Scriptwriting is a highly creative form of art and producing something of worth is never easy. It’s not the same as watching a film back after you’ve recorded it and editing the glitches. You have to play out whole scenes in your head, ensuring that everything’s water tight going into production. There’s always time cut the life of a character short or incorporate a plot twist, but summoning creative genes can prove problematic after a while.
Still, despite the challenge that awaits, there’s certainly a market waiting for your talent. A good script will change hands for tens of thousands of pounds, while the best will fetch in excess of £500,000. There’s also the chance to see your ideas beamed across the world – ideas that could very well inspire the next Damon Lindelof to enroll on a script writing class. Time well spent, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Before you delve deep into the world of scriptwriting, there are however a few things you need to know about structure which are bound to aid you in the long-run. Here’s a scriptwriting checklist to help you construct a masterpiece.
First, pinpoint whether you’re after a rom-com or a fast-paced thriller. You can then draw inspiration from similar works and determine if your very own scenes live up to their supposed billing. You’ll need to market your film in some way (on billboard or just to your friends), so ask yourself; what’s my perfect synopsis?
Not every film starts with a bang and millions of pounds worth of special effects. Some begin with just a couple of characters engaging in a casual conversation. Quentin Tarantino is a director who constantly manages to create an element of suspense with his fairly ordinary opening scenes. Reservoir Dogs, for example, begins with six characters chatting over breakfast, yet those watching the film may have been expecting 90 minutes of gangsters shooting everything around them.
In this example Tarantino effectively used an opening hook to draw his audience in. Just like Quentin, you too should be looking to include one right at the start.
Heroes and villains don’t only exist in Marvel productions; in some way, every viewer is subconsciously rooting for a particular character. You should be flicking through your script, making sure that the bad and good are both clearly displayed. As opposed to using actors and actresses in a fairly conventional, yet trusted method, you might want explore the tale of man versus nature, or a hero’s battle with their inner thoughts. The choice is yours.
This isn’t a physical of sorts, rather a hindrance which plays out in the subject’s mind. Every character has to overcome something during their tale, what does yours have to do to win the audience over?
Finally, be sure to wrap up your collection of scenes with a resolution. To explain, this doesn’t have to be a ‘happily ever after’ conclusion which only your mother would be proud of. If you’ve got your sights set on a cliff hanger or a complex ending, be sure to give your audience something to reflect on after they’ve gone through your work.
For instance, they might be left a little shocked to see a key character meet their end, but before the kill, were they at ease with themselves? Audiences are looking for small resolutions and comforts in your work, no matter how how you’ve told the story. Happy writing!
About the author:
Paul Smithson is a film critic and a junior film editor. He attended a film school in London where he completed his degree in film making, script writing and film directing. He believes that good educational background and hand-on experience is important for anyone to excel in the film industry.
Paul is also a nature lover and this shows on his Google+ profile.