David Mamet - from Wikipedia

David Mamet - from Wikipedia

Shared by my friend Ian (if your familiar with my intellichick self, he drew my picture), this post is about a memo David Mamet provided to the writers of The Unit. I will admit I knew more of Mamet as a playwright than a TV/Screenwriter – but as I told @betsykcrw via my @intellichick account: “Intelligence should be marked by always being aware there are more things you can always know.”

So to re-iterate the opening of the article linked below, if you thought you did know something mentioned in this piece, I’m sure Mamet can reinforce it all the same. While this memo was specifically toward screenwriters, I think all writers can learn a thing or two here (points about characters, plots, drama, etc.). Heck, it is Mamet!

Here are some of my favorite points (…it was originally written in all CAPS, but reformatted for readability):

  • Everyone in creation is screaming at us to make the show clear. We are tasked with, it seems, cramming a shitload of information into a little bit of time. […] But note:the audience will not tune in to watch information. You wouldn’t, I wouldn’t. No one would or will. The audience will only tune in and stay tuned to watch drama.
  • Question:what is drama? Drama, again, is the quest of the hero to overcome those things which prevent him from achieving a specific, acute goal.
  • There is no magic fairy dust which will make a boring, useless, redundant, or merely informative scene after it leaves your typewriter. You the writers, are in charge of making sure every scene is dramatic.
  • Any scene, thus, which does not both advance the plot, and standalone (that is, dramatically, by itself, on its own merits) is either superfluous, or incorrectly written.

Read the memo in full on