5 Things We Learned At The Toronto Screenwriting Conference

Last weekend we had the pleasure of listening to some incredible writers talk about their craft at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference. It was illuminating and motivating. Here’s what we learned:

There’s lots of room for women’s voices: White men have been dominating the cinema landscape for the last 100 years. That means men’s stories have already been told. Women’s stories – told from a female POV – are fresh. Those stories haven’t been written yet. And the public thirst for them is growing. This means, of course, it’s time to WRITE your story.

Don’t bore your reader: Get people to read your stuff. Watch them. Are they zoning out, nodding off and confused? Then the scene – or the script – isn’t working. Your reader is your audience. Keep them interested.

Don’t copy: Everyone wants to write the next hit show. So they’ll look at a show like Breaking Bad and try to copy it. Breaking Bad resonated was because it was original, it was Vince Gilligan’s voice, and it was phenomenally written. Tell the story that matters to YOU – that’s the story that will matter to your audience.

Let your characters guide you: Don’t worry about how a book tells you to structure your script – let your characters do that for you. And never have your characters do or say anything they wouldn’t actually do or say in order to serve the plot. That’s stifling them.

Don’t feel obliged to make your female protagonist likeable: “As Workin’ Moms writer Robby Hoffman put it: “A woman being unlikeable to a man is inherent. I think we are doing better work if men don’t find it likeable.”

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