William Goldman's Ten Commandments On Writing

William Goldman is regarded as a Screenwriting heavyweight in the film world. Some of his screenwriting credits include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Marathon Man, All The President's Men and The Princess Bride.

He won Academy Awards for his screenplays Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President's Men (1976).



He is also a prolific novelist having penned The Princess Bride and Marathon Man before they became films, amongst many others.


Here are ten commandments on writing attributed to him. Use them as a guide and inspiration for your next or current writing project, be it a screenplay or novel. This list is invaluable.




William Goldman's Ten Commandments On Writing

  1. Thou shalt not take the crisis out of the protagonist’s hands.

  2. Thou shalt not make life easy for the protagonist.

  3. Thou shalt not give exposition for exposition’s sake.

  4. Thou shalt not use false mystery or cheap surprise.

  5. Thou shalt respect thy audience.

  6. Thou shalt know thy world as God knows this one.

  7. Thou shalt not complicate when complexity is better.

  8. Thou shalt seek the end of the line, taking characters to the farthest depth of the conflict imaginable within the story’s own realm of probability.

  9. Thou shalt not write on the nose — put a subtext under every text

  10. Thou shalt rewrite.

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