TIPS & POINTERS
TIPS FOR WRITING SOLID SCREENPLAYS
Make your protagonist three-dimensional and complex. Give them character flaws. Reveal different sides of their personality all throughout. Write them an interesting backstory. Show their strengths and weaknesses.
Your protagonist should be driving the plot forward the whole movie. Make them active! For the most compelling story, they need to be the one making the decisions that progresses the narrative from beginning to end.
Give your protagonist a strong character arc. How do they change over the course of the film? Make sure they’re challenged with obstacles (both internal and external) that bring about growth. Make their development personal and emotional.
Create for your protagonist unique characteristics that make them memorable and distinctive. Ask yourself, “What makes them stand out and different from all other movie characters?” And then sell me on it!
Give audiences something new – something they haven’t seen, heard, or experienced before. Show us a new perspective on something. What makes your film different from the thousands of other movies out there? Find the elements in your story that are unique and fully explore them.
Make sure that every scene in your script is absolutely necessary to the plot. Think of a JENGA tower, but with as few blocks as it needs to stand. That’s your story. Every piece/scene should be needed and written with purpose and intention. Cut out the rest.
Conflict, conflict, conflict. This is what will make your story compelling. Whether it’s internal or external, ensure that there’s conflict that the characters face in every scene. The more obstacles there are, the more engaging the plot will be.
Within the conflict, make sure that there are high stakes involved. Ask yourself, “What will happen if *certain plot goal* isn’t achieved?” If the answer is “nothing much”, then you have a problem. Make that answer extreme. Set high stakes!
Film is a visual medium. That means story/character info will have a greater impact if it’s shown, not told. Because of this, take out all expositional dialogue. Don’t have characters tell us what’s important – have them show us what’s important through action.
When a character is introduced, capitalize their name, write their age, and give a brief description. But don't go into backstory here. Try and think of it as: Only write what can be seen on screen. For example:
In walks JORDAN (35), a tall and overly confident businessman in a three-piece suit.