Watch movies. Read screenplays. Let them be your guide. […] Yes, McKee has been able to break down how the popular screenplay has worked. He has identified key qualities that many commercially successful screenplays share, he has codified a language that has been adopted by creative executives in both film and television. So there might be something of tangible value to be gained by interacting with his material, either in book form or at one of the seminars.But for someone who wants to be an artist, a creator, an architect of an original vision, the best book to read on screenwriting is no book on screenwriting. The best seminar is no seminar at all.To me, the writer wants to get as many outside voices OUT of his/her head as possible. Experts win by getting us to be dependent on their view of the world. They win when they get to frame the discussion, when they get to tell you there’s a right way and a wrong way to think about the game, whatever the game is. Because that makes you dependent on them. If they have the secret rules, then you need them if you want toget ahead.The truth is, you don’t.If you love and want to make movies about issues of social import, get your hands on Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay for Network. Read it. Then watch the movie. Then read it again.If you love and want to make big blockbusters that also have great artistic merit, do the same thing with Lawrence Kasdan’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark screenplay and the movie made from it.Think about how the screenplays made you feel. And how the movies built from these screenplays did or didn’t hit you the same way. […] This sounds basic, right? That’s because it is basic. And it’s true. All the information you need is the movies and screenplays you love. And in the books you’ve read and the relationships you’ve had and your ability to use those things.
Brian Koppelman
Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.And while we're on the subject, I'd like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it's a bad thing. As if escapist fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn't you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.
Neil Gaiman