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G B Ralph, Author

Solid writing advice from this Netflix romcom

On the weekend I watched the romantic comedy Set It Up, a 2018 Netflix film, with my partner and a friend. It was great fun and had some excellent lines – I would recommend the watch!

However, it was the unexpected writing advice that caught my attention in particular. The scene starts at about the 1:26:00 mark, but I’ve screenshotted and transcribed the key bits below.

Set It Up poster

Netflix blurb: They know everything about their bosses. And if they use that knowledge to spark a romance, that’s not totally wrong. Right?

Director: Claire Scanlon.
Writer: Katie Silberman.
Stars: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Taye Diggs, and Lucy Liu.

Write a bad first draft, then go back and make it better

Here’s the situation: The main character, Harper, is throwing herself a pity party because she got fired and she’s struggling to write an article she’s been working on for months, saying it’s so bad she can’t finish it. Her friend, Becca, arrives to give her some tough love, whaling on her with a cushion while also imparting some excellent writing advice…

Set It Up screenshot. Dialogue: Of course your first draft is gonna be bad.
Set It Up screenshot. Dialogue: It’s gonna be terrible. Then you know what you do, Harper?
Set It Up screenshot. Dialogue: You go back and make it better
Set It Up screenshot. Dialogue: But you can’t make it better until you actually do it.
Set It Up screenshot. Dialogue: You’re not a bad writer yet. Stop feeling sorry for yourself...
Set It Up screenshot. Dialogue: ...and write something bad.

[More convincing ensues…]

Set It Up screenshot. Dialogue: I’m gonna write...
Set It Up screenshot. Dialogue: ...the shittiest article ever written.
Set It Up screenshot. Dialogue: Yes. It’s gonna suck ass. I can’t wait to read it.
Set It Up screenshot. Dialogue: OK. I got this.

Scene transcript

I’ve noted down the key lines from the screenshots:

Becca: Of course your first draft is gonna be bad. It’s gonna be terrible. Then you know what you do, Harper? You go back and make it better. But you can’t make it better until you actually do it. You’re not a bad writer yet. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and write something bad.

[More convincing ensues…]

Harper: I’m gonna write the shittiest article ever written.

Becca: Yes. It’s gonna suck ass. I can’t wait to read it.

Harper: OK. I got this.

In summary…

Write a bad first draft, then go back and make it better. You can’t make it better if you’ve got nothing to work with!

Have you stumbled upon any unexpected writing advice in books, TV shows, or films? Drop me a message – I’d love to hear it!

And, if you’re keen to hear more writing related stuff and keep up with my own writing (including romcoms!), jump on my mailing list – it’s where I put all the best stuff first!

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