I’m not the world’s biggest David Mamet fan–and I probably don’t want to meet the person who is. But this memo that surfaced–an exhortation to the writers of CBS’s now defunct The Unit–contains some interesting advice for writers, even if it did cause him to go all caps lock happy:
EVERY SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC. THAT MEANS: THE MAIN CHARACTER MUST HAVEA SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD, PRESSING NEED WHICH IMPELS HIM OR HER TO SHOW UP IN THE SCENE.
THIS NEED IS WHY THEY CAME. IT IS WHAT THE SCENE IS ABOUT. THEIR ATTEMPT TOGET THIS NEED MET WILL LEAD, AT THE END OF THE SCENE, TO FAILURE – THIS SHOWS THE SCENE IS OVER. IT, THIS FAILURE, WILL, THEN, OF NECESSITY, PROPEL US INTO THE NEXT SCENE.
ALL THESE ATTEMPTS, TAKEN TOGETHER, WILL, OVER THE COURSE OF THE EPISODE, CONSTITUTE THE PLOT.