By Kimberly Johnson
I didn’t pay the $7.50 at the ticket window last Saturday. That’s right; I’m the only one who didn’t see Avatar. You know, the flick with the blue people flying on dinosaur-looking creatures. The flick that made billions of dollars.
To borrow a phrase from Drew Barrymore’s date night film: I’m just not that into it—science fiction, that is. My history with science fiction is checkered, spotty at best. I did munch popcorn to the Star Wars trilogy. I smiled through E.T. I curled up on the couch to Close Encounters on DVD.
Again, not a fan of space, the final frontier.
I didn’t pay the $7.50 at the ticket window last Saturday. That’s right. I blew it. After watching James Cameron’s insightful interview with PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley, I realized that blue people and quality writing equals big bucks. The Smiley-Cameron exchange revealed the director’s vision on creativity, the use of computerized imagery and the writing process. I also realized Cameron is a prolific screenwriter with box office notables such as The Terminator, Rambo: First Blood Part II and True Lies under his belt.
I did pay the matinee price to see those films.
That interview got me thinking… Cameron must be a darn good writer.
I drove to the public library and checked out three screenwriting books. (There is an iceberg and leading man in my future.) Hal Ackerman’s, Write Screenplays That Sell, is a keeper. Ackerman states that you don’t need to take a screenwriting course to write professionally. Did I tell you he is a former screenwriter and film instructor? Well, his former UCLA film students give him high praise for his simple, yet effective techniques to write and to format scripts.
So, I rolled the dice and decided to skim the book.
Then, I decided to read it.
Finally, I decided to incorporate some of his ideas into my writing. (I liked Ackerman’s take on character descriptions--- Keep the language fresh and vivid. Never leave your reader wanting less.) Overall, Ackerman wants the reader to develop strong writing skills. He does a good job on providing the nuts and bolts. For example, Ackerman believes that “dialogue must function as a part of a character’s efforts to accomplish his or her immediate objective”. He offers helpful hints such as:
• It’s never a character’s objective to give information to the audience.
• Characters ought not to be complicit with the writer’s intentions for them.
• A character’s objective is not to tell the story or to supply biographical information, back story, mood or psychological diagnosis.
I didn’t pay the $7.50 at the ticket window last Saturday. That’s right. I didn’t blow it. I used my library card to check out a reference guide to improve my writing—and to find some blue people.