The development process fiction allows is evident in the screenplay of this excellent movie. The writing is layered, bittersweet — and funny. Is this a drama or a comedy? A bit of both, but most importantly, it has an organic inevitability as if the writer were reading/watching his own story for the first time. To me, this is one of the goals of any good writer — that the reader, and then the viewer of the film of the screenplay feel as if he or she is watching actual life unfold. In the same way great theater actors can perform the same story over and over again and make it seem fresh, we writers must find a way to “forget” what happens next as we write and rewrite our screenplays. How to do this?
Watch the film, read the screenplay — and learn. Whether or not you think it’s a great film, the screenplay is almost perfect — And try the following exercise, which is not for the faint of heart:
1. Set a timer for 1/2 hour.
2. In the voice of your character write the story of your current screenplay in the first person, past tense in as much detail as possible, using thoughts and feelings to describe how your character reacted to the events that unfolded. Use metaphors and similes and make it as much like a literary short story as you can.
3. Put it away for a day.
4. Reread it as if someone else had written it, and see if the script you’ve written or are working on can be improved by the insights you glean from this “memoir.”
This is a trick that will make your story seem like a memory, and it’s much easier to remember the past than to make things up.