Good screenwriting is the art of discovery

Colorado River

We are forced to make our own discovery about these two women

“I knew something had happened to Louise, something she wasn’t going to expose, and I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know what had happened to her until about halfway through the screenplay. And she was never going to expose it, never going to open herself up like that again. Which is why she’s sometimes hostile with Thelma, because she felt that if she had really tried, the whole thing could have been avoided, which is really how society feels.”

[…]

“It doesn’t really matter what happened to Louise,” she continued. […]

What happened to Louise in Texas is the structural backbone of the entire story line. It’s because of the incident that she runs away from the murder. By the time she realizes what she’s done, it’s too late.

Because the “incident in Texas” is mentioned throughout the screenplay in a subtle and indirect way, we are forced to make our own discovery about these two women.

And good screenwriting is the art of discovery.

by Syd Field
from Four Screenplays: Studies in the American Screenplay (1994)
chapter – The Phenomenon of Thelma and Louise
talking with screenplay author Callie Khouri (born November 27, 1957)
image – roy.luck

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