Screenwriting Tips RSS

opening scenes, tropes -

 In past articles we’ve touched on the use of tropes. These are a few common tropes we see in the opening scenes of screenplays.   Waking up. In the opening scene, we watch the protagonist wake up. We get a sense of their daily life, etc. Bonus points if waking up is preceded by a dream. Extra bonus points if the alarm goes off and the protagonist is in a hurry because a) they’re late; b) it’s a big day for them. Waking up in space. This is the sci-fi variation thereof. Ever since the original ALIEN came out, we’ve...

Read more

imagination, sharable dreams, writer -

Not long ago, I had a very long and involved dream. When I woke up, the dream and the story it told was still very vivid. I decided to put it to script. I had other projects that needed to get done, projects with deadlines. But this dream was like a rare bird that had landed on my window; I had to catch it before it flew away. From 7am until 2pm I wrote non-stop. After 35 pages, I finally ran out of raw material from the dream. The choices I made in stitching together some of the more ephemeral...

Read more

alphabetical stories, beat, climax, scene, story engine, TV writing -

Many narratives are actually comprised of multiple interweaving “stories,” each of which has a function within the larger whole. We more typically see this kind of breaking in TV writing, and the use and definitions of the alphabetical “stories” vary between feature and TV. But the core concepts can certainly apply to a feature spec script. A-story. This is the main story, the “what the movie is about” story. This is the story on which we are breaking the structural beats: first-10, inciting, plot point one, midpoint turn, plot point two, climax, and denouement. This is also the external “stuff...

Read more

beats, character, cliche, scene, writer's block -

Sometimes the script doesn’t want to cooperate. You stare at the page and nothing comes. The scenes you’ve written all seem tired and obvious. You’re forty pages into the script, and going further feels like a chore. What happens next? You don’t know. Nothing clicks. It’s the condition commonly known as writer’s block. There is no easy cure. But it’s just a part of the process. Everyone hits these odd corners of development, and solving for them is what makes writing an art and a craft. Each instance of block is its own beast, unique to the script, the writer,...

Read more

blank page, blueprint, instrument, multi-dimensional set of skills -

The blank script page is your instrument, in the same way a guitar or piano or horn is a musician’s instrument. The guitar doesn’t play music by itself; left to its own devices, it will sit there in silence. That is, until it is picked up and played, at which point the guitar becomes a tool through which you are able to transform your talent, emotions, creativity, practice, and experience into sounds we call music. The same can be said for the page, and writing. However, screenwriting is unique because it involves a duality. With a novel, short story, or...

Read more