Wilder with script (in the background his six Oscars are visible)
Under his direction, fourteen actors received an Oscar for their performances in both comedies and drama. Still, Billy Wilder considered himself a writer first. Following are ten of his screenwriting tips, from the 1999 book Conversations with Wilder by Cameron Crowe.
The audience is fickle.
Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
Know where you’re going.
The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points,
the better you are as a writer.
If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is
in the first act.
A tip from Ernst Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two.
They’ll love you forever.
In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees.
Add to what they are seeing.
The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event,
and then—that's it. Don't hang around.