One of my New Year’s resolutions is to write more, not in the weblog, but actual fiction writing. Andrew, Josh, and I plan to meet from time-to-time to share and discuss our individual writing projects. I intend to take another writing class this term or next. I’m excited about writing fiction again.
Sparked by a comment in the recent New Yorker Philip Pullman article, I looked up Billy Wilder’s tips for writers. These are actually screenwriting tips, but they’re applicable to other forms of writing as well.
Billy Wilder’s Tips for Writers
- The audience is fickle.
- Grab ’em by the throat and never let ’em go.
- Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
- Know where you’re going.
- The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
- If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
- Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
- In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
- The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
- The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then — thats it. Don’t hang around.
(Billy Wilder was a wonderful writer/director of the forties, fifties, and sixties. He wrote and directed one of my favorite films, the never-a-dull-moment Some Like it Hot, which the American Film Institute named as the top comedy of all time.)