Novelist Stephen King spent an hour answering questions from writing students faculty and visitors in at UMass Lowell recently. One of his best answers focused on the art of screenplay writing.
We’ve embedded the complete video above (scriptwriting advice at the 17:00 mark), an inspiring and useful collection of advice from the master novelist. We’ve transcribed his thoughts about movie writing below, getting a glimpse into King’s early writing career.
Here’s an excerpt: “I had been writing novels full time for a year and a half, and I said to myself, ‘I want to learn how to write movies. I want to try, anyway.’ So I got a book about writing screenplays and I read it. It was bulls***. But at the end, it had a sample screenplay from The Twilight Zone that showed me what the form was. And that wasn’t bulls***. That was something real. So I took the Ray Bradbury book, Something Wicked This Way Comes and I wrote a screenplay. I learned what I was doing. It wasn’t for anybody except for me.”
King concluded: “For a long time, I felt that movies were a lesser medium because it is like skating on the surface of the narrative. Every now and then, a movie will be reduced to a voiceover and I go ‘No, no, no! You’ve clearly mistaken this medium for something it’s not.’ I came to realize that films have a language of their own and you have to learn that language. It isn’t enough to say ‘I’ve watched movies my entire life.’ You have to write a couple.”