Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Read my User's Guide to Screenwriters

Found in Amherst, lost in Harvard Friday, March 13, 2015

I suppose if you write a novel called ‘Amherst’ you can expect friendly interest in the town of Amherst, and I got it. My visit there last weekend was glorious. The event was packed to the rafters, and all books sold, with demand for many more. So this is the secret. I must write novels named after towns, and then go and sell them there. I left Amherst well pleased with myself, and headed to the Harvard Book Store. The lovely people at the store organised everything beautifully. The chairs were arranged in tidy rows. An elderly couple came and sat down. A Read More

Recent Questions

Submitted by visitors to this website

Posted by Robert Wetmore

March 22nd 2015

I just watched Shadowlands. Throughout the movie, I kept exclaiming to my wife, "This is such a well written film. I haven't heard one fake line yet!" Granted, this movie is a tear-jerker movie, but it is masterfully written. I have decided to track down all of the films you have written and watch them over the next few months. Why do you think it is that so few films have good screenplays? Is it like the limited pool of fantastic baseball players--no matter how many expansion clubs are added to the leagues, there still are just so many folks out there with the raw talent necessary to be a star? So often when I watch a well-directed movie, I still feel that the screen-play was canned, safe, cheap, fake, etc. Do you feel that way as well?

William Nicholson responded:

You'll find the films with my name on are very variable. This is because (or so I claim) the writer has no control over the away his work is translated to screen. 'Shadowlands' was rare in that Richard Attenborough shot exactly what I wrote. 'Gladiator' was also rare, because I was there on the set throughout. I'm also proud of 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom', and the film I wrote and directed, 'Firelight'. Too often good screenplays get buried in the production process. The canned, safe effect you notice comes from film producers opting for the safe option, the option that has worked before. You can't blame them, films cost a lot of money, and we screenwriters need the producers to keep making money, or we're all out of work. But it is a problem. One way out now, a way I'm taking, is to write for television. That's where the best writing is now to be found.

Posted by Anomomis

March 18th 2015

What inspired you to become a writer

William Nicholson responded:

My parents. They loved books, and I wanted them to admire me, so I wanted to write books. Silly reason, but that's how these things start.

Read all, or submit your own...


Past and current works



Greetings cards hand-written by me that say the things you can't say, now available here.


  • The Lovers of Amerherst
  • The Society of Others
  • The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life
  • All the Hopeful Lovers
  • The Golden Hour
  • Motherland
  • Reckless


  • The Windsinger
  • Slaves of the Mastery
  • Firesong
  • Seeker
  • Jango
  • Noman
  • Rich and Mad


  • Shadowlands
  • Gladiator
  • Mandela
  • Les Miserables
  • Firelight
  • Nell
  • Sarafina
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age


  • The Retreat from Moscow
  • Shadowlands
  • Katherine Howard