Tony Gilroy’s 5 Simple Rules for Writing an Original Screenplay

Narrative film is certainly a collaborative medium, but almost always it begins with a writer putting words on a page. The blank page, unfortunately, isn’t the most collaborative partner. So, how do you write an original screenplay? Every writer has his or her own methods, and I think we can learn a great deal from the methods of a successful screenwriter. A few days ago, writer/director Tony Gilroy tackled this most basic question of how to write an original screenplay in his talk at the BAFTA Screenwriting Lecture series, which essentially boils down to five simple rules.

Tony Gilroy is a screenwriter, director and producer, best known for writing all four of theBourne series of films. You may think that means Gilroy is actually well-versed in the ways of adapting novels to the big screen, but Gilroy has actually never read a single novel byRobert Ludlum, the author who wrote the Jason Bourne novels. Instead, Gilroy created his own version of the Jason Bourne story when he wrote the screenplays for The Bourne Identity and subsequent films. In fact, of all his screenwriting credits, Gilroy says only one — Dolores Claiborne – is truly an adaptation of a novel.

Gilroy therefore decided to focus his BAFTA Screenwriting Lecture on the most basic screenwriting question: How do you write an original screenplay?

You can listen to Tony Gilroy explain his simple rules for writing an original screenplay in more detail in his BAFTA Screenwriting Lecture from September 29, 2013 below. You can also listen to the follow-up Q&A session in the second Soundcloud …

Check out all 5 Rules and the Soundcloud clips on Tony Gilroy’s 5 Simple Rules for Writing an Original Screenplayoriginally found on