Welcome to 101 Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck! (Part III Tips 21-30)
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Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #21: Comedy SHOULD Be Over the Top
A lot of comedy scripts I read are nuanced and subtle. This is NICE – after you’ve already sold 3 scripts – but when starting out make your comedic characters and situations outrageous, big and full of obsession to maximize your story’s impact.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #22: Visualize Shots First, Then Write ‘Em
Writing is a very emotional process. (But not always a visual one.) Which is why it’s good to VISULIZE the important shots of your script before describing them in your script. Just write down what you “see” – and not only will your script appear professional, but directors will frickin’ love you.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #23: Make Sure ALL Love Scenes Are a Turning Point
Love scenes are incredibly awkward to shoot. (And watch.) So make sure if you do throw a love scene into your story that it pivots the story in a different direction. (Eg: “When Harry Meets Sally”; “No Way Out”) Otherwise it’ll just make everybody – including the reader – feel uncomfortable.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #24: Get in the Habit of “Playing” Story Development
Instead of just consuming every film – or TV show – like every other human, start to ask a question: “What would I do differently?” Any characters need more fleshing out? Do the stakes seem vague and unclear? Just keep a list of small tweaks you’d do to make these stories better. It’ll improve your creative eye and make you much more attuned to what your story needs.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #25: Don’t Be Afraid of Awkward Silences
Leave questions unanswered. Make your readers as uncomfortable as your characters. Silence can be a powerful story element. (And it can quickly ramp up the stakes of any scene.)
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #26: If a Scene Sucks, Write It From Different POVs
Sometimes your scenes just lie there like a dog fart. When that happens, try writing the scene from two different characters POV. (Most likely you’re not “seeing” the scene for all its emotional potential.) Blend the two versions and you might have something extraordinary.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #27: Read Your Final Draft Dialogue Aloud
Dialogue may sound logical when written, but it can be absolutely dead weight when spoken. (Talking to ya, George Lucas.) So, read your final draft aloud and find the awkward, verbose areas where you can prune and clean up your dialogue.
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #28: Find Your Genre’s Expectations, Then Kill ‘Em
Every genre has some tried-and-true storytelling chestnuts. But the quickest way to get some heat and exposure for your spec is to find those expectations and then subvert them. (In a way that makes sense, and spins the story in a completely different direction.)
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #29: Think of Story as a Psychological Journey
Coming up with plot twists and turns (the audience never sees coming) is job #1 for a screenwriter. But they’re a lot easier if ya view yer story as a journey that forces your hero to realize EVERY problem-solving strategy they THINK will work…doesn’t!
Screenwriting Tips That Don’t Suck #30: Learn the Art of the Strong Verb
How do ya write VISUALLY? The key is STRONG verbs. Characters should “ERUPT.” Gunfire should “EXPLODE.” Metal should “TWIST.” Use verbs that do heavy visual lifting – and your story will connect with readers big-time.