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No sense of direction. I've been a huge fan of a gentleman named Dr. Lawrence Peter, author of an amazing book called "The Peter Principle" (which has nothing to do with filmmaking or screenwriting, but is an amazing piece of work on human behavior). He is famous for a wonderful expression that has lots to do with screenwriting:

"If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up somewhere else."

Storytellers of all types need to know this. I'm an advocate of outlining your idea before you write it. Not necessarily a detailed 30 page Treatment, but, well, something on paper that gives you a blueprint or map of where your story will be going. I can't emphasize enough that it's very unwise to just start writing.

You will hear stories of famous writers who don't use outlines, who do indeed just start writing and discover where their story is going as they move along.

That might work for some, but for most it doesn't. For those it doesn't work for it leaves you gasping for air if you dive into a project without some semblance of a sense of direction.

So that's your first big thing to put into your arsenal of things to learn.


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