The Psychology of Scriptwriting (4)


Machiavelli postulated that man’s quest is for power. He said that no-one is more miserable than a disempowered man.

Ironically, he wrote his thesis as a book called THE PRINCE but when he presented it, hoping to impress his Medici rulers, to reap glory (and status), they hated it. And banished Machiavelli back to his disempowered state.

In his head, the scriptwriter has endless power. He/she is more powerful than Superman, and perhaps as omniscient as a god. The seduction of infinite power could be a valid reason alone to write a script.

Say your job is a janitor during the day. Picking up office workers’ discarded used tissues and dropped apple cores. Scrubbing toilet pans and facing mysterious indelible stains on white towels. But at night your characters (a facet of yourself) have the power to fly, rescue the needy and fall in love…all in your script. Your abilities are only limited by your imagination. You are empowered! Until you have to sell the script, in which case you may crash to earth with a giant thud. But that’s another story.

Immortality is another aspect of empowerment. The gods are immortal, but humans are not. But a film can be everlasting. Especially a classic. So the drive to write a wondrous script appears a way to cheat even death. And that’s mighty powerful.

Often you hear would-be scriptwriters say this, “ I’m going to write a script about my life. It’s more interesting than anything you see on the screen these days”

These are people who desire empowerment in their lives. They want the ability to control the uncontrollable aspects that surround them.

I can’t help but think of the tale of Faust. The doctor who gave his soul for empowerment and immortality. Sadly, it didn’t turn out well.


In conclusion, the scriptwriter is a complex and complicated psychological creature. Often psychically damaged but compelled to do his/her best to repair that inner wound.

We can only wish him/her luck, courage, the avoidance of neurosis and psychosis plus, of course, the occasional brilliant script.

Jack Feldstein.

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