Here’s a test on creating effective character descriptions.
Pick ten characters you’ve seen in movies.
Write a 1-sentence description for each of them. Make it as accurate as possible.
Bring these descriptions to friends who have seen these movies. Can they guess who you’re referring to?
Beyond storytelling, the screenplay is a map for actors and filmmakers. The screenwriter conveys creative instruction through action elements in the script.
You’ll need a partner.
Partner A is to instruct partner B how to put on a shoe (preferably one with laces). To do this, partner B must take off one of their shoes. They are also to pretend that they have never seen a shoe, don’t know what it is and don’t know what its various parts are or do.
Partner A needs to explain the process of putting on a shoe. Partner A should do this verbally and without pointing at the parts of the shoe. Every part of the explanation should try to be clear, verbal and effective enough to get partner B to get that shoe on.
How can language create and shape action?
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When developing an idea, two good questions to ask are: Has this been done before? If so, how is my project unique? Your Task: Research your idea. Check out the IMdB search function and do a word search in the “plots” category. This will search the plot summaries of the movies within the database.
When I’m writing a story, I like to get descriptive. When I’m writing a screenplay, I try to narrow that long-winded drive into shorter sentences with fewer words. This gives the production crew an easier time in bringing the script to screen.
Go somewhere you want to write about.
List ten words that describe this place.
Narrow it down to three that truly capture the essence.
Write one descriptive sentence that shows where you are.
Want to understand your character’s life? Create a timeline that details the major events in it.
Pick a character from something you’re writing.
How old are they now?
Make a timeline that spans from birth to their current age.
Notate major positive or negative impacting events in their life.
Write a sentence or short paragraph describing each event.
From your character’s perspective: My life is a series of…
Written/Contributed by Hal Ackerman
Write the full name of your character down the left side of a page, one successive letter on each line. On each line, write a true statement about the character (or from his/her voice) beginning the first word of each line with each successive letter of the character?ÇÄôs name. So for a character named Holmeyer:
He lives with a rabbit
Ebbs when he should flow
Yearns for love
Runs from life
Try it with all your main characters. (Try it with your own name)
A plot device is a person or object in a story that is used to advance the plot. Your task: Identify the plot and at least one plot device in 5 movies.
Have you ever seen Ghost in the Shell? There’s a contemplative movement in the second act where the main character watches the city go by. It’s a perfect example of place as action. The pensive main character is taken away by place in a moment that gives the viewer a chance to reflect on the action and philosophy in the movie. Are there other examples of place as action? Can place move the plot forward?
Brainstorm five movie scenes where place is a defining factor in the scene.
Pick two travel methods (boat, car, foot, helicopter or horse).
Write a one-page chase scene.
Switch the method of travel and write the scene again.