I was able to participate in a free screenwriting call with John Truby last night. He said the number one thing that kills screenwriting careers is the 3 act structure. He said many other informative things like write in several genres, which is the opposite of what books tell you, even though working screenwriters do write in different genres. And yes, I have written in every genre except westerns so far.
3 act structure. Yes it's good for learning the basics of writing a screenplay, but you still have to go with what your story needs. Which is what he also spoke about.
Why is that important? In my Mfa program (which is the same for all Mfa programs), I'm not writing the way I would like to. I prefer to finish a product and then edit and revise it. In the program you write 20-40 pages and then revise and edit that, using what I call the Mfa formula. It's a string of words that deal with the writing craft. Things like psychic distance, point of view, unreliable narrator, etc.
I just want to tell my story. Get the entire thing on the page as naturally as possible without chopping off the creative part of me with all these formulaic devices.
Are they good things to be aware of? Yes. Should you be combing every page as you write it for them. No!
Writing should be like sculpting. The rough shape takes form, and then you smooth it out. Not cut a nose and then spend a month reshaping the nose, never getting to the rest of the face and losing who you are as an artist along the way.
Don't let formulas drive your writing. I know. It caused me to lose my creativity and stop writing for two weeks.
I figured out that I was being turned into a formula driven writer.
That's not who I am. I also wasn't writing what I really wanted to. I was being told I had to write other things.
Never let someone step on your writing dreams. It's time to cut the cord when that happens.
I read about a woman that wanted to write a historical novel. She enrolled in a writing class and at the end the instructor told her she showed promise as a writer, but that she shouldn't write a historical novel, she should stick with what she knows. She didn't let that deter her and wrote her historical novel. That novel is being published this year.
I'm back to enjoying my writing. The way I love to write. I have discarded from my head all that formulaic garbage that was holding me back, forcing me into being a cookie cutter writer, and hampering my writing.
I'm back to what I love doing. The way I love to do it.