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Archive for February, 2011

Why Screenwriting Is So Difficult Feb 07

The ThinkerIn Temple Grandin’s TED talk, that I watched recently, she discussed her inspirational experiences with autism and how she came to realize that people think in different ways.

According to Grandin, there are 3 different types of thinkers.

1. Photo Realistic Visual Thinkers – poor at algebra

2. Pattern Thinkers – music and math

3. Verbal Mind – poor at drawing

That got me to thinking — no wonder screenwriting is so difficult. You have to be all three!

1. Photo Realistic Visual Thinkers

As a screenwriter you must be able to think in pictures. After all, in each scene, you are literally describing what the motion picture camera will see.

Are you a Photo Realistic Visual Thinker?

Do you have an easy time “picturing” exactly what happens in your scenes? How things look and sound? Do you have to suppress that natural tendency to describe elaborate camera angles, visual effects and micro details? Do  you have a photographic memory for events?

2. Pattern Thinkers

Similar to most successful songs, most successful movies are not free form experiments. They have a necessary underlying structure, pace and rhythm.

Are you a Pattern Thinker?

Does a 3 act structure feel like a natural framework for the way you tell a story? Are you zealous about formatting and consistency? Do you enjoy setting up payoffs in your script? When you watch movies, can you usually predict the plot twists? Do movie clichés or tropes jump out at you?

3. Verbal Minds

In the end, we are writers that rely on words to tell a story. As such we have to both engage the reader with our word choice and provide an authentic experience when choosing the words of our characters.

Are you a Verbal Mind?

Do you have a good ear for dialogue? When you read a great script, do you sometimes slow down or re-read a passage simply to relish the language? In conversations with your friends, are you able to bust out relevant movie lines? Do people ever compliment you on your diction or vocabulary?

How many categories do you naturally fall into? Can the other ways of thinking be learned? Are great screenwriters the ones who excel in all three areas?

Flickr Photo by innoxiuss


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Category: Career, Creativity, Writing  | 8 Comments