All About Kirsten Smith

Kirsten Smith and her co-writer Karen McCullah are trailblazers in the Rom-Com genre. They are the screenwriting duo behind classic teen movies Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You, to name just a few.

But just what is the secret behind their success? What are the rules, tips or best practices they swear by?Smith in particular has been open with her advice for screenwriters. Here’s what she has to share … Enjoy!

1) Conflict is key

“Conflict, conflict, conflict between characters. Although we try to avoid it in life, it’s essential to embrace it in screenplays.”

2) Find The Purpose

“Make sure every scene contains a plot point.”

MORE: How To Write The Perfect Scene 

3) Build anticipation

“Don’t let characters fall in love (or like) too quickly. Sparring makes for good chemistry.”

4) Ask away

“Let your characters ask questions.”

5) DO outline

“Don’t be afraid to extensively outline. Get examples of outlines where you can. Outline your favourite movies and favourite screenplays to teach yourself about structure.”

MORE: How To Write Outlines, Beat Sheets And Treatments 

6) Reign in dialogue

“Don’t indulge yourself with long back and forth statements.”

7) Study your craft

“Read tons and tons of screenplays.”

8) Concise dialogue

“Don’t have multiple monologues throughout the script.”

9) It’s NO big deal

“Embrace rejection and realise that “no’s” are no big deal.”

10) Do LOTS of research

“Be familiar with your form. Watch lots of movies. Read Deadline.”

MORE: 3 Reasons Why LEGALLY BLONDE Is Like, The Best Characterisation, EVER

What Writers Can Learn

Taking Smith’s advice on board, it is clear she values planning and that when she’s writing, she considers every line must have a purpose. If it doesn’t? Cut it out. Particularly when writing for comedy, it is important to hit those lines and hold the audience’s attention.

Any tips to add? Hit us with your best writing advice below!

Good Luck!

BIO: Alice Hayden is a scriptwriting student at Bournemouth University, focusing on writing for Film and Television. She is looking forward to seeing two of her scripts made in to animated promotional adverts for charities, and is currently working on a new TV drama and novel. Follow her on insta as @alice_hayden.

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4 Responses to In The Spotlight: Kirsten Smith’s Top 10 Writing Rules

  1. Allen Scovil says:

    You ‘rein’ in dialogue as one reins in a horse. A queen reigns.

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