Welcome to 101 Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck! (Part II)
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Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #11: Check Out a Film (or TV Show) You’d Ordinarily NEVER Watch
Can’t stand holiday-themed TV movies-of-the-week? Or inane teeny-bopper horror movies? Good! Then it’s your JOB to watch a couple and, like an anthropologist, study them for techniques you can STEAL for your own creative project. (Best of all, nobody will know!)
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #12: Write More Garbage Than the Next Guy (or Girl)
Forget marketability. Or high-concept characters. Absolute KEY to becoming a pro is learning HOW to shrink the amount of time it takes you to go from TRASH to TREASURE. So…just write more trash. (Side benefit: This approach is a lot less stressful, and a helluva lot more fun.)
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #13: Aim for a Story You’re Not Sure You Can Pull Off
For your next project, shoot for a story you’re not sure you have the chops to pull off. (Or even sure how it’ll end.) Taking huge RISKS in the story planning process may be scary…but it can pay off huge down the line. (And don’t worry – development folks will tame your story down later.)
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #14: Eliminate All Your Character “Comings and Goings”
Please, for the love of Michael Bay movies, remove ALL exits and entrances from your screenplay. (Even Shakespeare knew he needed a bear to make “exits” interesting.) Instead, start your scenes a half-page late and let the audience start the scene a paragraph behind.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #15: Keep Dialogue Sentences Short & Snappy
Actors LOVE juicy dialogue. What they can’t STAND is long lines of speech that require them to take a breath in the middle. So, keep your sentences short and snappy – and able to said on a single blast of oxygen.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #16: Have Characters Ask Questions That NEVER Get Answered
Your job is not to inform…it’s to entertain. So constantly have your characters ask questions, both literally and metaphorically, that never get resolved. (This creates tension…and tension is your friend.)
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #17: Avoid Monologues By Having Other Characters Interrupt
There are FEW monologues in real life. So have your main character INTEND to churn out three pages of dialogue, and have the world – and other characters – stifle them every step of the way.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #18: Leave the Symbolism for Your 2nd Draft
Don’t worry about the “deep literary crap” until you’ve finished your rough draft. All those creative patterns and symbols will show up organically…so let ’em evolve and give them room AFTER you finish your first draft.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #19: Open Your Script With Character Needs (Not Just Action)
Getting your audience to identify with your hero early on is crucial. And nothing works better than establishing your hero’s PRIMAL need (security, affection, power, success) and how it’s being thwarted. (You can always throw in the fireworks later.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #20: Pepper Your Story With Threshold Guardians
This comes from the Joseph Campbell mythic school of storytelling. Threshold guardians block your hero’s access to the NEW WORLD. And though they aren’t necessarily bad, they are DIFFICULT and ANNOYING to deal with. (And vital to your story’s pace.)