• Joseph Morganti

The Art of Screenwriting: Jane Goldman

Writing a script is a challenging task that not every writer can do. Though everyone has the potential to finish a script, very few will become as notable as someone like Jane Goldman.


Arguably one of the best modern action writers today, Goldman has made a name for herself in the action world with films like Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), as well as X-Men: First Class (2011), Kick-Ass (2010) and Stardust (2007).


Below, we will focus on the art of screenwriting and what you can learn from a writer like Goldman. We’ll discuss Goldman’s background information, action scripts and great characters, going out of the ordinary, the importance of structure, and much more. Let’s take a look!

Photo credit: Cambio 16


The Genius Of Jane Goldman


According to her bio, Jane Goldman is a British screenwriter who co-wrote a few movies with iconic Director Matthew Vaughn. Brought up in London, Goldman began her writing career at 16 as a writer for the most significant paper in Britain.


She started writing articles on mainstream society and ladies' issues for different magazines, preceding her concentration toward books. Beginning with her first book in 1993, Thirteen-Something, Goldman composed a few more titles during the 90s.


Then, during the 2000s, Goldman's long-term companion, the fantasy author Neil Gaiman, acquainted her with writer and director Matthew Vaughn. Vaughn adjusted Gaiman's book, Stardust, for a Hollywood studio and required some assistance with the construction.


Gaiman proposed Goldman and subsequently started the two’s work together. Since Goldman co-wrote a few screenplays directed by Vaughn, including the Stardust (2007), Kick-Ass (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011), and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015). Goldman also wrote the 2012 thriller, The Woman dressed in Black, her first solo screenwriting credit. With 15 writing credits on IMDB, what can we learn from Jane Goldman?


Writing Lessons From Jane Goldman


The best way to learn more as a writer is to learn more from prominent figures in the industry. Goldman is a clear example of crafting a compelling story that doesn’t fall under the typical cliche umbrella. Even with these stories having a larger budget, you can’t deny they’re not a typical big-budget script.


Action Scripts Can’t Forget About Great Characters


Even Goldman’s worse scripts have a heavy focus on the characters. Though most people will brainlessly watch an action flick for the action (hence the name), having good solid characters will make the story stronger. Whether it’s the X-Men adaptation or the Kick-Ass adaptation, there are countless characters we all love from the movies.


Great characters can make or break a script. Imagine if Dave wasn’t as likable of a character in Kick-Ass. It’d be hard for us to root for their turn into a superhero, not to mention the comedy that comes along with it. Plus, you have the other character arcs of Red Mist, Frank, Hit-Girl, and Big Daddy.


Don’t Be Afraid to Go Out-Of-Ordinary, But Follow Structure


If there is one primary point that’s true across all of Goldman’s work, her scripts don’t follow a traditional story. Even with the adaptations of X-Men and Kick-Ass, we follow a group of characters who are so out of the ordinary yet feel grounded enough that we can relate to them.


Goldman has gone on record stating that “most of the traditional rules are there because they work well.” The general idea of writing a story and beat positioning is essential. That’s not to say you can’t write a different story and try to stray from the typical big story path. All it means is there are rules outlined to help.


Write What You Want to See


Many writers fail to realize that writing about what you want to see will significantly enhance your overall story. Although understanding what’s selling at the moment can be beneficial, none of that matters if you don’t have an interest in what you’re doing. Goldman feels that you should write what you want to see in front of you, which is so true with filmmaking.


Develop Characters Until You Can Describe Them Like a Friend


Goldman’s scripts’ biggest strength has to do with her characters. Though many of her scripts are adaptations, the characters are described and brought to life enough to describe them as a friend. You should take a similar approach to your story, where any person could describe the character they’re rooting for or against.


Pay Attention to Feedback


Though this isn’t necessarily a writing lesson, Goldman has repeatedly stressed the importance of listening to critical feedback. Though some feedback isn’t helpful, the worth highlighting feedback should be taken seriously. It can benefit your writing and make your following script significantly stronger.


Best Jane Goldman Scripts


● Stardust (2007)

● Kick-Ass (2010)

● The Debt (2010)

● X-Men: First Class (2011)

● Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)