Posts tagged ‘screenwriting tips’

August 8, 2011

Don’t Worry About Writing Perfectly, Just Write!

This article from MovieBytes (a great resource for information about screenwriting contests) has some solid tips about how to improve your screenwriting, but this tip is the one that stood out to me most:

Don’t Be the Perfectionist

Examine your process – how you write the script. Let’s say you’ve outlined your script. You’ve blocked out time and are coming at it with good energy. You barricade yourself in with a copy of Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil, 18 bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon or whatever it takes to get you rolling. The pages come out, but look like crap. What the $#@*! Why?! Remember this scene in Amadeus?

God speaking to you lately? It doesn’t happen. There are going to be so many rewrites, polishes, trims, tucks, cuts…the script in constant revision mode. Don’t be a perfectionist. Don’t keep rewriting the same 30 pages.

I’ve seen good writers lose confidence this way. They can’t get the scene down, but they won’t let it go. You have to push forward. That’s the purpose of the rough “discovery” draft. Push forward, say everything you want to say in rough form. If, at the end, you’re looking at 140 pages, so what? You’ll know what needs to be done by the time you reach the end. Don’t censor yourself. Push out. Get the rough draft done, then refine.

Trust yourself!

Read the other tips here.

August 5, 2011

Finding Your Main Character’s Arc

James Hull has written a great article on Screenplay.com about how to figure out your main character’s arc. In most cases, if your main character doesn’t have an arc, you don’t have a compelling story. Needless to say, this article is an important one to read:

Many a story begins with a great character. That flash of inspiration that says I have to write a story about this person. Yet, so many stories stall out just short of that all-important finish line. Why is that?

The answer can often be traced to misplaced focus. So much attention is placed on fleshing out the character and providing them with greater and greater sources of escalating conflict, that the basic logic of their actual arc breaks down. In fact, sometimes it’s not even there at all.

There is a simple dynamic that exists within all Main Characters, defined by the chasm between a problem and a solution.

read more »

May 9, 2011

3 Tips for Getting Your Script to the Studio Level

Here’s another great article from Michael Ferris (THe NPH picture will make sense once you read the article). When you get to the end of the article you’ll notice that Michael includes his email address in each of his articles. I would highly recommend taking advantage of this resource. I once emailed Michael with a question about one of my scripts, and he got back to me within two days with a thoughtful, in depth response that was extremely helpful.

But on to the tips:

1. Make White Space Your Best Friend

In today’s spec market, unknown writers can impress by doing one thing: writing a “fast” read. Sometimes, this can compensate for lack of things like character arcs, or the occasional on-the-nose dialogue. Mind you, this won’t fix poorly plotted or structured stories, but writing a fast or “quick” read can make you seem like more of a seasoned pro than you might be. If you read scripts from the 50s, for instance, it will be light years different from the type of scripts written nowadays, and one of those key differences is how the physical pages of the script look. Back then, they looked much more like novels.  Now, they look like someone took a chop shop to a novel, and left the body of the car on bricks.

Whether it’s a consequence of our shorter attention spans or not, industry people have even less time than ever to read spec scripts from unknown writers. One of the ways to set yourself apart and become their best friend is to give them a “quick” read. So what does that mean?

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May 2, 2011

10 Writing Tips from the Great Billy Wilder

Scott Myers of GoIntotheStory.com recently posted this list of ten writing tips passed down by the amazing Billy Wilder. Wilder was the scribe behind such classics as Some Like it Hot, The Apartment, The Seven Year Itch, Sabrina, and Double Indemnity, to name a few. Wilder’s gravestone reads “I’m a writer, but then nobody’s perfect.”

1. Grab ’em by the throat and never let go.

2. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.

3.The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.

4. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.

5. Tip from Ernst Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.

6. The audience is fickle. Know where you’re going.

7. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they are seeing.

8. The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.

9. The 3rd act must build, build, build in tempo until the last event, and then…

10. …that’s it. Don’t hang around.