Screenwriting Tip #736
The superhero genre isn’t just about being tough and stoic, winning fights and defeating bad guys — that’s every action movie. Superheroes are about transcendant morality and the idea of acting for the greater good rather than personal gain. That’s what makes them “super”.
Joining The Black List
Big news, readers: Screenwriting Tips, You Hack is joining the Black List. Starting next week, this blog will continue at its new home over at the Black List website. You’ve heard of the Black List. You know why it’s cool (not to mention ubiquitous, influential and extremely important to the cause of broader recognition for screenwriters in Hollywood). But in case you’ve...
Screenwriting Tip #735
Meet and work with interesting people who you suspect are much smarter than you. It’s one of the quickest ways to improve your work.
Screenwriting Tip #734
Your teen characters all sound like disaffected twenty-somethings (probably because you’re a screenwriter, and therefore likely to be a disaffected twenty-something). Remember the reality of teenage years — all that ambition, angst and sexual anxiety — and tap into it.
Screenwriting Tip #733
In reality, people don’t always have perfect back-and-forth conversations. They’re often just waiting for the right moment to say something they really want to say. Use this fact to create turning points that flip your scenes around.
Screenwriting Tip #732
When writing about a place you’ve actually been to, resist the urge to show off. We don’t need a sight-seeing tour. What we need is to know how the place feels.
Screenwriting Tip #731
Ask yourself “logic questions” — after all, they’re one of the first things pitchees and potential buyers ask. Logic questions are about internal consistency and world cohesion, e.g. “Why is the monster attacking this specific town?”, or “Why does she agree to marry him when she’s shown to be terrified of commitment?”, etc.
Screenwriting Tip #730
Writers are vultures. And there’s no shame in that. In fact, taking several old ideas and combining them into one new idea is something to be proud of.
Screenwriting Tip #729
It’s hard to spontaneously generate witty phrases and neologisms; great lines arise from the clash of conversation. So when you hear someone say something clever or interesting, write it down. You might get to use it in a script some day.
Screenwriting Tip #728
If your spec script’s title has a colon or parentheses in it — e.g. JOHNNY CLAW (THE LAST WEREWOLF), or LAST CLAW: THE WOLFENING — it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Screenwriting Tip #727
Respect the geography of your scene. You can’t have seven people conversing across a single row of airplane seats, and it’s pretty hard to have a whispered conversation at a dinner table without someone noticing.
Screenwriting Tip #726
Raise the stakes on your concept. Instead of a mayoral race, maybe a Senate race would be more interesting? If it’s about a heist, make it an impossible heist; if it’s about a virgin, make him a 40-year old virgin, etc.
The Book Strikes Back
Another week, another excerpt from the best book you will read this holiday season, guaranteed. (Not a guarantee.) This week’s chapter is about how to pitch a bunch of ideas all at once. You can find it right here at the excellent Mastering Film site: http://masteringfilm.com/screenwriting-tip-132-your-ideas-are-precious-snowflakes/ The chapter comes from a section on pitching, loglines,...
Screenwriting Tip #725
In certain genres, it makes sense for the villain to be the ‘dark mirror’ of the hero. What would your protagonist look like if she gave up on all her noblest impulses and gave in to her basest ones? That’s your villain.
Screenwriting Tip #724
When engaging in world-building, don’t start with the world. Start with your protagonist and work outwards: first them, then their family, friends, immediate environment, greater environment, etc.
Screenwriting Tip #723
Read biographies. They’re great examples of how someone’s life can be shaped into a narrative form, and they’ll help you consider your protagonist as a fully-rounded character — a product of her choices and experiences.
Screenwriting Tip #722
When you come up with a ‘big idea’ (e.g. a world where nobody can lie, a future where vampires rule over humans), don’t go with the first protagonist or plot that springs to mind. Think around the big idea — consider every angle and version until you find the right one for you.
Screenwriting Tip #721
Learn about the other roles in film and TV production. It’ll give you a deeper understanding of your own job. Plus, you’ll never embarrass yourself by assuming the first assistant director is the guy who gets coffee for the director.
Screenwriting Tip #720
Struggling to find the themes and motifs of your story during the outline stage? Write a sample scene. No obligation to actually put it in your script — this is just for you. Pick a scenario that will work as an emotional testing ground for your protagonist, drop her in and and see how she reacts.
Screenwriting Tip #719
Kill a sacred cow and see if it leads you to a new concept. E.g. what does a rom-com look like if the lead characters almost never meet? (SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE). What does a heist movie with no heist look like (RESERVOIR DOGS), or a thriller that runs in reverse (MEMENTO)?