I’ve only just delved into screenwriting and already, I feel like I owe this neglected medium some attention.
I realized something a while ago: the world needs another Shakespeare, but what the world keeps getting instead is people who merely imitate Shakespeare.
I had a thought that with this, I could potentially show that my ability to learn from and update authors without seeming derivative isn’t limited to someone I had a past life claim with. In Shakespeare’s case, I don’t think I was him (I suspect I was a woman in his time) so if I can learn from and update the things that made him a great playwright, it would prove that I’m really a stupendously versatile writer.
It would take some of the strength out of my claim to be Phil if I proved to be capable of recapturing another writer’s magic without seeming like a mere imitator, but I don’t care.
The key to really learning from any writer is not to copy their themes or their mannerisms or anything superficial like that. The key is to get to a point where you don’t have to copy at all. To compare it to visual art, you might copy early on, just like the Renaissance masters copied the work of, say, Giotto, but by and by you have to emerge as a Leonardo with your own style or you’ll never be anything but a second-rate Giotto. So you don’t just copy the writer, you learn about them as a person, their habits, their thoughts, their motivations, what traits of their work set them apart. Then finally, you pick them apart for every single flaw you can find, and you strengthen those flaws in your final product.
Updating Shakespeare’s formula represents a much bigger challenge since more time has passed since he died; part of the reason Hollywood imitates him but doesn’t recapture his essence is because that essence is nearly fossilized to most people with a passing familiarity with his life and work. Only the most in-depth Shakespeare scholars really get at the heart of his thought processes. A scholarly approach is what I need and given my capacity for research, I think I can nail it.
So yeah… going to try to be the next Shakespeare, having never been the original Shakespeare. Probably going to fail miserably since it’s a tall order, but at least no one can accuse me of not being ambitious as fuck.