Screenwriters are a different breed from other writers. The process of writing for film is intensely collaborative, and the script itself is only one component of the overall final product.
Being a screenwriter has its challenges, but there’s no reason to feel intimidated when you’re starting out.
Mastering Screenwriting With The Coen Brothers
Who Are The coen brothers?
The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, are two of the most creative and successful filmmakers around today.
They have written and directed some of the greatest movies of all time and are responsible for creating some of the most popular characters in cinema.
The Coen brothers’ body of work is astounding, with over twenty film credits to their name.
They are best known for writing and directing films such as Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man and True Grit.
How To Write Like The Coen Brothers
If you want to learn how to write like the Coen brothers, then the first thing you should do is read some of their early screenplays.
There are plenty of articles online that can help give you insight into each of their individual styles and techniques but read as much as you can about their previous work.
This will help shape your own voice when you sit down to write a script.
Screenwriting is a very structured format.
There are certain guidelines that every screenwriter follows when they begin writing a script.
It’s important to understand these rules before moving forward so that you don’t accidentally break them later on in your story.
Screenwriting Tips And Strategies From The Coen Brothers
The Coen brothers have made a career out of writing and directing some of the most beloved comedies of the past twenty years. They’ve also written some of the most critically acclaimed dramas of their generation.
For anyone looking to learn from their examples, there’s good news: The Coen brothers have published a few books on their screenwriting process.
So what can we learn from these screenwriting masters? Plenty!
The Coen brothers’ books are filled with lessons that can be applied to any writing project, whether you’re writing a novel or a screenplay.
One of the biggest tips can learn from the Coen brothers is…
Make your first draft simple.
This is one of the oldest pieces of advice in the book — but it’s good advice for a reason. In their book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott explains that she learned this tip from her own mentor: ”First drafts tend to be better if they just tell it straight ahead, without too much fuss, or frills, or stylistic tricks.”
In other words: Don’t get too fancy in your first draft. Just tell your story as clearly as you can — and then work on making it better in subsequent drafts.
Learn Scene Descriptions From The Coen Brothers
The Coen brothers are the most quotable filmmakers working today. Their dialogue is so memorable that they’ve been known to release compilations of their favorite lines.
The Coen Brothers Film Quotes website has over 100 of these quote lists, covering everything from The Big Lebowski to Raising Arizona and No Country for Old Men.
For this article, we’ll be looking at their list of Fargo quotes.
Fargo quotes are some of the best examples on how to write a scene description. They’re great inspiration for novice screenwriters looking to writing better dialogue.
Scene descriptions are an essential part of any screenplay because they help to convey your characters’ feelings and motivations in a visceral way.
For example, look at how they describe the lead character played by William H Macy:
”He moves with a kind of thrumming intensity, as though he could explode into violence at any moment.”
This description tells us what kind of character Macy’s playing without saying it directly, which makes it all the more powerful when we see him in action.
Here’s How To End A Movie Like The Coen Brothers
The Coens are the greatest filmmakers of their generation.
Here are some of the hallmarks of a Coen Brothers movie, and how to use them to make your own films better.
Humor is subjective, but if you want to end a film well, it helps to do something funny.
The best kind of humor in a film comes casually, and it’s often very dark.
Bob shoots Harvey with a shotgun. Harvey falls down a set of stairs and is dead by the time he hits the floor.
Humor also works when it makes an unexpected connection between two things that you’d never think were related — for example:
Bob puts on a sweater that he got for Christmas 25 years ago — it’s way too small for him now. He puts it on the same way he did when he was 11 years old, then runs outside to play in the snow like he did when he was 11 years old.
The best endings aren’t about making sense — they’re about having an emotional impact on the audience.
The ending of Raising Arizona is perfect because it makes absolutely no sense, but we have such an emotional attachment to those characters.
How Do You Write Like The Coen Brothers?
There’s no mystery to writing, but the process can be difficult. In a career that spans 40 years and 20 films, the Coen Brothers have developed a unique approach to storyboarding and scriptwriting.
