Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Writing Tips from Billy Wilder

Ten tips from Academy Award winner Billy Wilder, whose screenwriting credits include The Bishop's Wife, Ocean's Eleven, A Song Is Born and Casino Royale. The list goes on and on, as Billy also directed films like Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard and The Seven Year Itch. So Billy knew his stuff.   
1.  The audience is fickle.
2. Grab 'em by the throat and never let 'em go.
3. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
4. Know where you're going.
5. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
6. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is the first act.
7. A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They'll love you forever.
8. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they're seeing.
9. The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
10. The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then--that's it. Don't hang around.

Billy also knew how to get the last laugh. :) 


LD Masterson said...

Great points from a man who most certainly "knew his stuff".

Cate Masters said...

His experience alone is inspiring! Bet he had some great behind-the-scenes stories to tell too.

Vivien Dean said...

I can't even tell you how much I love this post. I'm a huge Billy Wilder fan anyway, but this just proves his genius for me. :)

Cate Masters said...

Wish I had half his comedic genius, Vivien! He had a real gift.

Angela Brown said...

The advice, each and every piece, is amazing. This one really gripped me:
6. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is the first act.

Cate Masters said...

As succinct as each one is, I'm sure someone else could have written an entire book of writing tips based on these. It proves his genius that he got his point across in so few words.