adventures in the screen trade quotes


Adventures in the Screen Trade 


by William Goldman


If you like the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and you haven’t read this book, read this book. If you are writer and have interest in understanding the world of screenplays, read this book. If you want to be a successful writer, read this book.  If you like things that are… you get the point. At the very least, read the first quote. Let it seep in and permeate everything you do as a writer. Don’t forget it.


“Writing is finally about one thing: going into a room alone and doing it. Putting words on paper that have never been there in quite that way before. And although you are physically by yourself, the haunting Demon never leaves you, that Demon being the knowledge of your own terrible limitations, your hopeless inadequacy, the impossibility of ever getting it right. No matter how diamond-bright your ideas are dancing in your brain, on paper they are earthbound.”


“It’s an accepted fact that all writers are crazy; even the normal ones are weird.”


“Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”


“You don’t want to be rude but you have to be careful – there are a lot of strange people out there.”


“The writing is never what takes the most time. It’s trying to figure what you’re going to put down that fills the days. With anger at your own ineptitude, with frustration that nothing is happening inside your head, with panic that maybe nothing will ever happen inside your head, with blessed little moments that somehow knit together so that you can begin to visualize a scene.”


“I don’t think most people realize—and there’s no reason they should—the amount of demeaning garbage you have to take if you want a career in the arts. I mean, going off to med school is something you can say with your head high. Or being a banker or going into insurance or the family business—no problem. But the conversations I had with grown-ups after college… “So you’re done with school now, Bill.” “That’s right.” “So what’s next on the agenda?” Pause. Finally I would say it: “I want to be a writer.” And then they would pause. “A writer.” “I’d like to try.” Third and final pause. And then one of two inevitable replies: either “What are you going to do next?” or “What are you really going to do?” That dread double litany… What are you going to do next?… What are you really going to do?… What are you going to do next?… What are you really going to do…?”


And here’s a little bonus quote, not from this book, but from the author:


“One of the easiest things in the world is not to write… If it were easy, everyone would do it.”


Sticky Books are those that you just can’t get out of your head. They stick with you long after you have put the book down and have moved on to something else. These are some of my Sticky Books. I don’t enjoy reviewing books myself. I find I am either full of far too much praise for the book because I know how difficult it can be to write a book, or I am far too negative about a book because, well, I guess I was just in a bad mood. So instead of reviews, I have pulled some of my favorite quotes from each Sticky Book.


Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.