Top 3 things a writer forgets when writing a screenplay
When you’re writing a script it’s easy to lose sight of some of the basics when you’re buried deep in your story. Remember these three points and you’ll be well on your way to writing a best selling script!
Engage your audience
Your audience need to be engaged and entertained. You might have to explain some very crucial plot elements in your story but try to do this in interesting and unique ways. A direct quote I remember from ‘Save the Cat’ was the Pope in the Pool Moment. If you haven’t read the Save the Cat series by Blake Snyder – I recommend you do so, it offers a lot of advice on screenwriting as a craft.
‘The term The Pope in The Pool came from a script titled The Plot to Kill the Pope by George England. The story was a thriller and as such couldn’t afford a dull scene with people sitting around drinking tea (something Donald Mass warns against extensively in Writing the Breakout Novel) and dumping information. So, the writer came up with a way to relay the information while keeping people’s attention.
He put the Pope in the pool.
As Snyder points out, “We’re thinking: ‘I didn’t know the Vatican had a pool?! And look, the Pope’s not wearing his Pope clothes, he’s… he’s… in his bathing suit!’”
This keeps our attention while the important, dull information is downloaded to our brains. We walk away from the scene wowed and retaining the knowledge that we need for the rest of the story to unfold, while never being bored.’
Make your lead character suffer
This may sound a little harsh but a great story is built on the foundations of conflict. Without conflict a story can’t sustain itself. You need to make our lead character overcome hardships, struggle and graft to get to where he needs to be. The more obstacles you put in his way the more the audience will want to follow his/her journey and thus make for a more compelling story.
The first draft is a first draft!
So you’ve finished your masterpiece you’ve stepped away for a few days and then re-read your entire screenplay. Chances are your first though is something like…This sucks! What was I even thinking! Or even worse, you’ve let someone else loose on your script and they have a list of ‘critiques’ for you. Your heart sinks and you wonder why you ever quit you day job.
But wait a second, because guess what, there’s still hope. It’s a first draft for a reason, a lot of writers fall into the trap of expectation, and their scripts simply don’t live up to it. Writing is re-writing.