Billy Wilder was one of the greatest writer/directors in film history, having co-written and directed such classics as Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it Hot, The Apartment, and Double Indemnity. What screenwriter wouldn't want a little advice from him?
Well, here are some of Wilder's screenwriting tips:
- The audience is fickle.
- Grab 'em by the throat and never let 'em go.
- Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
- Know where you're going.
- The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
- If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
- A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They'll love you forever.
- In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they're seeing.
- The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
- The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that's it. Don't hang around.
From Conversations with Wilder by Cameron Crowe.