Richard Walter has shared some excellent advice for screenwriters on The Wrap which essentially boils down to one point: Lie.
Art, Picasso tells us, is the lie that tells the greater truth.
Screenwriters need to learn how to lie through their teeth.
As a screenwriting educator and script doctor I have seen more scripts brought down by a writer’s wrongheaded devotion to some idealized, romanticized, self-conscious, narcissistic, pie-in-the-sky notion of The Truth.
During tutorial sessions with writers in UCLA’s Master of Fine Arts screenwriting program, I often find myself asking something like, “Why is this character hemming and hawing, starting and stopping, meandering, beating around the bush?”
The answer I often get is, “That’s the way people really talk.”
What’s wrong with the way people really talk? Two things. First, the way people really talk is available for free in the street. Nobody has to hire a babysitter, drive to a theater and poke around (and pay) for a parking place, not to mention buying a ticket.
Worse still, the way people really talk is boring. “Hi, how you doing?” “Pretty good. You?” “Not too bad.” “That’s nice.” “Is it hot enough for you today?” “I sure hope this heat wave quits soon.” “I’ve got to get over to the market for a quart of milk.” “My mother went to New Jersey yesterday.”
The greatest crime any artist can commit is to be boring.