Sunday, April 20, 2008


A word that always comes up when describing writers, especially new writers, is VOICE. It's sort of hard to explain now that I'm trying to do it, but your style, perspective, attitude, characters, themes, influences (and probably much more) all add up to your voice. Who you are as a writer. If you're funny or serious - and what kind of funny or serious. Where you fit on the spectrum between Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which, btw, was funny but kind of forgettable) and There Will Be Blood. Sometimes it kinda sucks because the one script of yours that people read will be the representation of who you are. If all goes well you'll get a meeting and get to show them more about you, but really, your talents have to shine off the page.

I think it can be difficult to write with all of this in mind. I kinda want to keep it simple and just write a good story with good characters. But I know my writing needs to make an impression. Am I making the right one? I want people to read me and get what I'm about. That life is hilarious and tragic. That people are impossibly complex and interesting. That we make bad decisions despite ourselves. That there is poetry in everything - and bullshit in everyone.

Maybe you can't really try to create your voice. Maybe it's just there naturally. I just hope that if people start listening, they're hearing what I want them to hear.


Screenwriter Shep said...

I think you nailed it when you said that you can't force it.

And it's all encompassing. And it changes.

It's almost impossible to pin it down. The only way to develop voice is to write.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the above comment. Your voice is a natural part of who you are. It will emerge and change the more you write.

I'm a crime fiction writer, with one published novel and short story, but I've often thought about screenwriting. Between books, I even wrote a pilot episode for a series idea I dreamt up. Anyway, I've been following your blog with great interest. Here's hoping your assistant job helps get you that big break.

Matt said...

"I want people to read me and get what I'm about. That life is hilarious and tragic."

I think that describes what I do with my "voice" more than anything else. It usually manifests itself when I write what I think to be a drama, give it to someone else and they start laughing. I think my comic relief tends to become more than just relief, and most of my writing turns into comedy with dramatic elements.

I'm not sure if that's a problem or not, but hey it works. Why force it, right?

Dan Williams said...

Voice. That's hard. What is it? How do you develop it?

One writer said to write like you do when you are writing a letter to a particular person.

Another said your voice showed up not when you said something but when you replied to someone. So the script you are working on might be a reply to another script you read or saw and, maybe, disagreed with.

Another said, just disagree with anything and make your case, your voice is the shortest distance between your heart and the page.

But the best thing I've heard is that we write in order to help other people. So if we write trying to tell this imaginary other person (who might be our mom or dad) something they need to learn, then what's best and most deep and most true will come out just as it should (and then we polish.)

I'm most me when I'm helping somebody else, when it's about them, not me. In Jack Nicolsen movies, he's always trying to help or be good for somebody else. And De Niro does this, too.

Anyway, it's what works for you that counts.

Ah, another great!! Lots of good stuff happens on great L.A. days!