Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Mamet Rule

You know what? Having written about it elsewhere on this blog, I'm not going to define it here. It's a major professional advantage, and anyone close to me who writes for a living has already heard me yammer on about it at length. Anyone who isn't close to me who writes for a living and might benefit from its elucidation represents competition, and yes this is a business, so asking the competition to expend a little effort to dig up something this important, rather than receive it gift-wrapped, seems fair enough to me.

I will say this. David Mamet -- in a moment of pique! -- appears to me to have codified it, not invented it. Which is what I really meant to say today.

If Dickens followed it, if Turgenev followed it, if Hemingway followed it, if King followed it, then it seems likely enough that David Mamet expressed in his rant to the writers of THE UNIT a kind of enduring truth relevant to all genres, an equation about good scene-making. The Mamet Rule (as I call it) accurately reflects the physics of dramatic writing, in the same way that Einstein's famous equation accurately reflects the physics of spacetime. Einstein didn't invent spacetime. Mamet didn't invent this principle. But we should celebrate each man, I think, for the codification.