Billy Wilder - 10 Tips For Writing Screenplays

Billy Wilder’s 10 Tips For Writing Screenplays


In this post from Writers Write, your one-stop writing resource, we share screenwriter, Billy Wilder’s 10 tips for writing screenplays.

Billy Wilder (22 June 1906 – 27 March 2002) was an Austrian-born American motion-picture screenwriter, director, and producer. Wilder was ‘known for films that humorously treat subjects of controversy and offer biting indictments of hypocrisy in American life.’

He was also an artist  and journalist, and his career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films. Wilder is one of only five people to have won Academy Awards as producer, director, and writer for the same film (The Apartment).

His work focused on previously unexplored, controversial subjects, including alcoholism in The Lost Weekend, prisoner-of-war camps in Stalag 17, and prostitution in Irma La Douce.

Billy Wilder’s 10 Tips For Writing Screenplays

  1. The audience is fickle.
  2. Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
  3. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
  4. Know where you’re going.
  5. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
  6. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
  7. A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
  8. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
  9. The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
  10. The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then – that’s it. Don’t hang around.

Image: Vagabond Scholar

Article: Lists of Note

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a screenplay, sign up for our online course : The Script

 by Amanda Patterson

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