Multi-produced screenwriter Robert Gosnell brings us his wisdom
from the trenches (err...office) of a working screenwriter.
This bit of advice is priceless, and I laughed after I read it.
The Hero In The Well
In the 1950's and 1960's, Western-themed movies and television shows ruled. During that time, let's say there existed a hypothetical Western TV series.
Now, on this hypothetical Western TV series was a head writer, who was busy writing an episode for the upcoming week. In the midst of writing the script, the head writer got a phone call from home; a family emergency.
The head writer informed the producers that he would have to leave, and the writing staff would have to finish the script. The writers set to work, but were immediately faced with a problem.
At the point where the head writer stopped writing, the show's hero was stuck in the bottom of a well. The writers thought and thought, discussed and argued, but could not find a way to get the hero out of the well.
Days went by, the deadline for production was near, and the script was only halfway finished. All because no one could find a way to get the hero out of the well.
Finally, their backs to the wall, the producers called the head writer and told him he had to come back to work, post haste.
The head writer returned. Everyone gathered anxiously around him, as he sat down at the typewriter and wrote....
"After getting out of the well..."
The lesson here is simple: don't block yourself.
Write past it. Finish the story, then come back. In the rewrite process, you'll find a resolution. Maybe, you'll explain it away in a line.
"It's a good thing that old miner came by, and heard my calls for help."
Maybe you won't explain it, at all. He's a hero. Any old hero can get out of a well. I see this option all the time.
Or maybe, when you go back, you'll realize that the hero didn't have to be stuck in that well, in the first place.
But, don't block yourself. Finish your script. In the end, rather than having an unfinished script, you'll have a finished script with a single issue that needs addressing.
That's a lot easier to deal with.
"The Blue Collar Screenwriter and The Elements of Screenplay" is currently available at:
Amazon digital and paperback
Amazon digital and paperback
A professional screenwriter for more than thirty years, Robert Gosnell has produced credits in feature films, network television, syndicated television, basic cable and pay cable, and is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of Canada.
Robert began his career writing situation comedy as a staff writer for the ABC series Baby Makes Five. As a freelance writer, he wrote episodes for Too Close for Comfort and the TBS comedies Safe at Home andRocky Road. In cable, he has scripted numerous projects for the Disney Channel, including Just Perfect, a Disney Channel movie featuring Jennie Garth. In 1998, he wrote the Showtime original movie, Escape from Wildcat Canyon, which starred Dennis Weaver and won the national "Parents Choice Award." Robert's feature credits include the Chuck Norris/Louis Gosset Jr. film Firewalker, an uncredited rewrite on the motion picture Number One With A Bullet starring Robert Carradine and Billy Dee Williams, and the sale of his original screenplay Kick And Kick Back to Cannon Films. Robert was also selected as a judge for the 1990 Cable Ace Awards, in the Comedy Special category.
In 1990, Robert left Hollywood for Denver, where he became active in the local independent film community. His screenplay Tiger Street was produced by the Pagoda Group of Denver and premiered on Showtime Extreme in August of 2003. In 1999, Denver’s Inferno Films produced the action film Dragon and the Hawk from his script. In 2001, Robert co-wrote the screenplay for the independent feature Siren for Las Vegas company Stage Left Productions. His feature script Juncture was produced by Front Range Films in March of 2006.
Robert is a principal member of the Denver production company "Conspiracy Films." He is frequently an invited speaker for local writers organizations, served on the faculty of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in 2002, and in 2007 was chosen to participate as a panelist for the Aspen Film Festival Short Screenplay Contest. Robert regularly presents his screenwriting class "The Elements of Screenplay," along with advanced classes and workshops, in the Denver area.
Additionally, he is a frequent contributor to this blog.