Writing Tips From Joss Whedon

Danny Stack at his “Scriptwriting in the U.K.” blog offers up “Joss Whedon’s Anatomy of a Screenplay,” a short piece originally published in 4Talent magazine. As Joss is one of the living gods of Story Itself, I am always willing and eager to absorb any wisdom that trickles down from his pad on Olympus (or his Olympus typewriter, maybe, which would be a cool bit of godlike wisdom product placement, except he probably writes on a computer like the rest of us schlubs, so damn). (But then again, his pad on Olympus, that’s not bad, because it can be his domicile, but it can also be his writing pad, which is something he probably does still use, even in this digital age, so hey, that works, right…right? Damnit, I need coffee. Or something.).

Anyway.

The piece is basically Joss’s ten tips for screenwriters (with a slight emphasis on script-doctoring, which is hiring on to touch up someone else’s script). I love the fact that Step 1 is “Finish It,” and my favorite bit of advice is #9:

Having given the advice about listening, I have to give the opposite advice, because ultimately the best work comes when somebody’s fucked the system; done the unexpected and let their own personal voice into the machine that is moviemaking. Choose your battles. You wouldn’t get Paul Thomas Anderson, or Wes Anderson, or any of these guys if all moviemaking was completely cookie-cutter. But the process drives you in that direction; it’s a homogenising process, and you have to fight that a bit. There was a point while we were making Firefly when I asked the network not to pick it up: they’d started talking about a different show.

The fact that this is my favorite bit would probably come as no shock to my editor (though I listened to him waaaaay more than I didn’t, and the book is better for it).

Go here for the full piece: http://dannystack.blogspot.com/2009/01/joss-whedons-top-10-writing-tips.html

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