Writing advice from Vince Gilligan

I finished a binge-watch of the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad this weekend. When it was all over, I immediately wanted to start the entire series again from the beginning. It was so much fun to watch and I’m going to miss the characters, which is something I also feel when I’m done reading a really good book. I’m kind of in awe of the writing team behind the show so I searched around to find some writing advice from Vince Gilligan, the creator and writer of Breaking Bad. Here’s what I found.

Try to constantly surprise your audience.

“It’s always a conscious choice to surprise people. That is always the mandate. Today, with all the wonderful–and sometimes not so wonderful–entertainment it’s harder than ever to keep things interesting, so you have to surprise people.”

(Source: Fast Company)

Write whether you are getting paid for it or not.

“You’re not a writer unless you’re writing. Then the only differentiation is ‘am I writer who’s making a living off of it, or am I writer who is currently unsold?’ – and that isn’t a big differentiation.”

(Source: Chuck Palahniuk)

Don’t try to write a hit.

“We all want our work to outlive us, we all want to write stories and create characters that have resonance and that outlive us but the quickest route to failure is to have that be too active and prominent a goal.”

(Source: DIY TV)

Don’t ignore your random ideas.

“We were just joking around on the phone about what we should do next: Should we be greeters at Wal-Mart? Should we put a meth lab in the back of an R.V. and cook meth and drive around the southwest? And that image…I don’t know, it just stuck with me. It jarred something within me. This image that started off as a meaningless joke on the phone turned into this show.”

(Source: Vanity Fair)

Keep it to yourself.

“If you’re a painter and you’ve painted what you think is your best work, you don’t want describe the painting to people. You don’t want to say, ‘Well it’s got a lot of blue in it, and a guy is standing in the corner holding a scythe.’ You want them to see the painting. So I wouldn’t tell someone how it ended, because it would be a complete ripoff for them.”

(Source: Rolling Stone)

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