Nora Ephron died this evening.
You might not know that she got her start as a journalist, and she often suggested that wannabe screenwriters start out as journalists.
Here’s the opening paragraph from her essay, “What Narrative Writers Can Learn from Screenwriters,” which I found in the book Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call:
A lot of college graduates approach me about becoming screenwriters. I tell them, “Do not become a screenwriter, become a journalist,” because journalists go into worlds that are not their own. Kids who go to Hollywood write coming-of-age stories for their first scripts, about what happened to them when they were sixteen. Then they write the summer camp script. At the age of twenty-three they haven’t produced anything, and that’s the end of the career. By the time I became a screenwriter, I knew a few things, because I had worked as a journalist. When I wrote Silkwood, I knew what a union negotiation looked like because I had been in on several of them.
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