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Do-Over: Life Advice from Professional Screenwriters: Doug Richardson

Every interview I conduct, I save my favorite question for last:

"What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?"

Willis and Richardson on set of 'Hostage'

Willis and Richardson on set of 'Hostage'

We decided to pose this question each month to a different, established screenwriter in the industry, hoping some of their wisdom on life and career would inspire and help us all understand the mystery that is a writer's mind.

I'm launching this series with friend, producer and screenwriter, Doug Richardson, a 30-something-year veteran in the movie business, having written films such as Die Hard 2, Bad Boys, and Hostage, as well as four published novels (his latest, Blood Money). Doug has already been sharing his wisdom with our readers in his Behind the Lines with DR column, but I wanted to go a step further with him and pose my favorite question as well as ask what screenwriting resources he couldn't live without.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

"Live, love, experience, and write it down. Listen to how people speak. Find out what makes them tick and what moves them. And organize your life around maximizing your writing time. Don't be a one-trick pony. A writer has many tales to tell. Oh. And be insatiably curious about how others made it happen for them. You might find out that others blazed a trail before you."

"As for what I couldn't live without? Movie Magic Screenwriter, people to give me honest and constructive feedback, and patience."

I'll add there's one book Doug wrote about in his blog post, Pounding the Pavement, where he discusses how he landed his first agent. Said agent suggested he read William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade to see if he really had what it takes to stick it out in this industry.

Here's an excerpt from Doug's post on his reaction to the book:

“I read it,” I said to Harry, shortly after we’d begun our phone conversation.

“So whaddayou think,” he asked. “Still want to be a screenwriter?”

“More than ever. Loved every page.”

“Not easy, though. And Goldman’s won an Oscar. You gotta be willing to put in the hard work.”

“I am.”

“Then I want to be your agent.”

And the rest is history.

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