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Advice To Make You A Better Scriptwriter

May 15, 2014

When I first started writing scripts, I just wrote. I didn’t have an endgame; I just had a funny idea or concept and placed characters in that situation. I wrote about what a typical day, or week in some cases, for these characters might look like. The problem with these stories was that they had no point. There was no plot to drive the story. They were what people in the industry call “Slice of Life” pieces. No one wants to watch a slice of life from characters they don’t care about. They get enough of that in the office and while out shopping at the local Wal-Mart. And let’s face it; the people at Wal-Mart are more entertaining. So after completing my BFA in Creative Writing at Full Sail University, I’ve realized a few things about how to tell a compelling story. I’m going to share some of them with you.

Now some of these suggestions may seem like a lot of work, but trust me, it will make your stories much more interesting. The first thing you should do once you’ve got a brilliant idea for a story rolling around in your head, is to try to sum it up in one sentence. That’s right, one sentence. If you’re going to pitch this to some head executive, their time is precious. If you’re lucky to get in front of one, or beside one in an elevator, you’ve got at best 3 minutes to impress them. So, make your story idea concise. This one sentence to express your script idea is called a logline. Blake Snyder has created a formula to help you narrow down your idea into one sentence: http://iconoclasticwriter.com/blake-snyder-save-the-cat-story-plot-development-storyboards/ This will make it a bit long winded, but it will help you wrangle in the idea. Once you’ve gotten all the elements, you can then go about fine-tuning it to trim it down.

The next thing you’ll want to do, before you start pecking away on your keyboard to write that amazing story you’ve just created the perfect logline for, is to create a story bible. No, not a bible story, a story bible. A story bible is a handbook full of guidelines about your story. It explains each character, their backgrounds, desires, likes and dislikes (just to name a few). It describes the setting, the interactions between characters, the overall theme of your story. This will help you to remain consistent once you’ve start writing. And there is nothing an audience hates more than an inconsistent storyline.

The most important thing you’ll need to know when writing a script, or any story for that matter, is the story and character arcs. If your story doesn’t have purpose, no one will be interested in reading it. Your main character has to go through stages. This is what’s known as the Hero’s Journey. Here’s a great link to help you with that: http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero’s_journey.htm Now, you don’t need to include every single step, but you must include the core steps. This gives your character dimension and depth. As for the story arc, that is just utilizing the simple three-act structure of any story. Start Act I with the inciting incident, move on to Act II, the confrontation, and finish with Act III, the resolution.

There are plenty of websites out there that can help you more with all of these suggestions. If writing is just a hobby for you, then you don’t need to follow any of my advice. If you’re serious about writing great, compelling stories, you’ll find the websites. And you can always keep checking back with my blog, as I’ll continue to offer up more blogs detailing some of these key points in more detail. Until next time, keep writing!

 

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6 Comments
  1. I think the most important thing to remember is not to do all the preliminary work: outlines, character profiles, research, etc. etc., and never get around to writing the story. At some point, you have wean yourself away from all that preparation and start writing.

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    • You are absolutely correct, Idlagarino. Never getting around to the story would pose a problem. I know a few who can’t seem to get passed this stage, but these little tid bits are important to creating an enjoyable story. Without them you may never achieve YOUR greatest story ever told. Thank you for your input.

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  2. You have “to” wean yourself away. I left the “to” out. Hate when I do that.

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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