Chronicling the creative process for Pop Zeus, the forthcoming Guided By Voices/Bob Pollard tribute comic- including sketches, concepts, finished art and whatever else is in my brain at the moment.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Billy Wilder's Tips For Writers

From the mind of master filmmaker Billy Wilder come these simply put but strangely complex and thought provoking tips for writers. My thoughts are in parenthesis below. Words to live by! (Billy's, not mine)

Billy Wilder's Tips for Writers

1. The audience is fickle. (not a problem for me per se, as I don't really have an audience at this point. Is there more to this thought than meets the eye?)

2. Grab 'em by the throat and never let 'em go. (James Bond movies exploit this to the max with their famous obligatory pre-credit action sequence. Superhero comics have also used this technique since the dawn of time. Also known as "put your characters out on a limb and start sawing!")

3. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character. (brilliantly pulled off by Peter Jackson in the Lord of the Rings film- a huge ensemble cast, but he never lost focus on Frodo's story, the key character in the narrative)

4. Know where you're going. (had a problem with this one sometimes with Logjam!)

5. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer. (this is one of those brain busters- Hitchcock was a master at this, as is Alan Moore. Very very tricky stuff.)

6. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act. (yeah, no kidding! Ties in with number four, I think. Many elements that pay off at the end of the story need to be set up properly.)

7. Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever. (another tricky one to pull off. It takes careful balance between clarity and not treating the readers like idiots- which is more dangerous, audience confusion or boredom?)

8. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they're seeing. (they could have used this one in Blade Runner)

9. The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie. (something big needs to happen to propel the characters to the electrifying conclusion. The second act is the best, the pay off not so much. A great second act can make a story- The Empire Strikes Back anyone?)

10. The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then — thats it. Don't hang around. (yep, say what you gotta say and get the fuck out!)


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