These 6 writing tips could help you land a movie deal

The best story ever written wasn’t measured in pages.

In fact, it didn’t even come close to one full page — it was six short words.

Penned by the great Ernest Hemingway, the following six-word story challenged the world to think simpler, and to this day, still inspires our aim to communicate with less via social media:

“Baby shoes. For sale. Never worn.”

Of course, some might argue that it’s not a story at all. They might even call it “odd” or “peculiar.”

Acclaimed actor and writer, David Schneider, has left you some top-tips of how to start making waves!

1. Size Counts

“When writing tweets, even though there’s a 140-character limit, I always aim for 100. The shorter, the better. With anything I write, from films to tweets, I’m always asking if there are any more words I can strip out. Remember, as the saying almost goes: brevity is the central plank and the essential ingredient and the main thing of what people tend to call ‘wit,’”

2. Bring back ‘The Twist’

“The shorter the story, the more it needs to be structured as a set-up and a punch-line or twist, like Tim Vine’s beautiful joke: “Crime in multi-storey car parks — that is wrong on so many different levels” (fans of Tip 1 might suggest losing the word ‘different’). It doesn’t matter what genre your story is, whether it’s comic or not, you still need to set it up perfectly and then spin it off in an unexpected direction at the end. Give your readers the metaphorical bends. They’ll thank you for it.”

3. Don’t forget about Miss Direction

“The greater the twist, the greater the impact. But that isn’t just dependent on the twist. Use the set-up to head people off as far as you can in the wrong direction so that the final twist is that much more effective. Really pile it on: ‘Terrified, she gasped as she read it. Fear made the words swim in front of her eyes. It was a Facebook request from her mum.’ A successful mini-story, like a successful joke, is one where going from set-up to pay-off can give you the bends.”

4. 100% from concentrate

“Try to convey as much information in as few words as possible. ‘The man was getting ready for the party’ doesn’t tell me as much as ‘Reginald was getting ready for the party’; or ‘Major Reginald Paterson-Farquhar was getting ready for the party.’ And if I wrote ‘Major Reginald Paterson-Farquhar was getting ready for the princesses and fairies party,’ then (hopefully) you’ll want to know more. The ideal short story is short but incredibly dense, like a very stupid jockey.”

5. Win, lose or drawer

“Once you’ve written your piece of genius, put it in a drawer for a while. This doesn’t have to be a literal drawer, like a flat-pack one that took you 14 hours to put together and there are still several screws left over. You just have to go away from it for as long as you can — a few hours, a couple of days, whatever — and then go back. You’ll always find bits you can improve. For instance, if I’d had time to put this tip in a drawer before submitting it, I bet I’d have come up with a better title than ‘Win, lose or drawer.'”

6. Practice

“Writing is all about being match-fit. All the time I’ve spent on Twitter making my tweets as shiny as possible has made me, I think, a much better writer. And even if it hasn’t, I’m still going to use that as an excuse for why I spend so much time online. So write as much as you can, keep writing, ignore your family, your friends, your children, and you simply won’t go wrong*. Good luck!”

And whilst you feeling all literary, check out our English Literature courses here at The Sheffield College and put those tips to use!


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