Screenwriting Quotes

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Welcome to our collection of screenwriting quotes. These quotes from top screenwriters and directors were selected to both inform and motivate you. You can also follow the source links to additional information about screenwriting.

Stephen J. Cannell: "The burden weighs upon the writer to provide for the audience, and not the other way around. Writers who scorn rather than respect their audience will never hit the long ball." (source)

Robert Altman: "I don't think screenplay writing is the same as writing - I mean, I think it's blueprinting." (source)

Alfred Hitchcock: "To make a great film you need three things - the script, the script and the script."

Joss Whedon: "The more you can create a structure by which people live in a fantastical situation and by which they will act, and the more you lay that out for the audience, the more they will feel at home in it. And for me, there’s always going to be two things going on at once. There's going to be the people trying to manipulate a situation and controlling it from above, and the people who are actually in the trenches. In that sense, Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers are oddly similar." source)

James Cameron: "Writing a screenplay for me is like juggling. It’s like, how many balls can you get in the air at once? All those ideas have to float out there to a certain point and then they’ll crystallize into a pattern." (source)

Aaron Sorkin: "I love writing but hate starting. The page is awfully white, and it says, 'You may have fooled some of the people some of the time, but those days are over, giftless. I'm not your agent, and I'm not your mommy; I'm a white piece of paper. You wanna dance with me?' and I really, really don't. I'll go peaceable-like." - (source)

Diablo Cody: "I always say when you write a book, you're a 'one-man band.' Whereas, when you finish a screenplay, it's just a sketch." (source)

Robert McKee: "Secure writers don't sell first drafts. They patiently rewrite until the script is as director-ready, as actor-ready as possible. Unfinished work invites tampering, while polished, mature work seals its integrity." - from Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting

Shonda Rhimes: "I try to step into a drama knowing, from the very beginning, what the last scene is going to be." (source)

David Lynch: "On anything that you start, fragments of ideas run together and hook themselves up like a train. Those first fragments become a magnet for everything else you need." (source)

Syd Field: "The writer's job is to write the screenplay and keep the reader turning pages, not to determine how a scene or sequence should be filmed. You don't have to tell the director and cinematographer and film editor how to do their jobs." - from Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

Stephen J. Cannell: "Put yourself in the place you've designed for your principal characters. Ask yourself, "If this was really my problem, would I do what I'm having this character do? Would I say what he or she's saying?" (source)

Michael Arndt: "I like to begin every screenplay with a burst of delusional self-confidence. It tends to fade pretty quickly, but (for me, at least) there doesn't seem to be any other way to start writing a script." (source)

Bill Wilder: "Grab 'em by the throat and never let 'em go." (source)

George Clooney: "It's possible for me to make a bad movie out of a good script, but I can't make a good movie from a bad script." (source)

David Mamet: "If it can't be shot and it can't be spoken, don't write it in your screenplay." (source)

Paul Thomas Anderson: "I like to write every day and keep working and not wait around for something to happen. Richard LaGravenese [the screenwriter] once said that writing should be like ironing a shirt: you keep going over the same spot, and you go a little deeper and a little deeper." (source)

Christopher Nolan: "I have been interested in dreams, really since I was a kid. I have always been fascinated by the idea that your mind, when you are asleep, can create a world in a dream and you are perceiving it as though it really existed."