Film Courage,  the website and radio show dedicated to empowering independent filmmakers, interviewed at length screenwriting teacher John Truby on the art and craft of screenwriting, and released a total of 14 videos between August and now.

I have yet to watching the whole series but decided to share the latest video I’ve watched because I thought it had some interesting beats.

I don’t always agree on some very specific points* with Truby but overall he has a different discourse than the regular ‘Hollywood Screenwriting Teacher‘ that I found healthier and closer to reality.

If you’re driven by making money and becoming famous, you might be disappointed by Truby’s philosophy. The man believes in two things: work and time. Sounds very logical when it comes to writing a story but somehow, in most books and screenwriting classes they assure you they have found the miraculous recipe to write a pitch/outline/draft that will seduce all species and will propel you to stardom in 10 minutes/days/weeks.

Truby, however, emphasizes the importance of mastering the craft but also the difficulties attached to a job that means you will spend most of your time alone in front of a blank page listening to your darkest thoughts. (Ok, Truby didn’t really say anything about dark thoughts, but he should have, because it’s true.)

You know the drill, I embedded the video with chapters breakdown. There are only three of them for this 10 minute video, and they are all worth watching, but I always say that so do as you please, just try to enjoy:

  • Chapter 1: Why Most People Fail at Screenwriting
  • Chapter 2: What Being a Writer Means
  • Chapter 3: The Key Quality for a Writer

*(i.e. in this video: ‘Screenwriting is the most difficult craft in the WORLD.’ Just that, really… Not a huge fan of the hyperbola tendency,  unless Truby has practiced every single craft in the world. Then, of course, my apologies for doubting his words. Otherwise, saying it’s a difficult craft is enough I believe.)

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By mentorless| 7 Comments | Filmmakers Tools, Interviews, Writing and Writers

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How to Introduce a Character in a Script
October 31, 2012 at 12:13 pm


  1. Apparently it`s harder than rocket science and brain surgery.

    • :) haha good one.

      I would argue though that rocket science and brain surgery require a very specific set of skills and do have a clear blueprint on how to achieve succes. Whereas storytelling doesn’t have a clear recipe and applying twice the same ingredients won’t give the same result. There is a right way to do a brain surgery, there is not one way to write a story. (i think)

  2. Wouldn’t someone who has actually succeeded at screenwriting be better poised to address this issue? He talks an awful lot about “professional techniques” and what goes on at the “professional level,” but he’s not at that level. He’s writing books and teaching classes.

    Look, I have no problem with non-professional screenwriters writing books about the craft. It’s certainly possible to study good scripts and analyze what sets them apart from the pack, even if you’ve never written a Hollywood-caliber script yourself. Robert McKee does this quite well. But when you cross over into talking about the real ins and outs of professional screenwriting when you’re clearly not part of that world, you’re misrepresenting yourself.

    • I understand your position, I had at times teachers or randome men (it seemed) giving a class or doing a conference and claiming to detain the recipe for success in screenwriting when it was obvious they were only failed writers and even crooks sometimes. But I also have seen professionals who were excellent at their craft and had zero skills to explain and transmit their knowledge (to a point where it was painful and frustrating). Teaching and accomplishing often require two different skills set I believe. I agree with you that Truby is a tiny bit too affirmative, but to his defense the man has been around for a long time and doing it on a big scale. And that doesn’t happen if you don’t have something concrete to bring on the table. The teachers and crooks I mentioned above, they make a living out of their lack of skills, but they’ll never become references.

  3. Nick, I totally agree with you. Truby sounds pissed as if he wanted to discourage any young screenwriters to make it big just because he didn’t succeed at screenwriting. One thing I always keep in mind is that one needs to be careful who one asks questions too. People always have answers but many times the answers are not very accurate.

    I give you an example. It’s totally unrelated but I think it works as an example. Recently I asked one of my coworkers why the airports cancel flights during extreme cold weather. My coworker talked about the fact that once the plane is in the air, the accumulation of water on the wings when the plane is on the ground turn into ice and that’s just enough for the plane to crash because it makes the plane heavier and the wings can’t operate normally. I believed him because it makes so much sense. But then I decided to check his answer and found this article:

    Basically cold weather disrupts ground operations and not the aircraft… My coworker gave a reason that really made sense… But it’s wrong.

    Why am I saying that? Well, these people who give advice on screenwriting may also give answers that at first sight make complete sense but are in fact wrong. And writing stories is complex because it’s always different… sure there are similar things in stories but sometimes the story doesn’t fit to their teaching… take the example of Inception… a dream within and dream within a dream…

    I’ve watched videos of teachers who failed at screenwriting and they sound pissed and authoritative (even McKee sometimes sounds pissed… he looks like an angry person… look at his eyebrows… Actually here is an impersonation of Robert McKee

    The screenwriting craft is very difficult and I don’t think it can be taught because it’s always different. Basically, I think that teaching screenwriting is almost a hoax… all the teacher can do is give certain guidelines. I think it can be learned but it’s a self-learning type of thing and when the writer encounters a writing block then he/she can look for guidelines but that’s about it. And yes… it’s lots of hours… alone…


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