Screenwriting is a topic approached by many different authors and scriptwriters alike who have their specific ways in approaching an idea and to transform into script format.
But there a few tips that are common knowledge to anyone who likes to write. Especially if that someone has the ambition to write for the big screen, television or even theatre.
My teacher presented these tips with us in class and I would like to share it with you.
They are as follows:
- Do your homework. This means that whatever the topic you choose to centre your story around, you must know everything about it! Know the underlining theme, the reasoning behind your characters’ personality traits, how the world of your story came to be – basically you need to know anything and everything that exists in your script as everything needs to be there for a reason.
- Be careful with “on the nose dialogue”. A lot of the greatest scripts in movie history, centre more around the visual aspect of a story more so than dialogue. This is because dialogue is thought to be quite overrated by some of the most prestigious film makers such as Alfred Hitchcock. A story can function well with having zero to no dialogue as long as the combinations of all of the other elements in it still are able to portray a compelling and engaging story for the audience. In summary, using dialogue is a good thing as long as you don’t completely spell out everything that the character is thinking and/or feeling when you should rather show it.
- Be aware of the audience. When writing a story, any story, that will be presented to an audience even if that audience is your family or your closest friends, you need to be aware of what the reader’s perception of the story is. Basically, as the author, you need to always be one step ahead of the audience because their reaction will determine if your script is going to rise in glory or fail miserably.
- Don’t “play the aces too early”. I know you want to make your story the most epic and engaging one possible. But all the excitement behind starting to write a new script that you believe is amazing, might very well cloud your judgement for the most basic knowledge, don’t introduce the biggest climax of your story too soon. That will probably set the expectations of the reader too high when the rest of the story is just plain and simple from then on. Their interest will decrease to non-existence if that would be the case.
- Only write what you can “see”. This seems like something very simple to follow through, but the reality is not thus. I have fallen into this mistake many times and it is surprisingly easy to do without noticing. When you are writing a plot where the main characters finds himself in an unknown venue and he is methodically looking around and trying to decipher each detail of the location as to measure where he might be. In this case, you need to be careful and mindful that you can only write what the character is “seeing” not what he is “feeling internally” as that meddles into his emotional feelings or even his back story that you can’t show in screen.
- REWRITE. When you think that your script is perfect and you are ready to share it with the world, it’s because it’s probably not perfect and you’re setting yourself off to failure. There is probably some spelling error, repeated words, sentences that don’t make sense or even part of the dialogue for an important scene is missing. Meaning that you need to look over everything and maybe even send it to a couple other people so they can fact-check it for you.
Hopefully this is helpful to some of you!