Tara Mackey is an author and screenwriter who has studied the art of storytelling for years.
Her book, The Coen Brothers: Story to Screenplay, focuses on the unique elements of their writing style, as well as practical advice for aspiring writers.
She began her writing career by studying the work of successful authors and filmmakers.
Eventually, she began working directly with writers and directors to help them develop stories they were struggling with. She now helps other screenwriters learn how to write like the Coen brothers.
As quoted in The Guardian’s article How Do You Write Like The Coen Brothers? Tara reveals some tips that anyone can follow:
”The biggest thing I tell people is go back to basics. What are you trying to say? Why do you want to say it? It starts with character – you need characters that audiences empathise with.
Necessary Violence In Coen Brothers Films
Violence is an integral part of the Coen brothers’ films. It’s an intrinsic element in their stories and it’s become one of the trademarks of their films.
History has taught us that violence is necessary to maintain order; every so often there needs to be a bloodbath to keep the chaos at bay.
This is why we see violence in films like No Country For Old Men, Fargo and Burn After Reading. These films are set in a world where order needs to be restored by any means necessary.
The Coens’ world is a much more morally ambiguous place than that of most filmmakers, which makes the violence in their films all the more powerful.
Why does Llewelyn Moss leave his wife and child to chase down psychopathic killer Anton Chigurh? Is it for money or is it because he believes he has no choice? If he kills Chigurh, he’ll have saved lives but lost his own soul; if he lets him go, he’ll have preserved his soul but allowed others to be killed.
As with most questions about morality and ethics, there are no right answers; only answers that are right for you.
Coen Brothers Films Feature Self-Destructive Characters
The Coen brothers have a reputation for making darkly comedic films that are often violent. However, these are not just your average slasher or horror films.
The Coen brothers have a style all their own and the characters in their films tend to exhibit self-destructive behavior.Tortured Characters
Many of the protagonists in the Coen Brothers’ films are tortured souls.
Perhaps they are inflicted with some kind of guilt, maybe they were just born under a bad sign, but one way or another circumstances seem to work against them and make life difficult.
They seem to find themselves in situations that serve only to bring them down even further than they already are.
These kinds of scenarios are often played for laughs, as people react to the ridiculousness of what is happening around them. This type of self-destructive behavior can be seen in many different ways throughout Coen Brother’s movies.
An excellent example is Barton Fink’s constant writing block. He tries to overcome it by accepting a gig as a Hollywood screenwriter where he is surrounded by people who depend on him for their livelihoods, yet he struggles to write even one word.
Another good example is The Big Lebowski’s plot involving mistaken identity and kidnapping where the main character gets sucked into a nightmare situation.
Ambiguous Endings In Coen Brothers Films
Ambiguous endings in Coen Brothers films are an essential part of the unique storytelling style they’re known for.
Coen brothers movies are very different from other films and their endings are often a huge source of discussion among fans.
Trying to understand the meaning and purpose of ambiguous endings in Coen brothers films is a difficult task..
Ambiguous endings can be effectively used as a means to tell us that maybe we don’t understand something as well as we think we do.
However, what may be an ambiguous ending to one person may not be so ambiguous to another. This is because there are usually several different themes or messages being explored in any given Coen brothers film, which may lead some viewers to see one thing, while others see something else entirely.
Are The Coen Brothers Auteurs?
Could you imagine a world where Joel and Ethan Coen were just another two-bit directorial duo? A world where Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing were just two more forgettable comedies? A world where Frances McDormand wasn’t Frances McDormand but some other actress?
It is hard to imagine, isn’t it?
These days, we take the Coens for granted. We know that they are the guys who always seem to have their finger on the pulse of what is cool, what is hip, and because of their unique style, we know that their movies aren’t just going to be good, but unforgettable.
But this wasn’t always the case. In fact, before they made their breakout hit Blood Simple in 1984, the Coen Brothers were yet another struggling writer/director team whose claim to fame was having made a short film that was played on The Cosby Show.