Tag Archives: Nora Ephron

Writing advice from Nora Ephron, who died this evening

Nora Ephron died this evening.

You might know Ephron wrote When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail.

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.

Cover of "Telling True Stories: A Nonfict...

Cover via Amazon

Please also read:

10 Things We Should Thank Nora Ephron For

Bookish Moments from Nora Ephron Films