William Goldman's 10 Screenwriting Commandments

Thou shalt write some of the greatest works of all time...

As all writers know, William Goldman was one of the best, if not the best screenwriters of all time. I recently came across his list of the 10 Commandments on Writing. Now, I looked online all over the place and while there's no way to officially prove this is his list, a lot of other sites said it was. So we are going with that. 

I'm a big fan of motivational lists, from Pixar's 22 rules for storytelling things to our post on Quentin Tarantino's aggregated Screenwriting advice. I think they do a wonderful job helping young and old writers organize their thoughts and get motivated to crank out the pages. 

We all deal with writer's block, so it's nice to use lists like this to recenter our thoughts and re-motivate us to get writing. 

Here Are 10 Commandments On Writing From William Goldman:

  1. Thou shalt not take the crisis out of the protagonist’s hands.
  2. Thou shalt not make life easy for the protagonist.
  3. Thou shalt not give exposition for exposition’s sake.
  4. Thou shalt not use false mystery or cheap surprise.
  5. Thou shalt respect thy audience.
  6. Thou shalt know thy world as God knows this one.
  7. Thou shalt not complicate when complexity is better.
  8. Thou shalt seek the end of the line, taking characters to the farthest depth of the conflict imaginable within the story’s own realm of probability.
  9. Thou shalt not write on the nose — put a subtext under every text.
  10. Thou shalt rewrite.

Inspired by Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting by William Goldman. (source    

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