– . – The Dialogue Series: Screenwriter Sheldon Turner
The Dialogue Series: Screenwriter Sheldon Turner
Turner comes across as a complex, driven and passionate man, driven by self-loathing, anger (at the bad screenplays which get sold and made), and a love of good writing. One of his more controversial statements is that many screenwriters don’t know how to write—by which he means that they do not try to write well, with a love of language. He also considers the screenplay as a contemporary equivalent to poetry.
This may not be the most essential release in the series, but it provides an excellent snapshot of the contemporary screenwriter and the state of the industry anno 2007.
Turner is also an extremely disciplined writer, managing on four hours of sleep every night, and starting to write at 4 a.m.! He’s also unique in the way that he does not use e-mail—something almost unheard of in current media circles.
Turner stresses the importance of passion in writing several times throughout the DVD. Another very crucial element of good writing is that the writer has to love all the characters in the script, including the “bad ones.” For someone brought in to do rewrites, it can be quite difficult to develop the necessary affection for characters who “have been around the block already.”
Turner’s advice is for writers to read everything they can—and write! He also stresses the importance of standing out from the crowd, by way of your personal style. He’s not much of a believer in screenwriting classes because that approach teaches uniformity. One way of standing out and attracting the attention of actors and directors is by providing cool dialogue, because in Turner’s words “everyone wants to say cool dialogue.” Hook your readers swiftly, and learn the difference between what works in an outline and/or a pitch, and in the screenplay itself.
This may not be the most essential release in the series, but it provides an excellent snapshot of the contemporary screenwriter and the state of the industry anno 2007. ■