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WeScreenplay Feature Winner on Voice in Writing

By April 6, 2017No Comments

Aaron Yeung wrote the award winning script DARLING. This story takes place on a farm in the middle of nowhere, where a mysterious old woman and her eight-year old niece welcome in a band of criminals seeking shelter from a blizzard. The writing is tense and consistent; it grabbed our readers and wouldn't let go. Here's a little from the writer.

Why did you write your winning script? What inspired the concept?

The inspiration mostly started from Chinese ancestor veneration and the idea of praying to and remembering the dead, but it went further.

There's a mythological archetype called the psychopomp, whose role is to take care of the souls of the dead, leading them to the afterlife. In Western terms, that's the Grim reaper, ironically referred to as "Death Himself". But in a lot of other cultures, the idea is more like Charon, the ferryman on the river Styx, or a guardian angel – someone who leads you gracefully into death.

And the idea of reconciling these two concepts was super interesting for me.

Your final round judge said of you as a writer, "[You're] a unique storyteller with an inherent voice that's unlike anything we typically see on the screen." We hear this word all the time "voice". How did you develop yours and what does it mean to you?

To me, a writer's voice is the accumulation of knowledge and experience filtered through the craft. It's perspective and theme and flavor and it's ultimately unique to each person. Even if you tried to write in someone else's voice, it would still be done through the limits of your knowledge and experience, your own personal paradigm, your own rose-colored glasses. It's how you speak and how you act and how you see the world, and the voice on the page is the reflection of that.

Figuring out my voice on the page meant taking what I knew how to do best and trying to make it efficient and entertaining.

What types of stories do you like to read or watch? What type of stories do you like to write?

Film and TV-wise, I'm interested in anything and everything. I like genre. I like film realism. I like art house. I've enjoyed every one of the films of Hirokazu Koreeda. Right now I'm watching FX's Legion and it's a really fun ride, and I'm also catching up on an Icelandic murder mystery series called Trapped. As far as reading goes, Stephen King, Dan Simmons, Neil Gaiman, Simon Rich, John Swartzwelder, are a few of my favorites.

A lot of what I like to write is a horrible mix of these things. I think that comes from a global top-down perspective, "what is happening to the world when this one thing changes?" Does the world get bigger, smaller, happier, sadder, etc.

If you had one piece of advice to give other writers, what would it be?

Find images. Whether they exist solely in your head or whether you can find them elsewhere, find images that you can't stop thinking about. Beautiful, haunting, macabre, interesting. Then find more. Don't stop until the images tell you something important about yourself and other people. Then figure out how to share that and tell that story to others.

What are the big and little successes you've had with writing?

For big successes, winning 5th at Wescreenplay isn't a bad one. As of last Fall, I also won 4th place in the Emerging Screenwriters Competition and have been a finalist in several other competitions with the same script. That comes once in a while, but if you write every day, you'll find a small success every week.

Have you ever thought about giving writing up? Why didn't you?

Because it would be impossible.

What's the most important part of your writing process?

Solitude, so I can act out all the different parts and read everything out loud to make sure it sounds good. But the verbal aspect of writing and thinking about writing is also really important, ie talking out an idea with someone and figuring out a problem through active conversation. It's a different way of thinking that writers seldom take advantage of fully.

Where will you be as a writer a decade from today?

Solid gold house with rocket car.