Creating a Structure — Nichols: I start with note cards, so I write every idea I’ve had for a scene and everything else on a note card, and I throw them on the floor. It’s a good way to break up the linear process of it all. The problem is, when you’re literally writing an outline on a page, you’ve got to start somewhere, and then you have to go to the next thought, and you don’t always have that next thought, but you have all these other thoughts.

Slowly, they start to take form and shape and they go up on a cork board and before you know it, I could watch the whole movie on note cards before I even start writing.

Holofcener: I used to do [note cards], and it really just fucked me up. It would sort of kill the fun, and it would make me realize that I didn’t know how to structure a screenplay. Or I didn’t have the answers that you’re supposed to have when you outline a script, and I figured out somehow that I didn’t need to have the answers. And I would just start writing and see what happens, and usually, what happens is a mess, but a fixable one, and that’s kind of how I start.

I generally have no idea [where a story will end], at least consciously. With a script like Enough Said, I knew I wanted her to become a better person at the end, to learn a lesson, and shut off the judgmental voices in her head, but I didn’t know how that was going to happen or what that would look like.

Bell: When I start writing, I string together my favorite ideas, my greatest hits, and I start to figure out a road map for those people or those ideas and thoughts and thematics. And then the story, the overall umbrella of the story, sort of exists already, but then you kind of fit in these puzzle pieces in the thing you want to talk about.

Linklater: To me the dialogue comes kind of last. To me, the dialogue is the final coat of paint. My films are all dialogue, but I swear to god, that’s what you see at the end. You look at it and it’s that coat of paint. But to me, what fascinates me more is the architecture beneath it.

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