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Why We Write:
Pity the hapless screenwriter. Once he or she has finished a work, it is churned like butter by the great Hollywood system--rewritten and reworked at will. If a movie is successful, the director gets the credit; if it bombs, the screenplay is to blame. "Few people are as essential to a film's success as its screenwriters," says Kenneth Turan in his introduction to Why We Write, "and few are as invisible." What a pleasure, then, to be able to look into the eyes and minds of 25 of today's top screenwriters. In these pages, Michael Ferris (The Net) and Daniel Waters (Heathers) lament the Hollywoodization of their endings. John Briley (Gandhi) and Mark Rosenthal (The Jewel of the Nile) warn against script gurus and film courses. There is plenty of complaining about Hollywood's propensity for producing formula pictures, and about the industry's abuse of its writers.
But it is the screenwriters' humor, passion, and, finally, love for what they do that are so appealing here. In the book's most entertaining essay, Daniel Waters describes the screenplay as "the most fragile art form there is, the one with the most perilous journey from cocoon to butterfly." While other artists' work is done when the artist says so, for screenwriters the end is just the beginning. "No one," says Waters, "has to go through an uglier, middleman-packed, Chinese telephone torture than a screenwriter does." Lawrence Konner (The Jewel of the Nile) takes a more exalted view of his work:
The poet said, "Only God can make a tree." The poet lied. A screenwriter can also make a tree. Or a forest fire to consume that tree. Or the brave man to put out that fire.... A screenwriter can make any team he wants win the World Series. And on a good day, a lucky day, he can write a moment of human truth that makes someone in the darkened movie theater sit up and say, "Yes! That's just how it is!"--Jane Steinberg [via]