The Art of Screenwriting

20 May

In what was supposed to be a passionate discussion of the art of screenwriting, this article will from the periphery describe this essential art; (and hopefully not disparage or minimize how important it is to the feature length film).  Anyone who has enjoyed many of the articles on this site knows we are not kidding when we say the article was meant to honor this discipline.  So please indulge us while we attempt to talk around the art and at least an indication of where a future article hopes to be more detailed in describing.


Its no news to Cinephiles that some screenwriting frequently derives from already published literature.   To learn about many films one needn’t travel any farther than your local bookstore.  However, one can’t determine how well screenwriting will resemble or evoke the emotions of a successful book.  Conversely it is also true that some screen-written tales can be written in ways that rival and even be better than the original source material.  Though we’re far more likely to hear of the former example happening than the latter, either outcome has little bearing to this article originally taken from’s by Nancy Tartaglione.  Attesting to the value of screen plays being adapted from successful literature, one should know, as the article claims, that Joyce Carol Oats introspectively predicted her book “Blonde” would likely be the book she is later remembered for [1].

Here’s another recent feature film bid to honor the actresses’ life.

To read the article, click here.


We benefit from good screen writing as much as the other film arts benefit.  Think of some of the favorite lines spoken from your favorite actors and you not only have the actor to thank but one also has to thank a screenwriter.  Think about your favorite period cinematic scene where an actor first presents themselves, exits in a profound way or even performs in what will become an iconic gesture.  You likely not only have the costume designer (for describing the character in the time period) but you also have a screenwriter to thank for their plotting and pacing.  Think of every sequence of events that helped you to better understand the premise of a given narrative. You not only have a cinematic director to thank but you also have a screenwriter to thank for their procedural method and storytelling insight.  With this in mind, please read Rachel Abrams article for verifying that there will be a sequel to Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.”  Hopefully you did not think Oscar-winning films rarely have sequels [2].

Here’s a report on the upcoming film.

To read the article, click here.


Of course we the film audience are the beneficiaries of the screenwriters efforts (yet like the last topic) the collaborative beneficiaries are really the actors.  You would think so many unthoughtful viewers thought the actors were fully responsible for the written content of all their films.  When these audiences discuss a Bruce Willis film, yes they are speaking both literally and figuratively of the film they are watching.  Yet don’t feel sad for the actor for this gross simplification.   Frequently studio leaders compensate them by awarding them with the influence and authority to satisfy their audiences.  With this in mind, please review Aaron Couch’s Hollywood Reporter article on the Saturday Night live episode starring Ben Affleck where they incidentally bid series regular Bill Hader “ado.”  You might remember that, as Hollywood acting royalty performs, Ben Affleck has distinguished himself from his peers because of his frequent participation in the act of screen writing where he won a screen writing Oscar for “Good Will Hunting” and a more recent best film Oscar for last years “Argo.”  Of course Bill Hader is no slouch himself, he influenced the writing for many of the characters he performed for the satiric comedy show during his tenure.

Here’s a report on the upcoming film.

To read the article, click here.

Essential references:





56 Responses to “The Art of Screenwriting”

  1. littlebells May 21, 2013 at 7:13 PM #


    Do you have any favorite screenwriters for TV or film?

    • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 7:27 PM #

      Hi LB

    • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 7:54 PM #


      That shouldn’t be a tough question, right now I remember the comics….
      Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

      And the sometimes unsettling types….
      David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Oliver Stone

      • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 7:55 PM #

        Hi! U made it? AWESOME!

      • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 7:56 PM #

        My appreciation for these artists grow every day. It may take a while to write the article that makes that clearer.

  2. Open Book May 21, 2013 at 7:34 PM #


    Have u read “Iron Knight, Silver Vase” by the late Chinese writer Wang Dulu? Its the book “Crouching Tiger” was based on.

    • littlebells May 21, 2013 at 7:45 PM #

      No I havent. Did the movie stay close to the book?

      • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 7:46 PM #

        Hi LB- IDK I haven’t read it either. I want to though. Perhaps we can read it for PTSS?

        • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:38 PM #

          I’ve not read either but I am a fan of the Crouching Tiger film. Part of me is thrilled and excited that there’ll be another cinematography feast to gorge on. The other half of me is scared that it won’t live up to that.

          • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:42 PM #

            Yes! I’m afraid of that too. I really loved the film.

            • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:55 PM #

              Glad I’m not the only one. I’m going to try and stay positive because the new director sounds very artistic. I wonder if they’ll make a spin off or sequel of House of Flying Daggers (I can’t remember if the whole war was won. I just remember what happens to the two main characters).

              • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 9:00 PM #

                In House of Flying Daggers they both died at the end. Now they could always revive one or both for a sequel. Hahaha!

                • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 9:07 PM #

                  That’s the part I remember but I cannot for the life of me remember if the greater war was won. that would be the only way they could do another one. Unless it was a prequel I suppose.

  3. Open Book May 21, 2013 at 7:45 PM #


    Comic Relief won’t be able to make the discussion tonight as scheduled. He apologizes and said he will try and answer your questions later.

    • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 7:57 PM #


      Thanks for the announcement, though I guess I’m here.

      • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 7:59 PM #

        No problem!

        So what inspired u to write about this topic?

        • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 8:09 PM #

          I’m paying more attention to the art and wanted to really enter the topic. That exercise probably was no this article; but I took a stab at it.

          • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:12 PM #

            Well its a good stab. I like that u gave a broad overview.

  4. Open Book May 21, 2013 at 7:51 PM #


    What do u think is better adapted screenplays or original screenplays? What do u like better and why?

    • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 8:02 PM #

      I wish I had a preference, but I don’t.

      • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 8:03 PM #

        In the future when I write the article I wanted to write I also want to talk about some of the difficulties of the art also.

        It can’t be easy to find out an actor or director thinks another phrasing or expression of a line would make more sense, be more logical, or sound better than the one you chose.

        • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 8:06 PM #

          It’s hard not to notice that everyone in a Woody Allen film seems to speak with the same anxious neurotic phrasing he appears to always speak in.

        • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:07 PM #

          I really like a little of both. What I like about original screenplays it takes into account its for the screen so u don’t feel like your missing any of the details like often u feel happens with adaptations. Does that make sense?

          • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 8:13 PM #

            It makes a lot of sense.

            I imagine the adapter for adapted screen plays can’t help but be some sort ot collaborator or interpretter for the original writer.

            I imagine that could be extremely stressful.

            • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:16 PM #

              Yes! I imagine it can be extremely stressful especially if that book has a huge fanbase.

              • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 8:36 PM #

                I agree.

                I don’t care how wonderful the movie is, writers like F. Scott Fittsgerald, Faulkner, are likely to be missed come screen time.

                When I was a teen I really liked some of John Irving’s novels unfortunately I’ve only seen a small number of movies, that were made, to celebrate his work.

                Off the top of my head I’not sure whether any were as viseral as the scenarios in his books. I think “The Cider House Rules” came pretty close.Of course Irving wrote both the novel and screen play.

            • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:18 PM #

              CR- How do u feel about comic book screenplays being adapted and being different than the original source material? How did fanboys react to the Mandarin in Iron Man 3?

              • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 8:51 PM #

                Other than for Frank Miller’s work I haven’t seen too many directors try to copy comics verbatim.
                Miller, Rodriguez and Tarrantino did a phenominal on “Sin city!”

                • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 8:53 PM #

                  • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:58 PM #

                    Loved Sin City! Aren’t they making a sequel of it?

            • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 8:19 PM #

              For the adapted sceenplay writer, it’s impossible that people will not compare you to the original narrative. Of course you could always share your short comings with the director.

          • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:18 PM #

            I don’t have a preference either!

            • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:20 PM #

              Are u saying as long as it holds up on screen you like it?

              • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:29 PM #

                Yes, I am. That’s a much better way of putting it!

            • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:23 PM #

              Ozzie- What would u prefer to write an original or adapted screenplay?

              • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:32 PM #

                If I had to, I think I would go with an adaptation until I learn the ropes and gained some confidence. Then I’d try at an original script.

                • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:34 PM #

                  Thats a good plan.

                  Do u think originals are riskier? If so why?

                  • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:37 PM #

                    I meant to say do u think originals are harder to sell?

                    • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:45 PM #

                      I wouldn’t say it’s the harder sell for originals that would worry me. With an adaptation, you have a guide to follow, lol! With an original I wouldn’t know where to start! Of course if one was trained in that area, it would probably be the other way round, I would assume. 🙂

                    • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:52 PM #

                      I often think the reason we have so many knock off stories because HW doesn’t like to sell an original never done before concept. Maybe I’m wrong but I always wonder why we get a dozen similar films if one original was a hit.

                    • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 9:01 PM #

                      I definately agree with you there.

  5. ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:11 PM #

    Hi everyone! 🙂

    Cool article CR. Very informative!

    • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:13 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

      How are u?

      • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:24 PM #

        I feel like I’m about to throw up and have a headache, but apart from that I’m good, LOL!

        How are you?

        • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:31 PM #

          That’s horrible. I’m sorry and hope feel better soon.

          • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:51 PM #

            I’m hoping it’s one of those 48 hour bugs… Or the cat has decided to poison us for not jumping to his every command… Or it could be the spiders… I’m going with the spiders. They’ve decided to use germ warfare in their attempt to kill me this year! 🙂

            • Open Book May 21, 2013 at 8:54 PM #

              Hahahaha! U should definitely do SNL. I would come and sit in the front row.

              • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 9:04 PM #

                Yay! But bring a water proof poncho with you, I may get extremely nervous and projectile vomit into the audience, lol!

    • Comic Relief May 21, 2013 at 8:16 PM #

      Thanks Ozzie,

      That’s EXTREMELY generous of you, yet I’ll gladly accept it anyway.

      • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:27 PM #

        LOL! 🙂

        • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 8:45 PM #

          How are you CR?

  6. Open Book May 21, 2013 at 9:05 PM #


    I have to go for the evening. This was a great topic and discussion.


    • ozzie20 May 21, 2013 at 9:08 PM #

      Bye OB and CR! Thanks for the fun discussion, it helped cheer me up. 🙂

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