Actors are trained to think in terms of scene goals, and you should too. If a character is speaking and acting at cross-purposes with their goal, it’s probably because they’re being influenced by some unspoken inner need.
Character must be demonstrated before we’ll believe it. If you tell us a character is a “smooth-talking lawyer”, we’ll accept the “lawyer” part. The “smooth-talking” part must be verified by watching what the character says and does.
When sending out a script, don’t try to hedge your bets by saying “it’s an old script” or “it’s a rough draft”. If it’s not good enough to show people, don’t show it. If it is good enough, back it 100%.
Every once in a while, step back from film theory and plot structure to think about your story’s place in the overall culture. What do you want your story to say, and why do we need that message right now?
The more you write, the more the reader will linger on that moment. To draw out an emotional beat, write longer action paragraphs and full sentences. To rush through a scene, write shorter paragraphs and clipped sentences.
Hi folks. This is a quick post to let you know that I’ll be taking a few weeks off. Regular daily tips will return at the end of January.
You may have noticed that I’ve been taking more short breaks recently. I feel it’s necessary to avoid burning out. After all, I’ve been writing daily tips for (almost) 1200 days in a row! I’m confident that I still have a lot to say about screenwriting. However, I also think that I may eventually need to transition to a less rigorous update schedule — say, two or three posts a week.
But that’s all in the future. For now: good luck, happy writing, and I’ll see you in a few weeks!
P.S. If you need to contact me in the meantime, please feel free to drop by my Twitter feed (twitter.com/xanderbennett) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ideally, every major choice a character makes should either A) strengthen what we know about them, or B) challenge what we know about them. If it doesn’t do either, maybe it doesn’t need to be in the script?
Biopics aren’t the whole story of a person’s life, from birth to death. They’re the story of one particular flaw in that person’s character. The question is whether they overcome the flaw or it overcomes them.
Don’t start with static characters and try to manipulate them into conflict. Start with loud, argumentative, restless, ambitious, larger-than-life characters and put them in the vicinity of each other.
When it comes to the Dark Point, you can’t be too cruel. This is your chance to have the other characters tell the protagonist what they really think. It should feel like a house of cards crashing down.