Five things I believe about screenwriting

  1. I believe that the one rule of screenwriting is be entertaining. It doesn’t matter if a movie uses explosions or conversation to entertain, so long as it does. A movie may be more highbrow, but the emotions it creates come from the same reptile brain. (1)
  2. I believe in three act structure . We could have an ontological argument about it’s existence, but it remains the most useful way to talk about and conceptualize screenwriting concepts.
  3. I believe in tackling premise first, because premise  is easier to learn, yet people have trouble getting a handle on it. Character and scenework are also important, but I like to teach them after premise.
  4. I believe the biggest obstacles to screenwriting are rooted in psychology. Specifically, it’s easier to avoid trying than it is to try your hardest and spectacularly fail.
  5. I believe there are no advanced problems in screenwriting (or anything), only fundamental ones.



(1) An earlier draft had this rule as  “don’t be arbitrary .” I’ve since reconsidered. We use unity to achieve the goal of entertainment, but it’s a means, not an end.

Published by Matt Lazarus

WGA screenwriter offering in-depth writing instruction, notes, critique, and assistance.

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