enough with it. There are only two ways to become familiar with it. Reading and writing. Reading as many scripts as you can and writing as many scripts as you can.

My friend knew enough to know that her invitation wasn't ready to send out. It's a lesson many budding screenwriters could take on board. Bearing in mind the business she is in is communication, she might have burned a few bridges if she had sent out a less than erudite communication.

And that is the first stage in the art of writing. Knowing when it isn't good enough.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For a column on writing: 'as is my want' or is it 'as is my wont'?