What To Do When The Words Won’t Come? Oscar Screenplay Nominees Share Their Hardest Scenes



Moonrise Kingdom

FADE IN.

I’ve got this idea for a blog post. Grabs notebook and pen, anticipating the words to flow easily from my head to the paper. I get a sentence or two. Nope, that’s not quite what I want to say. Scratches out words. Tries again from a different angle. NO. NO. NO. Tosses notebook aside, sulks for a minute and checks Hulu for the latest episode of “Parks and Rec”.

FADE TO BLACK.

A very smart woman named Gloria Steinem once said “I do not like to write – I like to have written.” And it’s absolutely true. Writing can be awful because it’s all on you. You have to do the work, mostly alone and it is hard.

I used to think that I was the only one who struggled. The words must flow much easier for acclaimed screenwriters, novelists and bloggers. Yeah right, maybe in a perfect world. The cold hard truth is writing is a craft and in order to sharpen your scribe skills, you have to find ways to overcome the inevitable creative roadblocks.

On Monday, Vulture.com posted the latest interview in their “The Toughest Scene I Wrote” series featuring Roman Coppola (co-writer of MOONRISE KINGDOM). His troubleshooting technique: saying the lines aloud with co-writer/director Wes Anderson and leaving room for playful banter that might help them flesh out the scene .

“In that scene where Frances says to Bill, “Does it concern you that your daughter’s run away?” and he says, “That’s a loaded question,” that came from banter. It’s the sort of relaxed discovery you make when you’re not afraid to throw things out that leads to these aha moments where you run to the computer to put it down.”

It’s comforting to know that writers now vying for the top honor in our industry were once scrambling to find the right words too.

What do you do when the words won’t come? If you’ve seen the films mentioned, do you think their solutions made the highlighted scenes stronger?

Best Original Screenplay Nominees:

The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Screenwriter John Gatins on Flight

The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Mark Boal on Zero Dark Thirty’s Torturous Opening

The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Moonrise Kingdom Co-Writer Roman Coppola

Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees:

The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Screenwriter Chris Terrio on Argo

The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Screenwriter Lucy Alibar on Beasts of the Southern Wild

The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Screenwriter David Magee on Life of Pi’s Ending

The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Tony Kushner on Lincoln

The Toughest Scene I Wrote: David O. Russell on Silver Linings Playbook

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