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Creative Scaffolding

Arrival is a film with a few problems, but one of the things it does uniquely well is bring to life on screen the complexity and excitement of scientific discovery with all its imaginative and intellectual effort.

How I Wrote Arrival by screenwriter Eric Heisserer explores the process of adapting Arrival from Ted Chiang’s original short story, where the following stood out:

Will I ever use this method in another screenplay? Maybe not. But you build a thing the way it seems to suggest, whether or not any of the tools in its design are reusable.

Adapt tools and build scaffolding for the particular pull of a project. Reshape methods and communicate uniquely to get to the desired result.

Similarities here to Paul Graham’s 1993 essay Programming Bottom-Up:

In Lisp, you don’t just write your program down toward the language, you also build the language up toward your program.