Why A Writer Should Start With Plot Before Character by Jill Chamberlain

Film Courage: Do writers start with character or plot?

Jill Chamberlain, Author/Writer/Instructor: You know, I sometimes say there are two kinds of writers, the ones who start with character and the ones that start with plot. I think both are valid ways. I think however that if someone starts with character I wouldn’t tell them that they’re wrong and that they shouldn’t. I think that if you start with plot it’s a little easier to break story and to work with story.

The example I was saying with GROUNDHOG DAY, if you start with the premise it is far more interesting than the character. What if somebody woke up and it’s the same day a second time? That’s a great premise, right? I want to start with that and then ask myself Well who would be the most interesting character to put in that? What if it was somebody that was naive? That probably wouldn’t work. What if it’s somebody who is a jerk? Ahh…now that helps me build the plot and character, right? So for me it works so much more naturally and it’s much more easy to work…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).


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Jill Chamberlain is the author of one of the highest rated screenwriting books on Amazon entitled The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting.

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Jill Chamberlain’s book from University of Texas Press, The Nutshell Technique: Crack the Secret of Successful Screenwriting, is now available on Amazon and in fine bookstores everywhere. Of the over 3,000 books on screenwriting on Amazon, The Nutshell Technique ranks #1 in user ratings. Since its publication in 2016, the book became an instant classic and the go-to manual many professionals swear by. The book is on the syllabus for courses at University of Houston, University of Notre Dame, and the world renowned screenwriting program at Columbia University. The technique comes from Jill’s years of consulting and coaching, and she continues to use this methodology to hone screenplays into truly compelling stories.


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