The power of punctuation. Each punctuation mark has its own meaning. It defines how we read a sentence, where we pause and what inflection we impose on the words. They also have informal corresponding implications when writing visual description in a screenplay. As we get into the dots, dashes, slants and curves, there’s a lot … More Directing Through Punctuation, Part 2.
One of the secrets that all great screenwriters understand is how to direct through punctuation. Direct without directing. Instead of camera angles and the royal “We,” force your reader to see the movie you want them to see by using the tools at your disposal: punctuation and grammar. Write your movie the way it should … More Directing through Punctuation, Part 1.
Like an MC Escher drawing, a good screenplay is an illusion. It uses words on a page to convince readers to see something very different in their minds’ eyes. The way language, grammar and punctuation are used in a script defines the reader’s experience of that script. When it’s done well, a script is said … More Creating a Narrative Style
Dialogue: No Words… When writing a screenplay, dialogue is the most fun to write. It’s also the most difficult thing to get right. If you’re struggling to improve your dialogue skills, here are a few potholes you should be sure to avoid. Make your audience work. The entire point of a screenplay is to cause … More 7 Tips for Writing Dialogue
Don’t spoon-feed the audience. Don’t give your readers the answers, make them work for it. Rather than your characters stating their reasons and conclusions, let your readers figure out the subtext on their own. Don’t pad the work. Avoid meaningless words. There’s no need for “throat clearers” like: “Well…,” “Um,” “Er;” or questions like “What?” … More 7 Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Dialogue
What is a scene…? In screenwriting, there are many different ways to define a scene. Some will say that it is an event, something that happens or a “unit of story” that takes place in a specific location. As soon as the scene changes location, it becomes a new scene. I would disagree with … More How to Write a Scene
The Hero’s Journey There has been tons and tons of great material written about Joseph Campbell and his Hero’s Journey. Here’s my take on his incredible work. It’s my attempt to simplify it down to its core ideas in “snackable” bites that are easy to comprehend. Joseph Campbell According to Me The hero’s story is … More Joseph Campbell: The Hero’s Journey (Part 2)
There are lots of ways for dialogue to be less effective than it should be. Let’s examine a few: Show, Don’t Tell Characters in a scene are trying to resolve a problem. If you’ve done your job well, the audience is right there trying to solve the problem with the characters. Rather than spoon-feed your … More Dialogue: The Do, the Don’t and the Out Loud
A person cannot speak unless he or she has had a thought. A person does not have a thought unless he or she has a need. That is never more true than in all dramatic writing. Characters in a script speak because they want something. Another way to think of it: the average person speaks … More Dialogue: Subtext
So, we’ve done a lot of talking about characters, who they are, how they function and what they add to your story. But how do you know you’re on the right track? Here’s a list of questions about your characters. If you can answer all these questions with clear, simple and specific examples, you’re on your … More A Character Checklist