by Adrienne D. Wilson
April opened with Lisa Angle announcing our speaker for May would be Jon O’Brien. June is on hold because for the first time ever it coincides with the SBWC dates. Also mentioned was a site called readthrough.com that looks promising. Check it out!
Wild heart energy. That summed up Carla lacovetti as she moved around the room modeling communication. She teaches workshops at the Montecito Library. “Communicating is everything in life,” she smiled as she drew out one of the writers in the audience by asking question after question. “You have to become a professional eavesdropper and listen to how people banter in everyday life.”
Listening is the writer’s job. “How do you know they talk like that?” You have to be like a psychologist when you listen. “Don’t be afraid to go and talk to people. Engage and you will find out about life.”
Carla quoted Hitchcock on films as being “Life with all the dull parts taken out.” Good dialogue never goes past what is needed to move the story along. It has a rhythm even if only one word. Using the film Sideways, she talked about the one word opener that set the stage for the whole character. “With just one opening line we know the character is a mess, in just three minutes of screen time.”
The reality is that you only have two hours to develop the story, she said. “Structure and timing is everything in screenwriting.” You have to know your characters so well that you know what they will say or do in any given situation. “Do a background study on every main character as an exercise.” This will give the writer the ability to know exactly what the characters are thinking and create believable dialogue. Listening to the dialogue in the trailer for Sideways you can see how fast it all moves. “Remember that you only have two hours to tell a story and you can see how the words are very, very important.”
“Great dialogue is a window into the soul of the character.”
Carla mentioned a favorite book on screenwriting, Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters by Michael Tierno. Take a sneak peek at a review from Variety. The book sounded great, because well, you just can’t go wrong with Aristotle when it comes to dramatic arcs.
Carla smiled at the audience as she said, “No writer, no script. You are ground zero.”
For the story to have universal appeal you want the characters to be as human as possible. “Don’t expose everything,” she cautioned. “Leave something to the imagination so the audience can think.”
For more on this warm and funny writer check out her web page. This quote alone ought to tell you everything about how she approaches writing: “To write well, one must utterly abandon oneself to it. You cannot keep secrets or hold anything back. You must spill your heart out on paper.” – Carla Iacovetti