I’m not a filmmaker by trade, but I love listening to filmmakers talk about their craft. Recently I heard writer/director John Hamburg (Meet the Parents,?Along Came Polly) interviewed on screenwriter Brian Koppelman’s podcast, The Moment, and he shared five questions that guide his writing process. Before Hamburg writes a scene, he works out the answers to these five questions:
- What’s the point of the scene?
- What do the characters want?
- What’s the conflict?
- How does it turn?
- How is it funny? (If it’s meant to be funny.)
It’s only after those answers are established that Hamburg take a pass at the action and dialogue of a specific scene. Why? Because the action and dialogue should always serve those questions and there answers.
Later, when Hamburg has finished writing the scene, he’ll go through the questions again ? he’s essentially looking to see if the packaging of the scene was faithful to its purpose.
I love that process. Here’s hoping my writing ? and yours ? will be better for it.