Here’s a screenwriting tip that will make your life so much easier.

And before I get to it, just a word about difficulty. Many screenwriting books seem to want to make screenwriting hard – and I believe some writers want to make things hard for themselves. I don’t know why.

The books give us loads of rules that we have to fit in with, or else. The writers slog away trying to solve their script problems, believing that hard work is the only solution.

Professionals delight in finding techniques that make work easier. They swap ideas, study, talk to other professionals and shamelessly nick their ways of working.

There’s one kind of major script problem that trips many writers up. It’s the kind of major problem in the script that seems central. You can’t solve it without abandoning the script, which may also mean abandoning some great things that are in it too. So you…

Wave your wooden leg

To wave your wooden leg means to take your problem and put it up there on the screen, full-on, no apologies.

We were watching Good Night and Good Luck this week at a training. There’s a very wordy, intellectual, film of ideas. The writers could have cut the words, simplified the ideas. Instead they put them up front, in the very first scene. Long speeches, cool discussions of important ideas. Take it or leave it.

If you’ve got a film that’s in seven acts, why not call it Seven? It all takes place in a box? Call it Buried and make your one tiny location an essential part of the plot. You’ve got an unlikeable central character? Make sure everyone says how unlikeable he is.

How do you do this technique? Find the biggest problem you face in putting your story on the screen, and then put it right at the start, up front, an essential part of the story.

Go on – try it now. Go find your biggest problem. Have fun with it.

If you like learning and using professional techniques that make your writing life easier, then you’d love the very special workshop I’m running on Saturday 11th December in London. It’s called ScreenPLAYand it covers the kind of problems that trip up the most talented screenwriters, problems like structure, subtext and exposition.

It’s only for a small group, so that I can give close attention to everyone. You’ll role-play as if you were working in a real professional TV or film studio, and I’ll be teaching you professional techniques you won’t find elsewhere.

When you know these techniques you’ll find structure, characters, dialogue and visual writing fall into place, you’ll trust your ideas and your writing will flow so much more easily. So you can concentrate on the fun part. Details here.