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Screenwriting Tips For 2020

Screenwriting Tips 2020

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Meet Joe Black - That Next Place
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Write With Passion

Why are you writing your script? What is your vision? Do you have a message or an ending that has an emotional impact? I have found that when you write from your heart – with a passion, you’ll tell a story that will strongly resonate with readers. Not everyone, but for a few, they’ll become warriors for your story. Because they believe in it and it speaks to them. In my opinion, this is the #1 most important ingredient to us aspiring screenwriters. Imperfections with your writing and script can be overcome with a story that touches people.

Don't Rush

Don’t rush. I don’t know what it is about writing, but it seems like we’re all battling impatience. We want (for some reason) to get it done quickly. As if there’s a line of people waiting to buy our scripts? Take the time to get it right, with a vision and something we’re proud of – the entire script. Then get it out there.

Those Scenes

You should only write scenes the audience absolutely must see and even then, they need to advance the plot and be rich with subtext. The goal being: to keep people reading.

Dialogue

Writing good dialogue is a tricky business. It’s a bit subjective and in my experience, takes a lot of time to get right. Some suggestions.

  • Make sure each main character has a unique way of speaking.
  • Hear them speak in your head. Put someone’s voice you know in there.
  • Shorten the dialogue.
  • It can help to get rid of “well”, “so”, “okay” and just get to the meat.
  • Lean dialogue is easier to read, appears more realistic and flows better in my opinion.
  • There may be situations where someone has to speak in long paragraphs – that’s fine, but make sure it’s absolutely needed.

Story

Like everyone, I have strengths and weaknesses within screenwriting. My strength is in crafting story. My weakness is in the small scenes and moments needed to bring this all about. I’m still working on it!

However, I feel like film has fallen into a pit of despair as it relates to telling a great and rich story in an emotional and compelling manner. 

This is my focus. I strive to create a rich story with believable conflict. Believable conflict, rather than corny or contrived conflict, is the holy grail for those seeking to keep people watching. Story is why we’re watching, but conflict keeps us watching to learn where the story ends. 

Us screenwriters can get lost in the formatting, grammar, rules, conventions and lose track of the story. This is why I tend to not pay an ounce of attention to formatting or grammar until I’m completely finished with the story. Story comes first in my world.

Grammar & Formating

I really do believe we’re best off not worrying about “rules”, typos and grammar until we’re done with the story and scenes (structure).  I recommend this process;

  1. After the story and structure is done,
  2. Move to polishing (drafts) each scene until they’re perfect and read with great flow.
  3. Only after all of that should you start worrying about grammar and formatting.

Otherwise you risk wasting a ton of time fixing problems that won’t even be there in the end.  Save it for last and don’t let it drown you.