Tim talks screenwriting

timgoodingRecently spoke with screenwriter Tim Gooding for episode 67 of our top-rating podcast So you want to be a writer. Tim has nearly 30 years’ experience in the industry – creating the ABC TV series Sweet and Sour and writing for shows including The Aunty Jack Show, The Norman Gunston Show, Blue Heelers, Rafferty’s Rules, Stingers, Water Rats, All Saints and many many more!

Tim teaches Screenwriting Stage 1 & 2 here at the Australian Writers’ Centre and has plenty of wisdom to impart on this quite different writing medium. So we thought we’d share some with you…

On learning screenwriting:

“It is a craft, not a mystery. You’ve got to learn it. And, you learn it by doing it; you can’t learn it in your head. You can understand it in your head, but until you actually do it over and over again and the pennies start to drop, you don’t improve.

“I’m not a carpenter, but I can imagine a chair. But it would look ugly and it would collapse when people sat on it because I haven’t learnt the craft. The same thing with painting, in most forms. [Screenwriting] is a craft that can lead to art, but you’ve got to learn the craft first. The way you learn is by doing it over and over again and people telling you where you’re going wrong.”

Advice for aspiring screenwriters (besides doing his course!):

“Look at scripts. Go online and Google free feature films or free short film scripts. Read those scripts and get a bit of a handle on what they actually look like. Screenwriting is a very curious format of writing. In a way it’s cartoony. It’s not so much writing in a literary fashion.

“Familiarise yourself with screenplays. Maybe sit and watch a film with the screenplay in front of you.

“And if you want to write, start writing. Just write anything, just get stuff down on paper that you can then look at and decide, ‘Well, if I were an audience, would this work for me?’”

On the discipline that comes with writing:

“You can’t think of an inspiration… you just do it. It’s like going swimming in winter, if you think about it, you won’t do it. You’ve just got to go and jump in.

“Even if my mind is telling me, ‘No, you don’t want to do it today, you’re not feeling like it…’ as soon as I turn on that screen and it lights up, all of those doubts go away.

“I find with inspiration and perspiration — the balance is pretty much the same. I’ve written horrible stuff when I’m inspired and I’ve written really good stuff when I haven’t been inspired, and vice versa. On the average it evens itself out.”

You can read the entire transcript, or listen to the podcast episode here.

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