Habits of Successful Screenwriters: Be a Natural Storyteller

“We’re only interested in one thing: Can you tell a story, Bart? Can you make us laugh, can you make us cry, can you make us wanna break out in joyous song?”—Barton Fink, by Ethan Coen And Joel Coen

You may love stories, whether you experience them through films, TV shows, novels, short stories, commercials, jokes, or plays, but if you can tell a story in the best possible way, make someone laugh, cry, feel pity, tension, curiosity, surprise, relief, or even inspire them, if you’re compelled to captivate an audience, and know deep down that the most important factor in a story is its visceral effect on the audience, you may be a natural storyteller.

Robin Swicord (The Jane Austen Book Club, Memoirs of a Geisha, Practical Magic, Matilda, The Perez Family, Little Women, The Red Coat, Shag: The Movie): Writers have the sort of mind that puts together narrative in a way that has a beginning, middle, and end. They notice cause and effect—that because this thing happened, that other thing is happening. These are the kinds of traits that come together into a mind that makes drama. People who don’t have that natural bend for it have a very hard time really understanding what it is writers do. There’s nothing more humbling for people who say, “I’ve always wanted to be a writer” than to actually try to create an alternate reality, only to find out it’s really hard to play God.

Note: See ‘natural storytelling’ in action with How to Write an Unforgettable Scene by David Freeman.

Excerpt from The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters by Karl Iglesias.

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