From the Nitty Gritty to the 30,000-ft View Let’s take a break from dissecting the inner working of a scene. Let’s step back and examine the process from back to front. When you’re script is done and even before, when you’re in the middle of writing, if you tell someone that you’re working on a script, … More Loglines vs. Plotlines
Beginning, Middles and Ends In a screenplay, just like your plot, a well-structured scene will have a beginning, middle and end. Beginnings You must establish who the protagonist of the scene is and what they want. Except for the first time we meet a character, this is done BEFORE the scene starts. This is what … More The Well Written Scene, Part 2
One Good Scene Deserves Another While we’re on the topic of scene work, let’s examine what makes a scene pop in a screenplay. What are the essential tasks of a scene in a screenplay? They must do two essential things. Move the story forward and keep the audience engaged. One Job at a Time A … More The Well Written Scene, Part 1
The end of punctuation: full stop. This will complete our examination of how to use punctuation to create vivid imagery in your narrative description and how to imply camera angles and pacing edits without revealing that’s what you are doing. If there’s anything I’ve missed, send me a note. I’ll be happy to answer your … More Directing Through Punctuation, Part 4.
Backwards and forwards. As we continue our exploration of how to use punctuation in the narrative description of a screenplay, don’t forget the example we’re looking using. It’s from the first page of Shane Black’s 2005 directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: The girl starts to SCREAM. SHRIEKING. Writhing in agony. Tears streaming. Harold stares … More Directing Through Punctuation, Part 3.
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