Tropes Beginning Screenwriters Should Avoid by Gordy Hoffman

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Film Courage: Tropes a new screenwriter should avoid that a more seasoned screenwriter can navigate?

Gordy Hoffman, Founder/Judge of the Bluecat Screenplay Competition Well that’s an interesting question. These are like very bizarre questions? Okay…I don’t think there are tropes that a seasoned screenwriter are able to navigate that sounds like…that sounds like a red flag. “I don’t want to do that Mommy! I don’t want to do tropes I’m not supposed to do when I’m a baby writer!”

It’s like we need to tell honest stuff. It needs to be original, it needs to be plausible, it needs to be emotionally available. It always needs to be like that. That needs to happen on page 10. It needs to happen in the first 10 pages. It needs to happen between page 62 and 72. I mean it’s all over the script and we can’t ever not traffic in that currency. We don’t ever want to be like “Well later you can screw around and trick people.” And obviously there are things that happen where you have better control but I just can’t…that intuitively just doesn’t feel like a seasoned writer is ever going to be able to cheat an audience in a more effective way and they are going to learn tricks that…I mean there are things with timelines and cheating time and tricking the audience in terms of (like letting the audience, fooling around with the calendar and being like well all this is happening and it feels like it’s happening over a course of eight years but it feels like it also could be happening over a year and there are things that are sophisticated that happen but that’s not a trope. But that’s just structure. When I started off writing 25 years ago (writing a play) having three people having a conversation was confusing to me. It was like “Okay, who is talking to whom?” Four people talking was difficult to hear that conversation in my mind let alone having a 150-page script that I just wrote on contract to with four different arcs happening in three different locations all kind of coming together. It was so sophisticated that I never…it was like way out there for something I never would have been able to do that even probably 15, 10 years ago. It was too difficult. I’d still look at it and go “How did you do this?” It’s so sophisticated in terms of its structure, keeping all the balls in the air, keeping it believable and clear and not forgetting anybody and not crowding your cast and all those things.

I don’t know about that question? It’s a tricky question. I hope somebody else can figure that out because I don’t think there are tropes that…there probably are things that some other teacher will be able to answer but I don’t want to ever promise a new writer “Oh, you’ll be able to use tropes.” Which suggests something that is overused. “You’ll be able to use those later when you get more seasoned.” I was like “I don’t ever want you to do that. I want you to always listen to your voice, write what you believe in, write what you really want to write and that’s what we want to give our audiences and that’s what we want to think about is our audiences not like what we’re going to be able to get away with later when we no everything…no…no…dangerous!

 

Question For The Viewers: Are you writing something you really believe in right now?

 

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